run it, run it

run it, run it

run it, run it
March 2021. The date…not a noteworthy one. The time…equally irrelevant. The conversation, life changing.

Theo and Due enter the studio drenched in sweat. Subtly but surely gasping for air. Between breaths, Theo remarks:

You tryna run a marathon this year?”

With a slightly sceptical chuckle Anthony responds:

“Uhh, yeah sure…I guess.”

Due, quickly chimes in.
“Sick, what’s your collateral item?”
“My what?”
“Collateral item.”
“For what?”
“The marathon.”

Flash forward a few weeks, somehow another six (naive) friends have been corralled into this emerging run squad. The search criteria? Whoever happened to be in close enough proximity to be lured in. The catch? Every team member swore an allegiance through a metaphorical (and also not-so metaphorical) sacrifice.

Offering up an item of significant monetary but more importantly, sentimental value as collateral. Failure to complete three Sunday runs between April and the late October marathon date would result in their item being auctioned off, with the proceeds going to charity. No biggie.

A silver lining appeared thanks to one hell of a favour. The team would be under the supervision of certified exercise physiologist, triathlete, and run coach extraordinaire, Nina Sieh.
The stage was set. Nine runners of varying experience and one seasoned coach tasked with transforming our group of misfits into a certified running crew ready to tackle the marathon as one collective unit.

And so, Run It, Run It, was born.
* * *

7:46 a.m. on a Sunday in May. Anthony’s phone buzzes. “Running 15-20 minutes late,” -Chevy.

Not the first time and definitely not the last. Anthony doesn’t think much of it, continuing what has become routine, the streetcar carries on towards the studio

7:59 a.m. As he opens the studio door, his commute’s final step coincides with a not too unfamiliar chain reaction.
the response? slumping onto the ground in an effort to recover just a little bit more from last night’s activities knowing full well what’s about to come.
At a pace comfortable to everyone, we make our way from the East end. Snaking our way north before getting purposefully lost in yet another neighbourhood, all according to plan. The exploration, beaming sun and company offer a much welcomed distraction from the task at hand. Oh, and the playlist. Can’t forget about that.
Three hours and some change later, we rendezvous back at the studio. The recovery regimen consists strictly of Gatorade, smoothies and lunch before temporarily parting ways, to reconvene in another seven days.
Rinse and repeat. Time flies by, incrementally increasing distances until we’re hitting personal bests as a group on a weekly basis.
* * *
It’s a sunny Friday afternoon, we find ourselves at a French immersion elementary school on the outskirts of downtown Toronto. “Le Track,” as it is nicknamed by the Toronto run community, is home to its fair share of speed workouts and events. This afternoon the team would be embarking on a run experience that their training could not prepare them for. The Escape to Chicago crew was hosting a Beer Mile and Pedro thought it would be a good idea to get a team signed up.

IOooh finally a run event I feel like I’d be good at.” – Trae
“I just have to drink a beer, then run a lap? Piece of cake” – Mac

It started off well as we watched the solo event, cheering on familiar faces, and encouraging participants to run and chug. A good way to warm up before it was our turn.

Were we prepared? Not really.

Mac got held up at work, so Xuan had to jump in for him at the last minute. Anthony forgot his running shoes. Luckily, someone had a brand new pair of racing shoes in his size.

We started off strong. Anthony outchugged the competition and got us out to an early lead. Piece of cake, these runners don’t drink like we do right?

Well… if you’ve never chugged a full beer then run 400m, I suggest you try it.
* * *
9:00 am, Sunday, October 24th, 2021.

The day we’ve all been training for. It’s marathon day.

The Sunday that marks the six month anniversary of our first run.

Stepping into the studio like any other weekend, you can feel the mixture of energy in the space. A good group of friends came to see us off and team members dressed up in brighter tops and shorter shorts than usual. Our friend Hassan pulled up all the way from Montreal to join us on this journey. Equipped with what seemed like a thousand Maurten gels, he was a running gel station.

We greet everyone kind enough to take the time to come, while keeping our minds focused on the task at hand. Setting off to the sound of far more cheers than usual, we head east with our sights set on the beach.

With the Toronto Waterfront Marathon being cancelled, we improvise by following a route that ensures we spend the day properly sightseeing the best Toronto has to offer while hitting spots of great personal significance.
Reaching the 9 km mark, we make our way from the beach towards the east side of the city. Racking up as much distance as we can on, we weave our way through neighbourhoods, parks and a couple of bridges before arriving at our first water and cheer station; the half marathon mark. Here we get an update from Niks, more TZ familigia, who decided to run his own marathon all the way in Singapore.
Hugs, cheers, hydration, and temporary alleviation all around. Fighting against the urge telling us to stay a bit longer, we set our sights on our next pitstop: Crow’s Nest barbershop.

