Saturday, December 21, 2013


It always seems impossible until it's done.

Nelson Mandela

7 miles in -50..... impossible?
I ran seven miles today. It was beyond cold, but I was layered up good like a mummy from a B grade horror movie... Run Tut, run.  Four layers down below and five up above.  Everything fits skin tight and it feels just right. Twenty minutes to dress if I'm organized. No tunes today. It's just too damn cold for tunes. I need to listen to the cold, to listen to my crunching footsteps, my heart, my lungs. I hurry along for the last bit of dressing, anxious to get outside. Funny how motivation increases with each additional layer.  Four below, five above, nine layers of survival.

This run I did today, it wasn't graceful but it was immensely enjoyable and good for my tired spirit. My form was tight. My heart and mind working together in unison, humming along,synchronized, smooth running. It's called cadence and it's beautiful when it happens, but I can't explain.  It's harmony of body and mind. You get it or you don't.  

Crazy, I only saw one other runner and he was galloping... or was it a she?  It's hard to tell when it's 40 below and we're all layered up. We become genderless in the cold, amorphous blobs. No matter. This person ran by and didn't make eye contact, didn't smile or wave or nod or acknowledge me...

as if ...

I did not...


There was a chill in the air as this person breezed by. Shame, we could have used the mutual warmth of a smile, however fleeting.  

I reflect on a community function I attended last week. Eighty people, young and old, gathered in a circle listening to the speaker standing precariously on a wobbly chair in the centre. Good natured jeering and teasing permeated the studio but respect was in the air. The speaker commented on how this group had achieved the impossible and the crowd hushed. He acknowledged the many accomplishments of the group and the impact these actions had on the community's children. He gave credit to the volunteers and thanked all for making the impossible -simply- possible. 

In closing he said.. thank you for being impossible and many laughed.  It may have been a nervous miscue.  He might have intended on saying thank you for accomplishing the impossible.  But the miscue resonated loudly.

I like the concept of living life impossible. Being impossible.  Like the Mandela quote ... it's impossible until it's done. Living the impossible every day.  We do that.  Every day we live the impossible and we survive and we become stronger.

This run I did today, in nine layers of survival, is impossible.  I ran impossible, and I survived. I am stronger for it. Today, I conquered impossible. 

But I ramble.

It's a good day to be alive, even if it appears impossible.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Winter Running in Whittier Park, Winnipeg, Canada

I just have to share this life-affirming video.  It'll make you want to strap on the kicks and get out there on the winter trails.  Thank you Alain Foidart. Turn up the volume!  Let's go dancing.

It's a good day to be alive.


Winter Running in Whittier Park from 57belowzero on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fat Ass Full Frosty Beaver Moon Trail Half Marathon... (first annual?)

Well it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of November skies
Van Morrison
Like the Van says, it's a marvellous night for a moondance. If you haven't danced along a dark, winding, single track river trail with the stars up above in your eyes, well then friends, you just haven't danced. From the explosive start of the fireworks to the post run beers at Finn McCues this race is sublime.  Thank you Rheal Poirrier for organizing this marvellous moondance.

Thirty-six runners of all sizes and shapes trickled to the start line at the foot of Esplanade Riel for a 7:30 PM start. Our dance cue was the opening blast of the Santa Claus Parade fireworks (silly kids, they thought the fireworks were for them!).  KABOOM... on cue, we're off.

The Pre-start
photo credit Nicole Nicol
The KABOOM Start
photo credit Nicole Nicol
Well, most of us were off on cue.  I was just getting out of my car at the other end of the park when I heard the blast.  I sprinted to the bridge, dodging thousands of families with eyes on the skies.  I had to be watchful of the little ones underfoot.  I crossed the line several minutes behind the others.  With heart pounding I dived hard on to the trail, anxiousness set in, twisting my ankle on a dip, I stopped, frozen...remember to breathe, find your stride, work out the pain, you'll be fine, you know this trail, you've run it hundreds of times... but never in the dark.  I set off again, much slower this time and with calmer breath, settled mind, even heart, pain leaving my ankle.  The familiar sound of crunching gravel underfoot calmed me.

In time I saw headlamps shining like summer fireflies as the runners bopped along the trail well ahead (it's hard to measure distance in the dark). I followed these lights and slowly, like ships passing, I slid by a dozen or so runners. Not recognizing anyone, I found my pace and settled in for a zen inducing solo-waltz.

Fireflies lighting the trail
photo credit Curt Gui
My head lamp was useless and provided no light at all.  I fiddled with the lamp. The beam was strong but it didn't light the trail.  I adjusted straps and buckles to no avail. It only lit the trail if I ran with my head facing towards my knees.  "This is ridiculous" I thought, "I can't run 13 miles in this position!". It was then that the light bulb in my brain switched on. I had the damn lamp upside down! This would explain the aircraft circling overhead. The lamp worked fine... it was the owner that was a little dim.

Running along the Seine River in complete darkness save the headlamp, I became lost in that muted, fuzzy thought that happens as one enters a comfortable space of white noise. This state happens on trails and is heightened under the moonlight.

I found some familiar faces at mile 10. The comfortable chit-chat took the chill out of the air.  We talked about how fine that beer would taste and sped up a bit. We crossed the line with cheers and high-fives. All winners.  All realizing that we had participated in something special, something very special.  The magic of the trail under a moonlit sky.

The Fat Ass Full Frosty Beaver Moon Trail Half Marathon (whew, I get tuckered just typing that name) is the brainchild of Rheal Poirrer of the Manitoba Trail Runners. The name is a compilation of several suggestions that were tossed about in the early planning stage.  Rheal just put them all together and thus we have The FAFBMTHM. Will there be another? Only Rheal knows for sure.

Oh, and the best part of FAFBMTHM  It's free!

Rheal hints that there might be a full-moon, full-marathon trail run coming soon.. a full-full, a runners double-double if you will.  Rheal,  on behalf of the 36 runners that participated in this spectacular run I thank you for the time and effort. It was a marvellous night for a moondance.

It's a good day to be alive .... running under a big ole full moon or not, running on a trail or not... running on a pavement or not.... it's just a good day.. eh?


Friday, November 8, 2013

A Letter to Jamie McDonald; You're Not Almost There

On mile 10 huge blobs of watery snow (freezing rain) began to hit me and Caesar with force. I had waterproof gear on which was keeping the cold out but it was softening up the dirt track. Now I was pushing 60kg through sludgy sand. As I got to mile 16, I was so fatigued and hurting in so many areas, that being seriously sleep deprived on top of this, just intensified the pain.
Jamie McDonaldSomewhere east of Regina on Highway 1, From a Facebook entry, November 4, 2013
Dear Jamie,

I have been following your progress since your arrival in Kenora, Ontario. I was one of the runners that escorted you from the eastern outskirts of Winnipeg to The Forks located next to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.  As our little delegation of runners stood next to this gorgeous museum, dwarfed in its magnitude, I considered the connection between your vision and that of The CMHR. The dots weren't fully connected at the time, but in reflection they have come into brilliant focus.

If The Canadian Museum of Human Rights represents a beacon of hope for all humanity, and if that beacon shines hope across the world, then you my friend, and people of your ilk, are surely the flame that ignites that beacon that shines so brilliantly.The beacon that builds community and opens hearts and minds to the concept of goodness on a micro-scale. To change the world one painful step at a time. To believe that each step, each mile, each day brings you closer to your dream of goodness inspires us. You, Flash, superhero that you are, have come to represent the flame.... and we do not have words to express our gratitude. 

It is no surprise that strangers go out of their way to support you. The momma bears and poppa bears as you call them, look out for you because they care for you. They invite you into their home and fill your belly with nutritious, hot food. They give warm beds and chilled beer. They bring you hot coffee and chilli in the middle of a frozen prairie and deliver countless acts of unsolicited kindness all in the name of Jamie.  Why this outpouring of love? 

Because you have ignited the flame of goodness in people and that flame will carry you through to the end of this incredible journey.  But, mark my words Jamie, you will need continued support from hundreds of momma bears and poppa bears to realize your dream. You can't do this alone.

Jamie, you are the first thought that pops into my head in the morning and the last at night.  I read your Twitter feeds, your Facebook updates your blog daily. I would be lying if I said  I wasn't worried. The cold and the winds combined are a deadly duo. You simply can't imagine the severity of the prairie cold and the intensity of the flatland winds, they cut deeply. The cold and wind will scheme to smother your flame and to kill your spirit. Jamie, it has been a tough slog, but it's about to get tougher.

Some of your followers cheer you on with a happy don't give up, you're almost there :) :) . They mean well, but you know better than most, you're not almost there. You're about to face elements that few on this planet can conceive let alone survive.

The only way you can endure this incredible ordeal is through continued support of hundreds of momma bears and poppa bears out there in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.  With their love and their hot meals and warm beds and cheery words, and hot coffee you will be successful in realizing your goal.  You have created a groundswell of support, but now, that groundswell must be more vigilant, more watchful, and more mindful. You need the momma bears and poppa bears like never before. 

Jamie, this is what I promise you.  When you reach the Pacific Coast, and you surely will, I will run silently to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the foot of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. I will pause and I will think of you and what you have accomplished.  I will think of goodness and hope.  I will think of flames and beacons and super heros. Then, my friend, I will drape a Flash cape over Gandhi's head and tie it snugly.  This small gesture is to honour you Jamie.  You see, Gandhi was another individual that ignited the flame of hope, the beacon. 

This I promise you.

Now you promise me... be safe.

See Flash.
See Flash run.
Run, Flash, run.

It's a good day to be alive,


Saturday, October 26, 2013

When I Became a Runner

Emotion course through my veins, choking me. I feel so insignificant, a tiny speck surrounded by a million stars. A million suns.

Beth Revis 

Life doesn't come with a remote.
I ran in high school, but not well. I remember my first race, a mile. It seemed like an eternity. I remember the pain in my side and an adult (a teacher?) encouraging me to stop, to quit.  I didn't, I was too stubborn and frozen with the fear of quitting, the fear of the laughter and the teasing. It was my first and only DFL (dead *ing last).  I started too fast and died on the course along with my spirit for running. I limped across the line with my tail tucked tightly between my legs and salty streaks on my cheeks. I remember the shame.  I ran in high school, but I was not a runner.

I ran again while in university.  My room mate was a serious runner.  She ran marathons and had a trainer. She motivated me to lace up the Adidas once again. I ran casually for several years, mostly in circles around the Legislative Building.  I lived in the Village so the Golden Boy was a good enough destination.  I remember running and running, getting lost in thought, but still not a runner.  I ran distance when Walkmans and Commodore 64's were the multi-media of the day. I ran in university, but I was not a runner.

I ran on and off (mostly off) for years following university.  I ran on a Reserve in Northern Manitoba and the kids would ask me "where are you going? where are you running to?" as if a destination was necessary. Running was not a concept on the reserve. I ran in my 30's and 40's but I was not a runner.

