2020 has been a challenging year for us runners. With so many races cancelled outright or pivoting to virtual races, motivation has been difficult to find at times. Ever the optimist, I was fantasizing about the possibilities in 2021 and this led me to peruse the RunGuides website one afternoon. I noticed the Sole Sisters December Virtual challenge and my curiosity was piqued. I loved that it was a fundraiser for Girls Gone Gazelle Run Club and the unicorn medal caught my eye. I chose the half marathon distance as it is my favourite distance to run. I ran it last week with two of my runHER friends. For one of my friends, it was her first time running that distance. Along the way we ran to a residential street that had an inflatable Santa Claus on almost every lawn. It was a whimsical experience and made the uphill run to get there worth it!
While I started running well into adulthood, I can honestly say I wish it was something that I had discovered sooner. If you had told 17-year-old me that I’d become a runner later in life, younger me wouldn’t have been able to fathom participating in any sort of physical activity, much less running. Athletic pursuits were non-existent in my family and gym class was something to begrudgingly plod my way through. It was as if I had decided that I could never be an athlete just because I didn’t have the natural ability or aptitude for it. So often women (of all ages) form opinions of themselves without any concrete basis. Perhaps having something like Girls Gone Gazelle Run Club in my life when I was teen could have given me the courage and confidence to challenge that belief.
Through running I have learned the power of community and the encouragement that comes along with it. I’ve also experienced the numerous benefits of running that extend beyond just physical health. I feel very fortunate to have several HERos in my life that I can share my love of running with, but more importantly I want to spread that love and share it with others. If I could tell 17-year-old me something, I’d also want the 17-year-old girls of today to be able hear it too. It’s a short, but hopefully impactful, statement – YOU CAN.
[Thank you Andrea, a Virtual Sole Sister from Toronto, for this guest blog!]