Sunday, November 20, 2016

Those Rascally Turtles. What are they up to now?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Meade


Those rascally Turtles, what are they up to now? 

I have a friend who cycle-commutes to work everyday all year, regardless of the weather.  When asked why he does this he replies casually "I'm just trying to change the world" and then adds without a hint of sarcasm or spite "Why do you drive your car"?  

I thought it an odd response, but in reflection it speaks precisely to the Meade quote above. We all have it in ourselves to make the world a better place, to improve the quality of life, indeed to change the world. It is a series of small, thoughtful acts of kindness that make this tired old world spin smoothly. 

So I started using that line when asked why I cycle or run to work,

"I want to change the world" and then I would add "and besides, it makes me feel good".

That's what our friends the Turtles want; nothing short of changing the world and feeling good in the process.

The Turtles are a group of trail runners that meet several times weekly to run city trails and country trails. They may call themselves Turtles, but in reality they're a pretty serious group of experienced ultra-runners. They love life like no others, they exude positive energy, and they spread joy to all those who share the trails. 

A few founding Turtle members were running at Garbage Hill the other day and noticed the unsightly trash in the tall grass along the many trails.  The hill is named for the garbage below the surface, not the stuff on top!  They have organized a "Un-garbage Garbage Hill" campaign for Sunday, November 27, 2016 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The Facebook event page is here and their message is below.

Please come and support this campaign of love and kindness. You too can change the world and feel great in the process.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Garbage Hill unsightly trails.

Calling all runners & lovers of Garbage Hill! 

Winnipeg's hill training capital is a disgrace. Many members of our community spend multiple hours pounding out the miles on the road & trails at the, currently very aptly named, "Garbage Hill". As you can see from the cover photo, there are some who do not seem to appreciate the importance of this special Winnipeg spot & have chosen to litter freely. We invite you to come for a run & help us clean up the hill before the winter weather sets in & we have soppy trash in the spring.

Come for an hour or the afternoon, but please come.

Please bring:


  • family, 
  • friends, 
  • garbage bags, 
  • disposable gloves
  • a winning attitude!

To any truck owners who would be willing to haul away filled bags, that would be great!
Please share, share, share!!

Monday, November 14, 2016

An open letter to Councillors Scott Gillingham and Cindy Gilroy

Dear Councillors Gillingham and Gilroy;

I am writing on behalf of hundreds of Winnipeg runners who train year round on Winnipeg streets and trails.  Perhaps you've seen us; we're on the roads at 6 AM, we run through blizzards and squalls, ice and heat, sunny ways and foreboding skies.  We are your average Joes and Josephines, we were at ground zero of the Boston Marathon bombing, we are ultra marathoners, we run in wheelchairs, we are Ironmen, we run to lose weight, we are survivors of cancer and strokes, we run to be sane in a complicated world. We believe all days are good for running, some are just better than others.

Part of our training includes weekly hill workouts.  Hill training builds strength, endurance and prepares us psychologically for the challenges ahead.  It's hard to find a hill in this neck of the woods, but fortunately the old city dump, Westview Park, affectionately known as Garbage Hill, is the 'go to' hill for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of outdoor enthusiasts.  Garbage Hill is a diamond in the rough and has significant potential as a year round mecca for active Winnipeggers.

There are seven elements to Garbage Hill (see here).  I draw your attention to the most common element, the Loop.  The Loop measures 0.8 km from the south gate, 'loop' around the cul de sac on top of the hill, and return to gate (see photographs below).


Garbage Hill, The Loop 
(approximately 0.8 km)
Start at south gate.
Round corner facing east.
Up the straight, due north.
Round the cul de sac at the top and return to gate.

The Loop is virtually inaccessible to pedestrian traffic in winter months because it remains unplowed for months on end. It's especially treacherous in the spring season with the the endless freeze-thaw cycle rendering the hill dangerous let alone inaccessible.  This is unfortunate because many outdoor enthusiasts train year round for spring running and walking events including our very own Manitoba Marathon, Winnipeg Police Services half-marathon, and the Spruce Woods Ultra-marathon.  Many others just like to meet up with friends to "pound a few hills" before meeting for a beverage and bite at a local establishment.  

