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.

20160813_064141-01

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.

20160812_092848-01

  • 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.
CpwFV4YVIAAJSkd
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.

20160813_205317-01
At the SeaWheeze Sunset Festival… with multiple run crews and ambassadors from around the globe, all as one.
Advertisements

An Emotional August

20130809_071216

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you become speechless? Does your heart ever swell so much that the only way to express it is through tears? Do you ever sit back and wonder how you got to be so lucky?

Those thoughts and feelings have been coursing through my blood for the last while. August was an extremely emotional month for me – so much so that I needed to give myself some time and space to find the right words. But, the right words will never come so these will have to do.

Like I said, August was an emotional month. I couldn’t have packed more into it:

There were only 5 weekends in August and 3 were full. Somewhere in there, I had to fit in training for my next ultra (Cle Elum 50k), lead the lululemon Robson Street Run Club, see friends and family, and relax.

In and amongst all of that, two very unplanned things happened.

On the Wednesday before SeaWheeze, it was a day like any other. Work during the day and then Run Club. Run Club gives me so much. I had a vision at the beginning of the year for Run Club and it was to build a run club that was a strong tight-knit supportive family, and it was very much becoming a reality. These amazing people inspire one another, support one another, motivate one another, and they make Wednesdays the highlight of my week. The fact that they are continually present for one another and for me is a pretty special thing. On that day, we were planning a route that goes down Bute to the seawall and then running along the seawall. Andrea, an educator from the store, asked if we could do our weekly icebreaker at the park a few blocks away and I agreed. The weather was gorgeous and it’s a nice short walk. So, that day, like any other, we left the store and walked up Bute towards Nelson Park. Two blocks in, a group jumped out cheering and with signs – it startled me! My first thought was, “Who are we surprising?” and then, “Why don’t I know about it?”

Lo and behold, that person was me. Earlier in the year, I set out to start an initiative called #GoalForward. It was an initiative to bring together the things I was passionate about – community, running, goals, and philanthropy. People would apply for #GoalForward, a program where they would get rewarded in charitable dollars for attaining a SMART goal. I would offer to coach and guide them along if they wanted. If not, it was just a matter of connecting with them and if they crushed their SMART goal, then I would send them $100 in charitable dollars. The money from which I was drawing was part of another campaign – One Year, One Percent. This campaign challenged you to put aside 1% of your annual earnings towards charity. I took this campaign and topped it up to an even $1,000 to be given out to 10 people.

lululemon Robson Street was surprising me that day with the gift of paying it forward. They were supporting my #GoalForward initiative by gifting me $500 for the program. So, now, I am able to pay it forward and reward 15 people instead of 10. I was humbled, floored, and overwhelmed with gratitude.

20130807_180444

The second occurrence was around SeaWheeze. I was a Pace Beaver last year and it was so much fun. This year, I was asked to be a Pace Beaver again and I was definitely excited. I was going to be pacing 2:10 and was so happy about it because that was the goal time of some of the people in my run club. Not only do I get to watch them train up to the half marathon distance, I now get to bring them across the finish line.

1003777_4894933904697_1722717087_n

Kat, Alex and Winnie from Run Club were toeing the line with me and my fellow 2:10 beavers, Susan and Marisa. The gun went off and we set out to find our pace. Susan, one of the other 2:10 beavers, and I were keeping each other in check to make sure we weren’t going too fast or too slow. Our strategy was to give ourselves a couple of minutes cushion and to finish just under 2:10 so that anyone who finished with us would not only reach their goal of 2:10, but they would in actual fact crush their goal. Not too long after we started, I realized Kat was the only one with us so I kept my eye on her, encouraging her, reminding her to fuel, pointing things out on the course and throwing in a few comments and jokes along the way. We were also running with another girl who ran SeaWheeze last year and she said that I got her across the finish line in her goal time – awesome.

We entered Stanley Park and I knew things were starting to get tough for our group. But I knew we could do it. For Kat, I knew she had it in her to do it. After all the physical rigours of training, it all comes down to a mental battle. When your body starts to get tired and sore, self doubt starts to seep its ugliness into your brain. Distraction is the best remedy. So we kept the chatter going – or maybe it was self-chatter for me. We got to Lumberman’s Arch and saw Maya, another Run Clubber, cheering and it definitely lifted spirits. There’s a big hill at Lumberman’s Arch and Susan and I were shouting encouragements to power up the hill. When we got to the top, we realized we had almost lost our group so big brakes came out until they caught up. Oops, a bit too excited. I still hadn’t seen Kat and I knew that it would be bad news if I continued without her so I didn’t. We were well under our goal time so I basically hung back until I saw her. Then I continued forward in baby steps until she caught me. My Run Club knows that I’m a bit of a mother hen – I call them my babies, in fact. So, to leave one of my babies to fend for herself – not going to happen. All the while, I knew I had a responsibility of being a Pace Beaver. But I had time. I had minutes to spare. So I was safe. Kat and I resumed our positions – me slightly ahead and her just slightly behind. I kept telling her that she was going to get her goal (and she was!), that we was doing SO great (and she was!), and that we would do it together (and we were!). I told her not to rush it. We were going to do it in HER pace, not mine. When, and ONLY when she saw the finish line, and if she had it in her, she could pick it up, but we were going to cross that line together.

