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.



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.


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!


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.


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.


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)

Tribute to Terry Fox

Terry Fox. One man. One vision. A nation united.


“I’m not a dreamer, and I’m not saying this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.”

An image of Terry running flashes in my mind. Then a series of emotions and words. Hero. Cancer. Runner. Inspiration. Compassion. Warmth. Tragedy. And then that smile – one that melts your heart. The first inkling of tears start to well up in my eyes. One young man, 33 years ago – his story still affects me. A story of a young man, who had a vision. A vision to make a difference. And then it was born – The Marathon of Hope. On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox dipped his prosthetic foot into the Atlantic Ocean and started his journey to run across our nation. A marathon a day, roughly, to raise awareness and funds for cancer.

TFFTerry-RunAnd then a year ago, I met Eddy. Another man, who had a vision, but it was a vision that was inspired by Terry Fox. Eddy was training for his first marathon in Montreal when Terry made his journey through Quebec. Quebec, unfortunately, did not receive Terry with open arms. Terry’s journey, however, did not go unnoticed by Eddy. For over 30 years, Eddy has been raising funds and awareness for the Terry Fox Foundation in his role as a Day Caretaker at a grade school in Montreal.

In 2010, the 30th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, Eddy, sought to have April 12th be recognized as Terry Fox Day. He went to great lengths and eventually, unable to have it pass through the government channels, he chose to take his efforts to the streets and run a marathon in Montreal carrying the Terry Fox Flag. The following year, Eddy was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to run again. Last year, with his cancer in remission, Eddy decided to do more than just run. Terry Fox is a national hero and deserved a national movement. His vision was realized in 2012, with a runner in every province and territory running a marathon on April 12th, bearing his flag.

“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.”

This Friday, April 12th, I will set out on a journey to pay tribute to Terry Fox, alongside my fellow runners across the country who share Eddy’s vision to recognize this special day. Join us on this journey, and, run or not, take a moment to remember Terry Fox and educate others on the significance of one man’s vision to make a difference.

Want to join me on April 12th?  Find more information here.  For those that are not on Facebook, here are the quick details:


Scheduled Stops where I’ll be tweeting, taking photos, and more than likely taking a quick break!
(Landmark – location – distance – estimated arrival time – twitter handle):

  • Terry Fox Statues – Beatty / Robson – 0 miles – 9:00am (@terryfoxbcyukon)
  • Distance Runwear – Main / 32nd – 3 miles – 9:30am (@distancerunwear)
  • City Hall – Cambie / 12th Ave – 5 miles – 9:50am (@VanMayorsOffice)
  • Rackets & Runners – Oak / 23rd – 6.5 miles – 10:15am (@Rackets_Runners)
  • lululemon Oakridge – Cambie / 41st – 8.3 miles – 10:30am (@lululemon)
  • Run Inn – 41st / Yew – 10.1 miles – 10:50am (@TheRunInnStores)
  • Running Room – Alma / 4th – 13.8 miles – 11:30am (@RunningRoom)
  • Forerunners – 4th / Collingwood – 14 miles – 11:35am (@ForerunnersVan)
  • Ladysport – 4th / Collingwood – 14 miles – 11:40am (@LadySportStore)
  • lululemon West 4th – 4th / Arbutus – 15.25 miles – 11:55am (@lululemon)
  • The Right Shoe – 4th / Fir – 15.75 miles – 12:00pm (@rightshoevan)
  • lululemon SSC – Cornwall / Cypress – 17.1 miles – 12:20pm (@lululemon)
  • Harry Jerome Statue – Stanley Park Seawall – 23.5 miles – 1:20pm
  • Running Room Denman – Denman / Georgia – 24.75 miles – 1:35pm (@RunningRoom)
  • lululemon Robson – Robson / Bute – 25.5 miles – 1:45pm (@lululemon)
  • Terry Fox Statues – Beatty / Robson – 26.2 miles – 2:00pm (@terryfoxbcyukon)

Note: All images were provided care of the Terry Fox Foundation.

And a Patridge in a Pear Tree


I love setting goals and it seems I’m a bit late in getting this post out. Really, goals can be set anytime, but the romance of declaring goals and resolutions at the start of a year is irresistible to many. The sentiment of my declaration being late, admittedly, was only directly related to the fact that I had chosen my blog title 2 weeks ago. 🙂

Ultramarathons entered my life in 2011 after road running injuries put me on the sidelines for nearly 3 years and it gave me affirmation on something that I felt was true down to my core – I am a runner. Ten years ago, I would have had neither the confidence nor the conviction to make that statement. Today, and every day going forward, it’s a part of my life and who I am. Road or trail? That still remains to be seen but I think somewhere in the middle.

