My Community

Running.

it levels the playing field

we’re on par with each other
we’re connecting thru one medium

we’re one, together.

there is no old
there is no young
there is no fast
there is no slow
there is no rich
there is no poor
there is no judgement

there is no royalty

there’s you
your shoes
the company
the laughter
the memories
the pounding of your feet on the ground
the sound of your breath with each step

the sheer joy of running

this is what we share
this is why we show up
this is community.

In the past week and a half, I’ve not only experienced this but lived it.

First, the 2nd VRC Annual Flight Crew X East Van Run Crew Summer Social – a gathering of run crews and runners from across North America.

Almost 200 wicked people that you’d want to get to know running through the streets of Vancouver, and then finishing up with delicious food, cold beers, rad hats, and statement socks. Conversations were flowing and friendships were strengthened and formed. Geographical barriers were non-existent. Laughter filled the air into the late hours of the night.

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Two days later, one of the biggest running parties took over Vancouver. The SeaWheeze Half Marathon brought together 10,016 runners from around the globe to crush a goal, experience Vancouver for its raw beauty, and celebrate over yoga and music in beautiful Stanley Park. The two biggest highlights for me:

  • I was part of a special group of 40 people who were Pace Beavers and were privileged enough to lead groups to their goal time. But beyond that, I was connected to not only the Pace Beavers who were all lululemon ambassadors, but to all ambassadors who came to SeaWheeze. Through multiple events, ending with a picnic style dinner at the SSC (lululemon head office), we shared, mingled, and connected, creating friendships and bonds that go beyond the weekend.

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  • As a Pace Beaver, there is a responsibility I have to have integrity in the promise that I will carry my runners across the finish line in a certain time. It may not seem like much but it is a true honour to lead and hold tight to the trust that runners from near and far have given to me. This was my 4th year as a Pace Beaver and I cannot begin to express how excited and overjoyed I get when I help someone achieve and crush their goal. This is what drives me to continue giving to the community in any capacity I can.
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Photo Credit: @lululemonYVR

Luck doesn’t begin to describe it. I feel as though I’ve won the jackpot when it comes to life and I keep getting the winning ticket. I’m an ambassador for both Vancouver Running Co and lululemon, each providing me avenues to connect to my community and space to create more. My passion is so deeply rooted in authentically connecting with people through our shared unbridled love of run and celebrating every success along the way. In all capacities. On all terrain.

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At the SeaWheeze Sunset Festival… with multiple run crews and ambassadors from around the globe, all as one.
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A Little Bit of Dignity

You don’t see anything out of the ordinary when you look out my window, but take a few minutes to listen to my story. I’ve been looking out my window across the way a few times a day searching for a man.

Last Wednesday, I step out of my building to meet my nephew. While I wait, I witness a young man (no more than maybe 20 years old) running down the street with a full garbage bag in his arms. In pursuit is an older Asian man yelling at him to stop. By the time I realize what was happening, the young man throws the bag (filled with empty cans) against a tree and proceeds to casually walk across the street and down the walkway to his destination, as though nothing had happened. The older man catching his breath gets down on his hands and knees to pick up the cans that have fallen out of the bag after it had burst from the impact. All I could do was walk over, help him collect his cans, and ask if he was ok. He thanked me, and I proceeded to meet my nephew.

I came back into my home a few minutes later, shocked and appalled at what I had witnessed. I looked out the window and the older man was stacking his collection of empty cans and started down the road. I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing, so I went through my recycling as fast as I could to collect any bottles or cans I had. I threw them into a bag and ran out the door to find this man. He was gone.

So everyday, I look out my window several times a day to see if I can find him so I can add to his collection. People don’t necessarily choose their circumstances, but they can choose the path by which they thrive and survive in life. The least we can do as human beings is show them some respect and dignity. I am so deeply saddened by this, and I hope I get to properly meet this man sooner than later.

