Saturday, December 20, 2014

Silent Morning

Silent morning.
Holy morning.
All is calm.
All is bright.

I run early mornings when all is calm and all is bright. Time and space collide in blissful perfection as my bones move in cadence with heart and lungs. Heart and lungs and old bones dance gracefully, slowly, on dark Wolseley streets. My mind is calm, my thoughts are bright. 

I walk over the footbridge because it just so damn beautiful. Time slows as I scan 360  degrees and up and down. The stars above shine brightly, calmly, and offer hope for peace. The dark, jagged ice way below is foreboding. The long shadows of frazzle ice scare me and yet draw me in like a child peeking at a horror movie for the first time. Good and evil personified. The contrast of hope and fear, brightness and darkness,  jaggedness and calmness, is intoxicating. I am humbled in this moment, this paradox of life. I am, for a moment, at peace, yet fearful of what could be.

I search for words to anchor this time, to hold it as though time were a tangible commodity. I know this moment will fade, it always fades. We try to hold these moments of time, to tuck them in our back pockets for consumption at a later time, but they fade. We are left only with memories of time, memories of that beauty, that moment, that perfection. Mercifully, the memories sustain us. Thank be to to all of you for these memories. 

All is calm, all is bright on this Winter Solstice morning.

Aboriginal tradition teach us the path to peace. We must share our greetings, our names, our food, and then we must share our stories. We have much to learn from Aboriginal tradition and much to share.

Greetings and welcome. 
My name is Mike. 
This blog is my story. 

I wish you happiness. 
I wish you peace. 
I wish you calm. 
I wish you bright. 
I wish you silent mornings and silent nights. 

Long may you run.

It's a good day to be alive.


A note on the photographs. I sent this blog post to Greg McNeill asking if he had any stock pictures that would be suitable to accompany the storyline. He replied by suggesting a photo shoot to customize the pictures to the story. We met this morning a little after 7:00 AM. These are some of his pictures. Feeling kinda Hollywood-super-star-like! Thanks Greg, you are too cool for words.  Uncle Mike

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tuscon Marathon; A Guest Blog by Bridget Robinson

Bridget Robinson is an exemplary citizen. As race director of the amazing Point Douglas Run she promotes positive lifestyle opportunities for women living in poverty.  Her dedication towards this goal is spectacularly inspiring and brilliantly contagious. She fights a good fight and makes a positive difference in our community. Today, as Guest Blogger on SMR, Bridget shares her adventures of completing the Tucson Marathon. Long may we run Bridget, long may we run.

It's a good day to be alive,  


The full moon, the prickly pear and lucky number 13.

Phoenix in December couldn't be more different than the snowy, cold Winnipeg. The warmth embraced me and my first sight of a saguaro cactus with it's outreached, friendly, albeit prickly arms made me smile. I drove to the Superstition mountains, drawn there by the intriguing name and having several hours to hike before meeting my friend Lisa at the airport. She was flying in from London and we were running the Tuscon marathon. I hiked up the Peralta trail and although my hamstrings hurt afterwards, the views and close ups of the desert flora made every step worth it. I was surprised to see holly and a small waterfall that trickled down a black path it had carved in the red rock. The hillside was sprinkled with various pink, purple, orange and yellow flowers. The trail wasn't busy and when I passed a couple, they mentioned that I was as quiet as a deer and very hardcore for hiking in Converse All*stars. The view of the mountains and Weaver's Needle from the Freemont Saddle was incredible. On the faster trip downhill I marveled at the contrast between the lime green lichen, red rock and blue-grey shrubs. I saw a tiny fern with perfect minute deep green-leaflets that made my heart swell.

Bridget, such a fine ladybug. 
Lisa and I drove to the Hilton El Conquistador hotel and arrived after midnight. It was the official marathon hotel and on Saturday morning we enjoyed scouting out the small but interesting expo in the hotel ballroom. A Californian company had running dresses and bolero's in funky sixties psychedelic patterns and colours. I bought some natural prickly pear energy bars, the thought of being energized by the fruit of the desert while running through it was very appealing.

