Sunday, June 21, 2015

Manitoba Marathon Race Report

Every step a thought of you
Every breath a prayer for you
Every heartbeat summons my pride for you

My mantra, for my sister Judith, who in trekking the Portugal Camino in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees C. It got me through some rough patches today but I'm sure people running alongside were a little worried when I started saying it out loud.

Mile 24, Ted's Run for Literacy Water Station (photo credit Bobbi Nicol)
The Manitoba Marathon was a grand success.  The race crew and board of directors should stand proud for a job well done.  Our new race director, Rachel Munday tweaked a few changes thereby improving on previous races considerably. I speak for many runners when I say "I cannot wait to see what Munday will pull out of her hat for next year's event".  It is evident that a runner is at the helm of this storied event now 37 years strong. The future looks bright for the Manitoba Marathon.

If  Munday could just learn to dial the heat back a bit...

The event started with a Carrie Howells's blog post A Trail Runner Hits the Road posted on Trail Run Manitoba yesterday evening.  Howell speaks of her love of trails and explains the significance of road running when her true passion lies in trail running.  She speaks of dreams, blood, and tears. She talks about the significance of revisiting past fears.  She ends with "...and we will all tow the line together". This beautiful statement evokes a powerful image and hits the nail on the head.

Hats off to local running ambassador Jeff Vince for his completion of his 25th Manitoba Marathon and 65th marathon. I had the pleasure to run with Jeff for a mile today and we talked about the importance of leadership for senior men.

I commented "So many men our age retire to the couch and a bottle"

and Jeff added without a blink, "And then to the grave".

I enjoy Jeff's company, perhaps it's his humbleness and quiet nature that I find appealing. He leads with gentleness and models an active lifestyle.

F the C (photo credit Bobbi Nicol)
There is group I will call Jo's angels. What an amazing group of individuals, all crazy happy and positive. Jo and her merry band of angels were with me at key points along the course cheering my name madly. My heart pumped strong and my crooked back straightened in their presence.   They epitomize Howell's we all tow the line together.

I also had the pleasure of running with Ed Toews. Ed is running 20 marathons in 15 months to raise awareness and cash for Siloam Mission. Ed was hit by a vehicle at age 14 resulting in multiple surgeries. The accident left him with a permanent curvature of the spine and one shorter leg.

Ed shared "I'm sort of cheating, I'm actually running 26 marathons in 15 months."

I replied "I think that's reverse cheating." and we laughed.

Like Jeff Vince, Ed Toews is another amazing senior ambassador. And the best news? Ed promised a guest blog on See Mike Run (if he ever stops running long enough to pound out a story).

Bert Blackbird and Melissa Budd, finish line. (photo credit unknown)
An then there is the incredible ultra marathoner Bert Blackbird who completed today's marathon after recently running 362 kilometers from Regina to Brandon to raise awareness and cash for Huntington's disease research. Bert trained on the big hill outside of Brandon for 24 consecutive hours to prepare for the Brandon - Regina run. Local ultrarunner Melissa Budd joined Bert for about 70 miles and has promised a story for See Mike Run. Stay tuned.

Can U Director Roger Berrington providing support at mile 24
Ted's Run for Literacy water station.(photo credit Jen Kirkwood)
And then there is my friend, some say nephew, David Fielder who completed his 99th marathon today. This of course does not include the dozens of ultras he has under his belt. David is an inspiration to many. We love him dearly and we admire his determination.

Ted's Run for Literacy was offered the privilege to organize the Mile 24 water station. Aldo Furlan of many, many hats managed to corral about 20 volunteers to manage the station from 6:30 AM to 1PM. They provided excellent support and stayed on course after closing to provide nutrition to the real heros; those that push it to the end knowing the course is closed and the stands will be empty. They run on grit and heart. I am proud of my TRL peeps for their diversity, their passion, and their belief in a dream so big it staggers the imagination. Ted's Run for Literacy, the little race that could, audaciously dreams of a day when we will break the cycle of childhood poverty. Through literacy, nutrition, and sport we will realize our dream. You can help; mark September 27th in your calendar and visit tedsrunforliteracy.com

You know it friends now and friends waiting to be, it's a good day to be alive.