Death by Paper Cuts

Healdsburg Running Company

Tucked in the heart of the Russian River area is a quaint little town called Healdsburg.  If you find yourself stumbling around what I can only call Downtown Healdsburg and you’re a runner at heart, your feet will walk you through the doors of the Healdsburg Running Company.  There may be tents outside with people in trucker hats milling around and chatting.  There may be a family fun run about to happen.  There may also be a Salomon Demo Fleet.  Above all else, what you will definitely find is a gentleman by the name of Skip whose warm, fun smile fills his face and whose voice captivates and fills the room.  You’ll be greeted with the familiarity of a regular, and brought into conversations as though you were there from the beginning. HRC isn’t a large store, but it’s the cornerstone of the local running community. In the 30ish minutes we were there, we were given about 10 things we could do and about 10 restaurants, tasting rooms, and breweries to visit. It was like walking into a family friend’s home.

 

Goals

Asking goal times is a commonality among friends when a race is thrown into the conversation, and with this one, I did and I didn’t.  My last race, Squamish 50, was highly unsuccessful, suffering from nausea for most of the day. Lake Sonoma had 2 purposes:
  1. Erase the emotional scar of Squamish 50, and complete a race the way I know how: 100% physical effort and 0% stomach issues.  Time-wise, anywhere between 10:30-12:00 would be reasonable.
  2. To witness a really great friend, Elaine, cross the finish line of her first 50 miler.  We trained together, until the last 6 weeks before the race when she encountered a foot injury.  She was smart during those 6 weeks and didn’t push her recovery too soon.  The main thing I told her was that she would go in under trained a little bit, but she’ll finish.

Death by Paper Cuts

Drive about 20 mins outside of Healdsburg on April 9th to the South Lake Trail around 6am and you’ll find almost 400 runners ready to toe the line at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile ultramarathon. The field is deep, as this race is a Golden Ticket race for Western States. As I made my way to the portapotty line, I couldn’t help but overhear 2 runners ahead of me chatting about, surprisingly, running! Way Too Cool 50k was a month prior so stories were shared, and then they moved onto the impending race. One talked of how they’ve consistently done a positive split of an hour on the course, even though they thought they were going out conservative. Then, “Death by Paper Cuts” was how it was described. What an odd and unpleasant way to describe the next 50 miles we were about to run.

 

Without giving it too much thought, we proceeded to go through the morning pre-race motions and got ready for race start. I told Tav that my goal was to hit the halfway mark at 5.5 hours feeling good. So, let’s see how the day would unfold…

 

There was no California sun that day with rain in the forecast, so I was geared up with a tank top, arm warmers, and a jacket, and off I went. The first couple of miles were on undulating road and Elaine and I were quickly separated. I tried to balance my road instincts with my ultra brain (READ: Don’t run too fast ahead). We then jumped into the trails and it was, again, undulating. I didn’t go into this race with a pace in mind because, as anyone who has ever run an ultra before will tell you, there’s no way to run “a pace” the whole way.  My watch auto-beeps every mile so it gives me a gauge of some average based on whether the last mile was more uphill or downhill.  Seeing the times that were coming through, I felt like I was doing well at being conservative – almost a bit too conservative, BUT, I’ve never actually run a race conservative, so there’s always a first.  I was tempted, and even gave in on occasion, to pick up the pace though, because you gotta have a little fun!

 

Every ultra I do, I do want to make sure I take the time to enjoy what I see and experience so I always carry a camera. Today was no exception. Along the way, there was a view of the lake and I stopped to take a shot or two. A runner (Oscar!) came up behind me and told me to hand over my camera. It caught me off guard, but I did what I was told. He took my camera, went past me, and then turned around to take a couple of photos of me. “Smiles before miles” was what he said. So very true, and a great reminder.
Smiles before Miles!
I knew the first aid station I would see my crew was at 11.6 miles (Warm Springs) so it would be quite a while. There was a small water-only aid station before that and it came and went – a little earlier than expected – but this is trail and distances are generally approximate. Next thing I know, I’m rolling into the aid station where my crew was, with jacket and arm warmers in hand. No sun, but high humidity had me stripping down layers after the 2nd mile. I looked at my watch. 9 miles.  Something’s not right. But, not something I can do anything about, so I grabbed what I needed and continued on.