1000587_284604505013755_1981212127_n

And damnit, we did. And it was fan-freakin-tastic. I can’t even express the emotions I was feeling – words don’t do it justice. I was so proud of her. That day changed both of us and we will forever be bonded by that experience.

And, if you check the results, she actually finished 2 seconds ahead of me. 🙂

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.

532014_10200396633710179_1323514415_n

eddy-small1

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.

IMG_6868

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!

163578_559802887393759_1782784696_n

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.

892280_524478080927356_582154335_o

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.

finish

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)

3 more days

In just 3 days, I’ll be running a Tribute to Terry Fox, all because of Eddy Nolan.  Because of Eddy’s vision, I will be amongst of group of Canadians – one in every province/territory – running 26.2 miles to honour the day Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope.  I’m trying to keep everything in perspective.  Every time I think about it, I get overwhelmed and I feel so lucky.

I’ve updated my previous blog post with a slightly adjusted route to include a couple of extra stops at a few more running stores on my route.  Based on those stops, I’ve created a schedule below of approximate times that I’ll be at each stop.  I do plan on posting my progress on Twitter so please follow me if you get a chance or want an update on where I am and when I should be arriving, especially if you’re planning on joining me.  I’ll try to post on Facebook as well too!

Here is the Facebook event so feel free to add yourself!

My stops along the way are (with approximate times):

My pace will be kept fairly conservative.  I do run a lot but I’m also recovering from a 50k I ran 2.5 weeks ago so best to conserve as much energy as possible.  Besides, I want to enjoy this as much as I can.

To remember.  To honour.  To pay tribute.

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: http://friendfit.com/route/81023

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?

My 2011 in 2011

2011… 1st 50km trail ultramarathon (crushed my 6 hour goal by almost 20 mins!), 1/2 marathon PB (NYC marathon qualifier!), marathon (2012 Boston Marathon qualifier!), 300km relay (top female team), no injuries, 1 garmin watch, 12 pairs of shoes (Saucony, BrooksMizuno, New Balance!), 2 camelbaks, lots of lululemon gear, Hammer and Gu gels, honey stinger waffles, nuun … and 2011+ miles – 2019.51 to be exact.

It’s kind of crazy how it all happened.  I didn’t really set out to run 2011 miles in 2011.  I checked my mileage part way through the year and realized I was over half way there.  Judging by how I felt and what races I had left for the year, it didn’t seem unlikely so the 2011in2011 goal was born.

It became a bit of a game, then a distraction, then a daunting cloud over my head, then a motivator, and then a game again.  For the last few weeks of 2011, I was see-sawing between feeling overtrained and hitting those 2011 miles.  It wasn’t pleasant and I was using a lot of “tricks” to get myself back to being motivated but it wasn’t really there.  Soon, though, the miles remaining were dropping and when it was under 100, I knew I’d make it.

Thankfully, I had a friend I’d made on Twitter – Greg – that kept me motivated.  We ended up sharing this 2011in2011 goal and I have to admit that I nearly conceded and let it go.  I’m so glad I didn’t.

I ran my last mile of the 2011in2011 on December 30th – I ran from home (Burnaby) down to the False Creek seawall, over the Burrard Bridge, and into Yaletown.  It’s one of my favourite routes and as far as it sounds, it really isn’t that far!

I had to stop at 1 mile to go, just to take in the moment before I set off again.  Coincidentally, that lands me right in the middle of the Burrard Street Bridge.  Let me tell you .. when there’s only 1 mile left to go, you can really book it!  I kept checking my watch during that last mile because I didn’t want to miss it.  And then there it was .. absolutely glorious.  I love Vancouver and moments like that take my breath away.

I contemplated ending my year with exactly 2011 miles – but who are we kidding?  I’m not out to just hit my goals.  I’m out to crush them.

What’s in store for 2012?  A few things up my sleeve .. stay tuned, my friend.  I’ll be back in a few days.