I was 46 years old when I next strapped on the kicks.  Twenty pounds overweight on a tiny frame, in the habit of Scotch at 5, bearing stress and tension. I was not not happy with who I was becoming and the direction I was heading. Someone once said life doesn't come with a remote control, if you don't like the channel you gotta get off your ass. Well friends, I got off my ass and haven't looked back.

I ran at the downtown Y.  I ran miles and miles and endless miles in endless circles.  I would count the circles to estimate my distance.  I became dizzy running in circles, but still I was not a runner.

I ran on treadmills and watched the beefcakes do beefcake things, but still I was not a runner.

I ran on ellipticals and watched the aerobic folks do aerobic things, but still I was not a runner.

I ran out side and learned about injury and layers, but still I was not a runner.

I competed my first half marathon and then a full, but still I was not a runner.

I ran hundreds and hundreds of miles, thousands of miles. I ran half marathons and full marathons. I was drunk with running.  I ran at 6 AM and 6 PM. I ran in plus 38 degrees Celsius and minus 40 degrees. I ran alone, I ran with a single friend,  I ran in groups.  I would run with anyone who had an hour to spare. But still I was not a runner.

I was middle age, past middle age. I had shed 20 pounds, 26 pounds. I became vegetarian, but still I was not a runner.

That feel of becoming a runner, it crept stealthily, methodically, like a cat. It just appeared one day on a trail. It surprised me, but I knew it was true.  I had become a runner.  On the trail with tunes worming through my brain, I had become a runner.

I remember precisely where I was, alone, frozen in a Winnipeg winter time warp, on a trail. The feel that I could run forever on that trail elevated my whole being. That feel of omnipotence,  confidence, fluidity, strength of muscle, of mind, and of spirit. That feel of intense happiness in self. That feel of sharpness of mind, of clarity. That blessed feel of the trail coursing through my body, lighting me up, electrifying my spirit....  that feel.... of being a runner... was overwhelming.

I embraced the trail and I became a tiny speck surrounded by a million stars, a million suns. I became a runner.

Why this story? Why now? I'm not sure.. it's just the way the mind works. 

It's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ted's Run for Literacy 2013

I remember well his indomitable good humour on those ridiculous 18km runs this winter with a wind chill in the mid minus 40s. How did he do it?! Ted was wonderful company – we swapped stories about teaching and travelling, and he offered sound running advice and inspiration. He made just finishing the race – whatever the distance -- into an excellent and worthy goal. I respected his view that it was not possible to run too slowly on the long runs, and appreciated his little ‘instructive’ remarks when I ran ahead of the group. Having spent so many hours running and talking with Ted, I consider him a friend, and am deeply saddened by his much too early exit.

Cheryl Dueck on the passing of Ted, 2009

As race director I have the pleasure of starting the runners.. on your mark, get set, GO.. such a thrill!
The third annual Ted's Run for Literacy was a smashing success.  With 291 registered runners and walkers this makes 2013 our best ever race.  The seven family teams added a whole new sparkle to Ted's Run for Literacy sporting names such as the MackaPackas, The Poundies, The 4RE's, Jack's Firing Jets.  I even overheard some good natured chirping between two families.. you're going down MackaPackas.... hope those tattoos aren't permanent LJM3 ... all in the spirit of fun and good cheer. Several dozen schools were represented including Teulon, Kelvin, Grosvenor, John Henderson and Balmoral Hall. It is gratifying to see children run to support children living in poverty. 

Carly bringing in her son.
As Stephanie led the participants in a pre-race warm-up the thick clouds parted exposing a summer blue sky. The sun's warmth smiled on the dancers; their feet kicked a little higher, a little stronger as they danced together as one. And the smiles, what can be said of the smiles? To say Ted was there smiling along with his old pals would be stating the obvious.  He was there in the hearts and the minds of all... and he was in shorts with a Viking hat.  Dear old Ted, you are missed so.

Smile x 3 
We invited political folks but Ted's Run is too small for busy politicians. No matter, we had the support of three race directors: Bridget Robinson of the Point Douglas Run, Jonathan Torchia of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Run, and local hero, Jeff Vince of the Diana Stevens Empower Run. We had the likes of David Fielder, Barefoot Bob, Melissa Budd, and many many more.  We had one wheeler whose smiles and positivity lit up the course.  No, we didn't have any politicians, they were all to busy, but we had better, we had the likes of you. We had folks with kind hearts, deep pockets, and unbridled positive energy.  We had moms and dads and kids.  We had a wheeler, and dog walkers. We had energy and spirit. We had the spirit of Ted waft through the course. No politicians though, they were too busy.  
                            What an awesome team!                                     
What can one say of the volunteers who give so freely of their time?  Those who keep us safe. Those that load vans.  Those that hand out ribbons to child runners.Those that cheer and hold up signs.  Those that have beautiful souls. Those who give so much and expect nothing in return except perhaps a smile and a coffee.  I tried to thank you all but I know I missed many, please forgive me. These volunteers we have at Ted's Run for Literacy, we are so fortunate and so grateful for your support.  Ted smiles upon you.
Best volunteers ever!
Ted's Run for Literacy is proud of our $4000 donation to Start2Finish. Start2Finish supports Running and Reading programs in two Winnipeg schools and two First Nations schools in Northern Manitoba. Thanks to folks like you, Ted's Run For Literacy, through Start2Finish, provides high-end running shoes for all children participating in the Running Reading Program.  How does this help literacy? Children living in poverty do not have the same opportunity to participate in high quality, extra-curricular activities that nurture both the mind and the body.  Start2Finish provides a little push to help even the playing field.  Active kids are engaged kids.  Engaged kids are happy kids. Happy kids learn to read in a safe, caring environment.