Later that evening we took a short drive to Catalina State Park and walked along a sandy river trail admiring the many different "family" groupings of Saguaros. Our waitress at breakfast had joked about "tree huggers" in Arizona not being able to hug their trees and I got a photo of Lisa pretending to hug a huge cactus. We gingerly balanced on precarious river rocks crossing a stream in an otherwise largely dry riverbed. The bright yellow autumn leaves were splashes of colour against the sand and the various red, greens and browns of the mountainside. Just when we thought it was impossible to be any more beautiful the sun began to set and and illuminated the red rock mountains. The colour in the whispy clouds deepened from a blush pink to a deep red and the full moon brightened; a witness to and a participant in the grandeur. The light and beauty was uplifting and energizing, it was impossible to believe anything but that all was right with the world.

We woke at 4:00 am on Sunday morning to prepare for the marathon. I felt strangely lethargic and achey, but was quickly cured by a large dark roast coffee. We drove to the start in the dark in a school bus, our common passion for running ignited a camaraderie between strangers. People shared stories of their many running adventures and different running clubs including "50 States", "Globe Trotters", "Marathon Maniacs" and "Fat Ass". The start was on a remote mountain top and as the full moon faded, dawn gently revealed the desert beauty around us. We chatted to a young first time marathoner from the mile-high city hoping to qualify for Boston. It was cool at the start and for the first several miles I ran by lonely, empty gloves that had been discarded as the sun climbed the brilliant blue sky. The course began with rolling hills followed by a gentle decline until a hilly out and back section along the Biosphere road. At mile four my calf protested having been hurt a couple of weeks earlier on an icy Winnipeg run. For a split second I considered stopping to avoid injuring it further, but remembered what my friend Kim had said about being able to do it and fortunately decided to soldier on. At one difficult point, as if he knew I needed encouragement a friendly man turned from his companions and told me I was doing great. I normally run with a well stocked fuel belt with pain killers, energy products and endurolytes but had decided on a more minimalist approach for this run and was mainly relying on the aid stations for sustenance. I was dressed  in a green sparkly skirt over compression tights with rainbow striped calf sleeves and silver wings on my shoes. Lisa, always more flamboyant, sported an elaborate bright pink flamingo hat, the flamingo in turn wore yellow slip slops and had a lei around it's neck. I had managed to squeeze two prickly pear bars into a minute pocket in the compression tights. Having no other pocket space I had stuffed some emergency toilet paper into my sports bra knowing that the porta potties en route often ran out. The toilet paper later disintegrated into a sweaty mess.

Although the gradual downhill was conducive to opening up and cruising, I nursed my calf putting into practice what Kim had taught me about the chi style of lifting ankles as opposed to pushing off on the balls of your feet. It hurt but I was determined to finish. Gradually I noticed the friendly man running towards me as if he'd materialized from a mirage. He laughed and said "cat's out of the bag, I'm part of a relay team, you're doing great, you're ahead of them", once again I was encouraged by his kind words. At mile 10 I rewarded myself with a prickly pear bar and savored the taste while running by the multitude of live prickly pears scattered at the foot of the mountains we were running by. A volunteer passed on a bike, he didn't have painkillers but kindly gave me a half bottle of water which I ran with the rest of the way, refilling it with a mixture of water and gatorade at each aid station. At mile 17 my spirit lifted and I was filled with energy, possibly from the endurolytes and pain killers a kind volunteer had given me, but it seemed more like the stunning desert landscape empowered me and added a figurative spring to my step. I almost didn't want the run to end . . . .. almost. At mile 19 I traded a GU for a caffeinated one, and in turn traded that for a protein bar, recalling that after lengthy activity your body sources protein from your muscles, failing an external supply. I relished the bar, somewhat repulsed by the thought of the alternative. At one aid station the volunteers literally applauded my sparkly skirt and not long after a traffic cop cheerfully asked "How's it going sparkly?". There was one last uphill trudge and then I rounded the corner and happily made it to the fire station finish. We were rewarded with giant salty pretzels and peanut butter tortillas. Lisa, myself and Eddie "Barefoot Bandito" got a ride to our shuttle bus on a golf cart. As we left I said "adios" and the bus driver playfully said "adios chiquitas" and we all laughed with endorphin fueled bliss en route to El Conquistador having conquering the Tuscon marathon.

