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Episode 033: Natasha Wodak -- Olympic runner
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What we cover: For those of us who watched the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and sat glued to our television sets for the Opening Ceremonies of the 31st Olympiad, there was a feeling -- just like there is at every Games -- that what we are seeing is a collection of the world’s beautiful people. The fittest, shiniest, most glowing versions of human potential anywhere on the planet march through one arena under one roof carrying hundreds of flags – all at one time. There’s an excitement in the air, to be sure. And if I’m being entirely honest, there can almost be a sense of envy. Look at them, having the time of their lives, celebrating the full actualization of their biggest dreams – while I am here on the couch eating rice crackers, only hypothesizing what that might look like for me. That said, make no mistake, on my end, the envy is more than out-balanced by the sense of inspiration. It’s sort of like, 2% envy, 98% inspiration, really.
However, today’s guest met my envy-honesty head on. She swiftly debunked the mythology of the flawless Olympian and pulled the curtain back on what’s really going on behind the scenes. Behind the toothpaste-ad smiles and the sports gear-endorsement television spots, and behind the magazine cover photoshoots. She pulls it all back. And I love her for it.
For as superficial as it may sound, she’s stunningly beautiful and, as an Olympic runner in 10,000 metre, she’s undeniably kooky fit. So, without meaning to emit it, there’s a vibe of: Well some people are just blessed, I guess. However, after the heart to heart, she and I shared, I am truly ashamed of myself for being so shallow. There, I said it.
Not only is she super likeable, turns out, like the rest of us, she’s also very human. And, as we all know, being human comes with its fair share of downward spirals. She talks about the anxiety she has had to contend with, the insecurities, the injuries, the heartache, the frustrations of waiting more than a year to get the email confirming whether or not she even had a spot on the Olympic team… and having to train everyday in spite of this great unknown. All of us non-Olympians are going to go through times of incredible angst and fear of the unknown and even times of deep sadness. Tasha talks candidly about her journey, and how she had to work through the sometimes debilitating downs, then get back up, dust herself off, and then represent her country – Canada – as she performed on the world stage.
This is a woman who can run a 1 hour 11 minute half-marathon. True story. She can run a 2 hour 35 minute full marathon. True story. But for as surreal as those times are on paper, this is also a woman who has overcome a tremendous amount of pain in her personal life and made the decision to run not exactly from it, but through it. Her 2013 divorce sent her reeling, and so she made the conscious choice to use the hurt and the anger and to dig deeper and run faster. The week of her separation, she ran the fastest 8km run by a woman in Canadian history with a time of 25 minutes 28 seconds. She took her hardships and made them work in her favour. And don’t we all have the power within us to do that? No matter what our difficult times look like, and no matter what our goals may be.
The reason I love this chat so much, is I think as an everyday person, which is the camp I fall into (I have said many times I’m a participant not a racer. Nothing ever has come really naturally for me when it comes to those Greek God and Goddess like skillsets and attributes. And hey, I typically have kid barf in my hair or down the back of my shirt at any given time. A;; told, I’m just a normal person.) I think we can feel perhaps discouraged at times. Almost like there’s a “them” and an “us.” A “them” who slips on a pair of short shorts and makes a bee-boppy high ponytail and then has to fight off all the people who want to pay for their proseco on a night out. And an “us” who find ourselves curled up in the fetal position rocking back and forth because it can feel so hard just get it right some days. Turns out, we’re wrong. There’s not a “them” and an “us.” There’s an “us” and an “us.” And I love Tasha because she sits down and tells it like it is.
Runner or not, you’ll love her too.