What it means to me to be included in the Top 100 Health Influencers of 2019

On this International Women’s Day, I wanted to share with you the honor that was recently bestowed on me (your Sole Sisters Race Director and Girls Gone Gazelle Run Coach) of being included in “The 2019 OptiMYz Top 100 Health Influencers (which) is all about the leaders who are creating a path for better health in Canada.”

I don’t share this honor to brag (though I am proud of it) as much as to reflect on the larger movement by women across Canada to get others active, stronger, healthier and happier. The list includes women and men but it is the group of leadHERs that I am most connected to. We are passionate about improving the health and wellness of women and families across Canada. But how does that start? I think it starts by simply sharing your passion with the world.

I have been a runner since I discovered the sport at 17 years young. I am not a natural athlete but I am stubborn and disciplined which makes up for a lack of talent in running (something I am able to share with Girls Gone Gazelle Run Club). To be fair, running was something I liked from the first step and it came easily. I found my “thing” early and I have simply never let it go. It has been how I define myself to the world and to me. For the first 20 years of my running and racing career, I ran only for me, to improve my times and to achieve certain goals that I had. I often heard that I ran like a Gazelle and I simply loved that compliment more than any other.

Fast forward a few more years as a runner and I no longer ran just for me but as a way to share my love with others. I started coaching as I wanted others to run. I focused on youth running and after a few years I focused solely on girls running. I never forgot my favorite compliment and found a way to incorporate it into the name of our not-for-profit, Girls Gone Gazelle Run Club.

It is interesting how one’s focus can change. For 20+ years I was a runner and frequent racer. But, as I enter my 31st year of running, I whole heartily describe myself as a runHER now. I am a coach, a race director and a runHER. I still manage to do a few races a year that are all about MY time and MY performance. But those races are fewer and fewer. Mind you, I race a lot. I mean a lot a lot! Here’s a little trick. If you ever see me racing without my tutu on, you know that race is just for me. That I might be able to encourage those around me in the race as my focus is 100% on my race. But most often I am running races as I just want to be a part of this amazing community of runners and I’ll cheer you on during and after the race. Those are the times you will see me in my running tutu. I love encouraging runners around me and especially at the finish line. I have so much knowledge about running (it has been such a great passion of mine since 1988) that I love sharing what I have learned either in public speaking, at Sole Sisters events or one on one. Running is simply my favorite thing EVER. Even now that running is harder on my body (my Grandmother always said getting older isn’t for sissies), I still love it. I want every person I meet to find the joy that being physically active has given me. I want you all to be runners or walkers (because let’s face it running is not for everyone but walking should be!).

My passion just happens to be good for me and I know it’s good for you. That is why I created Sole Sisters Women’s Race, to create a community for women to be active. To discover their inner athlete and to just plain feel good. Sole Sisters is the largest women’s only 5K in Canada and has had over 22,000 participants over the years so I guess that means I do have some influence. But I also know you do too, and that is why I love our tag line with Sole Sisters: “Be the Inspiration” as your passion is contagious.

To be included in the 2019 OptiMYz Top 100 Health Influencers is much like being told I look like a Gazelle when I run, it is a compliment I treasure. Now can we go for a walk or run together?