My 13th marathon was a lucky one, filled with good fortune, warm exchanges and many kindnesses. 

Long may we run!

Bridget Robinson

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fat Ass Full Frosty Beaver Moon Trail Half Marathon 2014 (2nd annual)

Won't you hold my hands over my heart?
I want you to close my eyes when it grows dark.
We go over the mountains and under the stars.
We go over the mountain and under the stars.

Bow and Arrow by Ruben And The Dark

Seventy runners gather in the atrium at the Forks on a blustery Friday evening for the return of the Fat Ass Full Frosty Beaver Moon Trail Half Marathon. Nervous chatter permeates the room as the assembled check in, adjust headlamps and mill about catching up with old friends. This much anticipated event attracts the spirited runner, the rogues, and the adventurous ones of the running community.  It's an off-the-grid, low key, no fee, no schwag, no medal, no bib, no timing slow dance through gorgeous technical city trails.
Rheal Poirier, event organizer addressing the assembled runners.
Last minute instructions... don't get lost!
See Mike Listen for Instructions.
This year's Full Frosty attracts double the number of runners from 2013. Local runner and Manitoba Runners Association board member Bob Nicol predicts the Full Frosty will exceed one hundred runners in 2015.  Dwayne Sandall of the Manitoba Trail Runners provided support by expertly marking the trail with reflective flags making getting lost, if not impossible, less likely.  Dwayne also provided sweep duty and advised the crowd "If you come up behind me on the trail you were surely lost".  
Dwayne provided sweep on the trail "If you come up behind me you were surely lost"
We move from the comfort of the atrium to the chilly start line next to Esplanade Riel.  Dwarfed under the beauty of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights we dance nervously from foot to foot and pose for smiley pictures. The full moon glimmers momentarily between breaks in the thick cloud as if to reassure we mere mortals that all is well. On Rheal's good word we surge forward together as one, over the river, under the moon, through the woods. Together, seventy souls, one spirit.

All is well, all is good, all is alive... under a big old moon.
In time and space we slip into our own groove and follow the rhythmic beat of our heart. Lone runners silently lost in contemplation, large groups chat incessantly and punctuate the darkness with contagious laughter, friends relish the time together and grow closer.  Head lamps slither snake-like along the trails. The moon is shy tonight and the wind is sharp on our faces as we crunch, crunch, crunch along the gravel trail.
Over the river, under the moon, through the woods.
Esplanade Riel
Dwayne's reflective flags are strategically located on the winding dark trails. We learn to watch for them and yell "flag" as they are spotted.  Three flags side by side mark the optional, yet enticing, single track trails. The single track trails hug the river bank and wind impossibly through thick bush making 'running' a relative term.  I use my tiny hand held flashlight in addition to my head lamp to light these ancient trails.  Our run slows to a calculated walk on the sharp twists and turns.  The lead runner yells "branch" or "careful" to warn those several paces behind.  It's breathtaking and exciting, and exhilarating.  It's a sublime evening to be alive under a moonless sky, dancing along a Red River monkey trail.

Gabrielle Roy Trail Head 
The finish line is perfect.  We cross over the Assiniboine River on the converted wooden railway bridge leading to the Forks.  The bridged is decked with hundreds of coloured lights blowing wildly in the stiff wind. There's no gantry, no timing mat, no crowds, just a single volunteer at the end of the bridge greeting us with a most welcoming high five.  Tired and thirsty, we head to Finn McCues for a suitable refreshment. Smiles and hugs abound.

Thank you Rheal and Dwayne for your time and energy. This trail run is surely one of the finest urban trail adventures in the land.

It's a good day to be alive, dancing under a shy moon.