Mike







Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Taper Prayer

i pray for you adventurous marathoners

i pray for your passion
i pray you will be happy
i pray you will find what you search
i pray for your strength
i pray you will be loved
i pray you will love
i pray your thirst will be quenched
i pray you understand the gift
i pray for your rest
i pray you will laugh
and laugh
and laugh
i pray you run well
i pray you will run like the wind
i pray you will be strong
i pray forever you will run


it's a good day to be alive

Mike




Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Putting Her Best Foot Forward, a guest blog by Mike Still

A Q & A with new Manitoba Marathon race director Rachel Munday by Mike Still.

Manitoba Marathon Race Director, Rachel Munday, second from right.
While she grew up a dancer, Munday made the transition to the road later down the line, and has now completed 20 full-half marathons and four full marathons, her first of which was The Manitoba.

Rachel Munday has had quite a lasting impact on the running community over the past decade, and now she will get the chance to shine as executive director of Manitoba’s premiere running event, the Manitoba Marathon, which takes place on June 21.

Originally starting as a part time worker at the Running Room in 2005, Munday rose quickly, moving on to the events co-ordinator position, and then area and regional manager. In that time she has made her name known and gained valuable opportunities as both a leader and race director.

While she grew up as a dancer, Munday made the transition to the road later in life, and has now completed over 20 full-half marathons and four full marathons, her first of which was Manitoba. When now-former executive director Shirley Lumb stepped down back in December, Munday was among those who applied for the position, and ultimately got it in March.

Ted's Run for Literacy board member (Youth Outreach), running coach, and sports reporter for The Manitoban , Mike Still recently had the opportunity to sit down with Munday to discuss her thoughts on the race, as well as how things have progressed since she was appointed.

Mike Still: What was the interview process like for you? How long did it take, and when did you ultimately find out you were the one who was being appointed?

Rachel Munday: As far as the interview process goes, there was a call out to the public for applications. I don’t know specifically how many people responded, but I know there were quite a few. I had an initial interview in January with select members of the board. That interview probably was just over an hour. Then, I was called back a few weeks later for a second interview, again with select members of the board.

My final interview actually was quite comprehensive, in February. That one actually was pretty fun, because it was with the full board, so there was 16 people present at my final interview, and I actually had to do a 10-minute PowerPoint, and then [a second] five-minute PowerPoint presentation to the full board. It was really interesting because as a board they’re very engaged and they’re very capable people, and yet they’ve never had to hire for this position. Their expectations of who they had here were very high.

I got the word in mid-March, shortly after that final interview, and I just felt like it was the right opportunity at the right time.

M: Since you’ve been given the position, what other opportunities have you had to go to other places, and check out other major races, and how they do things?

Munday: For me, over the years as a runner, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to races abroad. Your perspective is very different when you’re there as a runner, as opposed to a race director, who’s looking at the small details that most people don’t see.

I have had the opportunity historically to go to Twin Cities [Minneapolis Marathon] and be a part of that event, and see their course, and amazing community involvement, and that kind of thing, and of course, I’ve run the Marine Corps Marathon, which was spectacular. Toronto Waterfront I’ve run as well. As far as a race director, I did have the opportunity to go down to Fargo on Mother’s Day weekend, specifically to do recon of their event, and their course and expo, and kind of just participate in their activities and see them.

Then, this past week I went to Calgary, which was the National Race Directors’ Summit. That was really amazing, to have the opportunity to listen to panels, everything from marketing, to sustainability, as far as giving back to the community and running a green race, which we have been doing for years.

To connect with race directors who have events the same size as ours, and then even bigger, and what they did to take their race to the next level, and to see the elite programs, and their operations, it was really good.

M: What are a couple of the things that you’re hoping to do this year that may be exciting for people who are registering?

Munday: We’re excited about lots of things. We’ve moved the start lines this year to Chancellor Matheson Dr., just in front of Investors Group Field. We feel like when you arrive on race day, it’s really going to be like that festival atmosphere, instead of having it spread over the entire footprint of University Crescent, it’s going to be condensed.