Westview Park straddles the boundaries of Daniel McIntyre Ward and St. James Brooklands Ward. As councillors with shared responsibility of Westview Park you are in a position to improve the quality of life for many. 

This blogger respectfully asks you to consider plowing the Loop portion of Westview Park with a sidewalk plow with the same frequency to plow other sidewalks in the vicinity. This would make the Loop accessible year round and would greatly speed up the spring melt along the entire roadway.  

Winnipeg is a winter city. Our citizens are hearty and we embrace the cold. Plowing a 0.8 km strip of Garbage Hill is a small price when compared to the health benefits and the sheer enjoyment of citizens who access the hill year round.  Garbage Hill is Winnipeg's Kilimanjaro, our little bump in the middle of the finest city in Canada. 

In summary:
  • Garbage Hill straddles Daniel McIntyre ward and St. James Brooklands Park.
  • Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts including runner, walkers, families, tobogganers, cyclists, dog lovers, and many others access Garbage Hill year round.
  • The Loop is a 0.8 km section of the paved roadway and is the most common element of the hill.  
  • This blogger requests City of Winnipeg plow The Loop with a sidewalk plow at the same frequency sidewalks are plowed in the vicinity of Garbage Hill. 
  • It's a good day to be alive.
Please reply at your convenience. Your letter(s) will be published on See Mike Run as a follow up to this post. 


With Respect,

Mike

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beer Can Angel

Calling all angels, calling all angels
Walk me through this one, don't leave me alone
Calling all angels, calling all angels
We're tryin', we're hopin', we're hurtin', we're lovin'
We're cryin', we're callin' 'cause we're not sure how this goes

Jane Siberry - Calling All Angels Lyrics 

Photo Credit Heidi Hunter of Runs With Scissors
Forgive me, another angel post.

Dino is a lone wolf, a middle aged Wolseley woman, a character with short curly, faded red hair. She watches the neighbourhood and searches the alleys and riverbank for lost cats and dogs. She's a weed pulling pop-up gardener, a flyer delivery girl, and a blue bin scavenger.  Social assistance provides her with the bare necessities while beer cans allow for indulgences. She ekes a meaningful existence, however humble.

Dino is invisible to most.  She tends to lurk in the background and eye contact is difficult for this angel. She will talk, but minimally so.  Dino has an intellectual disability and speech is difficult.

I first noticed Dino many years ago while walking my pretty Annie early one morning. She was deep in the bush in front of Laura Smith School, hidden from all except those who choose to see.  I noticed her red head bobbing among the bushes.

"Good morning" I said, "what are you doing?"

"I'm pulling the weeds" she replied with a tinge of impatience as though I had missed the obvious, and went back to work.

I thanked her for her good work and continued on.

And there I would see her day after day, month after month, year after year. Pulling the weeds in Wolseley public spaces, Laura Smith School, Wesley School, and others. No matter how rushed I was, I always stopped and commented on what a good job she was doing and I thanked her for her work.

"Our neighbourhood is more beautiful because of you." I would say.

"K, thanks" she replied shyly and continued weeding.

She was uncomfortable with the compliment. but secretly, I know she liked it.  I continued to thank her whenever our paths crossed.

"Thanks for making our neighbourhood beautiful.".

"K, welcome".

I commented on one occasion that I hadn't seen her pulling weeds at Laura Smith school for quite a while.

Dino replied, with typical no eye contact, "They asked me to stay away because I was scaring the children.".

"Scaring the children? What do you mean?" I asked.

She explained some parents complained their children were frightened by her presence.  To the parents she looked unkempt (my word) and suspicious, always in the bush, crouched down and hidden from view. Invisible to all but those who choose to see.

What a wasted opportunity.

Instead of welcoming her into the school community they reacted to unfounded fear. Instead of seeing a model citizen for students to aspire towards, they saw a threat. Instead of showing compassion, they showed intolerance.  They failed Dino. They failed the children. They failed our community.

Thus is the life of the beer can angel.

Calling all angels,
Walk me through this one
Don't leave me alone...

Last August I found Dino curbside rummaging through my blue bin.

I approached her and asked "What are you looking for?"

Startled, she backed away from the blue bin, afraid I was angry with her, fraid I was going to yell.

I told her "It's okay, I am just curious, what are you looking for?".

"Beer cans" she replied "They're worth 10 cents a can."

Choking on the words, 10 cents a can, I asked if it would help if I separated the beer cans and hid them from view in front of my car on Sunday evenings, the night before recycling day. Our little secret.

"K, that would be good, thanks" she replied

"It's my way of saying thank-you for pulling the weeds and making our neighbourhood beautiful".

And if a ten dollar bill happens to fall into the beer can container, so be it.

Dino, the beer can angel, now gets my beer cans, 10 cent each, ten will get you a dollar.

I think of Dino as I run and I consider all the good she does and how she is invisible to all except those who choose to see.  I think of Dino, the pop-up weed pulling gardener, the blue bin scavenger, the flyer delivery girl, the cat rescue, dog loving, beer can angel, and I smile.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hecla Half Marathon Race Report by Andrea Richardson Lipon

Thanks very much to Andrea Richardson Lipon for submitting this race report of the inaugural Hecla Island Half-marathon.  It sure sounds like a successful event!  

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Andrea Richardson Lipon
The Hecla half marathon was the first of my back to back half marathons.  I questioned myself; does this make me full on crazy?  No one really needs to answer that. 

The Hecla half marathon was the largest running race in the Interlake and the first time the race was “run”.  Right from the beginning, the correspondence from the race director to the participants was great.  Race pick-up from available in the city or on Friday or Saturday, it was all seamless.

The race course was an out and back and just gorgeous.  I had never been to Hecla before and I was amazed by the beauty.  It made the feeling of lungs burning that much more enjoyable.  The course was nicely marked, you really couldn’t get lost.  😉

There were just the right amount of aid stations and porta-potties.  Coming from someone with a defunct colon, porta-potty placement is key!


There was a part that was around the lake possibly around mile 5-6 and it literally felt like it was uphill both ways.  It was a great challenge, but once again surrounded by beauty!


The “trail” part of the race was the last 2km.  This was the fun part!  There was this part where it was loose stones…..not even gravel…… and it was so close to the end.  I remember thinking….. “I don’t have time for this in my life”……hahaha meant lovingly of course……..we were warned about this last part before the race started.  But still, who really listens to that?


It was a great race, a great venue and the organization and the volunteers were top notch!  They did run out of wine, but we were warned about that before the race started.  I mean how can you go wrong?  Free wine. Free Massage.  And great food……..and surrounded by beauty.  I can’t wait to see how they build upon this for next year!

Race Report by Andrea Richardson Lipon

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Half Marathon 2016 Race Report

Running happy at mile 7-ish with Jeannine.
Photo credit Fern Berard
"Good-morning, and welcome to race day..."

...read the 5:00 AM cheery email from our much loved race director Jonathan Torchia.  I smiled through groggy eyes and thought "does this man ever sleep?" and stepped into the hot shower.

Life is complicated.  Running is simple.

The 5th annual WFPS half marathon (5km 10km) has set a new standard for Winnipeg road races. Jonathan and crew ditched the old blueprints and built a race from the ground up. This race, this event, this spectacular happening, helped make today a memory.

A memory of smiles and cheers, and sweat and humanity.  A memory of laughter and camaraderie. A memory of tears and hurt, and pain, and happiness.  A memory of success and disappointment. A memory of hot coffee and Johnny Sticky buns. A memory of Ted Swain, Joanne Schiewe, and Barry Gordon. A memory of port-a-potty (knees held tight) line-ups. A memory of all things beautiful, all people moving, all people running. A memory positive energy within in a misogynistic era of Trump hatefulness.

Thanks be to this memory of positive energy.

This memory will sustain us as we travel through this cataclysmic time event called life.

Some whine and complain and follow a path of desolation while we run and hoot and holler.

We are the lucky ones.

Life is complicated, running is simple.

I'm sorry for being so rosy and all-blush. I've been accused of going through life with rose coloured glasses many times and admittedly it's curse and a weakness. However, I've come to understand in my 6th decade that it is a virtue and a strength.

I had the distinct honour of pacing the 2 hour group with my friend Paul. Paul ran with 10/1 walk breaks and I paced the 2 hour continuous run. We were simply magical in out timing. I passed him on his walk breaks and he passed me moments later. This leap frog continued 13 times to the finish line. We accommodated the diversity of the group and we crossed the finish line within seconds of one another.  There is no first, there is only together.

Life is complicated, running is simple.
Two of my favourite runners, Connie and Darcie (aka Death Star).
Photo credit Facebook image
There were a number of amazing water stations but mile 8 and 12 stand out for their sheer energy. The volunteers were completely extraordinary.  The noise and smiles and cheers were intoxicating and flooded the brain with oxygen and endorphins. We surge forward on fresh legs with strength and fluidity (is that a word?).

Life is complicated.  Running is simple.

Junel Malapad and See Mike Run
photos credit Junel selfie
My friends sustain me and give meaning to life.  Junel, ever present with a camera and warmth, snaps a quick selfie  and captures a sliver of life... like water through our hands, a sliver of life.... all gone but the memory.

"I do not want to See Mike Run" says a pesky Tim and then adds with a wink, "for the best running friend ever" and we laugh as children at recess.

A stranger, a young woman, ran by my side for 13.1 miles depending on me to deliver a sub-two hour pace.  We soared over the magic line at 1:59:44. We hugged at the finish line as old friends, and yet I do not know her name.  A man my age sought me out and thanked me for my pace and we hugged as brothers.  The countless high-fives and hugs, and smiles make me whole.

Life is complicated.  Running is simple.

Let me tell you a secret, but don't tell Jonathan.  Four years ago I received a phone call from Jonathan.  He told me that, due to logistics, he had to change the date of the WFPS to the same weekend as Ted's Run for Literacy. He apologized profusely and was genuinely concerned how this conflict would impact TRL.  He cared enough to call and discuss options and offer solutions when many would not have extended the same courtesy.  I respected his integrity and sincerity then as I do now.  Ted's Run for Literacy is a teeny event compared to the WFPS and yet he was concerned with our bottom line.  That my friends is the definition of integrity.

So my friends, be it known how I love you all.  You bring me joy. You make me whole. You are my people.

Next time our paths cross yell out "I do not want to See Mike Run" and I will laugh.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike


Monday, October 3, 2016

Trail Run Manitoba, Lemming Loop, Race Report

See Mike Run
Beaudry Park, Lemming Loop Ultra-marathon
photo credit Maria Purificacion
All days are good for running, some are just better than others. Such was the October 1st Lemming Loop ultra-marathon hosted by the good folks of Trail Run Manitoba.  Runners race against the clock on a looped trail in their choice of a 3, 6, 12, or 24 hour event.  Each loop measures precisely 5.7 km with a single aid station at the start/finish line. As runners reach the end of their their time they are directed on to a 1 km short course so they're not stuck in the middle of the forest when the bear banger signals 'time's up'. Simple math determines your distance: i.e. (number of laps) x 5.7 km + (number of short laps) = total distance.  Life is complicated, running is simple.

After a two year hiatus due to flooding of the Assiniboine River, the 6th annual Lemming Loop returned home to the gorgeous Beaudry Park, 35 minutes from Portage and Main. The land is low and thick with mature oak trees.  Beaudry, a jewel in its own right, is comfortably nestled within a large u-shaped bend in the meandering Assiniboine River. The trails are mostly dual track with the occasional dip and rise just enough to make it interesting. Street runners quickly learn the meaning of 'be nimble' and watch for roots, rocks and other tripping hazards.  I took a nasty tumble at mile 18 and had several stumbles especially in the latter stages as my body fatigued and I lost concentration.

It is always an honour to share the trail with the humble Bert Blackbird, the joyful Sue Lucas, the infectiously positive Junal Malapad, and the other trail legends whose presence grace this magical forest. It's equally gratifying to run alongside Leaslie McPhail, Mandi Jacobson, Brenda, and Eddie Marion-Gerula.  This latter group may not have the stamina and speed of the former, yet they are tough as nails and do our community proud. Our community, whether trail or street, 10 km or ultra-marathon, is inclusive and kind and we care deeply about one another.

I thank Dwayne Sandall for his dedication to this community and for making our lives just a little better, one step at a time.  The volunteers, far too numerous to mention, are simply priceless.  The likes of Carrie Howell and her twin sister ;) Jo Holmes epitomize the volunteer spirit, cheerful, helpful, knowledgable, a little crazy (okay, a lot crazy) and all around beautiful characters.

It wouldn't be a race report without one tiny suggestion so here goes.  I didn't carry water preferring to rely on the aid station. In reflection, this was probably an error on my part and I paid for it near the end. It would have been helpful for me, and I expect others, to have an unattended water drop at the skier's hut.  My first several laps timed in at about 25 minutes while the last one was a whopping 48 minutes, a long time between water.

As winter approaches.  As days grow shorter. As I grow older. As life moves relentlessly forward, I have memories.

Memory of trails. 
Memory of tall oaks. 
Memory of blue skies. 
Memory of musty leaves. 
Memory of twisting rivers. 
Memory of running. 
Memory of smiles. 
Memory of kindness.

Thank you all for these sweet memories.

Remember also, it's a good day to be alive.

Mike


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ted's Run for Literacy 2016, Race Director's Report



Ted's Run for Literacy supports children living in poverty. Our vision is to  "...break the cycle of childhood poverty by supporting environments in which children flourish socially, mentally and physically." We believe children cannot learn or socialize unless:

  1. their basic needs are met (i.e. food, water, shelter) 
  2. they feel safe and secure (i.e. a home free of violence and unpredictability), 
  3. they feel they belong and are valued for who they are (i.e. they are loved)
We believe in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory which says children (and adults) will not reach their potential unless needs (represented in the graphic below) are sequentially met.  If you're reading this, chances are good your physiological needs, safety needs, and belonging needs were met in early childhood development.  Congratulations, you can read, you are successful, you have a loving, secure family. You do not live in poverty.

Please understand, many do not.


In our six years Ted's Run for Literacy has raised between $35,000 and $40,00 to support children living in poverty, and we are gratified, and we are humbled. It is an audacious dream, an impossible dream to eliminate the cycle of childhood poverty, yet our board believes in the impossible. We invite you to join our dream, to support us, to run with us, to laugh with us, to believe it is a good day to be alive, and to share this dream with your children.  We are the little race that could and with your continued support we will become the little race that eliminated the cycle of childhood poverty.

Jo at TRL circa 2013. me clapping way in the background. 
I believe Jo watched over us on Sunday. Her physical presence was absent and yet her spirit smiled warmly upon all.  I still can't believe she's gone, but I'm stuck in denial like many of you. Our committee debated how best to acknowledge Jo. Someone suggested a 'moment of silence'. We paused and then laughed because all that know Jo understand 'silence' was not Jo's strong point.

Running with Jo was like running with the best 'talk radio' you can imagine. Gossip, opinions, last night's party, food, boyfriends, dreams, fears, laughs.. all delivered in staccato rapid fire.  Jo was like that... fun, irreverent, honest, and loyal.

Instead of silence we had a 'moment of noise' and it was spectacularly powerful. We yelled loudly. We screamed and we jumped. We laughed and we shouted and it went on and on and on. We honoured Jo with noise and movement and I believe she laughed heartily... and we cried.

While hanging banners at 6AM  I banged my head on an (expletive) overhang and it hurt like (expletive). I was alone and it was dark so I continued working thinking 'suck it up buttercup'. I had no idea of the blood pooling on my XXL forehead. A friend arrived and asked what happened to my head. Not fully realizing the wound, I removed my hat, breaking the congealed scab and the blood gushed.

I realized later I was saved from a much more serious wound by the Jo button.  Jo took the brunt of the force and left me with just enough to remind me that I'm alive. She saved me and reminds me of my mortality.  We exist moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day. Jo's death sucks yup, and yet she laughs at us, and clucks her tongue in defiance of death. Yeah, Jo's like that, crazy and noisy and gorgeous, and brilliant, and sweet, and irreverent, and she tells a good story.

Had it not been for the Jo Button I would have visited emergency for 4 or 6 stitches. She said... "careful Bennett, you could be next" and laughed.

So my friends, our little TRL 10 km (5km and 2 km) event is not the biggest event in town,  but we are without a doubt, the event with the most heart.  We believe in audacity. We believe in a world without childhood poverty.

Join us.

It is a good day to be alive, right Jo?

Mike

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Winnipeg 10 & 10: A Volunteer's Perspective

Ted's Run for Literacy Water Station
We all need to pause this afternoon and raise a pint to race director Chris Walton and his happy crew. This year's Winnipeg 10 & 10 was an outstanding event made all the better by the extraordinarily positive army of volunteers. The coordination along the 30 km course is extremely challenging and not for the faint of heart.  The communication between the Race Director and the City, 600+ runners, hundreds of volunteers, medics, police, and aid stations is simply staggering. Well done Chris Walton. Well done Winnipeg.

As Race Director of a much smaller event, but equal in heart, Ted's Run for Literacy, I understand what happens behind the scenes.  The weeks and days leading up to the event snowball. Issues become increasingly urgent as race day approaches. Volunteers become stretched and your phone never stops buzzing and beeping. Glitches are solved as fast as they are created. Race Day is run on fraught nerves and caffeine.  The RD needs to be cool headed, calm, and in charge.  RDs never let them see the sweat.  A successful event is one that seemingly unfolds organically and simply, as though anyone could do it. .  The 10 & 10 is one such event.

At the very last minute parking at Great West Life was cancelled causing a mad scramble just before gun time.  My inside source says Great West Life gave their approval in the days leading up to the event and then revoked it last minute.  I'm sure there is a good reason for the about face, I just can't imagine what it could be?

See Mike Run has written dozens of race reports from the runner's perspective.  This is the first from a volunteer's perspective.  Ted's Run for Literacy was given the privilege to host a water station at the 5 km turnaround point.  This particular water station is busier than most as we serve all runners from the 5 km to 30 km. Literally, all 600+ runners streamed twice past our station.  In practical terms, we served 1200 runners.  

Yes there were glitches.  We ran out of cups and about a dozen runners went thirsty for which we feel terrible. This glitch was fixed very quickly. About eight runners asked for Gatorade and were disappointed when they were told "Sorry, no Gatorade".  This glitch too will be resolved  next year as it has been communicated to race officials and they seemed earnestly concerned and expressed an interest to improve.  

Our water station was the best... sorry all you other wanna-bee water stations.  Our water was the freshest, coldest, and many said their IQ bumped up a minimum of 10 points after one sip!  All runners who drank from the cup of Literacy had an urge to break out a book and read.  Our crew was the funniest, the prettiest, the most active, and definitely the smartest! Now I recognize these are fightin' words and good ole fashion trash talk, but bring it on.  TRL water station won first place. We were a WATER station, the others were water-ish places where there might be someone awake to serve you a glass of luke warm cloudy water-like liquid.

If Ted's Run for Literacy wasn't volunteering at the 10&10 they were running the 10&10. Our Carly ran the 30 km and at 2 km from the finish she looked fresh as a daisy.  Our Darcie crushed the 10 miler and then returned to help out at the TRL water station.   Sadly, our Tim is injured and had to sit this one out.  Pop-up maestro Aldo was a team captain for the back 40 part of the course and, as usual, accomplished the impossible.

If you are a runner, please consider giving back and volunteering at an event.  The view from the other side is as satisfying as the runner's perspective.  If you're a runner with a complaint, don't take it out on a volunteer, they are there to help make you successful.   

Two final truths:
  1. I will hoist a pint to Chris Walton this afternoon.
  2. Ted's Run for Literacy water station was absolutely brilliant and blew the other teams out of the .... umm, water!
Until next time, it's a god day to be alive.

Mike

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lean Horse Ultra 2016, Race Report

and your beautiful thing
will be
a beautiful thing
to me
a beautiful thing
continuing
your beautiful thing
continuing

a beautiful thing, Tragically Hip
Lean Hose Ultra ... for Jo... a beautiful thing, continuing...always



Notes from the Race Director's meeting the night before Lean Horse...
  • Don't worry too much about mountain lions. They usually stay higher up in the mountains.
  • It's been cool lately so rattlers shouldn't be a problem.
  • If you come across a bear, hold your ground, make a lot of noise, and make yourself big (thought bubbles..."Big" I think "how big can a 5'4" guy get?! I can stretch it to 5'6"... hmmm, how tall is a bear anyway?")
I know my friend David Fielder will ask "What did I learn" so I'll address this first. I learned without goals we tend to drift from one dream to another never accomplishing anything of substance. I learned through pain and struggle we experience truth and wisdom.  I learned the only way to move forward is one step at a time and sometimes we stumble. I learned our time here is limited so live every moment as though it were your last. I learned that passion is difficult to explain.


I ran a 50 km ultramarathon, a baby ultra compared to the 50 and 100 miler ultra runners, but still an ultra.  My time was a little under 6 hours which isn't too bad considering I was hoping for a sub 7 hour. I've crossed many finish lines and they are all sweet and unique in their own right, but this, The Lean Horse Ultra, is etched in my mind. I ran it with heart and soul.  I ran it with my friend Jo in mind.  I ran it with strength and determination.

I have no story to tell. It's a passion that you get or you don't get.  Those that share this passion understand and they fill in the spaces with their own experiences, their own tears, success, and failures. The happiness I felt is simply beyond explanation. The afterglow of this event is lifelong. The pride and confidence gained is immeasurable. 

I know it's madness, but I was touched by Jo on the most difficult segment; a climb... ten miles up, endlessly up to Crazy Horse.  She did not talk to me, but I felt her presence and the warmth of her beautiful smile.  It helped me climb, tapping the button three times. I know she'd be mad with me for being sappy, but really, she was there, and it meant so much. Her presence spoke "you got this Mike, it's a good day to be alive, now do it". 


My proudest moment happened a week after the event over beers and barbeque when my son Max wrote on social media..

Super proud of my dad for getting first place in the Lean Horse 50 km race in the 50-59 age category. For those not in the know, a full marathon is a mere 42.2 km so 50 km is classified as both an 'ultra marathon' and an absolute descent into madness.

and then posted this picture...

...absolute descent into madness...
photo credit Max Bennett
Ace Burpee wrote so accurately and eloquently of the depth and breadth of Jo's life in an article in The Winnipeg Free Press. Ace writes:

She will forever inspire, not just myself, but the countless other lives she touched, inspiring people to work harder, dig deeper, and more important have more fun than anyone else on Earth while doing it.  
To end, I return to David Fielder's question: What did I learn?  

David, I suggest Ace says it best and he speaks for the multitudes of runners, triathletes Ironmen, men in pink spandex, regular dudes and dudettes, heros and zeros.  Together, collectively, and individually, we learned...

Go outside and get it. Show her what you learned.

It's a good day to be alive my friends. Now go outside and get it.

Mike

"Go outside and get it"
photo credit Jennifer Kirkwood

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Training for Lean Horse (part four)

My training is finished. I've lost too much weight and my left knee flares up every couple of miles. My quads are tight and my calves tingle. My body is suitably exhausted and my mind is comfortably numb (insert joke here).  I fear the heat and the possibility of injury is worrisome.  My shoes are shot, my shirt stinks, and my shorts are worn thin. My race food is simplified to Pringles (white carbs and salt) and Jujubes... sad.  My race-beard is scruffy and itching like crazy. This week's plan is all about walking, resting, and pasta... although Scott's recommendation of lots of craft beer and ice-cream seems sensible. ;)

I'm done like dinner.

The last three weeks I ran 70 miles, then 60, and then 50... the taper has begun.

I have a new secret weapon. I call it the Jo button.  When you're flagging, when you're exhausted and think you can't go another step, when your knee hurts, when your quads are tight like a piano string, when you're dehydrated and feeling nauseous....just tap the Jo button three times.

I called upon the Jo button every other mile on my 21 mile run on Sunday.

The hurt doesn't go away... it still sucks... but it puts in into perspective.  Tapping the Jo button draws on my inner Jo. It draws on my strength and fierce determination.  Tapping the Jo button reminds me of this incredible woman who has become the voice for Glioblastoma brain cancer.  Tapping the Jo button doesn't make the pain go away, but it does make it seem insignificant, almost irrelevant.

Joanne's in palliative care now.

On Saturday I run Lean Horse Ultra.

Every step a thought of Jo.

My friends, it is difficult to end this way, but it has become customary on See Mike Run, and I know Jo would be pissed off if it were omitted, so, I say to you, with a heavy heart...

It's a good day to be alive...

that and 'f*ck cancer'.

Mike

Jo at Ted's Run for Literacy
(photo credit Fern Berard)