I’ve noticed that there are a few recurring themes in my life and after writing my goals down, it’s very evident: Running/Fitness, Personal Development, and Community.

Major goals (in no particular order):

  • Run Way Too Cool 50k Ultramarathon in March
  • Run the Terry Fox Tribute Run on April 12 (marathon distance)
  • Run a 50mi (2nd one!) or 100km (1st one!) ultramarathon by October 31
  • Reintroduce yoga into my program by practicing at least twice a month
  • Read a book a month
  • Meet my fundraising goal for the Union Gospel Mission of Dinner for More than 2000 by December 31
  • See my Dad at least twice a month

Minor goals:

  • Run 100km cumulatively during the Bagel Chase from February 2-8
  • Run the Ragnar Relay NW Passage in July
  • Be a Pace Beaver for the SeaWheeze in August
  • Run a marathon by December 31
  • Reintroduce snowshoeing into my program by going at least once a month until March 31
  • Try each of these sports at least once in 2013: skiing, skateskiing, cross country skiing, swimming
  • Find an ultramarathon to do in China/Hong Kong by 2015

So there they are. Two ultras, two marathons, yoga, books, community.. and a partridge in a pear tree. 🙂

New York! I’m coming, if you’ll have me.

To be honest, I’ve been up and down for the last few days. My heart was not completely there. I know most people would say that I’m not respecting THE NEW YORK MARATHON but I do. I respect the distances of all the races I do. But I’ve run a lot this year and, frankly, I’m tired. I can admit it.

And then I was torn.

On one hand, I’ve been watching the news, the weather reports, the tweets, the facebook postings, and the list goes on and on and on. Hurricane Sandy. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and, damnit Sandy, what did New York do to you?

Then, on the other, with half a heart, I was preparing. I downloaded the Runner Handbook, studied the maps, did my last tempo run, did my intervals, creating my checklists, and mentally preparing myself for my 6th marathon.

And then today, it all melded together – reports from friends on cancelled and rescheduled flights, airports being closed, deferrals on race entries, cancellation of trips, short and ambiguous reports from the race organizers, a soft announcement by the Mayor that the race will go on. Amongst all this, I got trapped and, at one point – my low point – I considered a complete deferral. New York was making it so difficult to come and it shouldn’t be that difficult, should it? But it’s not her fault.

Tonight, I gained clarity. The race will probably go on. It has to. The city needs it. If not for morale, then for the economic impact that the City will need to aid disaster recovery.

If New York will have me, I’m coming.

I’m going to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience because no one will ever experience this year’s marathon ever again. The city will never look like this again. The people will never feel this way again. The marathon will never be this way again. I want to run this marathon and document every single piece of it in my head. And, my original plan for the rest of my trip of seeing certain sites and doing certain things has changed. I’m going to lend a hand where needed and document MY New York – through my eyes, through my ears, through my legs, and through my heart.

it all happened by chance

sometimes things happen in your life and it’s merely a case of “being at the right place, at the right time.” Eddy Nolan happened to me by chance.

It was a typical day, unlike any other day. I work, I check email, I go on Twitter, I go on Facebook, etc. I went into one of my groups on Facebook and saw this posting:

“Good Morning, I am currently looking for a Runner to represent B.C. with a Tribute Run to Honor Terry Fox on Apr.12/2012 by running a Marathon carrying Terry’s Flag in your own province. This is not a race ,nor is it a fundraiser, it is simply a Run to mark the 32 anniversary on that Special Day of Apr.12/1980. I had done this tribute run alone in 2010 with a good response. In 2011 I was diagnosed with stage 4 throat and neck Cancer. Now in 2012 I would like to repeat this run only I am trying to involve a runner from every province and territory in Canada to do this along with me. There is an article in Apr. Running Room Magazine abot my involvement with the Terry Fox Run which I have been running and raising funds for for the past 31 years. As of right now, We have 8 Provinces and 1 Territory committed with a runner or runners in each ready to carry Terry’s Flag to do this run.. We are basically trying to show all Canadians and all the Children out there a True Role Model and what a Canadian Hero is. I had a runner from B.C. who got injured on his job, so now I must replace him. I have been contacted by CTV in Montreal who are showing interest in what we are trying to accomplish. This will be a nice event to be a part of. If anyone is interested in being our Runner from B.C. can you please contact me ASAP or lead me to someone who might be interested. I feel this will be a National Story and a real HONOR to Terry.”

