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Posted: July 3, 2012  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this Share

Leah Larocque's Column
Leah Larocque is a graduate of Queen's University (2011) in Kingston, Ontario where she ran track and cross-country. She was Ottawa's "Road Racer Of The Year" for 2010 and 2011. She has a personal best time of 17:32.9 which she set while winning the Ottawa Race Weekend 5K in 2011.
In 2010 she was the first local finisher in Emilie's Run leading the OAC Racing Team to a first place in the team competition.

Leah is currently a Publications and Communications Assistant with the Ottawa Senators. She is continuing to run and will be writing a regular column for the Runner's Web. She is continuing to run and will be writing a regular column for the Runner's Web.(Column Index)

Athletics: The Runner's Wave

There are many ways in which one can say "nice job!" or "runner on your left!" while on a run. It is important to acknowledge your fellow runners in some way not only to encourage them but also to thank them for taking the initiative to get out and run. However, there is, in my opinion, a universal symbol that is recognized by all runners that can be used instead of any type of encouraging catch phrase or gesture. This would be the runner's wave.

The runner's wave differs from other types of waves. Unlike the Queen's wave where the scooped hand rotates back and forth, the runner's wave merely is a raise of the limb and an expansion and exposure of the palm fixed in the direction of the opposite runner. And unlike, the overzealous four year-old's wave, the runner's wave is brief and inconspicuous.

To the non-runner, our wave may seem like any other wave. Yet, in the universal language of runners, it means more than a simple salutation. It is recognition of what runner's suffer through day in and day out, mile after mile.

What I love the most about the wave is the ability to use it anywhere runners, well, run. Running is something that you can do anywhere; all you need is a good pair of shoes and a space to go. You don't need balls or bats, or a rink of frozen ice. It really is the best way for travellers to shake the legs out after a long bus ride, or for fitness freaks to do, while on "vacation."

A few weeks ago I used it many times in the renowned paths of Central Park. For five days mom and I took on the streets of New York City for my very first time in the Big Apple. I had been looking forward to this trip for quite some time, and during some down time in training I figured that this was the time to go.

After the first two days of walking up and down the avenues, I was itching to go for a run. Central Park was amazing. On the weekends they closed off the park from traffic and runners of all shapes, sizes, and running techniques take to the paths. Central Park is one of those places that make New York such a great metropolitan city. The huge park is located smack dab in the center of Manhattan. Its design is an example for city parks around the world. Designer Frederic Law Olmstead's goal was to create a place where people could relax and reflect. He saw the park "as a kind of social experiment" where people from all walks of life converged.

The weather cooperated for us in New York and we didn't have to fight the rain for more than an afternoon and a bit of the morning we left. I took the first two days off running but when I did run I used the wave on people from all over the world. I heard all types of languages and saw all types of people. Some wore their country's colours- for example Germans were wearing a shirt with their flag. Some Spaniards were wearing Messi jerseys as they spoke Spanish while cruising along on their bicycles. I wondered if I was running besides some celebrities or big wigs in the movie industry- but it was too hard to tell. Someone said that Cameron Diaz runs all the time in the park

Central Park is truly a great place of New York. The rickshaws and the horse drawn carriages were beautiful and part of the experience. I was debating before heading out on Sunday whether or not I wanted to run or take the time to do something else. But when it came down to it, traveling is a lot about experiencing the city, and running through the most beautiful grounds in the world, is just as much part of the city of New York as anything else. Besides, the price is the catch- free.

I have also experienced running in other major city's parks. While I was in Madrid last summer I ran through El Parque Del Buen Retiro- which is basically their version of Central Park. Literally "Gardens" or "Park of the Pleasant Retreat," it is the one of the largest parks of the city of Madrid, Spain. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. A glorious park, bursting with stunning monuments and cenotaphs, and galleries, no wonder it is one of Madrid's premier attractions. Like Central Park, El Retiro is entirely surrounded by the present-day city.

While I was in Paris, I did not run in the centre town- I didn't risk my life, but I was able to run along a beautiful little canal on the outskirts of Paris. I passed beautiful little restaurants and beautiful scenery. I ran along this beautiful little stream that took me into the town and the train station. It was quiet and cooler than running in Spain. It was lush and lovely.

I also used my runner's wave in a quaint little town in London. When one thinks of a small English village- this is exactly what I ran through. The downtown was about the size of an American Wal-Mart and had a village square with cute little restaurants all around. I loved the windy streets, the Tudor architecture, the crooked houses and pavements, and churches on every corner. There was a sense of history there; a deepness unknown to our young Canada.

However, this weekend our great nation celebrated its 145th birthday. I ran a race with teammates and friends downtown Ottawa right in front of our war museum. We cooled down around downtown. Since being back in Ottawa, I have realized that Dorothy had it right. Despite going to Oz, there is no place like home. Ottawa is such a beautiful city. We have a superb assortment of canals and footpaths, access to the Gatineau Hills, biker friendly routes, and amazing places to run. One of my favourite places is the Arboretum. It is a serene place to run along gravel is an inviting refreshment from pavement. Mooney's Bay is a great place too, and if the water is okay- you can finish your run with a fresh dip. In one simple run in Ottawa, you can pass Canada's Parliament, the famous Rideau Canal, the Royal Canadian Mint, the National Gallery and many museums. Ottawa has the feel of a small, unobtrusive city, with unpolluted streets, abundant green space, museums, galleries and a population of active people. No doubt, when you become a runner in Ottawa you will begin to recognize regulars on your routes and use your runner's wave often. You'll become friends and possibly make a few running buddies.

I am no big traveler, but I have seen some big cities inside and outside of Canada. I may not see myself live in Ottawa all my life, but for the time being I love it. I love what it offers and I love the variety. Sure we don't have a statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tour, or haven't hosted the Olympics or housed a monarchy, but it Ottawa offers one thing that no other city can- the welcoming feeling of home. My yellow brick road is called the Rideau Canal.

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