Hi my name is Allison Miceli and this is #MyCanada story
#MyCanada is a mosaic of early morning sunrises and evenings lit by the dim glow of street lights. As the sun sets on the city, blanketing in darkness just in time for us to hit the streets, we run TO. #MyCanada is embracing every season, not fearing the cold, snow, rain and wind but finding excitement in the diversity of seasons that we have the ability to experience. It’s a place where I am surrounded by the faces of folks who have become a second family to me, allowing me to extend my definition of a family tree as we all share a common uniting passion.
My story is not about my upbringing, or a move to make Canada my home early, it’s about the development of a community while I work to discover my self and my identity. I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, raised in Burlington, Ontario and spent a better part of my young life navigating the streets of steel town and later traveling the world as part of a marching band. But through all of these experiences I’ve never had the opportunity to explore much of my own country from coast to coast.
Two years ago I never would have imagined how my path would change, how being introduced to one thing would allow me to see the city and this country from a completely different viewpoint. To be honest, I’m not sure I would have believed you if you told me this journey would be on my own two feet…while running.
I laced up for the first time nearly two years ago at the end of June in 2014 and went for my very first run. I made an attempt at trying to run previously but this instance was different, I was making a three-month commitment to run three times a week with a bunch of strangers, with the end goal of running my first 10km race in September. It seemed like a crazy idea, but being the new kid in town sometimes make you do crazy things in hopes of finding your identity and fitting in. I had relocated to Toronto for work and discovered the run community through social media. A few of my yoga friends ran with a group called Tribe Fitness, they had a Learn to Run program starting and I thought that it would be a unique way to meet people outside of the office and explore the city. Tribe Fitness is known for being a free fitness community. One that fosters a community sweating for social good and making running and yoga accessible to all. I was unaware at the time that I was going to become a part of an incredible inclusive community that would believe in me more at times than I believe in myself. It has allowed me to accomplish so much over the past two years than I ever expected, all while we let go and pound pavement together weekly.
The beauty of running is that it is universal and what I’ve come to discover is that this tight knit community, locally and across Canada, is all about bringing out the best in each other. Early in my #runlife one of my coaches said to me, “we are all runners…we might all run at different paces or distances but at the core of it each one of us is a runner in our own right.” I think that’s when it clicked for me, it was that moment when I shed the self-doubt of possibly failing at this and really started to understand the bigger picture of it all.
The run community in a lot of ways is a small representation of Canada as a whole – it’s inclusive, multicultural, spans various backgrounds and languages. We all have a story to share and we work together collectively to help one another succeed. I don’t know if it gets much more Canadian than that. These people who were once strangers become friends, sole sisters, pace partners, cheerleaders both on the pavement and in life
Running has opened a new avenue of connection for me this past year as I traveled across North America. It serves as a common thread that I can share with the locals. It’s truly a unique experience to explore a city, old or new, by foot with locals along their favourite route. Sharing that experience with someone or a fellow run crew is a personal connection that you forge as they share their pride and passion for the routes and trails they call home. It’s in this moment that you are united by the pounding heartbeat in your chest and your feet on the street. From early morning workouts with a view along side November Project YVR, to back-alley waterfront social routes with the Tight Club Run Crew, treks along the Georgia Viaduct as part of the Robson Run Crew and back home to Wednesday night runs with my crew family Tribe Fitness in the heart of the six.
It is within these words of reflection that I find the reasoning behind what represents #MyCanada and #MyPassion. This year I am working towards spending more time fostering and growing this community. This is the time and place for me to give back to the community that has given me more than they will ever know. I want to allow others the ability to access this outlet that so many have left unexplored because they believe they will not fit in. I would like to play a small part in helping allow anyone and everyone to experience the feeling of being included, seeing their local neighbourhood in a new way and exploring the vast land this country has to offer. #MyCanada is running in the dead of winter with two pairs of pants on, it’s embracing a rainstorm instead of hiding inside from it, it’s getting up early on a Sunday morning when you aren’t racing to cheer on those who are and taking pride in the community you help create!
“Heart over head. Inclusion over ego. United by passion, we go all in.”
– 2011 Adidas campaign
Side note: It’s interesting to note what a presence the Peace Collective pieces have taken in the run community. As you travel within the GTA and across Canada you tend to always see folks at races and events representing their love for Toronto in a variety of the Home is Toronto, Toronto vs. Everybody shirts. As you cross boarders to the south and across the world you find a glimpse of Canadian pride and usually a smile upon commenting on someone proudly wearing their Home is Canada sweater. It’s the first time this community has had a clothing company provide us with the ability to show our love for our city and country in a way that is so stylish and fresh. There is nothing quite like throwing on your designs after a race or wearing it to a race expo to proudly show where you hail from!
Follow @miceliaj and @tribe_fitness!