 

The course continued to undulate, with varying grades. Reviewing the elevation profile before the race, I knew there were a couple of bigger hills I’d have to deal with at the midpoint, but it didn’t worry me too much because that just meant bigger downhills – my favourite. What I FAILED to see in the elevation map was the lack of flat sections to recover from all the climbing or descending. I hit the aid station at Madrone Point (18.8 miles on the course, not according to my watch though) and my crew was nowhere to be found. I remember Tav mentioning about missing the aid station somewhere but I was sure he was supposed to be here. So I had a drink and a 1/4 peanut butter & jelly sandwich and waited. And waited. And then I decided to just go. The climb out of that aid station seemed long. I asked some people at the aid station if crews were coming from where I was going to be going and they said yes, so I was hopeful. I climbed up the steep hill and at the top of that hill were the familiar faces of Tav and Sean (Elaine’s husband). I was relieved. Tav checked my fuel and fluids, said Elaine looked good, and then sent me on my way. But I was getting tired, and my legs hurt and I knew what was coming. This was a big downhill, then a big uphill to the midpoint aid station, and then turn around to redo what I just did, backwards.

 

My mind was all over the place. I tried to stay as focused as possible, but my legs and back were hurting a lot more than I was expecting. When I finally got to the halfway aid station (appropriately named No Name), I was so relieved. At halfway, here was a rundown on me:
  • My watch read 19 miles.  I don’t know what was happening with it.  I don’t use my watch necessarily to tell me to go faster or slower, but I do want to know how far I am.  My watch turned into an annoying stop watch at this point.  The distance between aid stations became a guesstimate on what my watch would ACTUALLY read when I got there.
  • My legs.  Oh, my legs.  My quads were hurting from the downhill.  My hammies were hurting from the climbing, which aggravated my back and sciatic.

 

At this point, I knew I was going to have to fight hard to finish. It wouldn’t be a strong finish, and I anticipated a big fade, but I knew I would finish. And it would hurt. A lot.

 

Leaving the halfway aid station, it would be a big downhill and then a big climb. The downhill turned into awesome, to ok, to tolerable, to sharp shooting pains in my quads. The uphill teetered between a slow jog, to a strong hike, to a stroll mixed in with aching hammies and stabbing pains in my lower back.
I finally made it to the top of that hill where I saw the guys earlier, about 1/2 km before the next aid station (Madrone Point). I was hoping for a bit of comfort, but I was rushed forward. All day, they kept saying that I was right on pace with the fastest time on my chart so I knew they just wanted me to maintain momentum. What they didn’t know was that my legs were done. But that’s what your crew is for – to keep you moving forward. So there I go, flying down the hill to the aid station, and exhausted from pain when I arrived. Another PB&J sandwich, and I continued onwards. It would be 7 miles before I saw my crew and it would feel like forever. Each step chipped away at what was left in my legs, assuming I still had something in them. But each step forward proved there was more. It would just take more of me mentally.
Finally, the last crew aid station. Warm Springs. 38 miles. Watch: 29 miles. I had 12 miles. Somehow, at this point in the race, I was STILL on pace with almost the fastest time on the pace chart I gave my crew. I have no idea how that happened, but I prepared them for a BIG fade. I told them that I was done and then overdone. I was in a lot of pain. And there would be no hope in hell of me doing the next 12 miles in 2.5 hours. Probably not even 3 hours. But, they are my crew and they are here to not let those doubts seep in too deep. So we parted ways and the next time I would see them would be when I was allowed to stop.

 

The next 12 miles were not pretty. I could still run the downhills, passing many people, but the uphills were literally just a slow stroll. I had no strength in my step, and I was getting a strange pain in my right foot. I resolved to the reality that this would be the rhythm for the next 3ish hours, with a sitting break at one brief sadistically placed aid station (Island View Camp – 45.5 miles), a 400m out and back section, to stretch my back and legs. I’m going to take a moment to describe this aid station. The 400m was downhill. You can’t access it by car so the crew takes a boat in with the supplies. Think about that. That means, we are at the lowest point possible. The lowest. But I digress, because I have a race to finish.

 

Finish Line
The moment I heard the sound of cheering in the distance, I was filled with happiness and relief. But I still had to move forward. So, forward I moved. One step at a time, until the trail finally ended and it was a straightaway to the finish line. I stepped across the line, high fived the race director, and took a huge sigh of relief into the arms of Tav. It was over. Finally.

 

Watch, I hate you.
Legs, you hate me.
Body, you hate me.
Stomach, you’re hungry but we did it.
11:17:59.  30mins on flat according to my data.

 

Death by paper cuts.  Spot on.

