Tag Archives: Toronto Runner

Toronto Runner: Kathryn Mitchell

Kathryn holds her finisher's medal after completing the 2009 Chicago Marathon last October.

In 2004, Kathryn Michell took a Learn to Run clinic to prove to her running friends that the sport was not for her. As a goal of the clinic, she complete a 5k road race, which left her in a confusing spot — she had been bitten by the running bug.

“I never dreamt of running,” says Kathryn. “I hated running in high school, but it’s brought me the knowledge that I can indeed take on a challenge and step-by-step break it into the pieces that make it possible to complete.”

Typically running two-to-three times a week, Kathryn has been revving up her training to four to six in preparation for the Chilly Half Marathon this weekend and the Around the Bay 30k Road Race at the end of the month. She also has plans to run Nike’s women only marathon again this October in San Francisco.

“I love to travel. I was six or seven weeks old when my family moved from Canada to St. Lucia, and I was three-and-a-half when we moved back,” recalls Kathryn. “What better way to travel? Finding an event that mans something, signing up, and making it happen.

Kathryn took a dip in the Pacific Ocean after the 2009 Nike Women-only Marathon in San Francisco

This takes a bit of planning, but I try to pick the events I’m hoping to do for the upcoming year and figure out how I’ll be able to financially swing them. Seat sales, deals on hotels and paying for most of it before I actually get there make it all work.

Getting ready for many of the far-away events, Kathryn can be found running with friends all over the city. “I live near the Kay Gardiner Beltline trail and I love the surface of the trail and running through city, while staying in a park,” she says. “I also run a lot in Bloor West, and will often run the waterfront, Humber trails and High Park with others. There are just so many choices in Toronto.”

Kathryn’s running life and professional life got a lot closer in 2004, when she began working for the Beaches Running Room. She became the store manager of the High Park location in 2005, and eventually in 2008 moved to the Commerce Court location where she is today.

Often combining vacations and races, Kathryn is seen here at the 2008 Disney Half Marathon

In the future, Kathryn has her eyes set on more international runs, including the Dublin, London, Paris, and New York marathons, and the Rock’N’Roll series (which includes Arizona, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle and Virginia Beach).

Beyond the events, bling and sway, Kathryn has found that there are many un-quantifiable rewards to the sport. “Running has brought me new friendships. It’s taught me discipline and its rewards,” she says. “It’s let me know when I have slacked and allowed me to be more open through discussions during long runs.”


Toronto Runner: Dave Emilio

After a very active childhood, Dave Emilio found that his activities had taken on a more social nature. “By my late 30s’ I realized that I was not healthy and not feeling well all the time,” he said. “I set out a plan to run as part of a weight management and overall health improvement strategy.”
Now running five to seven days a week, Dave is usually putting somewhere between 65 and 110 kilometres in a week depending on the time of year and what race he is training for. “I follow a combination of several plans,” says Dave. “It’s not far removed from any one plan and involves the pyramid structure of base, strength and then speed.
“I believe a lot of potential is built up between programs with steady, high mileage easy running. Most people drop off their mileage after a race and then start from scratch with each new race and wonder why they don’t improve their race times.”
Since May 2007, Dave has run 14 marathons and one 50k ultra marathon. “My favourite should be Mississauga, as that’s where I first qualified for Boston,” says Dave, “but I will always think fondly of my first marathon in Ottawa. Nothing beats crossing that marathon finish line for the first time.”
Last May, Dave achieved one of his running goals when he qualified for the Boston Marathon with one minute and 49 seconds to spare. “Now my short-term goal is to run a personal best of a sub 3:19 marathon this April in Boston,” he says. “After a three-week layoff with a broken toe in December I have my work cut out for me, but I’m working hard.”
When asked what advice he had for those of us who hope to one day qualify, Dave said, “If you want to qualify for Boston, be patient. Run lots. Lots of easy miles, warm up and cool down and you will stay healthy. Then, work hard and don’t be afraid of the dark mornings. Fast marathons are run with proper training, not just positivity. Massage, cross training, good food, good sleep and time management are all necessary, whether or not your goal is to qualify for Boston.”
In addition to Boston, Dave will also be running the Around the Bay 30k Road Race in March (he hopes to get a silver medal, which are award for completing the course in under two hours and 15 minutes) as well as a second attempt at the 50k distance. Mississauga and Ottawa marathons will round out the spring racing season and he is the four-hour pace bunny at Ottawa, his fourth time as a Marathon Pacer. On top of these plans, Dave will run four to five more marathons this fall and hopes to finish one of them in three hours and nine minutes or better — his ultimate goal is to complete a sub three hour marathon.
“Running was a way to get healthy, but now it is a way to remain healthy,” says Dave. “I feel better than I ever have. Yes, sometimes I’m sore from workouts, but overall, running has made me feel good all the time. Racing keeps me well rounded, eating and sleeping better than I normally would. I will race as long as I can!”
In addition to his own personal running goals, Dave has also looked for ways to engage with the running community in Toronto. In 2006 he launched a running blog that would eventually become Running with Scissors. “It’s a place to share running thoughts, notes, data, and basically keep track of my own running,” says Dave. “It is also partially to compliment the Running Room clinics with a place to hold info like training schedules and documents.”
This past January, Dave announced a new project he’s piloting — The Beaches Runner’s Club. “The Beaches is a great place to run and the people who run around here are great,” says Dave. “Why not bring them together.” His hope is that the club will allow the many little groups within the running club to come together and to see that people always have someone their pace to train with. “I’m also looking to see about getting younger runners out there,” said Dave. “I think there are a lot of young people who do not know the value and enjoyment of running — let’s see if we can help them see the light.”

