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iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk , Vancouver, BC

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava , Calgary, AB

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel , Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk , Calgary, AB

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw , New Westminister, BC

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris , Winnipeg, MB

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan , Brampton, ON

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua , Caledon, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh , Nottingham, UK

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller , Laval, QC

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter , Clearwater , BC

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt , Halifax, NS

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie , St-Antoine, NB

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette , Carp, ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling , Ottawa , ON

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley , Stittsville, ON

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve , Ottawa, ON

iRun for meKiza Francis , Ottawa,ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan , Brampton, ON

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker , Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier , Gatineau, QC

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch , Ottawa, ON

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham , Avonmore, ON

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre , Ottawa, ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan , Ottawa, ON

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil , Lombardy, ON

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn’t Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it’s cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu , Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird , Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall , Alberta

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka , Alberta

iRun to my happy place and some days it’s very Doreen May , Alberta

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston , Alberta

iRun because I can’t dance Mario Javier , Ontario

iRun so I don’t say never ever again Linda Klaric , Manitoba

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur , Quebec

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde , Alberta

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard , Alberta

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy , Ontario

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur , British Columbia

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson , British Columbia

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop , Yukon

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter , Alberta

iRun because otherwise I’m grumpy Alexandre Charest , Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton , British Columbia

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang , Alberta

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey , New Brunswick

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx , Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis , Ontario

iRun because it’s like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson , Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan , Alberta

iRun because I’ve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly , Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour , Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick , New Brunswick

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie , Ontario

iRun because it’s a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney , British Columbia

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin , Manitoba

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith , Manitoba

iRun because it’s fun when it’s done Sue Matte , Ontario

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer , Quebec

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas , New York

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua , Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston , Nunavut

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan , Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean , Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung , British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell , Nova Scotia

iRun because it’s better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn’t Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen , Manitoba

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins , Alberta

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott , Québec

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby , Saskatchewan

iRun for me! Judi Wearing , Saskatchewan

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie , Yukon

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello , Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts , Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher , Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott , Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas , Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent , Québec

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams , Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville , Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail , Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar , Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle , New Brunswick

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra , Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor , Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier , New Brunswick

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon , British Columbia

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase , Nova Scotia

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes , Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp , Ontario

The Late Bloomers: Jonathan’s Journey From Brooklyn to Boston

January 17th, 2017

Over the next few months, we’re interested in telling the stories of those who came to running after the age of 40 and what they’ve learned and accomplished in the process. If you’re interested in participating, tweet Ravi and introduce yourself. We’re starting with Jonathan Greenwald, who you can follow on Instagram (Runthesix) and on his blog “Brooklyn 2 Boston.

Though he hails from Brooklyn, Toronto has been the site of many life changing milestones for Jonathan Greenwald, having moved north after meeting his Canadian wife in 2005. Shortly after, he became a dad to his now seven year old son and the family have called Toronto home ever since.

Toronto is also where Jonathan kindled his obsession with running in June of 2013, just four months after turning 40, which makes his Instagram handle (Runthesix) so appropriate.

As is the case for many who turn to running later in life, it began as a preventative health measure and only became a passion over time. According to Jonathan, at the time of that first foray into running, “I was 183 pounds, the most I ever weighed in my life. I decided I needed to make a few changes and a couple of friends invited me to start running with them.”

“My goal was to not die,” Jonathan remembers. Like many new runners, Jonathan had no idea how his body was going to react to running. He’d been active throughout his youth playing tackle football and hockey, but running was never really in the picture. Much of that activity had also stopped after his teens and it wasn’t until moving to Canada all those years later that Jonathan decided to become active again.

While the first run was a success in that Jonathan didn’t meet his mortal end, it still served as a rude awakening. Jonathan recalls, “I wasn’t obese, but after my first runs, it was clear I was out of shape.”

At the very least, Jonathan hoped he could at least stick with running long enough to lose a few pounds and maybe come to actually enjoy it.

There was also the matter of justifying all the running related purchases he made before that first run. “I purchased a running watch, shorts, a top, and running shoes,” Jonathan says. “What scared me the most was that I wouldn’t enjoy running and would have to explain to my wife that I purchased all of these items and wasn’t going to use them!”

In the subsequent years, Jonathan has certainly justified those purchases, and the many that surely followed, as he took running from a hopeful experiment that might lead to better health to a full on obsession (Seriously, check out his Instagram!). He stays consistent, cranks out high volume, and is never quite ready to settle. Accomplishing one goal just means it’s time to chase another.

2016 was Jonathan’s marquee year, with PBs posted at the 10K, half marathon, and 30K distances. The last one resulted in a silver finisher’s medal at the classic Around the Bay race in Hamilton, which requires a sub-2:15 finish. There was also the crowning achievement of Jonathan’s running life, racking a BQ (Boston Qualifier) “…with a time I never would have dreamed I could obtain.”

The only drawback was that his BQ was ultimately 51 seconds off the final cutoff time. Nonetheless, it’s quite a remarkable list of achievements considering that Jonathan spent most of 2014/15 learning to keep himself from being constantly injured.

Reflecting on those incredible accomplishments, Jonathan says the biggest lesson he’s learned about himself running is “…to never underestimate the power of determination and perseverance. I am a firm believer of the saying, ‘Don’t just wish for it, work for it!'”

At the same time, the experience of chasing those goals has fostered a sense of maturity that allows Jonathan to accept results that may not necessarily reflect his greatest potential despite what he acknowledges to be his very competitive nature. Enough races presenting varying conditions and results have brought about the realization that, “There are so many factors you can’t control and you just have to accept it. I still get disappointed when I don’t meet a goal or have a bad day, but I quickly brush it off and move on.”

Jonathan has put that lesson into action by continuing to chase after Boston with hopes of finding himself at the start line in 2018.

“…the running community is the most supportive community I know.”

There are many keys to Jonathan’s growth as a runner, but he emphasizes that your fellow runners might be your greatest resource for knowledge and inspiration. Jonathan urges new runners to, “Research run groups in your area. You will learn so much more running with your peers than trying to learn on your own and the running community is the most supportive community I know.” In addition, he adds, get to a local running store and have the friendly staff fit you with a pair of shoes that works for you so as to save you the agony of discomfort and potential injury.

Beyond the practical lessons that other runners offer, Jonathan adds, “All accomplishments aside, the friendships I’ve made through running is something I will always cherish. If I never get to Boston or never beat any of my previous finishing times, I will always love running because of the friends I made.”

And he doesn’t seem ready to slow down despite the challenges that come with potential injury and balancing running with other commitments, which often means he has to fit in runs at varying times of the day and at times where he may not necessarily be eager to get out the door. These, however, are mere inconveniences and don’t seem to make him question his commitment to goals and to running. “Nothing has made me want to quit running,” Jonathan proclaims, “I’m addicted!”

  • Ravi Singh

What You Need To Know About Racing On Vacation

January 16th, 2017

Racing is fun. Traveling is exhilarating. Combining a race with a vacation? What an incredible way to have the best of both worlds.

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By Pamela Mazzuca HBSc. Kin, Athletic Therapist

Whether you go solo or pack up the whole family a racecation is a great way to see new, and even exotic, destinations and cross them off of your bucket list. Run through a national park, across a historic trail, through the most magical place on earth or even through wine country. Destination races are becoming increasingly popular, which isn’t much of a surprise considering it’s just another way for us to multitask.

As great as racing on vacation sounds, it can cause some logistical nightmares if you aren’t prepared. So before you pack your bags here are the top five things to think about when racing abroad.

Carry it

Be sure to pack all of your race day gear in your carry on luggage. The last thing you need is for your running gear to end up on the wrong plane, delayed or completely lost. It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast before you leave and to pack things like band-aids, second skin, and other over-the-counter medications you might need in your carry on as well. You never know what how readily available these items might be.

Time it

When racing out of town you need to give yourself enough time for travel. Consider things like flight delays (especially if you have connecting flights), traffic detours and inclement weather. Depending on how far you are traveling, you also want to give yourself time to acclimate to a new climate, altitude and/or time zone. Racing while jet lagged will not provide the most positive memories.

Keep it simple

Vacation is often a time when we indulge in new and rich foods, but it’s best to stick to what you know until after your race. You just never know how your stomach will react to new foods.

Drink

Planes are notoriously dry so make sure you drink a lot of water leading up to the race in order to stay hydrated. And you really should avoid alcohol until after you cross the finish line.

Keep it low key

As tempting as it is to hit the pavement hard your first day in a new place, save the walking tours and heavy sight seeing until after the race. Being properly rested will help reduce your risk of injury and increase your chances of having a successful finish time.

Top Five Bucket List Races

  1. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Marathon – Peru
  2. Great Wall Marathon – China
  3. Athens Classic Marathon – Greece
  4. Versailles la Grande Classique – France
  5. Venice Marathon – Italy

Chocolaty Quinoa Breakfast Bowls

January 16th, 2017

Earlier this month, Julie Miguel kicked off #22DaysofHealthy with a whole new batch of breakfast recipes on Daily Tiramisu’s Instagram. We can all use some breakfast inspo, so we’ll be featuring a selection of these recipes as a way of helping you reboot, recharge and refresh your morning meal! Here quinoa is a protein-rich seed that will keep you satisfied longer than oatmeal and pairing it with chocolate may even help you avoid the mid-morning coffee run.IMG_1289

By Julie Miguel 

Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast Bowls with Bananas and Strawberries

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
1 cup cooked quinoa

1 ripe banana

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

1/4 cup Almond or coconut milk

1 banana, sliced

6-8 strawberries, sliced

Cinnamon for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS
ONE: In a bowl, mash the banana with the cacao, maple syrup (if using), and milk until it forms a smooth paste.

TWO: Stir in the quinoa, stirring continuously until combined. Separate amongst two bowls.

THREE:  Serve topped with strawberries and banana slices. Sprinkle the fruit with cinnamon and enjoy!

Julie Miguel is an iRun food contributor, where you’ll find a selection of weekly recipes and food ideas. She is a home cook, and food influencer and has worked with a national television, print and online media outlets. You can also follow her food discoveries and travel adventures at Daily Tiramisu.

Ottawa Marathon Week: Where Running Has Taken this Father of Four

January 11th, 2017

As Clark Carvish explains, he was never really a runner, until he was. A former athlete and member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Carvish had always been active but running just wasn’t on his radar. Even still, once he completed his first race, his competitive spirit took over and he was hooked. Here the Ottawa resident talks about the importance of race volunteers, what makes Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend such an incredible event for the whole community and what running gives back to him.

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iRun: How does someone who never thought about running as a sport, get started in the first place?

Clark Carvish: Running wasn’t really part of the mix when I was younger. My sister-in-law was looking for others to run the Spartan Race, and when she couldn’t find anyone, I said I would do it with her. I was in the army years ago so I figured how hard would it be.  I hated running for the first six months. I started in January, the race was in April and I didn’t like running on the treadmill but I didn’t want to run outside at that time of year. But I stuck with it, we ran the race and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

iRun: You have four grown children, how important is it to you to set a healthy example for them?

Clark Carvish: While of my kids are runners, they have watched me make positive changes to my lifestyle, which I believe has a trickle down effect. They see that goals they may look like they aren’t possible, become reality with determination, drive and effort. They also do see that mentally, things are grounded and that support for them is always there in whatever they do or are doing. Also, without the support of my wife Susan, it would make things definitely more difficult. I do believe that the family dynamics certainly have become healthier as well as an outcome of running.

iRun: What brings you back to running after you’ve completed a race?

Clark Carvish: It’s the enjoyment of finishing something you started and knowing you could accomplish what you set out to do. Your time may not be what you expect but that is what drives you to the next one. You’re always chasing a good race. For me it seems that every half marathon I’ve run I’ve had some kind of injury. This year, my training is going according to plan, so we’ll see how it goes.

iRun: What’s so special about Race Weekend?

Clark Carvish: This will be my fifth year participating in Ottawa Race Weekend. Last year I did the half marathon and I will run that distance again this year. It is just such a wonderful event. I volunteer too, and the smiles of everyone at the booth is wonderful to see. The moment you get down on the street on race day and you see the excitement that starts building. The night before the race, the nerves will kick in a bit but with the energy on the streets, you can’t wait to get there and get going the next morning.

iRun: Why should someone travel from across Canada or anywhere in the world to run Ottawa?

Clark Carvish: The race course. The half marathon course is so beautiful, the City of Ottawa is gorgeous. There are so may great views, the people and the community surrounding you as you run is an incredible feeling. It’s not only important to runners but it’s also important to the people of the community.

iRun: Team Awesome is gearing up and this year and this year you’re a part of it. Tell us about that experience and what got you interested in being a part of it.