I emailed Eddy asking for more information. He said he had a potential runner but would know in the next day and would let me know. That was March 23rd.

March 24th, I’m in Oregon and the runner is not able to commit and it’s down to me. I ask to touch base via phone on Monday morning.

March 25th, I run the Gorge Waterfalls 50k – an extremely challenging run where I took a tumble very early on in the race but managed to cross the finish line.

March 26th, I can barely walk and I’m driving up to Penticton on the phone with Eddy Nolan. I’m committed.

To be honest, I don’t remember Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope when it started – I don’t remember much from 1980. I started running in 2001, without having done a lick of exercise, except for mandatory physical education classes in high school. I haven’t looked back. Running is my life and, of course, I am familiar with Terry Fox and his story. He is a true hero. He is an inspiration. I don’t remember him when he started but I know I will never forget him.

On April 12, 2012 at 9am, I will pay my tribute to this Canadian icon by running a marathon through the streets of Vancouver, starting and finishing at the Terry Fox statue in downtown Vancouver. I will be running on the same day as Eddy and runners from across the country (10 provinces and 1 territory), carrying the Terry Fox flag proudly.

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

On this day, I will ask you only for one thing – remember. Remember Terry Fox. Remember what he did for you, for us, for Canada, for Cancer, for the human spirit.

If you would like to join me I will start my journey at 9am on April 12th at Beatty & Robson in front of the Terry Fox statues. There will be stops along the way to document this amazing day. I welcome all and any company – even if you want to pop in for a few kilometers or more.  You can find my route here:

My stops along the way will include:

I will be snapping photos at each of these locations and sending them out via Twitter and Facebook so feel free to look me up, and follow my route around Vancouver.  Join the event I created on Facebook and run with me!

If you can’t join me but want to do something, you are welcome to donate online . My expectation is $0 because this day is really to just honour Terry Fox.

Please note that this is simply a tribute – it is not an organized event through the Terry Fox Foundation.  It started with a vision of one man in Quebec, who was inspired by Terry Fox.  Now, it’s a National movement to honour a Canadian hero and role model.

Year of the 50/50 .. and then some

I guess it’s about that time now .. time to declare my goals for 2012.  2011 left me a bit spent so I used the last two weeks to rejuvenate myself and not shudder at the sight of my running shoes – plus a week in Hawaii doesn’t hurt!

Actually, it will hurt but, rather, HURT.  My good friend, Hozumi Nakai, is undertaking his 3rd 100 mile ultramarathon at the HURT100 in Honolulu and a half dozen of us have tagged along to be his support crew and pace bunnies.  But, let me clarify – pace bunnies.  Hozumi can basically drop us all in a heartbeat, leaving us to eat his dust on all terrains and at all elevations.  Ultramarathons, however, only allow pacers, should the runner choose, to jump in about 60% of the way.  So, when we finally get called upon for our pacing duty, Hozumi will have already run about 60 miles .. that’s about 100kms, my friend.  I might have a chance.  *might*

So… this, of course, makes it quite obvious how I got into ultramarathons – or, at least exposed to them.  Many think that ultras are quite the feat, and they are, but it’s all relative to the company you keep.  Now you know why I make light of some of my accomplishments.  Let me give you an example.  Last year, I did my first ultramarathon – 50km in trails.  I was really proud of my accomplishment and I still am.  Then I went to crew and pace for Hozumi at his second 100 mile ultramarathon (he came in 7th, by the way).  Standing amongst those crazy, amazing folks that were about to embark on a journey that could take them from 15 hours to 36 hours is humbling.  It felt like going to a marathon and having only completed 1 5km race in your life.  It’s all relative.

2012 will be the year of the 50/50 for me.

What does that mean?  My goal for 2012 will be to complete a 50km ultramarathon by March 2012 as well as a 50mile ultramarathon by December 2012.  50/50.  At the same time, I will run the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May 2012 and the New York Marathon in November 2012.  That’s a lot of miles but when have I really shied away from running a lot?   It’s all relative, remember?

