A couple months ago I entered a contest that my local running store, Frontrunners Westshore had shared on Facebook through Brooks Running Canada. It was called Refresh your Run. I had to post my winter picture of me running and tell my story. I posted a family selfie from our New Years eve fun run we had done in 2014 and told them about my journey, my running and amazing family. A few weeks later I got an email telling me that I was a potential winner, all I had to do is complete a form and send it back. Shortly after that I received the confirmation email that I had won. I could hardly believe it. I had won a return trip for me and my husband to Toronto, three nights hotel, $200.00 spending money, entry into the Toronto night run for both of us and a full Brooks outfit for running this winter.
All sounds amazing right? It was so much more than amazing. It’s hard to put it into words. I found out that we were also getting a makeover and doing a photo shoot. Potentially a photo of me could be hanging in a store near you, so weird. Ha!
Thursday – Travel Day and Free Time
When we arrived in Toronto we checked into our hotel. At the front desk was a large gift bag waiting for me. I was so excited. Brooks had built me a package which contained some awesome Brooks Heritage runners, a folder containing all I needed to know about our three days as well as several other items like Brooks water bottles, laces, etc. I put my new shoes on and we went out to check out the city. The hotel they put us in was awesome, right in the heart of Toronto, close to the lake, down the street from the St. Lawrence Market and tons of restaurants and pubs to choose from. We had bought tickets for the Blue Jays game on Friday night so we set out to go find Rogers Center to collect our tickets.
Friday – Makeover, Photo Shoot – A Magical Day!!
On Friday morning I was to meet the other 5 winners in the lobby using my Brooks #RunHappy sign which was part of my package upon my arrival. We all met in the lobby and got into the SUV that Brooks had arranged for us to takes us to the Brooks Headquarters in Mississauga. We as a group got to know each other a bit more on the ride out. I learned that one of the other winners Ashley had also lost half of herself, everyone had a great story. We were sent off to get into our last years winter gear that we were asked to bring from home. This is when I wished I had saved my old bigger clothes… would that be an awesome before picture. We took our before shots and before you knew it Jenine and Justin had us trying on clothes and helping us choose the right products for the climates we run in and what we like to wear when running. I chose a base layer for the warmer sunnier fall days, a half zip for the cooler days and a bright yellow shell for the wet days on the west coast. Jenine encouraged me to try a different running pant, I tend to just to go black but she recommended some pants that had a fun pattern to them. We were also given shoes to wear for the photo shoot. I wore Ghost Gortex runners, which will be released this fall with their fall winter collection. I was super excited when I learned that everything I wore in my photo shoot was mine to keep, even the runners, Wahoo!! I am set, I have everything I need to help me train for my first half marathon.
Justin even encouraged me to take a couple hats for those rainy days. Jenine got me set up with a new Moving Comfort bra. I already wore Moving Comfort bra’s but she encouraged me to try a new type with a razor back, which I love!! Caitlin did our hair and make up and made us look beautiful. The photographer Paul did a great job to help us all feel comfortable while he took hundreds if not thousands of photos. The whole experience makes you feel pretty amazing. Eventually I will get a copy of my photos as well they will be used in social media campaigns by Brooks and possibly posted in a running store near you. Not only was this day a magic experience for me after all my hard work to be a better me but losing weight and starting new fitness regimes is expensive, thanks to Brooks Running Canada I have a great start to a full running wardrobe for this year!
Once the photo shoot was over we headed back to the hotel in the SUV. By this time, we had all bonded with each other. I felt like I had a bunch of new friends, not just the other winners but the Brooks team as well. The other winners are Benoit and Nancy – both from Quebec. Tina, Michael and Ashley all from the Calgary area and myself. Benoit and Nancy knew each other as they run out of the same run club but the rest of us were all new to each other, but are all good friends now.
Once I got back to the hotel I met up with Trevor, heard about all his exploring from his day. We then set out to watch the Blue Jays play the Baltimore Orioles. Even though the Blue Jays did not have a great game and lost badly, we still had an amazing night, neither of us had been to major league baseball game before so we were delighted regardless of the outcome.
Saturday – Free time, Hop on- Hop off – Toronto Night Race
We had some free time on Saturday and took advantage of it. We slept in, had breakfast, did more exploring, had a nap and then had an early dinner to prepare for the Toronto Night Race. We were supposed to do the Hop on Hop off bus, which as an optional tourism event that Brooks (Jenine) arranged for us. To make a long story short, we missed our bus and decided to set out on foot. We averaged about 10k each day walking around exploring and this day would be no different even though I was running a 10k later that night and Trevor the 5k. We seen most of what was on our must see list but there is so much more in this city we still want to explore. Toronto is HUGE! We loved it and could have easily spent another day or two exploring. Brooks had arranged for two SUV’s to pick us up at the hotel to bring us to the Toronto Night Race. They would have our race packages waiting for us so we just needed to get to their tent and get ready. This is where we got to meet the rest of team that wasn’t in the office on Friday. We got our package, our headlamp, and face painted. Ready to rock and roll for the run… yikes, 25 degrees with the humidity felt like 31 degrees. I am so not used to running in those temperatures, but we all powered through it and had a blast! Michael, one of the other contest winners, even won the 10k for the men, what a machine! I had never participated in a night race before. I found it to be a very different experience than a regular race. This event for me was more about the fun and less about the time. I say this but then I have to admit I added a minute to my TC10K and I didn’t like that. Ha! I had a great pace going until around the 7K mark but then the heat started to wear me down. Brooks Running had a huge part in this event, they even had their Brooks Run Island out for anyone that wanted to get their gate evaluated for your next pair of running shoes. What a super fun and friendly group… I know I am repeating myself but I was just so impressed by them all.