 

Note: 30 minutes after I was done (a pattern throughout the day), Elaine and I shared our finish line hug.  I couldn’t have been thrilled and proud of her!!
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Saying Good-Bye

In less than a week, I’ll be saying good-bye.

I’ve had long hair for 25 years, and I’ve always said that I would only cut it if I was going to donate it.  Well, now’s the time.  So, in less than a week, I will be saying good-bye to at least 10 inches of hair.  But, that hair symbolizes more than just hair.  I’ll be saying good-bye to part of my youth, a piece of my identity, a security blanket.

BUT, to that, I say:
  • to my youth: I’m only as old as I feel and I may be 40, but I feel young!
  • to my identity: As each day goes by, I am more sure of who I am and the way I see myself is not directly related to the length of my hair.  I am a life partner to the best man I know.  I am a fierce and loyal friend to people who enrich my life beyond my expectations.  I am a community connector.  I am a runner.  I am forever grateful for what I have, and will strive to be more.
  • to my security blanket: Along the journey to the place where I currently plant my feet, I stopped needing you.  So it’s time for YOU to be free of me.

NOW, since I’m #DiggingInto40, I’m turning the tables on an action that once scared me.  I am filled with anticipation and excitement.  And, to extend my passion for giving back, I am raising funds for charity.  The charity I have chosen is Wigs for Kids BC, a 100% volunteer-run program out of BC Children’s Hospital that provides wigs to children with cancer and other serious illnesses at no charge, as well as essential drugs and feeding supplies not covered by MSP.

I WILL raise at least $3000 – the cost to create a wig. The labour alone costs $800. I WILL be a zero cost to this charity to improve the quality of life for 1 child.

I’m matching the first $1,000 so if you can spare a few dollars, I’d really appreciate it. It’s for the kids (truly!).

Yours in gratitude,
Linda

How Bad Can It Be?

so, how bad can it be?