Barefoot Bob
Barefoot Bod is an extraordinary individual and, I am proud to say, a good friend.  Bob raised an additional $3000 (and climbing) to our pot, raising the total donation to Start2Finish to $7000 (and climbing).  Our race committee is overwhelmed with the kindness and spirit of this beautiful man. His dedication to the running community inspires me and, in the same breath, humbles me. This man, this runner, this barefoot runner, Barefoot Bob, has wormed his way into the hearts and minds of runners across Canada.  His spirt and generosity has no end.  It is a privilege to have Bob support our event

Since it's inception in 2011, Ted's Run for Literacy has raised over $15,000 for Start2Finish. Ted's Run for Literacy... indeed... the little race that could.  

My friends, and friends soon to be, thank you for believing in Ted's Run for Literacy, thank you for believing that childhood poverty can be eradicated, and thank you for your support.  


It's a good day to be alive.

Save the date:  The fourth annual Ted's Run for Literacy, October 12, 2014, Kildonan Park.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jamie McDonald; Just a Regular Superhero

Keep moving even if your path isn't lit. 
Trust that you will find your way. 
Flash Gordon
There is a superhero in all of us.  It's what makes us get out of bed every morning and live the day as if there is no tomorrow. It why we cheer our friends as they drag their tired bones across the line, it's why tend to our sick children with fevers and wires, it's why we hold tight the ones we love as they fade from their former selves. We don't wear capes, we don't fly, and we certainly don't have super strength. We're simply Joe six-packs with mortgages and dreams.  We dream of a better world, we understand the strength of positive thinking and affirmative action. We embrace inclusion and diversity. We dream and we move forward with strength and fortitude even when we'd rather curl up in a ball... when I run 11 miles home from work... I'm not running... I'm saving the world .... because... the simple act of leaving the car in the driveway improves the human condition an infinitesimal amount... and that makes me glow superhero red.

Jamie McDonald is a superhero of extraordinary character and depth.  He's a man with a dream so big he needs all of Canada to contain it, to live it, to dream it.  Jamie dreams in 3D high definition Technicolor while ours, by comparison, are fuzzy monochrome.  

Jamie McDonald is running across Canada in support of sick children.  To date Jamie has raised about $30,000 for the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.  All money raised in Manitoba will support the Children's Hospital Foundation in Winnipeg.  As a child Jamie suffered from a rare spinal condition called syringomyelia  and a weakened immune system.  He was in and out of hospitals for nine painful years. Perhaps this is the source of his motivation? To dream of a world where sick kids get the best care our planet has to offer? Indeed, no small dream, but this is Jamie we're talking about.

Jamie arrived in Winnipeg today and I had the extraordinary pleasure of joining a group of local runners to escort him from the outskirts of Winnipeg to The Forks. We took our time running that eleven miles.  We chatted and laughed.  We posed for pictures with strangers.  We ran out in traffic -squeegy-kid style to collect donations from smiling if not bewildered drivers. We whooped it up at busy bus stops entertaining the commuters.  We took turns holding the large, faded Canadian flag.  It looked awesome furling (is that a word?) against the blue prairie sky.  We took turns pushing the cart that weighs 35 kg (the approximate weight of a sick kid that Jamie knew). It was a moment that I will cherish.  To have met this beautiful man with a dream that astounds the mundane and reminds us of all that is wonderful.

This man in a beat up faded cape.  This man in a torn and dirty Flash Gordon tee-shirt. This beautiful man with a dream so large it cannot be contained, cannot be denied, cannot be ignored. This man who visited The Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto and met a nine year old girl and her mother. A girl sick in hospital.  A girl who should be at home tucked safely in a warm bed with girly sleep overs. Jamie told the girl in no words to dream. To believe, to keep moving even if the path isn't lit.
This girl, who is all girls, all children, crafted a Flash Gordon cape for our intrepid Jamie, superhero that he is. Jamie wears this cape every day, all day.  It has become who he is... a dreamer who dreams superhero dreams. 

Make no mistake, Jamie is The Flash.

Please follow Jamie here and here.  Like his page.  Tell your friends about this awesome man. Go for a run. Toss a toonie in his bin or .... be a superhero and slip him a hundred.  

Come meet the man for yourself at City Park Runners at 6PM on Tuesday, October 8 and bring your cheque-book ... or make a donation here.

It's a good day to be alive, but it's even better now that I have met Jamie.

Mike :) 

Bob Nicol carrying the flag.
photo credit Brian McFarlane
Even super heros need to whiz once in a while.
photo credit Brian McFarlane

The escort.
photo credit Brian McFarlane

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Run Through History 2013, Race Report

The third annual Run Through History was a resounding success.  With volunteers aplenty, blue sky abounding, sunshine ashining, and 226 smiles radiating, how could it be anything less than perfect?  The course starts and finishes at the Lower Fort Garry National Historical site and winds along the majestic banks of the north Red River.  It's a 5 or 10 kilometer  out-and-back course so the view is stunning both outbound and homebound.  The elevation is mostly flat but there's several rises just to make it interesting.

This Timex Series, MRA sanctioned event is sponsored by City Park Runners and Variety.  The funds raised for the event are funnelled to agencies to support children.  A tip of the hat goes to the planning committee with a special shout-out to Erick, Cheryl, and Wayne.  Aside from a little confusion at the start line the event proceeded without a hitch.   My good friend Aldo has a solution to correct the confusion that involves a strategically placed musket from 1867, but that's a whole other story.