Toronto Runner: Karen Seeley

Initially, Karen Seeley started running to lose weight. “I kept using the excuse that I gained weight because I quit smoking, only to realize that I quit almost 10 years ago,” she said. “ When a friend said that he was coaching a Learn to Run clinic, the opportunity was too tempting to ignore.

“I was never large enough to have true mobility issues, but being larger makes everyday tasks more difficult. Proving to myself that I can do this, that I’m tough enough and dedicated enough to boost my pride and confidence has been such a rewarding journey.”

This has carried on in Karen’s running, for which she doesn’t look at events, distances or times for goals. “Right now, I’d like to lose some more weight and continue to get into better shape,” she says. “ I’ve never been particularly athletic, so just getting out there and doing it is it’s own reward. I’m really happy that I can run over 10 km, but my dream goal is really to be an example for loved ones who I’d like to see in better health. It’s cliché, but if I can do it, anyone can.”

Karen (left) at the 2009 Oasis ZooRun 10k

This January, Karen is putting that goal in motion with teaching her first Learn to Run clinic, and one of the people registered for it is her husband. “I’m pretty excited, and we enjoy doing so many things together. I’m glad we’ll get to share this as well.”

Running several times a week, Karen finds that having company on a run can be very motivating for her. “Ultimately, you run by yourself, aware of your own body and thoughts,” says Karen, “but I like being alone among a crowd. The people I run with are fun loving, amusing and interesting and I can’t say that about all the people I know.”

Often found running in North York, Karen’s favourite trail is the Betty Sunderland Trail, which runs from Duncan Mill Road to Sheppard Avenue. “My running group refers to the run as, ‘doing Betty.’ It adds a lot of variety to our runs and is fairly low traffic,” says Karen. “Once, one of the sharper-eyed runners spotted a salmon swimming up the Don river. I’ve also walked this trail with my husband and have seen deer, muskrats, and cranes, and have also heard owls and coyotes.”

The most memorable moments for Karen haven’t necessarily been about running. “Just getting out there to run made me realize how much I love the early morning, and how much I just love being outside,” she said. “One of the things that is so great about running is that you don’t really need anything fancy, just a good pair of shoes.

I’ve also learned that recommending certain gear isn’t just a ploy to get people to buy stuff, because if you don’t have the right shoes, for example, you can really suffer on longer distances.”

When asked what her favourite part of running in Toronto is, Karen is happy to say the people that she runs with. “Toronto has great people, and the variety of routes can take you to so many different places.”

Toronto Runner: Aestus Rogers

For several years, Aestus Rogers ran on and off as a way to keep his weight from skyrocketing. “I always ran on treadmills and never with any kind of direction or purpose,” he says. “A couple of years ago I pushed myself too far and ended up with bursitis in my hip.” This injury left Aestus on crutches and unable to work at his nursing job at St. Michael’s Hospital for three weeks. “The whole winter was a write off and I began to pack on the pounds,” he recalls. “I was really miserable, so my husband took me to the Running Room and signed both of us up for a Learn to Run clinic in May 2008. I learned a lot in the last year and a half, and now my weight is where I want it to be. Along the way I also discovered how much I love running as well!”