Those are my famous last words.
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Completing a 50miler is definitely a big accomplishment.  What they don’t tell you about are the raw unbridled tears at 3:30am on the bathroom floor, sobbing into a towel to keep from waking others, as you start to absorb the magnitude of the day you just had and what it took to cross the finish line.
IMG_4818As much as I’d love to curse Gary Robbins for designing a soul-crushing course at the Squamish 50 miler – in actual fact, I cursed him all day – the day unfolded the way it did.
The months leading up to race day were focused more on adventures with friends than regimented training plans.  I crested peaks, found and strengthened friendships, laughed immensely and rejuvenated my soul in the trails.  I filled a void that was missing and it healed something I didn’t realize was broken.
IMG_5250I toed the line a little less prepared, throwing a bit of caution to the wind, but in the company of good friends.  I ran a bit of the first 6mi with Jamie, who was running his first 50miler, but he soon peeled off and I was on my own.  I went through the first aid station at 6mi on target and handed my headlamp to Tav and Teppo (our house guest from Finland).  Onward to do the steady climb into the Alice Lake for Aid Station 2 at 12 miles, where I saw lots of familiar faces.  A little bit of chatting, a little bit of doddling, and then I got shooed out by Elaine – I prewarned her that I like hanging out at aid stations a bit too much.
I saw Tav quickly on the trail just leaving Aid Station 2 – we exchanged a quick peck and off I went to go through some rolling trails to meet up with my #RunRobson crew at Aid Station 3.  I rolled into the aid station and there was my crew running it like a well-oiled machine .. and playing Cheerleader, as I requested!  Kat filled me up and then I was off to do a 6mi loop til I hit their aid station again.  Just before I hit the aid station, things started to feel off.  My sciatic was starting to act up and things started to hurt from my lower back through my hips and down my legs. This isn’t necessarily new but it wasn’t encouraging only 3ish hours in.  As I continued through the 6mi loop, it started to get worse and my stomach didn’t feel quite right – well, not quite my stomach, but the connection between my stomach and my throat.  I’ve never had nausea on a run so I just continued to fuel the way I normally did and pressed on.
received_10155958921355564About 400m from the aid station, I caught my toe on a rock and superman’d myself into the service road and my left calf cramped immediately. It subsided and I looked down to assess the damage. My knee, which took the brunt of the fall, was covered in dust and dirt covered flaps resembling overly ignored dust bunnies, but those weren’t dust bunnies. Those were the remnants of my skin.  Ew. I wiped myself off a bit and headed into the aid station.  Kat met me again and made sure i was filled up and even wiped the dirt off my chin – something else I didn’t realize I hit.
IMG_5255I left Aid Station 3 for a 7mi jaunt up Galactic trail and down to Word of Mouth (Aid Station 4). I quickly messaged Tav and Elaine letting them know of my fall and sent them a nice little selfie of my bloody knee.  I needed a bit of comic relief plus I wanted to give them an update. The Galactic climb goes on for several miles and things started to get worse for me.  At points, I had to pull off to the side to collect myself.  The nausea in my throat was getting worse and I needed to just pause.  I remember Linda telling me to always eat if you felt nauseas so I kept trying to eat.  I chased every bite with a ginger candy.  After another 20 minutes and not feeling any better, I messaged Tav and Elaine again asking them for Advil and some Glory lemon ginger juice.  I thought the source of my issue was the pain from my sciatic.  It was a long and slow climb with many pauses but I finally made it to the top of Galactic and I made my descent to the Word of Mouth Aid Station and saw Kelly (btw, she makes the BEST gear bags).  It was the first time I verbalized how awful I was feeling.  Kelly was awesome – she’s had similar issues before so she gave me a bit of advice, a lot of sympathy, and encouragement to get to the next aid station.  It wasn’t far away – 3 miles.  I just wanted to get to Quest to see my crew and try to sort out what was wrong.
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So much nausea and so little fuel, but I dragged my body into Quest. I lacked my usual perk and it showed. I was a bit disoriented on what I needed – asking for things, then saying I didn’t need anything.  I swapped watches with Tav as mine were on its last legs, and I reluctantly left the aid station.  The nausea had to stop.  This has never happened before.  How much longer could it last?  Well, I was about to find out.  I left Quest about 8.5 hours into my run and I knew my goal was out the window.  I was in tentative survival mode.
The road out of Quest was a long uphill that took me up Climb trail.  As I continued up the relentless hill, my body started tingling, my hands started shaking, and I felt extremely light-headed.  I was worried.  The nausea hadn’t calmed down and I felt like I was going to pass out.  At one point, I messaged Tav that I wasn’t feeling well and even gave him my location in case something happened to me, but he just messaged back words of encouragement and that he was at the Farther Side Aid Station – #7.  I still needed to get to Aid Station 6 at Garibaldi Road first.  I was hitting a low point.  I had no way out.  So I continued to climb.  And pause.  And climb.  And pause.  Until I reached the top and I started to make my way down to the Aid Station.  At one point, the trail led to a platform with a steep ramp down and I had to stop.  The volunteer joked around and said I had to go down it but I told him that I was feeling faint and that I had to turn around, go back down and around.  I continued on not feeling any better, fighting back tears, fighting back feelings of despair and helplessness, and fighting the pangs of hunger… just fighting.  I was near panicking.  Somehow I calmed myself down somewhat and got into Aid Station 6.  The nausea still didn’t subside.  I could only take small mouthfuls of food at a time, and when I mean small, it would be about a teaspoon of food, chased with ginger candy, and a few sips of liquid.  Nothing else.  Nothing.
I stayed at the aid station for a while, contemplating my options – wondering if it was really safe for me to continue.  Tav and the rest of them were going to be at the next aid station which was 5 miles away.  I didn’t feel right so I sat down.  I never sit down at a race.  I always say once I sit, I won’t want to get up, but I just needed to think.  There was a medical staff beside me treating someone else.  I wanted to ask him to check me out.  To see if it was safe.  But I couldn’t find my voice.  I sat for a little while longer.  I fought back tears again.  Eventually, I got up from the chair, took a deep breath, and forged onward.  It was 5 miles.  I wasn’t confident I would make it but I suppose I would try.  About a mile in, a volunteer was at the entrance of a trail and directed me in.  I had to take another moment to collect myself.  It took 2 offers from the volunteer for his chair before I took it.  A few deep breaths and a few internal struggles, and I slowly got up and started on the rolling hills to make my way to the Farther Side Aid Station.
I made it to the service road that led to the aid station and saw Greg (best RMT EVER).  As soon as I saw him, I started walking.  We approached a bigger downhill and I let myself go.  Thankfully, despite all the nausea, I was still able to run downhill.  As soon as I hit the flat, I walked.  I had nothing in me.  No fuel.  No lift.  No life.
Tav and Teppo met me at the bottom of the hill that led to the aid station and all 4 of us walked up the hill where Kat and Leica were waiting.  I sat again as Greg checked out my legs.  I had some ginger ale.  I had some watermelon.  And my pack was refilled.  I didn’t want to leave.  I so wanted to stop, but again, I lost my voice.  As depleted as I was, I couldn’t bring myself to quit.  By then, it was too close.  I knew, from what Elaine had told me, what was ahead.  I had another climb.  I knew it was going to be awful.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat.  I knew the nausea would not go away.  Slowly and reluctantly, I left the aid station.  I had 7 miles left and what I did know is that I would be able to finish – even if I had to walk the whole thing.
IMG_5258Every climb required herculean strength.  Each step required a long pause.  At times, I would find bouts of energy on downhill or slightly flat runnable sections, but it would disappear as soon as I hit any sort of incline and be replaced by large waves of nausea and rapid short breaths.  There were a few false summits, and eventually I reached the large rock where a volunteer announced that I was finally at the top.  I just needed to make my way back down a few kms and then it was another few to the finish.  Just to be clear though – it was not all downhill on the way back down.  But, I did eventually reach the bottom and I was at the Bluffs. A few kms isn’t much, but it takes a long time to get there when my body isn’t fueling off anything.  It was somewhat runnable so I ran what I could.  I ran into John (he and I leap-frogged through the day) who was having a rough go so I offered him my ginger candies, my Tums, and some other ginger candies.  Apparently, I felt as though he needed them more than I did and that I was close enough to the end to give them away.  As soon as I left him, I regretted not keeping one ginger candy for myself.  Every encounter with a volunteer made the finish line seem closer but yet so far away.
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Finally, I made it to the final stretch down the road the finish line.  Tav was waiting and I gave him a fly-by kiss, which was more like a kick in the face (sorry babe – bad aim on my part) and as I approached the grassy patch towards the finish line, I was greeted by the most amazing receiving line of my #RunRobson crew.  I ran across the finish line and into Gary’s arms.  I was overwhelmed with familiar faces and hugs but lacked all energy for any sort of expressive emotion.

