If you’d asked me when I was 20 what I’d be doing in 2020, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have said “running a running shop.”
Back then, I was in the hospitality business. I was busy hustling tables, learning the difference between pinot noir and pinot gris, and working at Prego Della Piazza, one of the handful of high-end restaurants that, in the 1980s, put Toronto on the map as a foody destination.
After Prego, I went to Canoe and the Ritz-Carleton. I met a partner, bought a house, had some kids, joined the PTA. You know the drill.
Then, when I turned 34, I started running. A little bit at first, then a bit more, and before long, I was running marathons.
Gradually my two worlds started to collide. The running world seemed to have an insatiable need for volunteers so my experience in customer service and event management was a natural fit. Eventually, in my “spare time” I became the race director of The Longboat Toronto Island Run and The Sunset Shuffle. I also became a director of Road Racing for Ontario Masters Athletics, for whom I created a provincial Road Race Championship.
I also joined the run club at The Runners Shop, and under Coach Elaine McCrea’s expert tutelage, I did a lot of running and racing.
In one of those, “isn’t it crazy how life turns out”, turn of events, two decades after joining the run club, l was presented with the opportunity to assume ownership of the store. It was definitely a leap of faith but I decided to take it. Somewhere, somehow, deep down, it just felt right. It felt like the perfect way to bring my twin passions – for great customer service and all things running – together in the same place.
I may have traded restaurants for running, but my ethos is the same. It’s about creating a positive experience for someone else. Like Coach E before me, I want to encourage runners to believe in themselves, to set goals, to find their runners high. I’m especially interested in motivating women to join the running community. Believe me, I know what it’s like – not so long ago, I was a newbie too.
If my own journey has taught me anything it’s that you never know quite what’s going to happen. That’s scary and exciting at the same time. How many of us have trained for months, planned out every detail of a race, only to have it go completely sideways? That’s running. That’s life. And that’s exactly the kind of experience that keeps us on our toes – literally – and makes us resilient.
I may not have predicted that this is where I’d be right now, but now that I’m here, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I look forward to sharing more thoughts in the months ahead. I’d also love to get your feedback on this so don’t hesitate to email me with your comments, ideas, suggestions, stories. As they say, we’re all in this together.
Words to Run By
"Running allows me to set my mind free. Nothing seems impossible. Nothing unattainable."
— Kara Goucher, Olympic long-distance runner