As a way to give back, Aestus decided to become a coach for some of the clinics that he had taken and enjoyed. Currently he’s finishing coaching a Learn to Run clinic that meets three time a week in downtown Toronto. “I can’t wait to see these new runners across the finish line of their first race at this year’s resolution run,” he said. “They’ve worked really hard and are all doing very well.”

When he’s not coaching a clinic, Aestus likes to hit the recreational trails in Toronto. Among his favourite are the belt line, Moore Park, the Don Valley trails and the Martin Goodman trail. “Anything that gets me off of the sidewalks and away from the cars and stoplights, “ says Aestus. “I live less than a kilometer from the intersection of Don Valley and Martin Goodman, so I’m pretty lucky to have those choices so close to home.”

Aestus running at the 2009 Beaches Jazz Tune Up 5 km run.

This coming January, Aestus will begin training with a clinic for his first marathon — the ING Ottawa Marathon. The support and camaraderie of a running group helps keep him motivated. “It [the Ottawa Marathon] is one of my goals for 2010, and I’d like to start working towards Boston in the next three or four years,” he says. “Ultimately, I’d love to run marathons around the world. In Marathon, Paris, New York, Sweden, etc.”

This past fall, Aestus ran both the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon (1:58) and the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon (1:58) with his husband. “My husband has always been a slower runner than me,” admits Aestus. “When I crossed the finish line at Goodlife, I stopped and waited to see him finish. While I was waiting, I checked my phone and found a text message from him — he had already finished and was looking for me! I was so proud of him. I was excited about my own time, but was elated at his accomplishment.”

Since his encounter with bursitis, running has had a profound impact on Aestus. “Running has changed the way I feel about myself. Physically, I look so much better than I did two-years ago, but it has also changed my everyday life as well. I have more strength, more energy, more endurance, and a more positive outlook,” he says. “Running has even enhanced my spirituality — when I’m out running alone for a LSD, It becomes meditative and I have some of my best moments of clarity while I’m running.

Aestus running in his kilted best at the 2009 Cambridge Highland Games 3rd Annual 8 km Road Race

I’m happy with myself, and proud of my achievements. I love that I have been able to inspire some of my colleagues and friends to get out and moving. It really feels good to know that I’ve had some part in helping them to find the courage to take those first steps. When we started running, my husband and I finally discovered a fitness activity that we could both enjoy and share, so it has even enhanced my marriage in a very direct way.”

For more on Aestus, visit his website at www.aestus.ca.

Quick Facts:

Favourite Shoe: Nike
Favourite Gear: Garmin 405 watch and ipod
Age: 42
Motivation: Having new goals.
Best part of running Toronto: It’s a beautiful city. There are lots of parks and trails. There are lots of running groups all over the city, and it’s pretty flat.
E-mail Sig: “DEAD LAST FINISH is greater than DID NOT FINISH, which greatly trumps DID NOT START.”

Toronto Runner: Paul Schofield

Any runner who has taken a Running Room clinic knows that within the first couple of weeks, sometime around the “shoe talk,” there is a clinic night when we are invited to bring a buddy along to check out the clinic and to take an opportunity to run with a group. Last April Paul Schofield was one of those buddies, and instantly fell in love with the sport. “I enjoyed myself so much that night that I joined the clinic,” says Paul. “The coaches were terrific and fun, and the people were so nice.

Paul now runs three times a week and is starting a half marathon clinic to train for the Chilly Half next March in Burlington. “My short-term goal is to get into better physical condition in order to feel better mentally and physically,” says Paul. “I find it improves my energy level in a way that nothing else does.

“The idea of running in the winter is a huge challenge for me. I would never, ever have considered it before. It seems like such a fun — but do-able — challenge that I know I will be joyful when I accomplish it.”

Paul gets a sense of liberation and exhilaration from running. He's pictured here crossing the finish line at the 2009 Beaches Jazz Tune-Up 5 km

While still relatively new to the sport, Paul dreams of running a full marathon in the future, but on a more practical note, he hopes that running will help him to get off of his blood pressure medication. “I had some blood pressure issues that I knew would be helped by running and it has paid off,” Paul said. “I’m turning 47 in January and it would be marvelous to get off them completely!”

It’s health that motivates Paul to pound the pavement, and among his favourite places to run in Toronto is the Martin Goodman Trail. “The waterfront is a lovely place to run,” says Paul. “ I also really enjoy going through the various neighbourhoods in Toronto — I love the architecture and it’s great to run through the built environment. You can see a whole swath of the city in a single run, which makes the city seem smaller somehow.”