It was over.  Finally over.  Official time was 14:49.  I battled through 11ish hours of nausea.  About 1,000 calories consumed.  I felt like a shadow of my true self.  But it was finally over.
That day took something out of me that I’ll never get back.  It took a bit of my heart and soul and beat me into submission.
I know it’ll take some time before I can truly feel as though I gained strength from this experience – or I may never feel that.  As I’m writing this, I’m already fighting back tears at how this 50miler broke me.
Again, I will say this over and over again – there is no one to blame.  I had a really really bad day.  It wasn’t Gary’s fault.  It wasn’t the course.  My body decided to punish me and make me suffer beyond anything else I’d ever experienced and at some point, I will have to make peace with that.
What I do have is an immense amount of gratitude to my community, my crew, and everyone who cheered me on from near and afar – those who had more confidence and faith in me than I had in myself.  I am truly and deeply humbled.

For you, Terry.

With an extremely shaky hand, I raised my Starbucks cup up to my purple lips and let the warm liquid slide down my throat in hopes that it would soon spread to the rest of my body. My teeth were chattering, my clothes were dripping, and I was shivering through and through. I tried to make some idle chatter with Jeff and Jillian as we sat in the Starbucks, but my thoughts weren’t coherent nor were my motor skills functional. The day was over. Terry, I hope we did you proud. Today, a nation took a few steps to honour a young man who had a dream and moved millions.

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It proved to be trying conditions for each runner in each province/territory who undertook the challenge of running a marathon through their respective cities to pay Tribute to Terry Fox to mark the anniversary of the Marathon of Hope. Eddy Nolan, the man who started this national movement, ran through the toughest conditions, with temperatures reaching -8 with the wind chill mixed with snow, rain, and ice pellets. In true west coast fashion, Vancouver saw cooler than normal temperatures of about 5 degrees, 10mm of rain, and high winds with max gusts up to 45kph.