There were 226 registered runners. Unfortunately a couple of school groups were unable to attend so there were 150 actual runners at this year's event.  226 registered runners is up from 125 in 2012 and 75 in 2011. Clearly this race is growing and will continue to grow.  This is a serious race for the speedy folks, but also an event for walkers and others who just want to get off the couch and enjoy life.  It was gratifying to see the number of young runners who seemed to be enjoying themselves every bit as much as the older runners.

I ran the 10 k course with a young women whose pace was slightly faster than mine but I fell into step.   Our casual chit chat fuelled us both forward.  At kilometer 9, I started to fall back.  Before fading completely I encouraged her to take the lead from the person about 40 paces ahead.  I told her that he's watching her and to creep up slowly.  She did, and then at the precise perfect moment, she soared forward at 250 meters from the finish line.  It was a beautiful site to behold.

At about the same point I started to fade and a kind fellow came up from behind and said "pick it up. it'll feel better if you go a little faster".  It was precisely what I needed to stride ahead... 250 meters to finish, seems like an eternity, heart smashing, lungs bursting, cheering, the clock read 49:56, 57, 58, 59.... damn... 50:00, 50:01...  50.02.  I so wanted to break 50 minutes.  A moment of disappointment... shake it off, learn to be slow, accept defeat gracefully, be's a good day, a damn good day to be alive.

(Update:  The official times were just official time was 50:00 minutes, not 50:02 like I thought!)  

What is there about running that makes me so happy?  My heart overflows with joy when I'm in full stride with sweat pouring from my forehead.  I feel so alive, so vibrant, so happy when I run.  It's as if all is good in the world and I am omnipotent.

My friends, it is such an awesome day to be alive, to run, to share this time with you. I am in awe of my strength, my speed, my health, my good fortune, but mostly my dear friends,  I am in awe of you.  I am blessed to have you all in my life.

It is a good day to be alive.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Top Ten (make that eleven) Reasons Why You Should Attend The Point Douglas Run

Slow down
You're going too fast
Ya got to make the morning last

"Have you registered for the Point Douglas Run yet?  I hear it's awesome!"

The course is simply stunning. It's an out and back course through historic Old Point Douglas. We run along the banks of the mighty Red River outbound and inbound, along majestic elm-lined Scotia Street, under the spanking new Henderson Freeway, through parks and greenways.  It's a little bit country, a little bit rock, and a whole lotta soul.

Runners and walkers are encouraged to wear costumes.  Now who hasn't wanted to run in a pink tutu? Come on, admit it, you do! Well now you can and you'll fit right in.

The race committee pulls out all the stops! We're talking buffet breakfast here! Scrambled eggs, juice coffee, tea, toast, yogurt, fruit, pancakes...  It's amazing really!

Everyone wins something and the schwag is awesome.  Last year all runners received a free technical tee-shirt.  I wonder what this year will bring?

The entire village shows up; elders, youngsters, teenagers, moms and dads.  The old Norquay Community Hall is rocking!

The local Tow Truck company shows their support by providing an escort for the runners and walkers. The tow truck escort is better than the fly-by at the Police run, way better.  And best part, if you're tired they just hook you by the back of your tee and bring you in.. cool.

By participating in the Point Douglas Run you are supporting the Street Feet Run Well running program. This program assists individuals in the neighbourhood increase their self-esteem and efficacy through walking and running with the intent that this will extend to other areas in their lives. Street Feet Run well promotes physical and mental health in an inclusive, caring and supportive environment.

Best in class!  You'll get a toothache running by these volunteers because they are just SO sweet!

Who said Winnipeg is flat!?  This is the hilliest course this side of Banff... well maybe not Banff, but man, it's a nice little challenge for the quads. Check out the course profile.

Having a little trouble getting your BQ?  Well this is the race for you! It isn't even timed! It's a FUN RUN.  In the immortal words of ...??? ... "Slow down, you're going too fast.  Got to make the morning last".  If you can tell me who said that I'll buy you a coffee on race day.

The other 1. FAMOUS PEOPLE
Haile Gebreselassie, Bono and a few others have signed up.  Even better, MLA Kevin Chief and MP (retired) Judy Wasylycia-Lies will be there.  Get your sharpie poised.

Seriously folks, this is a fine race, with a nobel cause, planned and executed by a caring race committee.  You really should put this one on your fall race schedule. And don't forget the tutu!

Go here for registration information.

Go here for a SMR race report  of Point Douglas Run 2012.

It's a good day to be alive.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Lean Horse 100 Mile Ultra Marathon, A Race Report by Melissa Budd

"Nobody is going to finish this damn thing for me, but me"
Melissa Budd
Lean Horse 100 Mile Ultra Marathon
August 24th, 2013
Mickelson Trail, Hot Springs, South Dakota

"Nobody is going to finish this damn thing for me, but me."