Dear Jon.. Running Your First Half Marathon ‘Above the Line’

Dear Jon,

A couple of days ago, you asked me for tips on how to reach your goal of running your first half marathon in August. I’ve thought about it a bit more and thought these tips might help you.

First and foremost, keep your goal ‘above the line’. I know you’re familiar with the phrases ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ but let’s elaborate for the outside world – at least, my interpretation of them.

In Goal Setting, we want to ensure that all of our goals are coming from a place that keeps you motivated, inspired, and ultimately excited. Setting goals from ‘below the line’ is, as you can guess, the opposite of this. It comes from a place that is filled with expectations and “should’s”.

It’s just hitting me that I have the perfect example of this.

  • My first marathon (read race report here) came from a place where I thought I should do it. Running a marathon was never on my life list but given the amount of running I was doing and had done, and from what others were telling me, it seemed like the right thing to do. Fast forward, I finished the marathon and I was near tears .. but sad tears.
  • My second marathon (read race report here) started off from a place where I thought I should do it, again. But as I progressed and learned more, I was excited. When I stepped over the finish line, I was again near tears .. but tears of joy.

First marathon = ‘below the line’. Second marathon = ‘above the line’.
First marathon = ‘should’. Second marathon = ‘will’.

So back to running YOUR first half marathon. I’ve narrowed it down to a few steps, because I am a HUGE believer of breaking things down into smaller steps to keep things manageable:

1.  Declare Your Goal! I know goals are structured in the “I will (blank) by (blank).” I’m asking you to take it one step further and describe it – give the why’s and how’s and read it back to yourself. Make sure it’s coming from a place that’s ‘above the line’ so it makes you happy and excited. Keep this with you all the time. If your goal isn’t going to make you happy, excited, inspired, and motivated, then what’s going to get you there?

2. Set Your Milestones!  These are benchmarks that lead you to your goal. These could be things like:

I will join a run group by [16 weeks before your goal race]. Your race is in August, so it would be “I will join a run group by April.”
I will run once a week in January.
I will run twice a week in February.
I will run three times a week in March.

3. Build Your Tasks!  For each milestone, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. For example:

Milestone: Join a Run Group by April

– Find the running stores close to work and home that offer clinics.
– Visit each of the running stores to find out which one suits you best.
– Ask your friends, family, or coworkers to join you.
– etc.

4. Tips! This isn’t necessarily a step but some tips to make sure you don’t stray from your goal.

– Share your goal, milestones, and tasks with a friend, spouse, or coworker (or all three!) and ask them to keep you accountable. Ask them to check in on you. Or join you.
– Schedule your workouts! Put them in your calendar and don’t “snooze” or “dismiss” them unless you’ve done them.
– Read your goal to yourself when you’re feeling unmotivated. You’re in the midst of Winter and it’s not the most inspiring time to get outside so read your goal to yourself and get jazzed up again! Do this often.
Bottom Line: Have Fun. If you’re not having fun, why bother? When you’re out on a run, try to be aware of your surroundings and how you’re feeling. At those moments when you are loving it, remember it. Are you listening to music? Are you in trails? Are you on the seawall? Once you know what those positive triggers are, use them. When you think running’s not fun, pull your positive triggers out and activate them!

I’m going to share a couple of fun facts:

Fun Fact #1 – Yesterday, during the photo shoot, we were asked to smile a bit while we were running. One person said that they don’t really smile when they run. But I do. And, coincidentally, the location where we were shooting is often the place where I AM smiling because it can sometimes take me by surprise how beautiful Vancouver is and how lucky I am. So I smile. Because it rocks.

Fun Fact #2 – I learned to enjoy my really long runs solo through my iPod. I used to never run with music but you can’t always convince your friends to run 3 hours with you in the rain at 3pm in the afternoon. So I used it as an opportunity to tour through Vancouver. To music. I called it my “soundtrack to the city”.

Fun Fact #3 – Those happy triggers that I talked about.. I’m not a great hill runner so when I’m getting back into training and am finding it difficult to walk out the door, I go to my default. I run the seawall. Both the Stanley Park and False Creek seawall. iPod set with fab tunes and hitting some of my favourite spots. Epic. And I fall in love with running all over again.

Ok, those are all my secrets – but not so secret.  Happy training and smile when you cross that finish line.