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The physical conditions of the day in Vancouver progressively got worse but the energy and support kept all of our spirits high. I know I sound like a broken record but I am absolutely humbled by the support I received and by my community. We started off the day with roughly 20 people, including a contingent from Field Hockey Canada, Thomas who ran the whole way with me last year and was looking to repeat this year, friends from my lululemon family, Dave Cressman from distance runwear, new friends I’ve made that believe in the cause, and close friends who are near and dear to my heart. The day started off with perfect running conditions and we made our first stop at distance runwear, where Dave left us to open his store, and we continued to City Hall. Councillor & Deputy Mayor Tony Tang came out and took a few photos with us, and commented at how surprised he was as to the number of runners we had. Wait til next year!

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At City Hall, Field Hockey Canada bid us good-bye and we picked up a few more friends. We continued to our next planned stop – Rackets & Runners – where we were received with warm smiles. As we made our way to lululemon Oakridge, the rain started. A few drops at first. And then a few more. And then too many to count.

529065_549129638458667_1459267328_nMaking our way up Cambie to 41st, we were greeted with great enthusiasm and energy by the lululemon crew with signs and balloons. Another couple of people left us at this stop and we picked up another runner – Jeremy Hopwood. Our next stop was the Run Inn Kerrisdale, and then continued up 41st Avenue and then up Dunbar to our highest point of the day. With the rain starting to pick up even more, we were powering up the hill to enjoy the downhill to the Alma Running Room. At this point in the day, we decided to do as many photo ops inside the stores rather than outside. Temperatures had dropped to about 5 degrees and winds were picking up. From there, we made our stop at Forerunners, and then to LadySport, where we were met by enthusiastic staff and a smiling Phil, the store owner. Ashley Wiles, of Sole Girls, caught up with us at this stop and joined us as we made our trek up hill to lululemon Kitsilano.

IMG_6885What a fantastic greeting! Signs, smiles, snickers, and Gatorade! And a whole lot of love. We picked up a few more runners here to our next stop at The Right Shoe, where Rand – the store owner – met us. Then under and around the Burrard Bridge, and we were greeted by friends from the lululemon SSC. We tried to keep our stop short, as the conditions were getting to all of us. We said our good-byes, and then made our way over the Burrard Bridge and started around the Stanley Park seawall, where I knew the wind would be at its worst. It was definitely quiet on the seawall, aside from our small group. In the true spirit of Terry Fox though, we managed to pick up a random runner (Samir) part way around the seawall to join our group. At Lumberman’s Arch, I checked my watch and realized we were farther along than expected so we cut out a small section on the seawall and headed straight to the Denman Running Room. After that, we made our way up Robson to the lululemon Robson store, my home store. We started to recall how tough this hill was last year but still managed to support each other to the top. When we got to the store, it was all worth it – open arms, big hugs, large signs, and loud cheers. Personally, though, things were very much going downhill for me. I knew I was getting too cold and I also hadn’t fueled well for the day. But I was close. One final push.

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Seven blocks (or so). And then finally, we saw him. Terry. What a sight for sore eyes. And, of course, a few of my amazing folks from the lululemon Robson store waiting for me. They are such troopers, waiting for us in the rain and telling US how great we were.

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I am grateful to be so blessed with so many great people in my life. Today was a VERY tough day – I don’t remember ever being so cold during and after a run. But I can’t complain. Terry Fox ran 143 days straight – roughly a marathon a day. A DAY. And I am positive he ran in worse conditions than I did. He didn’t have tech shirts. He didn’t have shoes with proper cushioning or orthotics. He didn’t have a leg. But he had a vision, determination, and a beautiful heart. His legacy lives on.

Letter from Terry Fox to Adidas (c/o The Star)
Letter from Terry Fox to Adidas (c/o The Star)

It‘s Not Me. It‘s You.

I am in awe of my community as I come across people who tell me that they look up to me, that I inspire them, and that I have helped them in some way, shape, or form. I simply see myself as just one person – a person who has a passion for a few things and tries to do as much within my parameters as possible. I’m not an elite runner; I’m not a celebrity; I’m just a runner. What I am able to accomplish and have accomplished is truly the byproduct of how much my community allows and accepts me. I am just one person. But, the space that I am given by my community humbles me as they have accepted me with open arms and have chosen to support the ramblings of a girl who once decided to lace up a pair of running shoes just over 10 years ago.