Days before stepping up to the start line of the Lean Horse 100 ultramarathon, I was nervous.  Although I had run this race 3 times, I was now running it differently.  For the past 3 years I had run it with my best-est running friend (David), but this year he wanted to run it alone.  That was fine, I understood he wanted to see how he could push it, but it made me feel a little shaky.  Could I do this alone?  What if there was a mountain lion and I was by myself?  Who would encourage me when I wanted to quit?  Who would help me finish?    The weather was another concern.  Forecast for some parts on the Mickelson Trail was 36 degrees.  Who runs in that kind of heat?  I guess that would be me.... gulp….
David, Melissa's best-est running friend. 
The last bus for the Minnekahta trailhead left at 5:15am  Saturday morning.  There I was with my bagel, can of Coke (drink of champions) and my handheld bottle filled with ice.  On the 15 minute bus ride I sat with Loren (he has run the race the previous 3 years) as well as David and Trevor Uhlir (who I have also come to know through this race - Trevor DNFed last year and was intent on finishing this one well)  and David.   Nervous chatter filled the bus and I couldn't wait to get the waiting over with….I wanted to START!  When we got to the trailhead I found SuYin (also a runner from Winnipeg).  Sue was running her first 100 miler!  I asked if she wanted to run with me at the start, she said she would prefer to run at her own pace in the beginning.  I was starting to feel quite unpopular - was I going to end up running this whole thing alone?  Anyway, 6am finally rolled around and with a horn - we were off!
The first section of the race was beautiful.  The sun had started to rise on my right making the sky turn from dark to orange and then daylight.  The trail was surrounded with small yellow sunflowers and there was a breeze blowing.  There were many people around and I found people to chat with as we all got into a running rhythm.  I ran with Peter (a lawyer from Houston) for awhile as well as Bobby (a white haired 60-something amazing ultra runner who kicked my butt last year), Peter's wife Yen and David.  Conversation was light and before we knew it we were upon the first aid station - Cottonwood - 4.2 miles.  Barely stopped at this one, just to refill my ice and then kept going.  We all kind of stuck in a group with SuYin leap frogging us until we approached the next aid station at 8.9 miles - Argyle.
At Argyle the group broke up as some stayed at the aid station longer, some went right on through.  I stopped long enough to again fill up my ice and grab a few items to eat (chips, grapes, watermelon).  This is where I ran into Dawn.  Possibly the nicest lady I have ever met.  Her and I easily conversed and I adapted to her running of 5 and 2s (running 5 min and walking 2) - the running was faster than I had been running, but with the walks it didn't seem strenuous.  All too soon she had to leave because she was only doing the 50K and her turn around was there.  She gave me a hug and wished me well.  Almost right away was the next aid station - Lime kiln at 12.5 miles.  I evaluated how I was feeling.  It was just after 8 am - for 2 hours and change I was doing well, no stomach upset, the one water bottle was working well and the sun was just starting to get warm.  I had some more watermelon and a Rice Krispie cake and filled my bottle again with ice.  Off again.

At this point I was running alone.  I would pass some runners, talk with them briefly and then move on.  I wasn't lonely but very much enjoying the trail and the scenery.  The sun kept getting hotter and I was glad that I had planned (in my drop bag at the next aid station) an extra water bottle and a towel that I was going to use to put ice in and tie it around my neck.  Pringle was the next aid station at mile 16.3.  I took a little bit of time to get the items from my drop bag, reapply some sunscreen, and use one of the few outhouses on the course.  I drank a few small cups of ginger-ale, ate another Rice Krispie cake, ate a few chips, took 2 salt tablets, filled my 2 hand-held bottles with ice, as well as my nifty ice bandana and was off again.  At this point I was averaging almost 5 miles an hour and feeling pretty good.
Still running alone, I debated listening to music.  I wanted to use it only when I needed it.  I decided I didn't need it yet, put my head down and continued running.  This section out of Pringle was not pretty.  It is right beside the highway and is quite dusty.  The sun was now beating down and there was absolutely NO shade.  I hit a bit of a low here.  I knew there was almost 7 miles to the next aid station and then another section of 7 miles after that until I hit Harbach Park (which contained my next drop bag).  

It was during this part of the race I went into reflecting mode.  I decided for each  10 minutes I ran, I would think about one person who was important in my life and all of the things I loved about them and why they were important to me.  Of course I started with my children and then moved on to my family and friends.  I also reflected on some of my hero's, like Terry Fox.  Some of the things that came to my mind were physical - how I loved the sprinkling of freckles across my son Dryden's nose, how curly my middle daughter Amerlyn's hair was when she was a toddler and how beautiful my eldest daughter Jensen is.   Other things included memories of the kind things people have done for me and their thoughtfulness.  I thought of those who couldn't run and how lucky I was.   I passed the next aid station, Carroll Creek - 22.9 miles, quickly got in and out and continued reflecting.  Although this was a low time for me physically - I felt good mentally.  I was overwhelmed with some of the thoughts and feelings I had.  This run had taken on a more spiritual (if you will) quality.  I never really felt alone because every ten minutes I had someone new on my mind and I almost felt like they were running with me.
Mile 28.7 was Harbach Park.  By now it was full heat of the day.  I was grateful for the breeze that I was running against - otherwise this run with no shade would have felt unbearable.  I stopped at the aid station to put on some body glide (I had it in my drop bag) and I was shocked when I opened it - it was liquid!  It actually poured out of the container!  I had never seen body glide do that before!  After I left the aid station (and taking many more salt tablets) I took out my cell phone.  Why did I bring a cell?  I thought I might need some company.  I turned it on and was absolutely dismayed that it said low battery!  How could that be?  It was on the charger all night!  I guessed that it wasn't fully plugged in.  Sadly, I concluded,  I wasn't going to get support from home.   I did send a text to my husband and luckily it had enough power for a little time.  My reflective text, "Man, is it hot out here!"  to which Leigh replied, "Isn't there some rule against running and texting?".  I had a laugh and texted back that my phone was going to die but send me some encouragement before it does.  He told me it was 36 degrees where I was……that's my husband….encouraging to a fault!  He did make up for it though and told me that I've done this before, I'll do it again and to keep going.  Then he told me Dryden (my little guy) says "Hi".  That did give me a lift.  The heat was getting to me, so I decided that I DID need my music.  I turned it on and immediately felt a little better.  The heat wasn't so distracting when my music was on.
From Harbach to Crazy Horse there is an uphill grind that is, well, for lack of a better word, HARD.  It is one of the most scenic parts though.  Through this section I just tried to run as much as I could and walk when I starting feeling too tired.  Bobby (the white haired super ultra marathon guy who has run over 100 ultras) had told me earlier that, at least in this race, you want to be feeling good at least until mile 50.  I kept that in mind on this uphill and was kind to myself when I got tired.  Short bursts of walking and running got me to the next aid station - Mountain - mile 33.7.  Thankfully, this part had some shade.  I continued taking my salt tablets (because honestly, my skin tasted like a potato chip), drinking ginger-ale at the aid stations and eating whatever looked appetizing.  Orville aid station at 39.4 was welcome, because I knew it was all downhill until Hill City at mile 44.4.  This was a good spot physically during the race.  I ran the downhill at a decent clip.  I also got to see a few of the leaders at this time as they were on their way back.  The neatest thing about ultra runners is they are so encouraging.  EVERYONE who passed me on their way back told me "good job", "looking strong", etc…  I only saw men coming back and was surprised to not see the lead women. 
I checked in at Hill City and found out that David (my best-est running buddy) was only about 15 minutes ahead of me.  That made me feel good.  I knew that he was having a good race and I was having one too!  At this time, SuYin's husband (who was crewing for her) asked me if I needed anything.  Seeing the Coke machine in the corner (the race was sponsored by Pepsi - so no Coke on the course) I asked him if I could borrow $1.50 for a Coke.  Laurie laughed and said it was on him and I got my first Coke on the course.  I was so happy (it is sad how happy Coke makes me).  At Hill City we had to do a little out and back to make up some mileage.  On the out and back I saw David!   He said he would wait for me at Hill City and we could run together for a bit.  I ran the out and back and passed a few women.  Back to Hill City to check in.  Laurie told me that David had went on ahead and wanted me to catch up.  I thanked him again for the Coke (happiness in a can) and went on my way.
I knew this section would be difficult.  As much as I loved running downhill to Hill City  - in the back of my mind I knew I'd have to run up it on the way back.  It was a grind up to Orville mile 52.9 where I met up with David but I survived it.  From there on I had company!  We ran through Mountain 58.6 then to Harbach 63.6.  At this point it was around 8pm and getting dark.  We both sat down for awhile and had volunteers help us get what we needed out of our drop bags.  We needed to pick up our headlamps and I put on a long sleeve shirt.  I had a little bit of chicken broth (which tasted awesome) and a half turkey sandwich.  I was done before David and asked if he wanted me to go and he could catch up.  David is a faster runner than I and he agreed that was a good idea.  I started off in the (now) dark with my headlamp on. 
It took awhile for David to catch up to me and to my surprise, I wasn't feeling to scared running in the dark with my little light.  It must have been around 15-20 min before I saw David (he said he had to change his contacts and almost fell into the creek while attempting to wash his face in it).  We continued on at a steady pace until we hit Carroll Creek - mile 69.4.  I started to feel not as great as I had been feeling….another rough patch.  Got something to eat and drink (ginger-ale and Rice Krispie bar) and kept going.  On this next section (over 6 miles) I started getting slower and taking more walk breaks.  At about 4.5 miles in, I told David that he should go.  I knew that if he could hold up this pace, he could get his sub 24 belt buckle.  He asked if I was sure, if I needed him he would stay - but I said I'd be fine.  I felt like I was slowing him down at this point and I didn't want to do that.  With a fist pump he left and I continued.  

A mile and a half later I entered the Pringle Aid station (mile 76).  I was feeling low (physically).  I looked at my watch and saw that it was just after midnight.  "Not bad" I thought - this is just a little slower than I was last year….considering the heat this year compared to the milder temps last year - I think I did okay.  Mentally I thought I have under six hours to do a marathon.  Easy to do if you have fresh legs and the terrain is flat…..but my conditions were not that.  I had just run 76 miles and the upcoming terrain was the hilliest part.  Argyle Road (at mile 84 ) had 12 miles of huge and NUMEROUS hills - so much bigger than Garbage Hill.  There was no way I was going to make it under 24 hours.  I sat down beside a young guy who was lamenting about how he was on track for a 22 hour finish and his blisters had cost him his finish.  I spoke with him awhile and had a grilled cheese sandwich.  I also took 3 salt caplets - something I hadn't done since the sun went down.  I thought maybe I was still losing salt and should have still been taking them all along.  After 10-15 minutes, I got up, told the station "#12 out" and continued on my way.  As I slowly ran and power walked I started feeling better - maybe it was the salt caplets after all.  The next aid station was only 4 miles away and it didn't seem to take too much time to get there.
At Lime Kiln (almost 80 miles) I sat down and asked them if I could have a hot chocolate.  The volunteer was awesome and said sure, but he'd have to heat the water.  We chit chatted (I was in no real hurry) but then he said that I was the second female.  I didn't understand, the second female he saw in the last hour?  What did he mean?   No, he said I was the second female on the course.  Then I asked how long it was between me and the first female.  He said, "Oh, not long…..maybe 15 min".  I said I could never make that up, it takes a lot of effort to make up 15 min in a race.  