(Photos kindly provided by Gregory C. McNeil...except for the blurry, out of focus last one, that was taken by a runner called Mike).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Give it A Rest; A Guest Blog by Cynthia Menzies

Give it a rest, you deserve it!
By Cynthia Menzies
Cynthia Menzies
It’s a Wrap
Well, here we all are, at the end of the running season. How did it go? Did you have fun?  Did you achieve personal goals? Did you overcome an injury or become injured along the way? Travel back in your memory and think about the words you used to call your season. Did you say something like, “That’s a wrap!” Maybe you exited early with joy (“I am done!”) or with regret (“I AM, done”)? Or, mid-way through, your running season texted with the words, “WE are done!” Maybe none of this applies to you right now and you are still racing or maybe your season never started and you are gearing up for your 2015 debut.
Life is Good
 I called my season after the Winnipeg 10 and 10 race and to be honest it wasn’t an easy decision. I was fully aware of the great fall race line-up and my goal to run a PB half-marathon race in October. But my body was tired on a very cellular level and it was time to call it. Once the declaration was made, an immense amount of relief came over me and I began to think about active-recovery and all the fun ‘non-run’ specific things I could do like yoga, mountain bike riding, trail walking with my dogs and time in the gym. Life is good when cross-training is a big part of it!
Slow Down
Calling your season is a helpful way for you to officially announce that you are switching gears from full on to slow down. To call your season means saying to self and others that you are done competing and training toward a goal race. In other words, you are giving it a rest and beginning the very thoughtful journey of intentional active recovery.  If you don’t call your season with assuredness, you could get caught in the just ‘one more hard effort workout’ or ‘one more race’ syndrome and this is not a good place to be in. The grind of always ‘training’ and ‘racing’ weighs you down. Accepting the fact that there are many more races and events than any one person can do any year helps with letting go as well. Just breathe into it.
Joy in Endings
According to The Running Times (2013), runners may also reach a performance plateau after a few races and fall well short of their true running potential, simply because they don't allow a proper recovery phase.”  Sometimes we are forced to end the season early due to injury, burnout, finances, scheduling, personal loss and trauma. Honestly, calling the season can be very hard for people because it means letting go of the training and race calendar and returning to ‘everyday life’. If you are like me, the high you get from training and racing helps to carry you through the harder times. For example, training and racing with intent is often accompanied by travel, the potential for personal bests, competition and fun networking with friends. When your goals suddenly change, it can feel isolating. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way and there is joy to be found in endings especially when new beginnings are just around the corner!

Off Season
                  While talking with my coach he shared his thoughts about the off season. His insights made a lot of sense and involved the idea that there is no such thing as an ‘off season.’  Good news for those of us that like to keep active all year round! In fact a heavy and structured training schedule should give way to an activity load with substantially less structure. This means that activity should not stop but should be reduced in volume (how much you do) and intensity (how hard you do it) and maintaining a routine is important.  This brings us back to why cross training and participating in multiple activities during different seasons is important. Having a written training plan to focus your active recovery efforts is helpful too.  
Active recovery, as opposed to passive recovery (which means complete rest from exercise) helps prime your body’s metabolic pathways of recovery.  The psychological benefits of active recovery are apparent as many people feel better when they exercise daily. Movement has the capability to elevate mood among other positive attributes. Listed below are 7 active recovery ideas from Blake Wood, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Exercise Physiologist and Kinesiologist from Pure Lifestyle, a popular Winnipeg gym.  The active recovery ideas carry a low risk of injury and agree with most trainees:
  1. Self -Myofascial release (SMR) – Foam rolling is one form of SMR: the objective is to use implements such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and other specialty items (the stick) etc. in an effort to “massage your muscles.” Consistent foam rolling may improve range of motion.  On your off day, try passing over all major muscle groups with a foam roller. Aim for 30 seconds on each large muscle group, avoiding joints and bony areas. Focus a little extra time on problem areas and pinpoint troublesome areas by using a lacrosse ball. Monitor your pressure; remember, the goal is to feel better after foam rolling.
  2. Walking – a great thing to do for active recovery. Not only can it burn calories, but also being outside can increase your feelings of well-being. The amount of walking you do on off days should be based on your current fitness level, and your training schedule.
  3. Lighter Weight Lifting – Performing an exercise that made you particularly sore, but using a much lighter weight may be restorative. As a guide, use a weight at or below 30 percent of your usual weight, and perform one set shy of failure.
  4. Hiking – like walking, it can burn significant calories. Once again it must be tailored towards your current fitness level. If you feel worse after the hike than when you started it probably has done more harm than good as far as active recovery.
  5. Swimming – particularly low stress due to the weightlessness. You can have a great swimming workout engaging the muscular and cardiovascular system without added pressure on your joints. Take into consideration current fitness level.
  6. Yoga – mobility work can be a form of active recovery that can be done every day. Typically each joint in the body is taken through a safe range of motion. Yoga is an example of mobility work that some people use as active recovery. It can be beneficial if you appreciate your current fitness level and learn from a good instructor.
  7. Cycling – like the other forms of aerobic exercise can be a great active recovery workout, as long as you match the intensity to your current fitness levels.