We’ve actually closed Chancellor Matheson entirely to road traffic, including race vehicles, so it’s only pedestrian traffic all day long, and diverted our parking lot program, so that no buses will be letting people off on Chancellor Matheson.

In that starting area, we’ve added full marathon-specific toilets that will be fenced off, and we’ve really worked hard to improve our clothing drop off program.
Then, we’ve added 10 kilometer medals. It’s still not a competitive race yet, and going forward the course will be certified, but not yet, but we are giving medals to all the participants, so they’ll get medals and shirts.

We’ve added food tents in the relay zones for participants when they finish their leg of the race. That way they can have a small snack while they’re waiting for the bus to take them back to university. For the ones that aren’t, they’ll have the opportunity to have some post-race refreshment before they head back to their car.

We’ve added the full marathon in-field recovery, so when the full marathoners finish, they’ll be directed to the in-field of the track, and we have some electrolyte replacement by Popeyes. Pita Pit has come on board, and they’ve donated what’s called a snowball, which is a chocolate covered frozen protein treat.

We’re going to have dry clothes pick up in the in-field for all the full marathoners, and massage is being provided by Massage Athletica. Full marathoners won’t be limited to what’s in that area, it’s more of a post-race relax area.

At the finish line we’ve added selfie and photo walls. We’ve got some fun signs, and wipe-off boards, and that kind of thing, so you can take pictures with your friends, or that random guy who helped you get to the finish line who you’ve never met before, but ran 26 miles with.

We’ve added more pace bunnies, and complimentary registration for them, and we’ve added bands.
We have like 30 bands on the course, and really working hard to enhance the cheer zones with our charity partners, so we have 15 charity partners on the course that have cheer zones.
Nothing major as far as route changes or time changes or anything like that this year, but more focused on runner experience.

M: Ultimately, what is your long-term vision for the Manitoba Marathon?

Munday: I would say that the long-term vision is to make this a destination race. We want people to come to Winnipeg, and travel here just like they’re travelling to other places. Just like I have travelled to the Twin Cities, or Washington, or Toronto for an event, I want people to travel here, and I want them to know that we put on a world class event, which we do.

I want them to know that Winnipeg has so much to offer. We have so many beautiful landmarks on our route, and going forward we’ll likely capture some of the newer landmarks of the city.
It’s such a great place to run. Our elevation is a maximum of 10 feet, which is ridiculous. We just have so much to offer, so I think that my vision is to create that destination event, where people are getting the full experience, and where they’re just going to want to come back.

Mike Still
Ted's Run for Literacy Youth Outreach

With the Manitoba Marathon right here in our back yard, and Rachel Munday at its helm, it's a good day to be alive.

Mike B




Monday, June 1, 2015

Life in Transition, part 2 (a guest blog by Bobbi Nicol)


The above picture in my mind says it all, Courage is not something that we show every day, me included, and we should. I have made a promise to myself that I will try to be courageous every day from this point forward, how about you?

When I wrote that first post, Life in Transitionnot quite 2 months ago, I honestly did not know what to expect. I have been living in fear of people finding out for so long it kind of wears on your psyche and you always think the worst will happen, while in the back of your mind you hope for the best. Those feeling alone have kept me hidden away for more years than I want to admit, feelings that unfortunately many struggle with in one form or another. Why is it so difficult for people to see you for the person you are instead of the society desired and portrayed norm? If you have known me for any length of time you would definitely understand that I am a little out of the box, a bit of an oddity some may say. I just believe I am me; wouldn’t it be nice if the world was a little more understanding and allowed everybody to be more themselves? I think so.

I guess a formal introduction is in order, my name is Bobbi, and many of you have known me as Bob or also affectionately known as Barefoot Bob to some. Since that first post came out where I shared some of my struggles and personal thoughts to give you all a bit of an inside look, an introduction so to speak, I have  been overwhelmed with the support that has been shown. Even though I never divulged who I was, it didn’t seem to matter; I was just another runner with a story to tell, someone who was trying to find her way, to find peace between body and soul. That post gave me the strength to start; whether I was accepted or not, I knew when I finished writing it that I needed to continue with my journey.

