Sunday, November 22, 2015

38 Names

November 20th marked the 16th annual international Transgender Day of Remembrance. It also marks the day I learned transphobic violence is responsible for the death of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of transgendered people worldwide.  It marks the day I learned 271 transgendered people ranging in age from 15 to 64 were murdered in the last 12 months. It marks the day I learned every three days a transgendered person, most often a trans-women of colour, is murdered at the hands of a transphobic man.  It marks the day I first understood the extent of hate some direct towards this community.

I get it and I weep.

Our friend Bobbi had the honour of reading 38 names aloud at the Winnipeg Transgender Day of Remembrance. Many other names were read at the assembly, but Bobbi read 38.  It was her duty and her right. She read thirty-eight names aloud with a strong voice. She honoured their lives. She gave them voice. She gave them light. She comforted their families and their loved ones. She acknowledged their hopes and dreams. Bobbi read 38 names with a strong voice...

...and 38 resonates in my heart.

This week I will run 38 miles with strong legs. It's not much, hardly a blip, but it's something. It shows I care. Please join me.

Take 38 steps, walk 38 blocks, take 38 deep breaths, climb 38 stairs, build 38 transgendered snowmen, commit 38 acts of random kindness, give freely 38 hugs, smile at 38 strangers, donate 38 dollars.  Just do something 38 this week and, for heaven's sake, be sure to tell Bobbi you're doing...

It's a good day to be alive.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

we run in circles, we run in lemming loops

we run in circles
short tight circles
lemming loops 
as miles click by and by

we run tight circles when the mind is troubled 
we run happy in this moment
round and round 
spokes on a wheel 
fast and blurred

thoughts become not-quite-focused
thoughts become our heart
our mind
our bone
our soul

we run in circles
we soar free
we run happy in this moment

It's a good day to be alive,


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon Race Report

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life. 

Omar Khayyam

Today we run happy.  

Today we dance. 

Today we marvel at life. 

Today we are omnipotent.

Today the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon knocked it out of the park; an Encarnacion grand slam no less. 

The toilet lineups were crazy, but did you know there were dozens of potties outside?

Water cups were sparse for the last few miles, but did you know David Fielder (aka Spiderman) and Melissa Budd (aka BUFF) were there to sustain you? 

And that amazing teenage cheer leader crew at mile 12, and the rock band at mile 12.5, and Tim MacKay whistling ... who needs water when we have spirit?

Johnny Sticky Buns were teeny-tiny, but did you know there was yogurt, coffee, bananas, tea, hot chocolate, and a whole lot more?

Today I ran happy in the company of 2900 spirited souls.  We ran as one in the moment. We were spirited, chatty, together as one. Today we ran happy and tomorrow we will bask in the after glow. 

At mile 4 we listen to the sound of our feet .. we are a machine.

At mile 8 we listen to the sound of our heart... we are a force.

At mile 12 we listen to the sound of our soul... we are in the moment. 

And it sucks.

And we embrace the suck.

And it is beautiful.

And it is quiet.

We focus on heart, legs, lungs, loved ones, whatever it takes to sustain. We dig deep and then we dig deeper.

Our goal becomes one weighted step after another, and then another, and another, and another.

We step over the line. 

And we choke. 

And we cry. 

And we embrace.

And we ring the bell.

And we savour the beauty of that moment.

We have achieved and we are overwhelmed with happieness.

Today we run happy.

Today we dance.

Today we live in the moment.

And we know the moment is fleeting.

And we know it will fade.

And we think Aynslie, of John, of Jo, of our fathers, of our mothers, of our beloved, of many others.

We run for them today.

And we whisper I love you to spirits passing.

And we say, thanks be to you.

It's all we can do.

It's a good day to be alive,


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon; all systems 'go'.

The fourth annual Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon is brought to you by Race Director extraordinaire, Jonathan Torchia and his amazing Race Crew. I have had the pleasure of pacing all four events and from my perspective this race improves tenfold each and every year. It has the feel of a big city race and yet Jonathan makes it personal and homegrown. He greets all volunteers by first name and with a handshake.  He is the quintessential Type A personality, never sitting, rarely sleeping, and forever encouraging.  

I am pacing a 2 hour ten minute group and like you, I'm anxious and excited about race day. Like you, I have trained for months in difficult conditions. Like you, I have suffered through injury and grimaced through pain. Like you, I have run many hundreds of lonely miles in anticipation of race day. 

Like you, I am strong. 

Like you, I am ready.

Like you, I am overwhelmed with happiness! 

Look for me on race day... I'm the little guy with a big smile.

A full race report will be posted after the event. It's a good day to be alive.


See Martial and Mike Run

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Now I am Not

I've run about 15 miles in the last six weeks.  Someone once said not running is akin to the continual presence of absence. I can attest to that; yes indeed, I do feel absent, because I am absent.

