Words: Kahee Yu & Amanda Failla
When asked to reflect on this past weekend in Toronto, it took us a moment to really think of where to begin. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and the hash tag #IwishICouldGiveYouThisFeeling has never been more accurate.
Amanda: I received the exclusive invite from NTC/NRC to join the Nike Toronto Women’s 15K and they would graciously bus us out free of charge. Seeing as this was my birthday weekend, it was hard to pass up, what better way to kick off the big 2-8? Along with 18 other Chicago women and more luggage than anyone would ever need for a two day trip, we were on our 500 mile journey to Toronto. Amidst the numerous bathroom stops, gossip, story sharing, and even getting lost in downtown Detroit, we finally made it to Toronto. I couldn’t be more excited to see what the city had in store for us as we passed numerous Nike signs scattered throughout the city.
Kahee: I quickly headed out to Parkdale in West Toronto after what seemed like the shortest night of sleep. Parkdale Roadrunners organized a 4km shakeout run in the Parkdale neighborhood before we headed over for coffee, grub, and endless chit chats. Seeing new and old faces from all over the states and Canada was the perfect way to set the positive vibes for the weekend. Once again I was able to realize the best part of races weekends are the opportunities for reunions and creation of new friendships. Before it got too late, I set back to downtown Toronto for the expotique and to meet with Amanda.
Amanda: After getting a few short hours of shuteye, it was time to join the Nike Shakeout Run. When we arrived we saw some familiar faces and Nike truly welcomed us with open arms. They also informed us that there were four different official shake out runs around downtown Toronto, all ending together at the Nike expotique. After meeting and snapping some pictures with our New York Bridgerunner friends, my future husband, er I mean, Coach Bennett welcomed us by giving a speech and inspiring us for what he promised to be an unforgettable weekend.
Our shakeout run was a quick 2.5 miles through Toronto ending with a group stretch before they unleashed us into the expotique. This was one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend, as we all know Nike knows how to throw one helluva party! The expo was much more of an experience than booths of people trying to sell you water bottles and discounted shoes. Our group spent about four hours snapping pictures, laughing, and making memories. What was truly amazing was that we couldn’t go more than twenty minutes without seeing someone we knew. Crew love was in full force!
Amanda: Come Saturday night we [partly] ditched our sneakers and running gear for some fancier attire while we headed to China Town to meet up with Parkdale Roadrunners for their pasta dinner at People’s Eatery. They had rented out the entire restaurant for us and provided endless food while we laughed and chatted away with new and old friends.
Kahee: Seeing runners in anything other than dri-fit and Nikes was a fun part of the night. A hundred runners gathered at People’s Eatery to break bread before race day and the food was incredibly delicious and healthy. We were once again able to meet new friends and catch up with old on a perfect, breezy summer night in Toronto.
Kahee: I woke up from a dream where I wore the wrong shoes and couldn’t run the race; but besides the terrible nightmare the weather looked promising on Sunday morning. We were on a ferry on our way to the Toronto Islands by 6:45am. Even though the race didn’t start until 9:30am, they had to ship in 10,000 people onto the islands, which in turn took just as long to get people off the islands. The weather cooperated as we stretched, frequented the bathrooms and felt all the excitement surrounding us. As soon as we shed off our extra layers and got into our wave, the temperatures dropped and the rain paid us a visit. We were cold but stayed close and tried to stay positive until it was our turn to cross that start line.
Kahee: The first two miles were crowded and I was running a bit slower than I wanted but the beauty of the course had me completely distracted. The course was absolutely beautiful; complete view of the Toronto skyline from various angles, little cottages with grandmas and grandpas cheering us on, and airplanes taking off as we ran on the airport runway! I ran a good race and it felt a bit more special since I was sidelined at last year’s Nike DC half marathon due to an injury. I was on such a runner’s high that the hour wait for the ferry back to mainland didn’t even bother me.
Amanda: Sunday morning came far too quickly as we all met up and walked to the ferry. We all knew that race day wasn’t going to be a stroll in the park weather wise, but it comes with the territory. They can’t all be 55 degrees and perfect days. After being transported to the secluded Toronto Island, it was Nike-palooza! Everywhere you looked there were quirky signs and sayings to take photographs with, drum lines welcoming you to the island, food trucks galore, and lots and lots of women ready to get the show on the road.
After Kahee was able to sneak our group into her start wave, we all huddled together for warmth as the temps dropped and the rain came out minutes before the start of the race. Finally, come 9:30AM we were on! I may have forgot to mention how beautiful the Island of Toronto is – so much greenery, beautiful trees, a serene boardwalk with the waterfront on one side and beautiful trees on the other. We even got to run on an airport runway with planes taking off beside us and had some pretty awesome views of downtown Toronto.
Nike did not disappoint with on course entertainment, we had everything from said airplanes taking off, to a church choir (decked out in Nike kicks, of course), an array of terrain (trail, grass, boardwalk), and comical signs along the course. Though the views were incomparable, my favorite part of the race was the crew love at 14.5K! Crews from all around were lined up along the course high-fiving, screaming, photographing, and confetti bombing fellow runners.
...And how can I not mention our gorgeous finisher’s prize – that little blue box! The Tiffany’s necklace is gorgeous and I can un-shamelessly say, I’ve been rocking my medal all week!