In the entire time we spend chatting in a Starbuck’s overlooking Mississauga’s Snug Harbour, the closest Rachel Schoutsen comes to negativity is when she describes her first half marathon. “I didn’t love every second of it,” Rachel says.
It’s about 2 o’clock on a Friday afternoon and the two time marathoner has wrapped another day as morning host on the Weather Network.
“One day I went for a 10K run and decided to push myself to 15,” Rachel tells me. “When I got home, I pulled out my laptop and signed up for the Oakville Half Marathon.”
Perhaps she made the jump to that first half marathon a bit too quickly and nerves couldn’t help but flare up on the course. “There was a lightning plan in place for the day and I was so nervous I couldn’t even hydrate properly in the morning,” Rachel recalls.
Despite the shakiness that often comes with one’s first leap to longer distances, Rachel found a path to positivity and that 2014 race would be the first of ten half marathons and counting.
“I’ve always been a positive person and I’ve always set goals,” Rachel says. Her career as a weather broadcaster was no accident. It’s been an ambition and something she’s worked toward since childhood. Running has been a bit more spontaneous, but the hard bitten determination that resides under Rachel’s bright smile and unfailing friendliness has readily found its way onto the course.
Even as she made the progression to the marathon, notorious for ravaging both body and mind, Rachel was somehow immune from the infamous post-race blues. Upon completion of Hamilton’s Road 2 Hope Marathon in 2016, Rachel proclaims, “I was so proud. I think I was in a good mood for two straight weeks!”
Positivity and energy are essential for someone whose job takes place in front of a camera and in the routine that surrounds that work. “I wake up at 3 a.m. to get to the studio for 3:45,” Rachel explains as I sip my coffee and shudder. She continues, “It’s a live show that’s put together by some amazing people. We wrap between 9 and 11 and I’m usually home by noon to walk my dog.”
For Rachel, the energy needed to sustain that routine is nourished
by running, which happens between the end of her work day and 7 p.m. bedtime. The drawback, or perhaps added advantage, is that Rachel has become accustomed to running in the worst conditions of the day, particularly in the summer.
Of course it makes perfect sense that one of the treasures of running for Rachel is the way it connects her to nature and her surroundings, especially when her schedule allows for morning runs. “I get to see the best scenes nature has to offer. Every time I witness a beautiful sunrise or the perfect stillness of Lake Ontario, I’m so grateful that I trained my body to do this,” Rachel says.
According to Rachel, “Running also allows me to tell a better ‘weather story.’” Especially on race weekend, fellow runners can count on hearing about far more than temperature in Rachel’s reports. “There’s so much you have to look for and pay attention to on race day, from the direction of winds at different points along the route to expected cloud cover to how the temperature will change throughout the day.”
As a runner, she knows what factors to focus on so she can tell a story that’s both interesting and relevant. It’s another way that Rachel’s job and passion for running complement each other.
Rachel speaks of her colleagues at the Weather Network with adoration and considers herself fortunate to count many fellow runners among them, though she happily admits, “I’m more of the annoying type of runner who’s always talking about it.” But that constant chatter is just an extension of the irrepressible positivity that’s always defined Rachel along with a desire to share it.
“It’s easy to say that my biggest accomplishment as a runner is becoming a two time marathoner, but the impact I’ve had on others is so much bigger than I ever thought it could be,” Rachel says. Only a few weeks prior to our meeting, Rachel completed the Niagara 10K with a friend who had never raced previously.
While she’s not sure of future race plans, the calendar is less important than the continued joy and ability to uplift others that running affords Rachel. “I’ve never hated it,” she declares without hesitation. “Running has always been a happy thing for me.” For Rachel, the forecast never seems to be gloomy.
Follow Rachel on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelSchoutsen