iRun.ca

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 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 iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

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

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

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 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

Destination Racing for the Very First Time

April 24th, 2015

Although she has participated in events from 5K fun runs to full marathons, Anna Lee Boschetto has never run a race outside of Ontario. Here’s what happened when this first-time destination runner kicks it at the Samsung Marathon in Tel Aviv.

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I’m curious by nature, adventurous by choice and always up for travel, but these days my parental status means that I weigh my decisions a little more carefully than I did when my life wasn’t filled with the joys of two children. Still, the winds of January whistled out my window and snow swirled across the front yard. I was dizzy with excitement at the thought of escaping this frigid Canadian winter. Running a half-marathon in shorts, against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea? The children would be in good hands with their dad, and my morning running routine needed a change of pace, one that didn’t have me trudging through snow and negotiating icy sidewalks. I decided to run a half marathon in Tel Aviv.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tel Aviv is an active city that’s a sports-minded person’s dream destination. It’s not uncommon to see runners, cyclists and roller bladers, along the boardwalk that spans the coastline at 1 a.m. Tel Avivians also take surfing pretty seriously, with several beachside surf schools. Add in an immaculately maintained boardwalk that weaves along the seaside from the restaurants and shops in the Tel Aviv harbor to the historic area of Jaffa, there’s so much to explore that it just makes sense to be out there for a half marathon.

As my plane landed in Tel Aviv, I could feel the warmth of the air on my face even before I stepped out of Ben Gurion Airport. When my tour guide Ari told me that it was unseasonably warm for February, I didn’t think much about how this climate might affect me on race day. To be honest, I didn’t really notice the heat all that much, even on race day, and that’s one of the cool facts about a destination race: it gives a few unexpected twists and turns to your usual running perspective.

After a couple of critical health situations in 2014, officials for the Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon bumped the date up to late February, banking on cooler temperatures. That didn’t exactly work out, but by adjusting the marathon, along with the other race start times by an hour, the majority of the 2,300 marathoners and nearly 9,000 half marathoners had a reprieve from the heat.

With the course weaving along the Mediterranean, the warmth of the sun mingling with the salty sea air, the view is exactly what you’d picture on a post card; a turquoise sea, meeting an endless skyline that’s dotted with cumulous clouds. Under the shade of the olive trees that line Sderet Rothesechild Boulevard, I’m making my way to the turnabout while high-fiving with the children who are cheering along the way. Doing so not only reminds me of my own daughters at home, but it also has me reminiscing about my own childhood spent cheering for friends and family at sporting events and how great it feels to be acknowledged. I make a mental note to do this wherever I’m running next.

Whether it was the shade, the crowds or the postcard views, I didn’t notice the rising temperatures, until the homestretch, more like the last three kilometers. At that point, I could practically hear my skin sizzling in the sun and I’m pretty sure that if I had cracked a raw egg onto the pavement, it would have promptly sizzled, too.

Nevertheless, crossing that finish line after grinding out those final kilometers, I was beaming. It wasn’t my fastest run, but by far it felt like one of my best. Maybe it was the flavour of the lemon popsicles that were given out at the finish line or the Sprite and potato chips that I chowed in lieu of a sports drink and banana in the post-race tents. Even days later, my post-race satisfaction was at an all-time high.

Like most runners, I’m a little type-A, which means that I wasn’t convinced that I could dial it back, put the time goal out of my mind and basically run like a kid. And I know we can’t all jet off to far off destinations for every running event, but it’s worth indulging your wanderlust now and again. Whether it’s the waves crashing against the rock cuts or the endlessly winding trails, sometimes you’ve got to get away to put it all in perspective.

Kate Van Buskirk: How I Unlocked the Ultimate Me

April 24th, 2015

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Kate Van Buskirk won bronze for Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She’s currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

I’m sitting on the covered patio in front of our condo in Scottsdale, Arizona sipping on a post-run coffee and stretching my tired legs out on the chair across from me. I gaze down at my sunburnt thighs, a reminder of how close we are to the unrelenting sun. Its hard to find shade in the desert and most of my runs trace the canal systems that cut like veins through this arid land supplying water to the cities and farms, the life blood of the Copper State. I’m getting darker every day, and the tan lines that give away every athlete are becoming increasingly pronounced: sports bra, shorts, compression socks, sunglasses, watch. My body is a patchwork of white and brown; Canada and Arizona.

Training in the American southwest is a new experience for me. Each winter for the last three years I’ve traveled to Florida to escape the snow and cold for a few weeks, but the best early season races are in California so basing in the neighbouring state makes far more sense. March in Scottsdale, April in Flagstaff, May in California…not a bad way to welcome spring! The cacti and sunbeams make for a pretty spectacular setting and my body seems to appreciate it as much as my mind does. Each workout is faster than the last, and it’s relieving to feel my fitness coming around. There are few things that I love more than being right in the thick of a training cycle, churning out 120km weeks, inching closer to race pace, ending my days exhausted, exhilarated and hungry for more. This is the good life: when the body is fit and healthy, the mind is tuned in and the heart is full.

But it isn’t always this way.

Every track and field athlete in Canada will face a laundry list of obstacles throughout their athletic career that make them question their commitment to this sport: injury, illness, a crushing loss, a disappointing season, nomad’s fatigue, being flat broke, the internal debate between sticking it out for one more year or just moving on to a real job already. Knowing that these experiences are shared by our tight-knit community of athletes provides some solace, but as we watch more and more of our friends walk away from the track and move on to start families, careers and RRSP’s, its hard not to wonder if this pursuit is worth the sacrifice.

Like most elite athletes, I’ve dealt with each of the aforementioned challenges. And, as I’ve realized is also true for many athletes, these challenges have been compounded by anxiety and depression. My struggle with mental illness seemed in its worst moments like the thing that most defined me, even as I was experiencing the greatest athletic success of my collegiate career. In my last year at Duke I set an NCAA record and 3 Duke school records, earned 2 All-American titles, anchored our Blue Devils to a 4x800m victory at the Penn Relays, and ran personal bests just about every time I stepped on the track. I was being recognized as one of the top mid-distance runners in the NCAA in the same semester that I was struggling to get out of bed or attend classes. I was both protected and terrified by this image, constantly afraid that the grand illusion would be shattered and my vulnerable side would be revealed.

One of the greatest and most counterintuitive things I’ve learned in the 4 years since returning home from university is that the more vulnerable I’ve allowed myself to be, the stronger I’ve become. Just like the injuries, the illnesses, the financial stressors and the uncertainty about the future, the more I’ve talked about dealing with depression and anxiety the more I’ve found support, understanding and community. I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about myself as an athlete and as a person, and I’ve equipped myself with information and tools to move forward on this journey as peacefully and optimistically as possible. And I get more excited about the journey every day.

I vividly remember a workout that I did at the Chinguacousy Park track in my hometown of Brampton when I was in middle school. I was preparing for the North American Hershey Track and Field Games, by far the biggest race of my young life. I was running 400m repeats and my dad was coaching me; other than the two of us, the stadium was empty. As I began my last interval, my dad told me to imagine myself running the best race of my life, and to use this as motivation to finish the workout as fast as I could. I’m sure he intended for me to envision myself competing well at the Hershey meet, but the image that came into my 13 year-old mind was of crossing the finish line at the Olympics. I had no real frame of reference for this other than what I’d seen on TV, but as I rounded the final turn on the track I pictured a stadium roaring with energy, me wearing a Canadian racing kit, and the Olympic rings above me. At 13 I knew innately that I wanted to be an Olympian, and that desire has fuelled my athletic drive for the last 15 years.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games are now just over a year away, and the excitement builds with each passing day. But while my dream of becoming an Olympian has intensified over the years, it now shares its spot in my heart with other experiences and desires. Over the last decade, I have had the great fortune of representing Canada at 8 major international events and each has brought me enormous pride, extraordinary learning opportunities and memories that will stay with me throughout my life. Competing at the Olympics would surely be an unparalleled experience, but it would be just one set of memories within a much larger anthology that will collectively define my athletic career.

I’m also never navigating this journey alone. I have such an enormous love affair with the running community, who constantly surprises and inspires me, and which cannot be adequately described as anything other than an awesome, giant family. I feel this community beside me every time I lace up my shoes, and the tremendous sense of purpose that this brings helps to keep me grounded. Through the successes and the disappointments, I am buoyed by my love for my sport and the people who comprise it.

There is always something to look forward to, and before the Olympics can fully enter my radar, I have this summer’s Pan Am Games and World Championships to prepare for. Neither team will be announced until late June, so for now I’ll run through the desert, my head full of dreams, my heart full of love, and my body readying itself for whatever the next step may be.

Women’s Health Matters

April 24th, 2015

Krista DuChene may be an elite athlete, but when comes to dealing with menstrual cycles and urinary incontinence, she’s just like the rest of us.

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I am a woman and I am proud of it. But there are some disadvantages that come along with being a female athlete. While I’ve eluded to some health issues that recreational and elite athletes face, I though it was about time that I get right into a few more details, including how I’ve had to handle these situations, especially on race day.


Why Are We Talking Now?

In the past few months, I’ve personally, experienced womanly troubles, more than ever.
And what exactly am I talking about: urinary incontinence and menstrual cycles. Because I was either pregnant, breastfeeding or marathon training and racing for eight consecutive years, I rarely had a menstrual cycle.
But with a significant training break and my childbearing years that are likely now behind me, the old monthly cycle is back in full swing. And in my two most recent races, I have had to run through this somewhat unknown and greatly undesired territory. Aside from what we runners already do, staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and lean protein while avoiding processed foods, and resting. It’s pretty much one of those things we have to endure.

Let’s Get Physical
Of course everyone is different. Mary Davies, mother of two and New Zealand’s second fastest marathon runner and winner of the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a time of 2:28:56 says she feels uncomfortable, has heavy legs and a bloated abdomen, especially in the first two days of her menstrual cycle. Some women experience significant physical changes in heart rate, breathing, motivation, perceived effort, digestion and energy. These women even change their birth control pills or take other medications and plan their races around their menstrual calendar. But other women, including Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe, may have the race of her life. Radcliffe broke the marathon world record while mid-cycle, but she did say she had cramps so imagine how much faster she may have been. I think most women are likely somewhere in between not completely hindered yet not performing to their highest potential.

An Uncomfortable Situation
As if having your period on race day isn’t bad enough, imagine losing control of your bladder mid-race with hundreds of viewing spectators. Urinary incontinence isn’t fun either. Back in my high school track-and-field and cross-country running days, I often lost control of my bladder near the end of a race. My mother kindly offered to buy me disposable adult diapers. Thanks but no thanks, mom. After going through the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth three times, like many moms, I put my personal physical issues aside while busily caring for three young children. In the end, I hoped these issues would somehow be resolved. After my third baby, I started treatment with therapists who specialized in women’s health and sports injuries.

Preventative Measures
An important part in preventing urinary incontinence was my pelvic floor exercises, however, once again I put these things aside. After fracturing my femur at the 2014 Canadian Half Marathon Championships, my focus on recovering from surgery and rehabilitating toward running again was top priority and I neglected my pelvic floor exercise routine.
Sure enough, because of the impact that comes with increased running, my pelvic floor weakened and I started losing control on even the easiest runs once my mileage peaked in my return marathon build. Not fun when already running in uncomfortable wintery conditions with poor footing and temperatures of -35 C with the wind chill. This time, I knew what I needed to do to treat the problem and added the necessary exercises back into my routine with much success.

How do you deal?
So, what is the take home in all of this? Do what you can do to address those areas you can control. Build a professional and personal support team around you. I often view things as an art and science. For the science side, allow the appropriate professionals to provide an on-going assessment, plan, treatment and evaluation of your physical health needs. And do the homework they advise. For the art side, draw on your family, friends, and running group for their personal experiences while sharing and gaining emotional support you need to get through to your finish line, whatever it may be.

Krista DuChene holds the second fastest female marathon time in Canadian history. Racing the Canadian Half Marathon Championships last April in Montreal, DuChene finished the course on a broken leg. Her website is Kristaduchenerunning.blogspot.com.

Jim Willett: A powerful trail blazer

April 23rd, 2015

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Jim Willett is no stranger to iRun readers. As a past contributor to the magazine and an all round inspirational person, Jim is an easy guy to follow. If you want a dose of positivity, he is the guy that can set you up. Take 4 minutes and 39 seconds and watch this YouTube video that he posted on Mar 26, which has over 11,000 views at this time. You will get goosebumps.

In a world that bombards us with negativity, his attitude and outlook are food for the soul. A cancer diagnosis in 2010 motivated him to run and run further. He appreciates the beauty in nature and as such enjoys supporting environmental causes through his running. Last fall he ran the entire Bruce Trail in support of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and this spring he is busy formulating a plan in which he will run for Lake Simcoe.

We are pleased to have Jim as one of our Saucony #FindYourStrong athletes. He has run some amazing kilometres, on a variety of terrain from barren desserts to lush forests. We asked him a few questions and here is what he told us.

iRun: Jim, amazing video. Can you give us the back story on that?
JiM: Thanks. It’s something I’d been thinking about working on for a while. But it really started to grow when I was running the Bruce Trail last fall. I had A LOT of time by myself to think and reflect. Ultimately, I just wanted to create something that was not only therapeutic for me, but might help others in the process. 

iRun: Where did you ever get the money to afford such a glossy production?
Jim:
I’m pretty lucky in that I have a few friends who offered to produce and edit it for free, so the cost was almost nothing aside from the time invested. 

iRun: And how are you feeling these days? 
Jim:
I’m feeling wonderful. I’m surrounded by an amazingly understanding  family and supportive group of friends. And this fall will be my 5 year cancer mark, which is a huge deal. 

iRun: What’s next for you? Any new runs planned? 
Jim:
Yes, I still have the Simcoe run on the horizon. But my next race will be a 6 day race in Utah, in June, called Desert RATS Stage Race.

iRun: For those interested, how can we keep up with your exploits? 
Jim:
I’m trying to stay as engaged as possible on social media. People can follow me on any of my sites. 

iRun: You’ve run through the deserts of north west China. What’s one tip that might help runners tackle their own race? 
Jim:
Again, I’m very lucky. Yes, I’ve run the Gobi Desert, but also the Atacama Desert, The Kalahari Desert, and Iceland. I guess I’d ask people to remember why they’re doing it. What’s their big picture goal? What’s their mantra? Once you have a firm and honest grasp on that reason, there’s not much that can stop you.

iRun: You also have such a good, positive message. What’s the secret for not getting depressed? 
Jim:
I don’t think I have a particular secret. I just always try and find the lesson, or the good, in each and every situation. Because it’s always there if you look hard enough.

Looking for more motivation? Read additional #FindYourStrong stories here.

9 Sleeps Away From Her First Marathon

April 22nd, 2015

Angela

Angela Hamill is a 43-year-old mother of two and in ten days she’ll run the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon; the first marathon she’s ever attempted. We’ve been training together for nearly a year and she’s the only one from the original Couch to Marathon clinic that will be lacing up for the marathon starting line. Think you might have the stuff to take on a similar journey? Here, Angela talks about what it takes not to quit.

iRun: We’re less than two weeks away from your first marathon. How do you feel?
Angela: I’m overwhelmed with emotions right now, but the two that stand out are excitement and anxiousness.

iRun: Where are you confident and where are you a little less so?
Angela:
I’m confident that I will excel at carb-loading. I’m a little less confident about running 42.2.

iRun: Do you have a race strategy for the big day going in?
Angela:
Stay positive. Fuel early and often. And maintain forward motion, no matter how difficult it gets.

iRun: Talk about your training. What was your longest run? Do you feel adequately prepared?
Angela:
Training has been a roller-coaster of ups and downs, both physically and mentally. I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible, getting out to run at least 3 times/week and as many as 5. My longest run was 33km, but I’ve only done 4 runs longer than the half-marathon distance. Strangely enough, I do feel prepared. I feel I’ve done the best possible training I could given the resources, opportunities, and circumstances I faced along the way.

iRun: What prompted you to begin this course last summer?
Angela:
I was sick pretty much the whole winter before the course started, and I was looking for a way to get in shape and stay healthy. I knew I liked running but I was having a hard time motivating myself, so when I heard about the course I was immediately intrigued.

iRun: Where were you at, personally, and what attracted you to the idea?
Angela:
There’s always a lot going on in my personal life. My husband and I are constantly chauffeuring our two boys to their activities and social engagements. Plus, we stay connected to our own friends and families as much as we can. My parents live far away, and I was visiting them a lot to help out. I saw this course as an opportunity to do something for myself, to challenge myself, and to do it with the help and support of a group.

iRun: Tell me a little bit about your journey. Did your confidence grow with the increased distances?
Angela:
I’m a worrier by nature, so I gravitate towards the safe and familiar. Committing to a marathon was a large and scary step outside my comfort zone. I started to feel a lot of pressure, but it was all self-imposed. A big part of this journey for me has been learning to relax. As soon as I let go of the worry and the pressure, I was free to savour each moment as it happened. The joy in those moments helped me push myself a little further. And the further I pushed, the more confidence I gained.

iRun: Was the marathon something you kept in mind or tried to forget about?
Angela:
I’ve always considered the marathon my “goal race” so it was definitely on my mind. I knew I would drive myself crazy if I thought about it too much, so I just tried to focus on one day and one run at a time.

iRun: How did it effect your relationships?
Angela:
A positive side-effect of this experience has been the lessons I was inadvertently teaching my kids. For example, they saw that you don’t have to be a superstar at something to find happiness in it. They also realized that you can do anything you set your mind to, even if it doesn’t come easily. My oldest son, Owen, told me he was impressed that I had the “stamina” (his word, not mine) to run a marathon. At this point in his life, I’m mostly an embarrassment to him, so hearing him say that he was proud of me for taking this on really meant a lot!

iRun: As the course went along, we trained through a very cold winter. Did you ever have thoughts about giving it up?
Angela:
I got sick twice this winter, probably because I pushed my body too hard in extreme conditions. The first time I missed 10 training days, the second time I missed a week. I also tore ligaments in my toes while running on a snowy, slippery sidewalk. So yeah, I certainly considered throwing in the towel. In the end, it was the advice, support and encouragement of the group that helped me stick with it.

iRun: Are you someone, in general, who would describe themselve as “tough”?
Angela:
Nah, I wouldn’t say “tough.” Maybe stubborn and determined are better words to describe me.

iRun: Does running get easier as you go along?
Angela:
It gets easier as your body, lungs and mind adapt. There will always be runs that feel more difficult than they should, but those runs should not define or discourage you.

iRun: What advice would you give a new runner?
Angela:
Enjoy the process. Trust your training. Stay positive. Find support, either with a local running group or through the larger online running community.

iRun: You’ve already run 5K, 10K and the half marathon. Which of those three events gave you the most profound experience: can you talk about your experiences with racing?
Angela:
I had done a few running events prior to joining this group, so I knew what racing was like; the excitement and energy of it all. But I ran most of those events alone. For me, our first race (A Midsummer Night’s Run 5K) was the most memorable, simply because I knew so many people participating! I loved the feeling of community, and cheering on everyone I knew.

iRun: We only had something like seven weeks between the half marathon and the marathon. Finishing the half, did you feel like that would be enough time?
Angela:
From day one, I wondered if the two months between Chilly and Goodlife would be enough. I feel better about it now but in an ideal world, I would have liked another month to get ready for the full.

iRun: What does it take to train for the marathon? Do you think its something that anyone could do?
Angela:
If you’re like me (i.e. not super-speedy) it takes a lot of time to train for the marathon. But if you have desire, passion and willpower, you’ll make the time. So go for it!!

iRun: Finally: Who will be watching you on race day? What do you want to tell your loved ones who might be cheering you on?
Angela:
My husband, Mark, and my two kids, Owen and Emmett, will be looking out for me on race day. I want to tell them, “I love you guys so much. I couldn’t have done this without your love and support.”

Marathon Monday at the 119th Boston Marathon

April 21st, 2015

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By Meghan Black

Despite Monday’s unfavourable forecast of cold temperatures and rain, nearly 30,000 runners toed the line yesterday at the 119th Boston Marathon. As a result, hypothermia was the major concern with more than 1,100 runners treated in medical tents and 36 later transported to area hospitals. In spite of weather, thousands of enthusiastic spectators were projected to have lined the route from Hopkinton to Boylston Streets cheering friends,family and elite athletes.
The elite winners have been crowned, with Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia winning the men’s elite race, in 2:09:17. In a dramatic finish to the climatic duel between Caroline Rotich of Kenya and Mara Dibaba of Ethopia, Rotich’s win came down to mile-long sprint where she edged out Dibaba, claiming victory at 2:24:55.

Top Canadian finishers included Montreal’s Phillippe Viau-Dupuis (2:13:25) in the men’s and Vancouver’s Lissa Zimmer (2:36:37). Congratulations to all runners, especially Mark Stucliffe, founder of iRun magazine and host of the Running Show on Ottawa’s TSN 1200! You did it! A shoutout to all the coordinators and volunteers who ensured a fun and safe environment for Boston’s #MarathonMonday.

The Luxury of Hotels that Cater to Runners

April 20th, 2015

 

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An exciting new incentive that I’ve been lucky enough to take part of has been the idea of luxury hotels getting involved with running. Last month, I helped design maps from the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto for runners visiting who want to keep up with their running. There are so many of us running now that places like restaurants, hotels, airports, even banks and mortgage firms, are connecting with runners and trying to bend their services to meet runner’s needs.

It was fun making the maps for the hotel. Imagine being a runner visiting a new city: where would I think they’d want to run? I did one route across Queen Street West, with a stop through Trinity Bellwoods Park, and one that goes up University Avenue, not exactly beautiful, but it’s basically impossible, when following it, to get lost. The final course heads down to the waterfront, where I’ve run every weekend for the past five years. When you hit the lake, you can basically run without traffic lights as long as you want. And I know the course is good. After Eric Gillis and Lanni Marchant won the Yonge Street 10K on Sunday, I saw them loosening up before Lake Ontario while I led my clinic, just two weeks away from their marathon. (And let’s take a moment to think about that: could you imagine seeing Kyle Lowery and DeMar DeRozan shooting layups after tomorrow night’s playoff game at your local court?)

What the Shangri-La’s doing follows an exciting trend in the hotel world. Westin Hotels has been leading the charge with not only appointing a full-time “run concierge,” to help guests on their sneakered adventures, but letting guests borrow a pair of New Balance sneakers. I first ran across this in California, at a wedding, when I needed a break from the festivities and had nothing but dress shoes. I got a map and a pair of sneakers and toured the beautiful country, then returned to the wedding refreshed and happy.

Businesses servicing runners is a good thing. So good luck to everybody today in Boston, and a special thank you to the Shangri-La and to Westin and to everyone else making the world a little bit better for runners. When people focus on their health, institutions have no choice but to follow, and that makes it just a little bit easier for more people to get involved in their own health and wellness. If you know of any other companies or businesses that are adapting to runners, drop me a line at ben@irun.ca.

I’d like to take a moment to publicly acknowledge the work they’ve done.

Perspective on the Boston Marathon

April 19th, 2015

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On the eve of the Boston Marathon around the corner, and with the Marathon trial once again a media focus, it served as a good reminder to keep perspective. The world is a fast moving place. In the spring my schedule starts to fill up with more outdoor activities. I love the chance to get outside and run but I often find myself sneaking in my training. Much as I love running, I’ve been known to run home from work, all in a time saving effort. It’s easy to get carried away with busy schedules. When life gets really busy, I catch myself losing patience with people and obsessing over when I can fit my next run in.

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The majority of people are so lucky to be healthy enough to run and thrive from the benefits of running. It is important to take time to reflect on the small highlights in our lives and all the things that make us lucky. My former professor, Dr. Terry Orlick was always encouraging athletes to record small highlights every day. Examples of small highlight include, fitting in a run on a sunny day, finding a new running route and meeting a friend for coffee after your run.

It is often the unfortunate case that it takes a tragedy (like the Boston Marathon in 2013) to serve as a reminder to appreciate the small things. Big events happen a finite amount of time in life, taking pleasure in the small things is definitely under-rated. I encourage runners to add a “highlights section” to their training log or add special highlights in their smartphone in order to gain a better, more balanced perspective. A runner with a positive perspective is a happy and fast one! Reflecting and grabbing perspective is an ongoing process, and one that every runner should be setting aside time for. When do you make that time to be reflective? I recommend taking a few minutes, immediately after a run or at the end of the day.

I’ve suggested various sections to have in your training log including demonstrations of ability, mentors and inspiration and highlights; these sections are similar to an appendix and can be found in the back of a training log. After each run, you can add more examples to each section, in demonstrations of ability, write down small accomplishments such as weight loss, personal bests in training or running five days in a row. In mentors and inspiration, write down what and who motivates you and write both names and quotes. In highlights keep track of small things like the trees budding or a clear sky. In addition to these sections, reflect on each run and write down: how long you ran, what went well and what needs improving. These guidelines will help give structure to your training log but also promote a creative approach to each run.

Jennifer is a former gymnast turned sprinter turned middle distance runner. She recently completed a Master’s in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa where she studied sport psychology. She holds a Bachelor Degree in psychology from the University of Western Ontario where she was captain of the Track and Field team. She continued her running career with the Gee Gees and is the 2012 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Champion in the 1000m. She is passionate about bringing athletes to a new level of performance through mental skills training. Jennifer believes that enhancing mental performance is about sharpening these mental skills to help athletes constantly challenge themselves to be better.

Connect with Jennifer on Twitter, @jen_perrault!

I once tried to run like Terry Fox

April 17th, 2015

In the summer of 1980, I scampered up and down my parents’ driveway, trying desperately to copy Terry’s irregular gait. The rhythm wasn’t easy, but it was familiar and appealing to me, having watched it so many times on the news. Stride, hop, shuffle. I practiced it over and over again. I didn’t want to run. I wanted to run like Terry.

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Like most Canadians, I had only a vague sense of the Marathon of Hope when it started. Maybe I saw something on the news when Terry dipped his foot in the Atlantic Ocean – the six o’clock news was a ritual in our household – or maybe I know that image from all the times it’s been replayed in the intervening decades. But once he crossed into Ontario, passing through my hometown of Ottawa, I started to pay much closer attention. I remember my sister talking about a runner with one leg and, if I recall correctly, there was a welcome banner hanging somewhere in the centre of the city.

I never saw Terry run in person, but I eagerly watched the highlights of his visit to Parliament Hill and an Ottawa Rough Riders game. And I tracked him as he continued on to Toronto, where he received a hero’s welcome in Nathan Phillips Square.
A few weeks later, with the momentum building, my family happened to catch up to the Marathon of Hope somewhere between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, while we were on a family vacation. By then, I was reading about him in the newspaper every day. Our paths didn’t cross, but the anticipation in the communities we travelled through was evident.

And then, shockingly, just a few weeks later, it was over. I saw the clip of Terry announcing that cancer had returned. I bought an extra copy of the newspaper that day, so I could have my own, separate from my dad’s.I never imagined the story could have such a tragic ending. I kept thinking Terry would soon be running again. Looking back, I think the Marathon of Hope was the first and most powerful lesson of my life that it’s the journey that matters,not the destination. The fact that Terry never made it to the finish line doesn’t diminish his accomplishments; indeed, it’s what made other people so determined to adopt his cause and make it their own, rather than simply keep watching him from the side of the road.

Terry has been with me throughout my life since I hopped and shuffled down that driveway as an 11-year- old boy. The Marathon of Hope was a landmark event in my young life so it’s no surprise that it still resonates with me today. But one of the measures of how significant Terry Fox was is how he means just as much to people younger than 35 as he does to me.
To all of us, Terry Fox is a hero, an icon, an idol. But we should also think of him as an ordinary man. Terry was extraordinary because of his choices and his actions, meaning the same potential exists in all of us.

None of us can match Terry Fox (it still bugs me that he came only second in the Greatest Canadian poll a decade ago). But even if we don’t copy his gait, we can all run like him. We can test our limits. We can raise money and awareness. We can use running to prove a point, to show we’re prepared to do something hard—if in some way that can change the world.

Mark Sutcliffe is the founder
of iRun magazine and co- chairman of the United Way Ottawa campaign. He hosts The Running Show on TSN1200.ca, a talk show on 580 CFRA and is the author of Why I Run: The Remarkable Journey of the Ordinary Runner.

Monique Lo: Racing against illiteracy in Quebec

April 15th, 2015

Monique Lo is a Seeker, because she recognized a problem and then motivated her community to take action. This week, the Saucony #FindYourStrong initiative spotlights a woman using her sneakers to teach the world to read.

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Monique Lo lives and runs in Montreal, Quebec. Her fundraising efforts are on behalf of the Quebec Literacy Foundation. According to the website, one in five Quebec adults have “great difficulty” reading. The Foundation also says that one million people in the province are illiterate. If you are reading this, stop for a moment and let that resonate: The fundamental life skill of reading is taken for granted by most of us. Imagine your life as it is—now forget about most of it because the work you do, the hobbies you enjoy, the home you live in, all of that would look completely different if you couldn’t read. What kind of work could you do? Without work, what kind of housing would you afford?

Since 2013, Monique has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Quebec Literacy Foundation, a position you probably wouldn’t occupy if you couldn’t read. To support the foundation, Monique and a team of runners are preparing to tie their shoes and run for the organization at the Scotiabank Montreal 5k and half marathon on April 26.

While the winter was tough, so were Monique and her friends.

The running continued no matter the weather so they would be prepared to run their race. This is the first year that the Quebec Literacy Foundation is an official charity in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge at this race so Monique is making sure this designation doesn’t go unnoticed.

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The fundraising goal is $15,000. Monique and 21 others are doing their best to hit their target as the clock ticks to race day. The most recent team tally sits at $4970.00. Monique set a personal goal of raising $1200.00. She has exceeded her goal by netting $1350.00…so what has she done with days to go? She has increased her target to $1600.00. Bravo Monique!!

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At this time, the team number is short of the goal, but again, I ask you to stop and imagine the difference the money will make to people’s lives. Even a little good is a lot of good. Time is running out for these runners to hit their goal, so if the social issue of literacy resonates with you, give these great Canadians your support and donate here.

Way to #FindYourStrong Monique!

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We are all cheering for you!

Looking for more motivation? Read additional #FindYourStrong stories here.

Next issue: April 23, 2015
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