Tears, Friends, and Birthdays

Better late than never, right? I’ve been meaning to blog about my experiences with Team Myles since the beginning of our training, but I confess that I’ve often felt overwhelmed by trying to articulate how important yet stressful the experience has been.Today was a major emotional high, though, so I’m ready to give you the run down of my experiences so far! Bear with me… I have a lot built up, haha.

I was originally inspired to apply for the team by my friend Kim Humes, (who was an ambassador last year) – and although she assured me several times before our first training day that I would do great, I still went into that first group meeting with butterflies in my stomach.  I remember confessing to Leanne and Jeanette during the Tempo meet and greet that my main fear was mostly embarrassment  – what if I was the slowest? I am a pretty big girl! Surely everyone else here must be pretty fit and they over estimated my abilities!  They quickly assured me that I probably wouldn’t be the slowest – but even if I was – it’s not about comparing yourself to others. It’s about making healthier life choices by becoming more active (in whatever way that may be) and achieving personal goals.

“Your Race, Your Pace” is what they’ve always preached to us. I admit that I found that a little cheesey at the very beginning, but I now take comfort in this philosophy. If I’m having a terrible day and worried about being slower than normal, it’s comforting to know that I’m not actually “racing” anyone, nor do I need to worry about whether I “win or lose”.

Two things stand out to me most about our first training session, so many weeks ago at the SMU Track:

Standing there in the little office, getting our welcome pep talk from Leanne, I was so, SO, terrified I was literally biting my lip in order to stop the welled tears from falling out of my eyes.  I can’t remember if I’ve ever admitted that to anyone before, actually! Her pep talk was awesome.  She’s comforting and an amazing cheerleader, and a phenomenal coach – but for me, it was just the overwhelming fear of the unknown. I’ve been pretty sedentary for a very long time, which has definitely taken a toll on my mental health, so this was going to be a pretty big change, and I was certain it would be painful or laden with embarrassment.

Secondly, I quickly realized how supportive everyone is here on Team Myles!  I ended up running my first intervals by Alisha and then Kristin – two mentors who gave advice to me on that day that I still think of every time I train.

Alisha, announcing we only had 30 seconds left of running, was met with cries of dismay from myself and Marissa (another ambassador who would later become one of my Myles-Besties).  Alisha responded wisely with “It’s only 30 seconds! You can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds!!”. I laughed at the time, but I honestly have repeated this to myself (and others) several times since!

Later, Kristin, supporting me when I said I felt I needed to stop earlier than the interval mark, likewise said something equally as useful – “Instead of stopping when you feel you can’t go on any longer – try slowing your pace down, instead”.  Again, in that moment I felt like it was some sort of magic “running kool-aid” that she was trying to brainwash me with (haha, Sorry Kristin!) but again, this one has proved so useful to me while training with this team. I’ve used it time and time again, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t cut my intervals short since the first month! I seriously cannot believe I am on 10:1s right now. INSANITY. SERIOUSLY.

Fast forward a few weeks to several other of my Team Myles highlights:

  • Bonding with my amazing mentor, Becky who always has whatever I need – Hugs, motivation, advice, gum, water, or reassurance that it’s okay to puke post-race (happy to say I didn’t need to get sick that day in the end, for what it’s worth, lol).
  • Making so many more friends and learning the stories of other ambassadors, mentors and coaches. This is a seriously amazing crew! (No, I love YOU more, Chrissy!)
  • Showing up to Hills Training on my birthday and being sung to! This also goes to show you how motivating group training is – I didn’t even think about bailing that night to use the “bday excuse”! I *WANTED* to be there.  
  • Realizing that although I sometimes feel incredibly self conscious about the way I look in post-run selfies or group photos (tired, terrible hair, having sweat any leftover trace of my make up off, body image issues etc.) that I don’t actually mind being tagged in these photos – they give me happy memories of my super endorphin high feelings of accomplishment!
  • Several more bursts of crying mid or post race – sometimes out of sheer frustration and exhaustion, but others due to moments of pride.

Fast-fast-forward to this morning. Where I, Chantale, just ran 10KM in the pouring rain. I am tearing up just thinking about it. I wasn’t emotional during the route itself – it went the way it has been for the past few – the first few kms take some time to settle into, and to get into the zone where I tune out the world and listen to my stellar BTS playlist.  I was even genuinely enjoying the route from about NSCC to the Oland’s Brewery – I had a great pace, an obvious marked route, and a fine sprinkling mist of rain just cooling off my sweaty face.

Things took a turn for the less enjoyable when the rain and wind picked up. My confusion did too – over the race route, after having lost sight of Marissa (who is always just ahead of me…. lol. Someday, Marissa! SOMEDAY! lol).

But we finally found Valour Way, and with it, Cindy, who showed us the right path. After escorting Marissa to the finish line, she actually swung back and ran the last little bit up to the end point with me, too. It was her “you’re almost there, you can do this!” cheer, running beside me, coupled with all of the rest of the mentors and ambassadors, cheering as loud as they could, that made me burst into tears. I instantly felt silly and tried to stop crying – I didn’t want them to think I was doing it out of frustration or crankiness (which I had done in earlier training sessions, haha). But now, I was crying because it was such an overwhelming display of support – I couldn’t help but feel really – really – proud of myself (which if I’m being honest, hasn’t come easily lately in other areas of  my life).

Say what you will about being in the “back of the pack” – and I swear, this isn’t the “magic running Kool-Aid” talking – but I genuinely appreciated it in that moment. The cheers and screams for my final steps were plenty – all those people who finished before me (and there were lots!) were still there, standing in the cold rain, waiting for us last few, cheering us on like we just did some magical thing. Because – well, we did.

It felt like there was a lineup of hugs once I got to the group – everyone hugging me looked like they were crying too, and I honestly thought this was just the “crying area” where I guessed people had been crying for the past little while (seems silly now, I guess). I only later realized that it was my bawling through the last run towards them all that made quite a handful of those women cry (and rush to hug me). It was really such a heartwarming experience – I’m crying again now, just thinking of it. Thank you, seriously, to everyone who cheered and hugged and cried along with me in that moment. It was an overwhelming amount of support that I’m sure I’ll remember for forever.

And yet… it’s not even race day! LOL. I’m going to stop writing, I’ve downloaded too much here, already! The only thing left to say is that I’m going into next Sunday’s actual race with more feelings of excitement than terror – and I really never thought I’d get here. 🙂  Insert crying picture of me …. here (lol)

Crying on my way to Leanne’s hug!

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