After the race Brooks gave us VIP access to their section, which is where we could have a beer on Brooks. Thanks Brooks, I was really thirsty. 🙂
We then had to say goodbye to all the Brooks team, we would all be leaving the next day so wouldn’t be seeing them again. I hope I thanked them enough, they really did an amazing job hosting us and making us feel pretty special! We all decided to go to McCools for a beer as a group before we all had to say goodbye. I really felt like I was saying goodbye to friends. We had all bonded, shared stories, pictures of our families. We are all connected on Facebook and plan to keep in touch. I will miss everyone.
The People Behind Brooks Running Canada
When we arrived we meet most of the Brooks team on the Friday of the photo shoot. What an amazing group of people. Jenine, Marketing Manager for Brooks Running Canada, who we had received our emails and packages from was there to greet us and show us around. We met all of the Brooks team as well as our photographer Paul and Caitlin our makeover girl. Justin, I believe he is the new Toronto area Guru, was awesome. He had only been with Brooks for that week, recently graduated from university but a ton of knowledge from previous work experience on Brooks products. We met many others but the day was a bit of a whirl wind so I can’t remember everyone’s names/titles. We did also met Jeanie and Cindy the next day at the Night Race. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, made us all feel super special. They had all read our stories. I loved being able to watch them with their families at the Toronto Night Race too, it really puts in to perspective to the great people behind great products.
Since I have done my photo shoot I have had an opportunity to use my new Brooks clothes and runners. I had always ran in Brooks running pants, Moving Comfort bras but had never used their shoes or upper layers. I have to say I am impressed! I have ran twice in my new Ghost runners and they are super comfortable, provide good cushion, supportive and light. They aren’t too heavy or hot, even with the Gortex, my feet feel pretty happy after each of my runs. The clothes are super comfortable. I tried a different kind of running pant from what I usually wear and I am loving the extra support they are providing me. With my weight loss I feel my skin is a bit lose but these pants make me feel good and well kept together for my run. I ran with my base layer top yesterday, it was a cool but sunny day in Victoria so kept it to just the base layer. I liked the wicking that the material does but is nice and light so I don’t over heat. I ran in my new razor back Moving Comfort twice now and I have to say “the girls” are happy. This bra is comfortable and provides the support needed when you have breasts. 🙂 I have not yet ran in my half zip which is a second layer that I will use when it is chiller but I have worn it out to do some errands and love the way it feels on me. I am really excited about my outer layer, it’s a light but bright yellow shell I will wear on the wetter running days. I absolutely love this style and not that I am looking forward to a rainy day but I am excited to run in this new jacket! I also loved their new Seattle line, which is new more technical pant and jacket. I decided it wasn’t what I would use for the photo shoot as I tend to run hot so didn’t want to end up too warm for me but if you are looking for rainy fall/winter running clothes I would definitely check this option out for yourself, I still may end up with a pair once it really gets ugly out there. I focused more on what I could use to finish my half training for this fall, rather than later in the winter when it is a bit colder. I can’t not mention my Brooks Heritage “Chariots” that were in my package when I first arrived. They are not a running shoe but more of shoe for casual wear. I absolutely love their look and they are very comfortable. I have worn them everyday since I got them. They look great with a nice pair of jeans.
Me – Looking Ahead!
Well it’s been a whirl wind of a summer and a very social one at that. I have managed to maintain my weight all summer even with an extra active social/beverages kind of summer. It’s been a blast but I am super excited to get back into a routine and get back at my training for Tough Mudder 2016 now that my shoulder is starting to feel better. My half marathon training is ramping up, over the next couple weeks my long run will peak at 20k with my race happening on October 11th. I am so excited for this event, I think half’s might be my favourite distance but I will confirm that once I actually race it. LOL I still have 13-15lbs to lose to hit my goal weight. I haven’t lost much weight over the summer, and that’s ok-it’s been fun, but time to get back at it and cut down on my social activities and up my work outs. I plan to reincorporate swimming and weights back into my regime to take it to that next level. Aside from Tough Mudder 2016 I haven’t decided what my next running goal should be. Do I focus on getting my speed up or do I look to train for my first trail run? I haven’t decided yet, any suggestions?