Clark Carvish: Volunteering is what I try to give back and be a part. Last year I had seen Team Awesome on the Run Ottawa web site and on social media. I found it very positive following people from a new runner to a seasoned runners training up to race day. I really believe people are passionate about things that they do and if they find something that can help them mentally/physically, get a sense of accomplishment and feel good about themselves, it makes for happier people. That is something that can be shared. Anyone is able to follow our (my) journey on FaceBook, Twitter or Instagram, see what I’m doing on a weekly basis, ask questions if they feel like it and get support from any one of us to start or be involved in their journey to race day. I was very fortunate to get support from some very great individuals and try to share these experiences with others, the days you really don’t feel like going out to run or train but go anyways, when your legs feel like bricks and of course those training runs that are so great you wish it was race day. I think all new runners experience different things and it is so easy just to stop, but if you keep at it, it is something you can truly enjoy.

iRun: You give back though volunteering at events and with Team Awesome, but what has running what it gives back to you?

Clark Carvish: This is my time to relax, although it’s not really relaxing and mentally it is relaxing. I do triathlons too after my neice ran an Ironman. I got caught up in looking into it and you get absorbed into a community through social media. The people are so nice, I can talk to people who are world champions. I don’t know where else you can reach out to the people who are the best in their sports.

 

 

Amy for Real

January 11th, 2017

Amy Friel is a contributor to iRun behind some of the most recent stories in our print edition. In our most recent issue, we celebrated some of the incredible women of Canadian running and thought you should know the one who brings those stories to life.

“What was your grandfather’s name?” I’m intrigued when Amy mentions that her grandfather won the 1978 Toronto Marathon.

“Jack Friel.”

“Like, THE Jack Friel?”

“Yes, THE Jack Friel,” Amy responds with a laugh.

I was semi-joking, but as one of the co-founders of Toronto’s Longboat Roadrunners, Jack Friel is something akin to the Romulus of the now sprawling empire that is the city’s running community.

Amy’s connections to running seem endless. Her parents met at a race that her father, now an accomplished masters runner, happened to win. Her sister was awarded a track scholarship to Georgia State where her roommate was Pan-Am medalist Rachel Hannah.

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“Even if it felt like everything was falling apart, I was still able to run.”

Given such connections and circumstances, one can say that running is simply “in Amy’s DNA,” or that from the start she had no choice but to lace up.

The fact is, however, that Amy’s relationship with running – how she came to it, what it means to her, why she does it – is entirely her own. She relishes that the sport is a family affair and that in April she will run the Boston Marathon alongside her father and sister, but the path to that coveted start line was hardly preordained and in reality is the culmination of a deeply vocational approach to running and Amy’s desire to test her own toughness and learn more about herself with each step.

“My dad actually quit running when he was 22 so he wasn’t doing it when I was a kid,” Amy recounts. “My grandfather had retired and I would see his trophies and awards, but I wasn’t really surrounded by people running and I was never pressured into it.”

It was Amy’s own decision to pursue Cross Country, which led to her first taste of the thrill that came from beating all the boys at her school’s track day. Amy would run until the age of 18, after which she would take a hiatus that would last five years and result in her only fight with her father.

The eventual return to running, initially a coping mechanism to deal with relationship and academic setbacks, is probably the true start of the journey that has led Amy to Boston and what informs her current understanding of the sport. “Even if it felt like everything was falling apart,” she says, “I was still able to run.”

Though she’s proven herself capable of thriving at a wide range of distances, it’s the marathon that holds a very special place in Amy’s heart, precisely because of its humbling nature. “No one runs every mile with someone else,” Amy reminds me. “In the marathon you will race and suffer alone.”

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“No one runs every mile with someone else. In the marathon you will race and suffer alone.”

She notes that the very purpose of the distance is to take you to your breaking point and ask you to go a little further still. Amy says, “It’s supposed to feel like an impossible, insurmountable task. It’s about trying to plumb the depths of your own capacity. It demands that you’re humble enough to fail.”

It’s a “no guts, no glory” approach to running that makes it an inexhaustible pursuit – there are always depths to plumb – and one that I admire and identify with greatly. The results tell one part of the story, but no single result, no matter how impressive, marks the conclusion of the process or is the sole marker of success. The intangibles of growth, toughness of character, and honour derive from what you gave on the course and how you confronted the moments that demanded you to give more, both on and off the course.