Since that post I have made huge strides in my transition, well that’s an understatement for sure, in comparison I went from running my first 5km to running and completing a 100 miler in a matter of two months. Or at least that is what it feels like. I have done so much in that short time, more than I ever thought possible a year ago, for that matter even six months ago. I went from a small select few knowing, to coming out publicly and going full time and presenting as a woman which is coming up on completing my first month. I have seen so much compassion and most important, the willingness to learn and understand. For that I am the most grateful, for knowledge is power and the key to understanding and compassion.  Ignorance and hiding yourself is the path to hate and miscommunication. Would the world not be a better place with a little more understanding and compassion, yes I think so. For that reason I encourage you to ask questions if you have them, I will try my best to answer them, I know this is new to many of you. I implore you to research into those things that you do not understand or may be uncomfortable with as you may be missing something beautiful. For does not a rose grow and bloom within a plant of thorns, a butterfly spreads its wings after emerging from a chrysalis, yes they do.

With that all out of the way, I wanted to share with you a few running related experiences I have had since that first post, as this is a running blog (Thank you Mike for letting me do this) and a darn good one at that.

For those of you that know me, running trails is my preference and one of my local favorites is the Spruce Woods Ultra put on by a Manitoba Trail Running Legend, Dwayne Sandall, who I am lucky enough to call a friend. I was unable to run this year, due to a series of unfortunate events, but I was able to volunteer at one of the aid stations which in my mind are just as much fun. I got to see all the runners (many of which I knew and were seeing me for the first time) at least twice as they came through our aid station, the show of support was amazing throughout the night and into the next day. If nothing else the words of encouragement will remain with me for years to come. Spending that 24 hours out in the woods, ‘man’-ing (for lack of a better word J ) the aid station still brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart despite the negative temps that were apparent and very evident throughout the night. A big thanks to Rheal, Debbie and the rest of the Aid Station 1/6 crew that accepted me for who I am. Also, seeing all the runners with their big smiles and the looks of determination made it extra special to me.

Having fun at the Race Expo on Saturday, (left to right) Laura, Nancy, Kelvin, Shannon and me.
Last weekend I travelled to Ottawa to run my first race event presenting as Bobbi, I was running the marathon, totally under trained (well in fact no training at all) and just wanting to have a bit of fun. It’s funny, I am used to getting a little bit of attention for the way I run, but this was different. I guess it is more acceptable to run barefoot as a boy, seems kind of strange but to run a marathon barefoot as a girl is apparently totally crazy. At least that was some of the comments I was getting, and running with my friend Nancy garnered more attention for she was running in a pair of Luna Sandals, which apparently is just as crazy. Two crazy girls out for a run…yes why not.
Nancy and I rocking the course.
We were not running for a time (this was by far my slowest marathon ever but also the one I am most proud of), nor were we running for anyone other than for ourselves. I heard lots of comments from not only other runners about my lack of footwear, but volunteers and the spectators alike, my favorite was by far this one. As I was passing a little girl cheering on all the runners loudly with her mom, she saw me coming and quickly got her mom’s attention and yelled out while pointing and bouncing up and down, “Mommy, mommy, look at that beautiful girl, she is barefoot just like me, can I run like that too?” I looked down and there she was jumping up and down barefoot on the sidewalk, which just brought the biggest smile to my face, I had to divert to go give her a high five. Even though I was at first worried about people being shocked or upset if they realized I was transgender, once the gun went at the start that all just faded away and I was just happy to be me. 

No matter what I felt, I was just another girl out for a run with thousands of her friends and that was the best feeling in the world.

Two of the amazing views as we crossed from Quebec to Ontario.
Heading back to Ontario from Quebec, first marathon encompassing two provinces.
The whole day was an experience beyond my expectations, I was so happy to experience it with some amazing friends and at such a fantastically supported event. Crossing that finish line at the end of the race was amazing and even though the photo evidence does not show me smiling (I was seriously looking for the food tent), my heart and soul were definitely beaming as they were one.


Where’s that food tent…sooo rungry!