Contributors: A big thank you to Scott Brown (endurance athlete and training enthusiast/coach) and Blake Wood (endurance athlete and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) for your helpful insights, discussions and knowledge sharing regarding the topic of active recovery. Thank you to Fern Bérard for editing the article.

It's a good day to be alive, rested, healthy, and focussed. Thank you for the reminder Cynthia.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

The People of TRL; Meet Joanne Schiewe

The People of Ted's Run for Literacy is a 'behind the scenes' look at the many individuals that make up Ted's Run for Literacy; from committee members, to runners, to volunteers, to sponsors.  Every week leading up to race day we will interview an individual whose contribution to TRL helps to define the heart and soul of this fine event. The People of TRL is the brainchild of our Social Media chair, Carly Walsh.
Joanne crossing the finish line of Iron Man, Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Joanne is the master of ceremonies at TRL, and this year she mastered balancing training for Ironman, working and volunteering with us. Apparently it’s a can’t say “no” type thing. But Joanne embodies everything that’s awesome about being part of Ted’s Run - determination, heart, and humour (see above pic).

Come see Jo rock the mic at TRL 2014!

Ted’s Run for Literacy - How long have you been running and how did you start?
Joanne Schiewe - I had been an athlete and runner in high school but after graduation I spent many years not doing any sort of physical activity. It's a long story on how I became active again but I started running in January 2009. I was on the elliptical at the gym, and I was jealous of all the treadmill people who each had their own TVs. I decided to try the treadmill purely so I could watch TV. I ran 2.5 miles that night. I went home and said "Manitoba Half is in five months - I think I'm going to try to do that." My friends and family know that once I say I'm going to do something, I never back down. Training for that first half marathon was tough and I didn't think I would do it again....until I crossed the finish line. I was super hooked after that.

TRL - You've done some pretty amazing competitions this year (Ironman) - how'd you balance your work life/social life/training? And what are some of thing things you learned from training, and doing these events?
JS - In the beginning I didn't balance things well at all. I annoyed (to say it nicely) a lot of family and friends that I was only available on select days. Training for marathons and especially Ironman, taught me that I needed to learn to prioritize what was important and communicate that to my family/friends. I tell them that they will ALWAYS trump training if they need me. Since I usually have "blinders" on when I am in the thick of things, they just need to speak up when they need me around, want to hang out or even just to go dancing. Balancing everything else....well....I have a problem saying “no” to I have over booked commitments multiple times or just plain forgotten about things (sorry TRL committee). I now depend heavily on my iPhone, sticky notes, and others to keep me organizes. Last year, during Ironman training I felt like I was living from gym bag to gym bag and living out of my vehicle so I had specific days dedicated to appointments, grocery shopping etc... and check-lists to help me prepare for each day.

TRL - You don't like beer right?  You get to create and name your own beer as a post race bevy. Tell us about it.
JS - Beer....yuck! **hides beer behind back and looks other way**..... I would name it "Quick Feet Pale Ale". It would be infused with the sweat and tears of 1,000 runners.

TRL - Name your top three signs you've seen during a race.
JS - I've see a lot of great ones, but I will try to keep this PG (sort of)! "If this was easy, it would be called your mom", "Run like Ryan Gosling is at the finish line, holding a puppy". "If I said you had a nice iliotibial band, would you hold it against me"

TRL - What does Ted's Run mean to you?
JS - That's a loaded question! Ted's Run means many things to me. Unfortunately, I never met Ted but I've heard so many stories about the man he was. He devoted so much of his time to helping people fall in love with running, which I respect and admire so much and I try to emulate in the clinics that I instruct. I love the sense of community (between racers/volunteers/committee members) that exists within our "little race that could". I am so pleased that through our race, we are able to support Start2Finish, who are promoting running and living a healthy lifestyle to kids that will one day run this country.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Yesterday, we said goodbye to Annie.

Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Yesterday, The Beatles, from the album Help (1965)

Yesterday, we said goodbye to Annie. How I long for yesterday. 

We had been planing for yesterday for weeks, but never did we expect yesterday to arrive. She was distressed on Friday, confused and in pain, unable to stand, and frightened.  I embraced her and soothed her. We had just walked that morning as we do every morning (we have a routine, Annie and me) sniffing and marking her territory, slower than years past, but still alert and still alive.  It came suddenly, yesterday.

A trip to the emergency hospital stabilized the worst of it, a shot of something unpronounceable, some beautiful concoction of strong chemicals. It calmed her and eased the pain and confusion.  She became quiet and focussed. We slept a fitful night with Annie by our side on her little bed, motionless, drifting between not quite asleep, not quite awake. 

Dementia, weight loss, bronchial infection, hips failing, weight loss, not drinking, and in the end, unable to stand.. it was time for this life to end. It's odd how we expected it, but when it came we fought it hard, unable to comprehend life without Annie.

The doctor was kind, a good bedside manner you would say.  He explained the procedure. A sedative followed by a strong injection, 10 times the strength needed to ensure a peaceful and final end.  The sedation was quiet. We held her dearly as if for the last time, for the last time, smoothing and caressing as she drifted out of consciousness.  The doctor left the room, allowing us to say our goodbyes, to cry, to hold on to yesterday, however fleeting. 

The good doctor returned and administered the concoction, 10 times the required strength to ensure a quick and painless end. Annie's life ended in our arms, surrounded by love and warmth. 

Yesterday, we said goodbye to Annie.  How I long for yesterday.

It's a good day to be alive.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The people of Ted's Run for Literacy; Meet Michael Bennett

The People of Ted's Run for Literacy is a 'behind the scenes' look at the many individuals that make up Ted's Run for Literacy; from committee members, to runners, to volunteers, to sponsors.  Every week leading up to race day we will interview an individual whose contribution to TRL helps to define the heart and soul of this fine event. The People of TRL is the brainchild of our Social Media chair, Carly Walsh. 

TRL asked board member and fellow, friendly rival Tim MacKay to write a few words about TRL’s fearless leader:

"Race Director and one of the founding board members of TRL, Michael Bennett remains a driving force behind the run. As a career educator with a commitment to inclusion and social justice, he brings passion and dedication to his role on the TRL board. His never-ending enthusiasm and gentle spirit are infectious among all who get involved. Also known for being tenacious, Michael has been rumoured to have worked on recruiting committee volunteers during the entire course of a half-marathon. Michael is a committed runner with serious accomplishments, and he continues to pursue race goals both near and far. He’s a “never sit still” sort of guy, writing the See Mike Run blog, giving his time to a number of organizations, and supporting runners and races whenever he can. A true friend to all who know him, Michael’s humour, energy, and commitment are the glue of the TRL crew!"

Hopefully we tell you enough Mike just what you mean to us at TRL. You’re right; “It’s a good day to be alive!”

Ted’s Run for Literacy - How long have you been running and why/how did you start?
Mike Bennett - I started running competitively while attending middle school. I remember bombing badly at a divisional meet; my running spirit dying on the track in a puddle of tears and dry heaves. I discovered recreational running in university. I ran in the Gritty Grotto in cold weather and laps around the Legislative Building in the warmer months. I stopped running when I graduated from university and immersed myself in work, devoting every moment of the day and evening to teaching. I loved my job but it seriously lacked balance.

I was 45 when I realized I was 20 pounds over weight and in the habit of a scotch or two in the evening. I didn’t like the visual so I joined the Y and ran some laps for a couple of years. In doing so I dropped 20 pounds and ditched the scotch. It’s such a cliché, but I set a goal of running a marathon during my 50th year. I became a runner somewhere on a trail along the Assiniboine River on my 50th birthday and haven’t looked back. I can’t say running saved my life, but I shudder to think where I would be had I not taken that first terrifying step.

