by Jane Cleroux
At the start of 2018, I discovered that the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon would be taking place on October 22—my birthday. On
impulse, I registered for the half marathon. At the time, I was only running three to five kilometres, so I had no idea where to start.
I always saw myself as a solo runner, although when I saw groups of runners around town, I thought it would be fun to run with them one day. I decided to finally take the first step and walked into the Orleans Running Room. Immediately, I was welcomed by a charismatic staff member who was more than willing to answer my questions. I was also offered information about the Running Room training programs. I went home, researched the pace groups and tried to figure out which one was right for me. I decided on the 2:45 group and signed up for my first half marathon program.
At first, I was very anxious and didn’t think I would fit in. Was I wrong! On the first night, I walked into the shop and was surrounded by enthusiastic runners discussing the latest in their running adventures. The people sitting near me instantly welcomed me with open arms. They gave me some first-time pointers and voiced excitement for all the new members. I met the 2:45 group leader, Kirsten, and she introduced me to the rest of the group. It was at that moment that I knew I had made the right decision to join.
Throughout the program, we were like a little running family, always looking out for one another. Kirsten, being the natural leader she is, ensured everyone was okay and if need be, would loop back to help someone out. She must have learned from the best, because our three program instructors were outstanding. They brought so much energy and laughter that it made the sessions enjoyable to attend. They made sure everyone knew the route and
how to run it safely.
Whether it’s waking up early on a weekend to run kilometres in the double digits, or rushing to the Orleans store right after work, I
now look forward to tying up my laces. When I run with my group, we are able to talk about more than just running. We update each other on major events in our lives and discuss how our day went. Moments like these made me realize how much I was missing out on when I used to run alone.
The Orleans Running Room family has become part of my support system and my life. There is always something new to learn. The Running Room isn’t just about running—it’s about belonging and bettering yourself as a person. I wouldn’t have been able to complete my first half marathon without the Running Room and my new group of friends.