I want to thank the running community, my amazing family and my many friends for rallying around me, supporting me and seeing me for who I am, not just someone who is different and strange, I am not someone to be discarded nor forgotten…I am just me.
Hope to see you out on the trails…

It’s a good day to be alive…….

Bobbi Nicol


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Evil

The other day I wrote a blog entitled Kindness where I referred to a bored customs agent as 'evil'. A reader challenged me on the use of the word suggesting it's too strong and I had exaggerated the circumstance.  I stewed on this and considered softening the word to 'mean'.

Then I went for a run...

Those of you who are familiar with the intense pleasure of running trails into a rising sun understand the effect on the brain. Garbled thoughts become defragged and are filed and connected. Some are deleted while others simply gel. Colours and memories become vibrant. New ideas crackle like pop rock candy on the tongue. A calmness settles in the brain as heart, legs, and lungs become one. 

...and I reflected on evil.

The word evil in the context of the essay is appropriate. Here's why.

The concept of evil is a continuum ranging from a little evil (e.g. bored custom agent) to a lot of evil (e.g. Hitler). To suggest the word 'evil' be used to only describe the most heinous acts is naive and let's us off the hook. We all commit acts of evil from time to time. Fortunately, most of us show remorse and some may apologize.

When one wilfully degrades, humiliates, bullies, hurts, or excludes another person or group, an act of evil is committed. These are small evils on the continuum, but nevertheless, they are evil. We don't need to look too far to witness this level of evil; we can find numerous examples in the work place, on the streets, in the news media, and on social media to name a few.

The bored security guard is probably a good man most of the time, but make no mistake, he committed an act of evil, low on the continuum, but evil nevertheless.

Just like all of us.


It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kindness


We take them by the hand and lead them to the front of the line.
There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.

Dalai Lama

I flew out of Pearson the other day and found myself locked in a endless security line. Hundreds of passengers shuffled along the switchback chatting quietly. It was a peaceful line, a community of sorts. I was moments away from a pre-security check when I heard two voices from behind.

"Excuse me please, my plane, I'm late, please excuse me."

Looking back I saw two woman dressed in gorgeous traditional African garb. Their English was broken, yet the anxious tone was universally clear. A wave of human kindness surged trough the line as people waved the women forward. I too obliged and stepped aside with a smile showing my concern.

Our little makeshift community was warmed with universal human kindness. A wake of gratitude trailed the two women as they moved forward closer and closer to their goal.

And then a curveball derailed the goodness.

A bored security agent just in front of me stopped the women. When they explained they were late for their plane the guard replied in  monotone

"It's not my problem" and then averted his eyes.

They were stopped cold. The warm glow of human kindness shattered and all about people glared at the guard.  The kindness of hundreds derailed by the misguided evil of a single individual.  We watched the balance beam tilt toward evil.

And then, as if on cue, another security guard further up the line who had witnessed the evil approached the women. He ignored the first security guard completely and waved to the women

"Follow me" he said, and escorted them to the front of the line.

The running community is like that security line. We perpetuate kindness, we show concern for those in troubled times, we hold our friends' hands when they are frightened, we give support when they are confused, we welcome them into our midst when they feel they do not belong.

And when they are faced with insidious evil, when the pain becomes unbearable, when they feel the walls crumbling, we take them by the hand and lead them to the front of the line.

Reach out to someone who needs you today. Sometimes all we can do is tell them we care. And sometimes that's enough to make it through another day.

Make it a good day for them to be alive, one day at a time.

Mike

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The View Curb Side; Winnipeg Police Half Marathon 2015

Please enjoy a curb side view of the Winnipeg Police Services Half Marathon.  I'd prefer a street view but I'm in the penalty box for another week so I run vicariously through all of you beautiful people. Thanks for the brilliant smiles and shouts of unadulterated joy; you made me feel I was trotting along beside you. 

Jo was on the course but I don't have a picture. When I did see her one k out from the finish line we hugged, and that's way better than a picture.  Jo, just so you know, has raised about $20,000 for Cancer Care (and climbing).  

Click em to supersize.

It's a good day to be alive

Mike

Oh yes, my friend Connie (second picture from the last) pb'd at 1:45 and change. Sizzling fast.