This, I think, is Amy’s philosophy of running, which she confirms when she states that her paramount goal as a runner is to never quit in the moments of strife, especially in the midst of a bad race.

“Everyone has their rivals,” Amy contends, “and you kind of owe it to them to not quit because if you just drop out just because you’re not having your best day, you’ve cheated yourself and cheated them.”

For Amy herself, those teachings were put into practice after her first marathon in 2014, which she says she had absolutely no business running. Amy recounts, “I had no speed work in my training and was just wearing myself down with too much mileage.” It was her dad’s subsequent coaching that cut 24 minutes from that first marathon and brought Amy to Boston.

The experience of a disappointing first marathon is difficult to convey to those who have never been there, but to have such a long and gruelling training process that entails so much sacrifice culminate in yet more suffering and disappointment proves reason enough for many to leave it behind for good. It’s a sign that running maybe “just isn’t for them.”

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Running doesn’t tell Amy what she is, however. Rather, she uses the sport to be what she wants to be with the same spirit of determination that made her a writer despite being laughed out of an interview for a job with a magazine years ago. Amy takes the lessons of running, but ultimately only she decides what she is and will be.

 

To talk to Amy is to have facts, trivia, and wisdom about running fly at you at a rate that’s difficult to keep pace with. My single favourite and the one that sticks most is when she tells me, almost in passing, that Tom Longboat’s Onandaga name, Cogwagee, means “everything,” and, “That’s what running is, it’s everything!”

For Amy, running is a passion, a family tradition, a subject for meticulous study, and a connection through which strangers become a community. She says, “When I moved to Toronto, I didn’t feel like I really lived here until I found the running community.”

These experiences have given way to the wisdom that running’s riches are far ranging and that through running, there are many things we can be and many joys in which to bask. The result is that Amy’s devotion to the sport is built upon a foundation of many pillars and unlikely to falter any time soon, even with experiences like that first marathon. “If you’re more than one thing,” Amy says, “you will never be broken by one thing.”

Ottawa Marathon Week: A paramedic balances running and life

January 10th, 2017

Yes… I get it – we hear it constantly: in life, everything is about balance. Anyone working 42+ hour/wk. gets that, any parent with young one gets that, I get that… but… the need to exercise is sometimes too strong, too compelling.  Personally, and like many other runners, I hold an utmost importance and cherish the concept of the life/work/run balance. I run not just to follow a good physical and healthy lifestyle but because the mental health has so much to benefit from it.

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By Andre Mollema

For starters, the stressors that surround us and that we experience in our often overwhelming chosen way of life. A key concept that was passed along at work by our wonderful Peer Support Group people is that of the ‘Penny Jar’. A full penny jar represents what you have to give in a day. Taking time for yourself adds pennies and daily stressors take them away.  In the (almost) 15 years I have been working in the emergency services field, I have been able to maintain pennies in my jar by running. The daily stressors of my work as a paramedic continually take pennies. Running adds pennies to my jar every day and helps me carry on with a certain degree of sanity.  We, as paramedics, live a particular type of stress every single shift. Everyone will feel, live and cope differently to a given stressor or trigger event and, in many articles that have been made available to us; we find that a healthy lifestyle is one of the most successful ways to overcome it. I am far from being a social worker, psychologist or else but I find that running helps tremendously.

Here’s why:

First, you don’t really need to plan ahead. I have half an hour free? (45 mins, if you include shower time), I just go.

Secondly, no special equipment is required. Sure, if you want to keep stats, your phone / other device will come along but really, just get your shoes on and – weather dependent – some extra layers and off you go.

Then; the simplicity of the outdoors. Enjoy the scenery, the nature’s calmness. We are so fortunate up here in the National Capital Region with all the surrounding green spaces and kilometers of trails (e.g. Gatineau Park) that are no further than 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa. Running doesn’t require lots of focus; it’s in the human nature. The fact that I dislike running with music gives me full awareness of the environment that I run in.

Finally; to change it up once in a while, invite a friend to join in. The running chat – or ‘small talk’ – helps changing one’s mindframe.

Every one of us needs time to disconnect, my way is to go for a run. If you are able to, I strongly encourage you to do it. Run once or twice a week, you’ll feel great, mentally and physically!

Fitting everything in an already busy and overbooked schedule can seem to be an unachievable task but please, take time for yourself and practice one of the best sports on earth: running!!

Krista DuChene On Running Your Best In Your 40s

January 10th, 2017

Today I am 40. I’m in a good place. A great place. I’ve achieved some incredible goals, which makes it a good place.And I am ready for more, which makes it a great place. I believe in setting the bar high, achieving, and repeating. I believe I can set personal bests at 40.

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I joined Speed River with Head Coach Dave Scott-Thomas (aka Coach DST) in Guelph, where I completed my nutrition undergrad and played hockey for the University of Guelph. It has been a very positive transition. Coach DST and I have learned from each other, and he has already guided and directed me in many ways. I am learning to run more AYF (as you feel) on some days, and by listening to my intuition on others. I am already thinking differently and feeling mentally challenged in a new way. I think mileage and workouts are above par for this time of year, which pleases me, especially knowing this is just the beginning.

Many other qualified team members of the IST (Integrated Support Team) have begun to guide and assist me in several areas that I felt needed to be critically evaluated. I didn’t want to keep doing things just because I had always done them that way.Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.
Did I need to be pool running 1.5 h, 5 days a week? Should I implement a more structured and specific strength program? What kind of shoe might be better for me? Even though I’m a dietitian, what could I change? Could a sports psychologist help me take it to the next level? How much should I really weigh and when?

In my biweekly trips to Guelph I have been able to make my days full by connecting with several people to help me address these questions. Remember, my first marathon in 2002 was recreational, and 3:28. I was not coming from a formal, collegiate program.

So what exactly has happened? So far, Taylor has taught me strength drills. Brenda and Marcell have provided treatment, and advice about shoe wear and preventative maintenance. Eric and I have chatted about diet. Trent has provided research and guidance for various areas, including altitude training. Kyle has completed a body composition assessment. Dr. Mountjoy has reviewed my blood work, provided feedback and recommendations. And soon I will be connecting with Lisa for sports psychology. Speed River has mastered the art and science of running, while they continue to learn and adapt. I will complete the testing Coach DST feels is necessary but won’t have to unnecessarily fill my calendar. Coach DST and I agreed that there are some things my body can better tell us than any amount of data.

It is difficult to articulate my feelings. Over the years I have had these dreams where I returned to the University of Guelph to play hockey while completing some sort of post grad. And here I am, back doing the other sport I love, while not having to be a student again (phew!). I had my first track workout last week and had so much fun, whipping around the track, chasing and being chased by women half my age. It took me back to my Petrolia L.C.C.V.I. Lancer days with Coach Murray Jackson and teammates and good friends, Erin and Melissa. My first Speed River workout included about 8 or 9 in the distance group. We completed our warm up and cool down outside with our workout on the track inside.

My Olympic teammate, Gen and the rest of the group was very warm and welcoming. Even Eric was on site, cheering on teammates. Before the workout, many shared the uneasy feeling of hitting the track a bit rusty at the end of the Christmas break but by the end I think all were pleased with our progress. I drove to Guelph feeling uncomfortable for the unfamiliar. Because we had some mild temperatures I could have easily stayed home to run the workout on the track but this is what it was all about. No regrets. No, “Why didn’t I?”. My drive home had me feeling a new energy with thoughts about higher heights. The experience was exhilarating.

The last item I had frequently wondered about but had always been next to impossible to implement with young kids was a trip away for altitude training because I needed at least 3 weeks. Last month I began the conversation with my husband about a family trip to Flagstaff, Arizona. I could train at altitude while he and the kids skied. But after researching flights and discussing a different location for skiing that could include family, we came up with a different plan. A few days later I was discussing this while pool running with John, a frequent participant of high altitude training in Kenya with Speed River teammate, Reid. That is when it hit me. If I am going to be away for 3+ weeks anyway, why not finally fulfill my desire to go to Kenya?! I immediately texted Jonathan who thought it was a great idea. The kids were on board and up to the challenge, knowing how key their role was and how successful they were in carrying the household load in order for me to train for the Olympics. Coach DST gave the thumbs up and John and Reid assisted me in choosing the dates and making travel and accommodation arrangements. Prior to booking I had some reservations about leaving the kids for so long and passing all my duties to Jonathan. But then I thought more about #TeamDuChene, getting out my comfort zone and striving for the unfamiliar. We could do this.

I don’t think there is anything better that they could give me or I could want for my 40th. Back to the difficulty in articulating my feelings. Surreal? Crazy? Wishful thinking? It doesn’t matter to me. I’m ready.

Ottawa Marathon Week: An Introduction to the Awesome Team Awesome

January 9th, 2017

As we kick off 2017, we are dedicating this week to all things Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend because if you have never gone the distance in our Nation’s Capital this is your year. Need a little added motivation to kick start your training? Here the incredible members of #TeamAwesome give you need to get there for every distance from the Kids Marathon to 42.2K!

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By Leanne Richardson

What Is Team Awesome?

Team Awesome is an online social media group of runners who are passionate about inspiring and encouraging others on their running journey towards Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Our focus is to connect with runners in an effort to inspire them and help them achieve the goal or race distance they desire to complete.

How Did It Get Started?

Sometimes timing is everything! Organizers of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, which includes the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, had been looking for ways to build the online community for runners committed to running in their flagship weekend event! They wanted a program that was as unique and special as the event itself was. I was in a place in my own running journey where I was looking to inspire others to set a goal, believe in themselves and work hard to accomplish that goal. Ottawa is my city and I wanted to support and promote this amazing running event, which I believe is the best in the country.  I contacted the race office to inquire about an ambassador program. Susan Marsh, the Marketing Director, returned my call, we spoke for some time, shared some ideas and the rest they say is history J I was thrilled to receive an invitation to join Team Awesome when it launched in 2015.

Team Awesome has members representing every race distance, including the Kids Marathon. Our desire is to reach, not only runners who are training to get a personal best, or qualify for Boston, but also a walker who might be inspired to run their first 5K. We want to build a community where people are encouraged to believe that nothing is out of their reach, to demonstrate that if we can “do it” (whatever “it” is for them) then so can they!

Andre Mollema and I have had the privilege of being with Team Awesome since the beginning and co-lead the team by offering bilingual support.  We continue to explore new ways of reaching the running community. Every year the group is comprised of inspirational and motivating individuals who are passionate about sharing their journey to race weekend! This year is no different, everyone in the group has a story that is unique and relate-able to someone else!

What I love about Team Awesome is how we are encouraged to be ourselves. To be authentic in our training and sharing about our training. Be who we are basically. For myself, my first love is the trails, not the road. However, trail running makes me an overall stronger runner, which helps me prepare for the marathon. So I can continue doing what I love, where I love and still be preparing for the race I love.

The goal for the team is to inspire runners and help them set a goal for race weekend, cheer them on during the training process and celebrate with them when they cross the finish line!

This Is 40: Krista DuChene On Finding Her Strong

January 8th, 2017

In 2016, she became a Canadian Olympian. Today Krista DuChene marks another milestone as she turns the BIG 4-0. Even though she’s an elite athlete, she’s still a mom with competing priorities, someone who knows firsthand about struggling with life balance and making time for herself. Here, DuChene looks back on 15 years of marathon running, speaks to the the advantages of parenthood, and explains why she believes the marathon improves with age.

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iRun: Today you turn 40-years-old. What do you know now that you wish you knew at 20?
KD: Can’t really say there is anything I wish I knew then! I think it’d make life a bit boring if we knew our future.

iRun: Which you do you like better and why?
KD: I think I will have to go with the 40 year old Krista. I have excellent memories of my past and continue to dream about my future.

iRun: Which you do you think is a better runner?
KD: Considering I ran 3:28 when I was 25 yrs old, and 2:29 when I was 38, I am definitely a better runner now! Wouldn’t it be exciting if I was even faster in my 40’s?!

iRun: You’re the second fastest Canadian female marathon runner of all-time. And you set that record last year. Can you still get faster?
KD: I ran 2:28 in 2013 when I set PB’s in many other distances. It was definitely a banner year but yes, I do believe I can still get faster. I’m making several changes in 2017, starting with a coaching move to Dave Scott-Thomas with Speed River. The change is exhilarating.

iRun: What do you think is the effect age has on long-distance running?
KD: My marathon experience of nearly 15 years has allowed me to mentally excel, which is key to long distance running. And marathoning is a perfect sport for the “ageing” so that works for me! I’ve steadily and consistently invested the work for years, going from recreational to elite, which is exciting to see the return and know there’s more to invest.

iRun: How about having children? You’re a mother of three and racing young bucks like Lanni and Rachel who probably have their moms still making them lunches. Do they hold an advantage? 

