In 2013, I started training with one of Toronto’s best professional run coaches, Megan Brown. Training with the Megan Brown Performance team (MBP) filled my void of being part of a competitive group, and also helped me with the physical training that I was looking for. With Megan’s comprehensive training environment and support, I was able to reach my personal best in the half marathon and 10K race.
After a few years of training with the MBP team, I started to become fixated on the product in my racing. I found myself plateauing and not being able to reach the race times I wanted to. I began to mentally look down on myself for not being strong enough, fast enough, and breaking times for females in my age category. After a few disappointing races where I ended in tears, Megan pulled me aside and told me it was time for me to take a break from racing. I clearly remember her telling me that I needed to stop running with my watch, and start listening to my body physically and mentally. She told me that I needed to find the joy in running again.
In 2015, I took Megan’s advice to take a break from competitive racing. I ditched my watch and started running without being tied to a distance or time. It was weird to not have anything strapped to my left wrist that showed me the pace I was running at, and needed to run at. After a few months of training with no watch, I found myself running and relaxing again. I started to feel a rhythm in my runs as I became in tune with my heartbeat, breath, and shoes on the pavement. I began to see running as my happy place where I was able to be present, appreciating the energy and happiness it brought me.
Last June, I ran the Toronto Waterfront 10K. As I was warming up for this race, I saw a woman being pushed by a man in an adult size jogger. I immediately approached the pair, and introduced myself as I was very curious to learn about the adaptive jogger she was racing in. Heather embraced all my questions, and also told me about her running team, myTeam Triumph (mTT). With the support of mTT, Heather and her husband Trevor are now able to race competitively alongside able bodied athletes. Heather and Trevor have a few half marathons under their belt. This summer they will be participating in the Barrie Sprint Triathlon in her new chair where they will be doing a 700m swim, 20km bike, and a 5km run! Heather is one bad-ass mom I look up to, and are truly ‘powered by love’. Check out her blog here.
My Team Triumph Canada is an organization that supports people with disabilities to experience and race competitively in an inclusive environment in endurance races such as 5K, 10K, half and full marathons, and triathlons.
Marriane Skrinjar is the President of mTT Canada. She founded this organization with her two best friends, Angela Bodrozic-Selak and Maguy Jbeili. Whenever I meet people who are passionate in advocating for people who live with disabilities, I am always curious to learn about their motivation.
Marriane shares, “We started the organization because we are all passionate about running and wanted to give back while doing something we love. We had a friend push an individual with Cerebral Palsy through a half marathon and were inspired by her story. We wanted to make those dreams come true for others that want to participate in endurance events but don't necessarily have the physical ability to do it on their own. When looking into it, there were no organizations in Canada that facilitated the matching process or provided the proper equipment to get through the race safely. We heard of mTT in the States and reached out to their Founder to see if they would be interested in expanding into Canada. They invited us down to their National conference in Las Vegas where we got to push Captain Keaton through a race and we were overwhelmed with the amount of pride and joy Keaton had when he crossed the finish line and achieved his athletic goals with our support. We knew instantly that we wanted to bring this organization to Toronto and extend this opportunity to Canadians who may not otherwise have the chance to experience those same feelings."
When I reached out to mTT to express my interest, Marriane not only welcomed our family to join the team, but also supported our family to fundraise for the Adaptive Star mobility push chair. Within a few weeks our circle of family and friends helped us raise over $2000 for Bella’s equipment! Last year, Bella raced in the Toronto 5K in support of Sick Kids Hospital and the 7K RBC Race for Kids.
Today I still consider myself a competitive runner. I continue to thrive the nervous feeling I get in my stomach as I wait impatiently at the start line. I continue to desire the motivation to run fast through tired legs and blistered feet. However, running with Bella has brought a new light to endurance running for me. As I grip Bella’s jogger and push her through our runs, I see her smiling and opening her mouth to catch the blowing wind. Her flapping hands tell me that she is filled with so much happiness. Sharing my passion with my daughter has taught me to be present, and in the moment.