One such memorable experience found Paul and his friends out on a morning run. They found themselves on Yonge Street before the Santa Clause Parade started. “We came upon the deafening sirens of a police escort accompanying a yellow school bus full of CLOWNS being transported to the parade route,” Paul recalls. “ They all looked out at us and waved manically. It suddenly brought back every childhood fear of clowns and made a lot of us shiver with revulsion! The whole image of a school bus full of clowns waving will be etched in my memory forever.”

Paul celebrates with running buddy Shawn Syms after completing the 10 km route at the Niagara Falls International Marathon

In the nine months Paul has been running, he has completed three races: The Beaches Jazz Tune-Up 5km (29:14), the Longboat Toronto Island 10km (57:43), and the Niagara Falls International Marathon 10 km (55:59).

While the races are fun, Paul really loves running for the sense of freedom it has given him. “I get such a sense of liberation and exhilaration when I run that it enables me to look at my life in a more empowered way. I have a stronger sense of control over my life and that anything is possible,” he says. “My sense of accomplishment has lifted my spirits immeasurably and I feel I can improve myself in ways that I didn’t think were possible. It gives me a sense of perspective on things.

“I has also made me feel healthier and sexier!”

Toronto Runner: Shawn Syms

Shawn prepares for a strong finish at the Niagara Falls Marathon 10 km event on October 25, 2009.

It was one year ago that doctor’s orders found Shawn Syms signing up for a local boot camp with a friend. “At that point I’d been fairly sedentary,” recalls Shawn. “My doctor told me to get more exercise in order to keep my blood sugar and cholesterol in check.”

During his initial foray into the world of squats and drills, Shawn discovered a love/hate relationship with what he found to be the most effective part: running. “Initially, it left me huffing and panting the entire way,” says Shawn. “But I eventually discovered that the more I ran, the more I enjoyed it.”

The running he experienced in boot camp also led Shawn to discover a competitive streak that he hadn’t realized he had. He frequently found himself one of the slowest runners in his group and decided he wanted to improve. Seven months ago, he and a buddy signed up for a learn to run clinic at his local Running Room. “It really surprised me how much I enjoyed running because I’d never really liked physical exercise growing up,” Shawn admits. “From that initial clinic, I went directly into the 10K clinic and have now just started with the half-marathon clinic.”

In only seven months, Shawn has run number of races including a 10 km in his hometown of Niagara Falls, where he had a personal best of 55 minutes and 44 seconds. He also had the opportunity to run the Brooklyn Bridge while on vacation in New York City this past summer. “The Brooklyn Bridge was bustling with pedestrians, sightseers, cyclists and runners,” recalls Shawn. “The bridge was an exciting, disorienting, yet phenomenal experience.

Shawn cools down after running the Brooklyn Bridge this past summer. He often enjoys combining traveling and running. In addition to NYC, Shawn has also run in both Chicago and Tokyo.

“I enjoy running while travelling; it can provide a great perspective on an unfamiliar city. I passed the 10K mark for the first time while running in Chicago this summer and got lost while running in Tokyo where I was lucky to find a Metro station that I recognized.”

Shawn says that learning to run has been but one chapter in a long story of coming to terms with his body as someone who grew up with weight and self-esteem issues. “I love taking clinics because of the camaraderie of running in a group and the structure and discipline imposed by the schedule,” he says.

With most of the races for the year wrapped, Shawn is focused on training for the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington next March, which he wants to complete in less than two hours. “Running has increased the scope of what I dare to accomplish, and has influenced the rest of my life — I’m now more open to saying yes to the unexpected, to being more adventurous.

“If all goes well, I plan to train for the 2010 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon next fall. Sounds like a great way to celebrate turning 40.”

Shawn continues to go to bootcamp three days a week, while running an additional three times a week. “Between that, my day job, and my sideline career in freelance journalism, that’s about all I can fit in,” he says. Shawn even has a book review being published in the January 2010 issue of Canadian Running Magazine. To view more of shawn’s writing, visit his website at www.shawnsyms.ca.

“Running in a group is such a pleasure in and of itself. I’ve met great people — and more than a few kooky characters,” says Shawn. “And my doctor isn’t raising alarm bells about my blood sugar or cholesterol like he used to. If I’m still doing this 10 years from now, I’ll be very happy.”