TRL - You always sign off with "It's a good day to be alive" - tell us about that quote (where it came from, why it sticks with you, etc...).
MB - I was a course marshal for a race about 10 years ago. I yelled “It’s a good day for a run” to a couple of elderly runners. One replied “Yes, and it’s a good day to be alive” and kept running. His buddy stopped and told me his friend had recently had heart surgery and he now considers every day a gift. The phrase “It’s a good day to be alive” resonated and has stuck. It has become my signature line on See Mike Run because I know many people run through depression and anxiety. I repeat it at every opportunity for them, hoping that if they hear it and say it often enough it becomes truth. So yes, friends, it is a good day to be alive even when all about walls are tumbling down.

Young Noah and Jack are bang on; running fast is fun and running is good for your muscles.
Fun + Muscles = A Good Day to be Alive.

TRL - We're not just about running at Ted's Run; the other half is reading. If you were to write a memoir what would the title be?
MB - See Mike Beat Tim MacKay in a Road Race has a nice ring to it, but it would have to be a fictional piece because that guy is seriously fast. He plays a mean banjo too!

People like Glen Shultz, Melissa Budd, Bob Nicol, and David Ranta inspire me. They work harder than anyone I know to earn the privilege of the start line. Their resilience and their strength in overcoming incredible obstacles to achieve their goals is breathtaking. They are passionate about life and live their dreams through the act of running. I suppose if I were to write a memoir it would be entitled The Inspiration Behind See Mike Run, and devote a chapter to each of those that inspire and bring me joy.

TRL - Has there been a moment during your time with Ted's Run that has really stuck out for you? What is that moment and why?
MB - In my professional life I sit on many committees and boards. We accomplish good things and we enjoy our company, but rarely do we have laughter. Ted’s Run For Literacy meeting are also serious business, but we have serious fun. The laughter and the gentle teasing is life affirming and just plain fun. We’re a diverse group but we are all devoted to making TRL the finest race possible. Sometime ago we coined the phrase Ted’s Run for Literacy, the little race that could. We are a small race existing in the shadows of some large corporate events so we have our challenges, but we are proud of our steadfastness.

Always, the moment that stands out for me is watching the young runners cross the finish line with big toothy smiles that light the chute. It’s kinda makes me tear up, just saying.

TRL - What does Ted's Run mean to you?
MB - Sylvia Rugger speaks of the ‘audacity of hope’ and encourages us to be bold and courageous in our hopes and dreams. We run marathons because they are hard and audacious, and just plain wacky. If it were easy everyone would do it, right? TRL Board members believe in the audacity of hope. We believe that we can eradicate childhood poverty through literacy programming in neighbourhoods in transition. It’s not easy and we may never get there, but that’s not important. Like running, the destination is secondary to the journey. It’s about perpetual forward motion, never giving up, dreaming audaciously, and it’s about building community. To quote Sylvia once again…we are strong, we are champions, we are never-giver-uppers.

That’s what Ted’s Run for Literacy means to me.

It’s a good day to be alive.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The (little) People of TRL; Meet Jack and Noah

The People of Ted's Run for Literacy is a 'behind the scenes' look at the many individuals that make up Ted's Run for Literacy; from committee members, to runners, to volunteers, to sponsors.  Every week leading up to race day we will interview an individual whose contribution to TRL helps to define the heart and soul of this fine event. The People of TRL is the brainchild of our Social Media chair, Carly Walsh.
Jack and Noah run because it "builds up your muscles" and "it's fun to run fast". 
Jack and Noah ran the 2km at last year’s Ted’s Run for the first time. Jack, 7, and Noah, 4, told us what they like about the two key elements of TRL - reading and running.

Ted’s Run for Literacy: Do you like to run, and why?
Jack: Yes. It’s fun to run because it builds up your muscles.
Noah: Yes. Because it’s fun to run fast.

TRL: If you were pretending to be an animal running what would it be?
Jack: Cheetah.
Noah: Dragon.

TRL: What should you eat in order to run fast?
Jack: Meat.
Noah: Fruit.

TRL: What is your favourite book?
Jack: The Magic Tree House books.
Noah: Little Critter books.

TRL: Why do you think reading is important?
Jack: It helps you learn to spell. You need to be able to read to get a job.

TRL: What’s your favourite part of being read to?
Noah - Because you get to hear all the fun parts.