I have become sedentary and bloated.  My mind screams. My cardio suffers. My strength wains.  I am a runner sidelined and we know this is a bad place. Mentally I suffer. Physically I wither.

Spiritually I am diminished. 

I am on the mend (I had a successful 3.5 mile run this morning). I expect another week at Stephanie's Little Shop of Pain will get me rolling once again.  Rolling, stretching. Stretching, rolling endlessly. 

I so wanted the Lemming Loop. It has whispered my name for months. I trained rigorously in heat and hills. 40, 50, 60, 70 lonely miles a week. I was strong and I was confident. Now I am .... well, now I am not.

Next year my friends, next year.

I had the pleasure of watching Lemming Loop from the sideline with a camera. Here's a little tease.

It's a good day to be alive.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Living Prairie Museum, home of the Lemming Loop

The goal of Living Prairie Museum is to provide awareness and
conservation of natural areas, specifically tall grass prairie,
through environmental education.

The Living Prairie Museum is the best kept secret in Winnipeg! It's a 30 acer tall grass prairie preserve that is accessed at 2795 Ness Avenue.  Its origin hails back to 1968 when the International Biological Program surveyed 60 Manitoba sites for native prairie plant communities. Ironically, the largest and most pristine of the lot was found nestled within a St. James residential neighbourhood. The City of Winnipeg established The Living Prairie Museum in 1976 largely due to the advocacy of then 87 year old Pete DeWet. Considering only 1/20 of 1% of original tall grass prairie remains, it is indeed a gem.

The Living Prairie Museum is the location of the much anticipated Lemming Loop trail run. Runners compete against the clock to see how many laps (loops) they can complete within their chosen times of 3, 6,12, or 24 hours. The Lemming Loop is brought to you by the good folks at  Trail Run Manitoba. The 24 hour runners start on October 2 and the 12, 6, and 3 hour runners start on October 3. I've signed up for the 6 hour event and hope to break the back of 50 km. Come join me!

A question for Trail Run Manitoba... Is the Lemming Loop named in honour of the dozens of lemmings that scurry along the trail or is it a comment on the lemming-like runners following one another in endless circles?  Only Dwayne Sandall knows for sure.

The old loop measures 1.6 miles, but Trail Run Manitoba has reconfigured the course to measure 2 miles. The new 2 mile course will ready for the 2015 event and will be posted shortly. I ran 13 loops of the old course last Sunday to get a feel for the terrain. There's very little elevation change, in fact it's as flat as ...umm... a prairie? 

The single track trail weaves through gorgeous patches of purplish (or it it more a rust tone?) tall grass. Spectacular indigenous plants of all colours and shapes ripple wave-like in the light breeze. There's dozens of off-shoot trails and without the expert guidance of ultra-marathoners Fiona, Bobbi, and Maria I surely would have lost my way in the maze.  

We transition off the grasslands onto a fairytale path through a forest dense with Poplar and Oak. Little Red Riding Hood would feel safe in these woods. The path winds hither and tither until once again we're back on the grasslands swimming through waist deep vegetation. We veer towards a grove of trees and follow this path, mindlessly, quietly, taking in the moment as though it were our last breath. We are struck with the sheer beauty of this moment.

We end the loop with a few glugs of water, a light bite, a little chit-chat. And we're off again, and again, and again, lemming-like.

To register go here, now. You know you want to.

It's a good day to be alive, running in endless circles.


PS... This just in from Dale Nesbitt of Trail Run Manitoba... The Lemming Loop refers to a try-a-trail race back near the beginning of Trail Run Manitoba where all the runners missed a turn and got lost. Some runners actually saw the sign which told them to turn, but instead chose to follow the runner in front of them. The TRM logo enshrines this ignoble moment in MB running history by depicting a lemming running away from the arrow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Canicross with Scout the Rescue Dog

My name is Scout and I'm a rescue dog. I rescue human. I get human off couch. Sometimes I walk human and sometimes I run human.

I like run better.

I'm a Wheaten Terrier but human calls me Wheaten Terrorist. Funny human.

Speaking of running, I'm up to 6 miles and my goal is 10. I just started running with human in June! Not bad for a scruffy rescue dog.

I got lost one day and ended up at the Animal Services Agency. Very nice humans looked after me, but I was lonely. I needed to rescue someone. One day a human came to visit and I chose this human.

Like I said, I'm a rescue dog and I take my job seriously! There's three fun-da-men-tal (big word for a dog!) rules of rescue.

My job is to:
  1. love human unconditionally,
  2. greet human at the door with a wagging tail,
  3. always be happy,
  4. love human unconditionally (that's 4 but, I'm a dog so math is not so good).
Not a bad gig, eh?

If you need rescuing visit my pals at the Animal Service Agency. They will rescue you good!

I made a video of me and human running, or canicross (yup, another big word).  Hope you like it.

Bark bark bark bark or, in human-speak ....It's a good day to be alive!


PS... pump up the volume!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Run Happy, Run Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon (5k 10k)

Yowzers, of all the races I have paced the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon 2015 takes the cake!

Much loved Brooks representative Kathy Turner, WFPS race director Jonathan Torchia, and City Park Runners owner/operator Erick Oland have combined forces to create the WFPS Run Happy Pace Team.

Fifteen pacers from a field of 50 applicants will pace all levels of runners ranging from blistering fast to let's getter-done.  All pacers will be fully decked out with matching Brooks shirts, shorts, and kicks! Pretty sweet deal indeed. 

I have had the good fortune of pacing all three previous WFPS Half Marathons so I am over-the-moon pleased to once again pace this year's event.

When asked by Jonathan why I want to be a pacer I replied...

... because running makes me happy and I like to share the happiness...

And when pressed a little further I added...

...I want to be a role model for men and women my age. If I can do it, surely they can too...

Proceeds from the WFPS Half Marathon (5k & 10k) support The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a cause near and dear to Ted's Run for Literacy. Many of you know Ted Swain died from cardiac complications in 2009.  Ted's legend lives on, but oh how he is missed.

Just as Ted's Run for Literacy believes the cycle of childhood poverty can be broken, Jonathan and his crew see a Manitoba free of heart disease and stroke. 

You better not procrastinate at the REGISTER NOW button too long. This race will fill up soon. 

What are you waiting for? 

Come run happy with me!

It's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rumblings From A Grumpy Old Man

I sometimes fear I am transitioning to the 'grumpy old man' phase of life.  A time when the line separating all that was blurs with all that will be.  It's a longing for all things lost and a fear for what awaits. It's a realization that time passes, that rust never sleeps*. We spiral forward with nothing to ground us other than fleeting memories of once upon a time.  It's about no longer understanding the ways of the world.

Take the other day for instance.

I was 20 miles into a 27 mile run. It was a pleasant run and I was feeling strong coming off a menacing MCL injury. The sun was a-shining and the birds a-tweeting. All was well in the world and I was mindful in that moment

I am running on the street and she's running on the trail 20 paces away. She is in her mid-twenties and I'm just south of 60. Our strength and pace are evenly matched.  We are aware of each other's presence, but we run silently lost in our own thoughts, side-by-side 20 paces away, young and not-so-young, blissfully minding our own business. Running.

I barely notice the voice at first. It is pleasant and cheery, and full of laughter. I look over to the young woman, 20 paces off to the side, and realize she's in an animated conversation on her hands-free phone.

She is talking on the phone to her boyfriend. I know it's her boyfriend because the talk is sweet and intimate (and becoming more intimate by the moment). I don't think she realizes how loud she speaks. She's now yelling into the phone.

I try to pick up my pace to move out of range, but after 21 miles my reserves are low. I consider slowing my pace and letting her move ahead but, call it stubbornness, that just doesn't seem like an option. I keep my pace steady hoping she will either A) hang up or B) veer off course.

Neither happened. Like white on rice, she remains a consistent 20 paces off my right shoulder.

I feel my bliss melt like wax on a candle.

I can't speed up. I won't slow down. I'm lost in this inane conversation that is way too intimate and way too sweet for public discourse. I have now been an unwilling participant in this conversation for 6 miles. Sixty minutes of dull pain permeates my brain, time I will never, ever regain.

I consider asking her to slow down just for a few minutes to allow me time to put some distance between us.  It seems like a reasonable request? After all, she's probably unaware that I'm hearing this embarrassingly intimate conversation. Surely she will apologize like a good Canadian and slow her pace for a few minutes.



I slowed my pace, and pulled up alongside with a friendly smile.

"Excuse me, you're probably not aware that I can hear your entire conversation. If you slowed down for a couple of minutes I can get ahead and you can continue your conversation."

"I like this pace, why should I slow down?" she demanded.

"It's just a suggestion, thanks anyway" I said as I picked up my pace.

She then started yelling at me and defending her right, her entitlement, to speak on the phone.

I replied a second time "It's just a suggestion. It's not a problem" and ran ahead.

Her conversation continued for several more minutes and then stopped abruptly. I heard her trot up along my left shoulder several paces behind. She followed me for a minute or two in silence and then clipped my right side as she buzzed past, never to be heard, mercifully, again.

Maybe she does have a right to take away another's peace and enjoyment. Or maybe it just the way I was raised; to be considerate of others, to be polite, to be respectful, to care, to empathize.

Then again, maybe I'm just becoming a grumpy old man.

Either way, it's a good day to be alive.


* Neil Young

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

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