The marathon’s symptoms begin to creep up on us as cramps and fatigue set in. Thank god for the tiger balm, gatorade, and whiskey at Crow’s Nest.
You may not consider ice-cream proper marathon fuel. You’d probably be right to do so. Nevertheless, you already know what our next move was. Ruru Baked for some literal and metaphoric comfort food. Our last major pit stop before we took on the last 12 km, or what marathoners know it as; the start of the race.
The last 12 kilometres took us west of the city through the hilly High Park and out along the waterfront trail to the infamous Humber Bay Bridge. With minimal stops along the way, this section is typically a runners paradise. Based on where we were in our race, we’d agree to disagree. The doubts of finishing crossed some minds as a pain familiar to any marathoner set in. Gritting our way through the last few kilometres, all pain and doubts were subdued, thanks to the myriad of family and friends waiting at the finish line. Warm embraces and cold beers never felt better. If this race experience wasn’t already A1, Jon Rehab was on-sight with a treatment table for those tensed up quads/calves.

the team.

here are the heroes.

I was EXTREMELY excited to be able to be part of this and to be able to help runners collectively aim for and accomplish a lofty goal. Reflecting on the overall experience I’m so appreciative of the team for letting me be a part of some beyond memorable moments. We are more than runners. I saw all greatly determined, motivated and inspiring humans. My hope is that every person on the team got to accomplish what they set out to do and felt supported throughout the process. Any lofty goal can be accomplished with the right team, mindset, tools, and support.

One of my favourite memories was a Sunday run we took through the Don Valley. We were blasting music and had to climb up this really big hill. I loved it because I vividly remember feeling that runners high and just running with everyone on that sunny day was such a vibe.

In hindsight I wish I documented more of the process or made a video or reel showcasing our progress throughout but we were just caught up in the moment of it all. Sunday runs were about spending quality time with friends more than anything.

The marathon itself was hard bro. The first half felt easy, but throughout the second half I was so close to giving up because of how much pain I was in. Blood, sweat and tears are no joke. I felt really good running next to everyone at the end. I really think that it was really important to run it all as a team. We start together and we accomplish it together.

I feel proud of myself and especially the team for completing one of the most challenging feats. Marathon day was a progressive journey towards self destruction. Acceleration of our bodies decaying. All pain aside — what made the day was the community that rallied with us with minimal planning…

People really did pull up for us when it was a last minute ask:
-Portable hydration station by Keren and Chris
-The Kickback finish line
-Karen and Chelsea – random but awesome
-Rurubaked with the ice cream assist.
-Whole lotta friends and family that yelled at the top of their lungs
-Nikita fucking Rusin from Singapore running the same thing. -Jon Rehab putting in that work
-Hassan coming from Montreal.

Belief in the underdogs is real.

Due introduced me to running a little over a month before the program started so I was excited to explore running further. In hindsight, it was a beautiful thing to see an idea of something so lightly said come to life in full force. Getting people to come together and overcome such a big milestone as a unit. “No one left behind” was stood by through all the ups and downs. The marathon itself was something I’ll never forget. Nerves were running through my body. Thoughts of what happens if my knee gives out. Pretty much thinking about all the worst scenarios and how I didn’t want to be the person that holds the rest of the team behind.To be honest I felt kinda sad that it finished, time passed by so fast that I didn’t even realise how fast the marathon happened. But it was a bittersweet feeling, to see everyone finish with all the work they put in.

Run It, Run It made me feel special. When Mac signed me up I felt nervous and somewhat unsure of what I was getting myself into. I was definitely excited for what was to come but it also felt like a big unknown. My biggest obstacles were my appendix surgery and my knee injury. Both of those stopped me from running as much as I wanted but still allowed me to weight train and do physio. This is what I think in the end helped me alot because so many of my imbalances were addressed and allowed me to run better! But I definitely missed a lot of weekday runs because of it.

The marathon felt FUCKING AMAZING!! I couldn’t believe that I had followed through until the end. I mean I felt like we had to. But still, to finish it and to commit to something for that long felt really really good. Regardless of the race. I didn’t consider myself a runner at all when I first joined but I definitely do now. I even miss it a bit now that it’s over.