He said, " You never know - with 20 miles left in an Ultra - 15 min could be easily made up".  

I got up and told him that maybe I didn't want to wait for the hot chocolate and that maybe I should start running.  He thought that was a good idea - he wished me luck and off I went to the next aid station Argyle - 4 miles away. 
To my surprise, when I got to Argyle, I saw a woman in a chair with her crew tending her feet.  My mind started to race - that's her!  The first place female…..I think?   Then, to remove all doubt, she said, "Congratulations, you are the first place female now - take it home".   I never got out of an aid station so fast! 
The next 6 miles passed in a blur.  I tried to go as fast as I could on the large and rolling hills of Argyle road.  They are much bigger than Garbage Hill and very numerous.  David told me he tried to count them and only got to 12 before losing track.  I kept looking behind me to see if anyone was getting close.  I saw a car that flashed it's lights, but it was a few miles back.  I wasn't sure if the leading ladies crew was looking for me (paranoia).  I arrived at Morph aid station at 90 miles.  I asked how many miles till the next aid station while quickly filling my water bottles and grabbing a Rice Krispie cake.  The aid guy said "six".  I asked if the turn off to the campground was quite visible (I was scared I was going to miss it) - he told me that I couldn't.  I got out of there and kept running.  If the aid station was 6 miles away, I only had 5 more miles on Argyle and then one mile in the campground!
The next five miles went fast until I started looking at my watch.  There was only 6 miles to the aid station, and I had already gone five.  Paranoia was back!  I started slowing down and looking to my right in the dark.  I knew it was a right turn into the campground.  5.1 miles, 5.2 miles….where was it?  5.3, 5.4  I had no water left in my bottles and my mouth felt like a carpet.  At 5.6 miles I started to have a little freak out.  I knew once I turned into the campground, it was almost a mile to the aid station (or at least 3/4 of a mile).  I slowed down to a walk thinking the further I go, the further I am going to have to come back….I've missed the turn off.  Another part of my brain told me to keep going.  I thought briefly about turning into someone's house and asking for directions but how could I do that at 4 in the morning?  Maybe I would collapse from dehydration….I was so thirsty!   I kept going - and to my relief, at the bottom of a gigantic hill - the turn off!  I couldn't have been more excited!  My watch was over 6 miles but I didn't care! 
Unwisely (or perhaps for a sick joke) I had to lift my leg to get over the campground fence.  After 95+ miles… is no easy feat!   I felt a little upset that the race director would do that - then I thought, "are you a princess or something?  Suck it up!"  Going in I expected to see a light - something to guide me through the campground.  Just extremely tall grass with a snake like path through it.  What could I do except follow the path?  I was getting close to 7 miles on my Garmin and I still couldn't see the aid station….another panic attack!   I started to call out " is there any one here?  Where are you guys?"  I thought I heard a faint voice - so I kept calling and they called back.  Not soon enough did their voices get louder.  I could finally see the aid station!   The volunteers were great and offered me a chair.  I declined and asked just for water (I had been out of water for - it seemed like- forever).  They told me that I was the first lady they had seen out of the hundred milers.  I thanked them and got out of there quickly.  I wanted to finish this thing!
Melissa Budd
First Female
23 hours, 37 minutes, 20 seconds
There were a few more steep hills until I hit the downhill that goes into town.  Once I hit pavement - I knew I was going to finish this thing in under 24 hours.  I was tired but beyond excited!  I ran as much as I could and walked as little as possible - only when I got too tired.  With 3 miles to go I was at 5:06 am.  Even if I did twenty minute miles - I should still be able to come in under 24 (I'd have to hurry the last mile if I went that slow though)!  Gratefully I wound through the town and then to the finish.  I was so happy, so  excited!  Finishing time was 23:37:20 (according to final results).  I didn't think I could do this race on my own but I did!  However, when I think about it more - I didn't really do it on my own.  First off there is my family - they are so supportive - I couldn't have done it without them.  There are also my running family - those people whom I run with, who encourage me - even when they are not physically with me.  There were the aid station people who were the BEST!  Whatever I asked, they brought - including encouraging words.  There were my hero's, those people whose actions have influenced me tremendously.  Then there is also my (sometimes stupid) stubbornness.  That part of me that doesn't want to quit.  I don't know where I get it from, and I'm sure it is annoying sometimes but it helps me though.
The next day, I got up at 5am and headed out for a 6 mile run (because I'm stubbornly on this 2.75 year running streak).  I followed the course backwards through town finding it hard to believe that 24 hours previous I was running, I was finishing my journey here in Hot Springs. Instead of going into the campground I turned left and discovered a massive cemetery.  I ran through a bit of it savouring the sunrise and the gift of life that I still have.  It was a beautiful moment.  Although at the beginning of the run I was trying to recapture how the previous day felt - I came away with a new feeling, a new journey, a new thankfulness.  Running back to the hotel I felt more grateful than ever for the day. 

Melissa Budd
Lean Horse 100 Mile Marathon, 2013
First Female
Twenty-three hours, thirty-seven minutes, twenty seconds

ed note 1:  My thanks to Melissa for allowing me the privilege of posting her Lean Horse 100 report on See Mike Run.

ed note 2:  I ran Queen City Marathon yesterday.  Guess who was there?  Yup, Melissa and David... smiling the full 26.2 and making everyone feel special.

Melissa, Queen City Marathon, September 8, 2013
It's a good day to be alive, but you should know that already!  

Mike  :)