Dayna Pidhoresky qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics by winning first Canadian female at the 2019 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. A longtime friend of iRun, we asked her to look back on her happiest moments in her sneakers—an attempt to get all of us to reflect on how happy we are to be runners.
- Winning my first running “medal” — because medals are better than ribbons said 11 year old me. It was a cross-country race and the year was 1997. I was in grade 6 and I had developed a love of running for the sheer joy of beating the boys. This first significant win was in a race that included other Christian schools from around Southwestern Ontario and I remember the finish like it was yesterday. The final stretch of the race involved crossing a long, narrow bridge across a large pond. As I neared that final single track segment, the girl leading pulled over to the side — seemingly exhausted and unable to continue. I don’t even know if I recognized I was near the lead, but that quickly changed as I came barrelling across the bridge towards the finish line. There I was met by our cross-country coach Mrs. Hayes who was thrilled and met me with a big hug. The fire in my belly to succeed at this sport shone a little brighter after that race!
- High school training was such a blast for me — especially during cross-country season. I trained with my friend Alyssa, she was super speedy, much much faster than I was, and had a 200m-1500m track focus. This kept training challenging and oh so fun. We were nicknamed the “dynamic duo” and I don’t think training has ever been more enjoyable than when I was with her! We each had different strengths and pushed each other to be better while keeping things fun and lighthearted at practices — this was especially necessary for a person like me who can get stuck in their own head a lot of the time. Running through Malden Park in Windsor, in the fall — the wood chips under your feet, crisp air, friend by your side, it doesn’t get much better than that. She very likely kept me in the sport and for that I am so grateful for the companionship we had!
- After University I worked and ran. Much of my running was done before heading off to my shift at the local running shoe store. I would be up early to have coffee before heading out the door. Often I was out running around the majestic Blue Heron hill as the sun was rising. This time alone in the morning was so meditative, so glorious. I’ve always loved nature so much and this area of the city is still one of my favourite places to revisit when I go home. Nowadays I am up and running a bit later but I look back on those early morning runs very fondly because not much can beat a sunrise run. . .
- Except maybe a sunset run. A few years ago while vacationing in Mexico I experienced one of the most glorious sunsets while I was running on the beach in the evening. I always treasure these vacation times with my family who I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like since moving to Vancouver. It’s interesting how the moments I look back on with most joy are not always those podium moments but the times when I feel simply thankful to be doing what I’m doing. Whether it’s the company, the environment, the little things that make me smile along the way, I just love running in my running shoes and that’s probably why I will keep lacing them up every day.
- But of course I could not leave this one out: winning the Canadian Olympic Trials in October of 2019. It’s okay if this remains my top moment of all time. I can certainly live with that. I am so proud of myself for just getting to that start line after one of the toughest, most rocky builds of my life. I stood on the line feeling grateful, healthy, and ready to celebrate the fitness I had managed to glean. I ran strong, confidently, and I was determined to show off all of OUR hard work. I wanted to be part of the conversation, I knew I had so much more in me! To show it all on the day that counted the most was very special. We have worked so hard and I finally displayed the fitness I knew I had. That win was for my TEAM.