I think I was a bit naive to how challenging losing my car might actually be haha. I signed up thinking “easy, running- I do this already, I got this” but never considered how tedious the training would actually get, and at a certain point, putting the Buick up for collateral to hold me accountable started to make me sweat. Y’all never got me though !

My most memorable run during training was this really long one with Xuan. I took her to Tommy Thompson park, we ran really far that day and it was really humid and steamy. We took it easy, enjoyed the scenery, made a couple artsy videos when it sun-showered, dipped into Lake Ontario- even had a sip (for context, it was mad clear I had to try it), and capped it with 6 tequila shots to celebrate a new running milestone for her. Spicy.

The marathon itself was a different beast. Nerve wrecking and anxiety filled. In a good way. Nervous that my muscles might call it before I wanted to, anxious for a redemption from my last marathon to do significantly better this time around. I significantly did, the whole team did amazing.

My most memorable run was one of the times I ran alone in the rain to classical music. It truly felt like a scene from a movie. I felt really proud of myself for being able to finish the program. It was a lot of training and the most I’ve ever pushed my body, but it’s what was needed in order to run the marathon. Race day was beautiful. It’s weird, but I never felt more alone, but a part of a team. I got the feeling that I was unstoppable. Going through this process, I learned that running has been my biggest mental coach and I’m really thankful for Run It, Run It.

Being a part of Run It Run It, gave me a little more structure to my day. My days felt better knowing that I started them with a run. It became a moment for me to clear my mind to mentally prepare and organise my day. I didn’t consider myself a runner when I joined Run It Run It and I still don’t quite consider myself a runner just yet but I’m getting there.

Oh the marathon. What better way to commit to such a feat. I came into this as a more “seasoned” runner with a completed marathon under my belt (I blew up at that race btw). I’ve been through the training blocks, and the workouts, and “done this” before. Being able to be a part of a team through this whole process made things different. Each individual in this group is truly wonderful, and collectively going through this made this marathon process that much more enjoyable. Seeing your friends go from “aw we have to run 8k” to PBing their run distance week after week made me proud. Race day will go down as one of my top run experiences of all time. With official races being cancelled, the team pivoted and took matters into our own hands creating our own race experience. Water stations, cheer stations, a finish line…we even had my boy, Jon Rehab at the finish line with a massage table!! On route, I drank a shot of Jameson at 27k and had ice cream at 32k, you can’t tell me this wasn’t a memorable experience. Somehow along that 42.2km (42.5 on strava but we just needed to make sure haha), we managed to stay together as a group and crossing that finish together was such an emotional moment.

Running a marathon is always going to be an accomplishment. To see a group come together and commit to training for one made it fun. But to see a community come together and support us, it was just the cherry on top of what magic you can create when you truly commit to putting in the work.

I felt excited, but somewhat blindsided though as well to be candid. In some ways I was signed up on a whim before the program was fleshed out to what it eventually became. It was only days later when the decision to hold my camera as collateral was in essence made for me. However little did I imagine the memories we’d come to make. One of my favourite ones being a long run towards the end of the program. To set the scene. We were in HAWAII. We were dealing with elevation. It was 2pm. We had a flight to catch that evening. We had 22km to go, having run 11km in the morning, in order to avoid strikes across the board. We scoped out a local mall in which we could park in and run from. With the sun shining we began our trek, running roadside for a few kilometres until we hit an open countryside road with little to no traffic. It felt like running through Jurassic Park. Upon reaching the turning point, each of us were battling the clock, our own injuries and all of the sudden the weather too. Oh and we didn’t have cell service. Sun turned to showers. Long story short, getting back to the car turned out to be the toughest run of the entire year but also the most rewarding one. Gatorade never tasted so bless.
* * *
The marathon. You may or may not have crossed paths with this feat. Some have it on their bucket list to complete. Some are regular participants with goals, and aspirations to run incredibly fast times, maybe even to book a run date in Boston. We’ve been blessed to see a special human break the two hour barrier and inspire us to partake in the feat.

This marathon journey is more than just running.

This is a story about commitment.
This is a story about a creative project turned run team.
This is a story about an optimistic group of misfits who decided to run a marathon and show the world that ANYONE can be a runner.
What will it take for you to commit? A bet with your friends? Your most prized possession?

What will it take for you to Run It, Run It?

Vol 2. Coming soon.
Apply Now.

Run It, Run It was fueled by channelzerotz.
about the author
anthony nusca and pedro malvar
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