KD: Being a parent allows me to manage my time efficiently, set priorities and multi-task. And another advantage is that I can be a role model to my own children, which is inspirational to me.

iRun: What do you like about running and how has that changed through the years?
KD: I like hopping out of bed and out the door to start my work day. I don’t think there is any sport as simple and easy as that. I particularly love the fresh air and sunny skies. When our children were young, it was more difficult to get out but it made me a better person. I loved being a mom with my kids. I loved running with my Saturday morning friends. When doing one thing I didn’t wish I was doing the other.

iRun: Obviously after the Olympics you have no plans on slowing down and you recently switched coaches and training programs. How do the programs differ and specifically what are you after?
KD: I did not want any regrets, thinking “Why didn’t I just change things when I could have, when I had a few more years to give even more?”. It was all about getting out of my comfort zone and not continuing to do the same things just because of familiarity. It was about taking that final step up. I am after a PB in the marathon!
iRun: As one of the greatest Canadian runners ever to lace up a pair of shoes, where do you think you can still improve?
KD: My main goal is to focus on getting faster in the marathon. We are examining all areas: workouts, mileage, drills, cross training, diet, etc. As for the shorter distances, perhaps I will aim PB’s but for now it’s tackling this new season and the changes with it.

iRun: The people have come to not only respect you but hold you in that rarefied air of someone they feel something very close to love for, or at least sincere affection. How does that make you feel and can you describe your relationship with your fans?
KD: I’m honoured. It is very special. And take it seriously; I think about every word and picture before posting on social media. I aim to be real and I appreciate the support from those who cheer for me. Although I have not met all of my “fans” I will often re-read messages they have sent me or posted, which encourages and motivates me to continue being my best.

iRun: Lastly, one of my favourite “Krista Anecdotes” is the visual of you doing speed work around your daughter’s daycare after drop off. Firstly, do I have that story correct? And secondly, if so, talk to us middle or back of the pack enthusiasts. Where do you find that motivation and, quite frankly, how can we?
KD: Yes, all three children, practically since birth, were lovingly cared for at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre where I train. At times they could look out the window to see me doing intervals around the facility when the roads were clear of snow but the track was not. I’ve never had to hunt for motivation. I’m always ready to jump out of bed to run in the morning. Part of this is made possible by going to bed at a decent time. Having comeback from 3 broken bones and 3 babies, I appreciate every run. Also, setting goals and objectives provides motivation.

iRun: Happy birthday and best wishes and, whoops, one last question: how are you going to celebrate the big day? Are you going to run your age or eat it in cookies or something totally else?KD: Actually, I have to work (Registered Dietitian). I will run but not my age!

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Shilpa Abbitt Crosses 100 Finish Lines on 5 Continents in Honour of Son

January 6th, 2017

Shilpa Abbit’s journey ended in Tuscon, Arizona, but it took her through five continents, including a stop at the North Pole, and across 100 finish lines as she completed 100 marathons.

The 46 year old engineer, who says she has no intention of slowing down, has used her running journey to raise money for cancer research through the Faith, Family, and Friends Foundation.

Shilpa Abbitt of Edmond has run 100 marathons, including the North Pole Marathon. Image via NewsOK.

Shilpa Abbitt of Edmond has run 100 marathons, including the North Pole Marathon. Image via NewsOK.

In addition to her work for cancer research, Shilpa’s 100 marathons were dedicated to the memory of her son Austin, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour that took his life in 2013 when he was only 11.

According to NewsOK:

Her 26-mile marathons take her to some interesting locations, including the North Pole in April for what’s billed as the “World’s Coolest Marathon.” The subzero temperatures and running on frozen water aren’t the only obstacles.

Santa and his magic sled may have few problems getting to the North Pole, but it’s a bit more daunting for mortals. She had to travel first to Oslo, Norway, and then make connections with an Russian ice camp. There were a few delays, which left fewer than 50 people to compete.

The runners faced brutally cold weather and had to be careful of another foe.

“We were warned about polar bears,” she said.

Shilpa’s journey was supported by her running mates from the 5@5 club, including Heather Ziegler, who finished her first half marathon at the same race as Shilpa’s 100th marathon. Ziegler describes Abbitt as an inspiration, saying “I also know several of us in the group (5@5) who would attribute finishing our first marathon to her encouragement and determination.”

  • Ravi Singh
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