Sunday, July 24, 2016

Joanne Schiewe, A Guest Blog By Jared Spier

Tired as fuck.

Gord Downie, Tragically Hip, Man Machine Poem

Jared Spier and Joanne Schiewe
Joanne Schiewe has been openly telling her story since being diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer on February 3, 2015. At that time, she was given 6-18 months to live, and has been fighting hard since then, getting the maximum from each and every day.
Two weeks ago, after a year of positive treatment for her primary tumour, her MRI showed two new areas of growth. This required a change of course for her chemo treatments, and it's been a pretty tough time since. So as we try to keep telling this story openly, we need to let you know what that means:
Today was supposed to be about racing Ironman Calgary 70.3 Even two weeks ago, Jo was looking strong, out for an 80km ride and ready to give a defiant FU to her tumour. Instead, she's been battling harder than ever before.
The new chemo caused severe nausea, which meant 2 days of sickness and the exhaustion that resulted from not being able to hold down any food or drink
That exhaustion led to a few fainting spells, which gave us some scares, and Jo also started to show the first problems with cognition
Since then, it's been obvious that Jo needs to have someone with her at all times. Fortunately there is a wealth of friends and family who want to be with her and help her fight
It's hard to understand how this can all happen in just two weeks, but that's why we're continuing to share this story - we need everyone to understand how terrifying this change of circumstance can be. This is what Glioblastoma (GBM) does...
Two weeks from ready to race to needing help to cut your steak.

Two weeks from independence to holding a hand to walk down a hallway.

Two weeks from living your life to fighting for each following day.

Jo's 18 months are almost up, but she's pushing for overtime!

Jared Spier

With thanks to Jared Spier and Joanne Schiewe for their courage. it's a good day to be alive.


Friday, July 15, 2016

David's Journey Marathon

When you pray, move your feet.
African proverb

Today I witnessed an outpouring of love for David. It's a miracle David is alive after his July 2013 deadfall from an 8 foot ladder onto a concrete sidewalk. As an electrician he was performing a routine task when suddenly sparks flew.  He was found sprawled on the sidewalk with blood pooling. He was rushed to Health Science Centre where he was diagnosed with severe traumatic brain injury. Placed on life support in a comatic state, he was not fully expected to wake.


Eleven days later he slowly returned to life... back to life, ever so slowly. Learning to walk and talk took years of intensive therapy, but daddy had returned and that was good enough for little Liam.

It's a journey no one ever wants to travel. From receiving the phone call at home to the work site to the Health Science Centre to Riverview Hospital and back home again.   This was David and Mandi's journey and today it became the journey of 24 runners strong. Unlike David's 2013 journey, today's journey was a celebration of life and family and community. Today's journey brimmed over with hope and optimism. Today's journey was happy chatter, laughter, and gentle teasing. Today's journey was about love and family.

David's amazing wife Mandi organized today's journey to raise awareness and funds for Manitoba Brain Injury Association.  Her friend Junal charted a 26.2 mile course along the route and used his full charm to encourage others to support the journey (caution, it's near impossible to say 'no' to Junal, his charm will soften the most bitter of hearts). We gathered at David and Mandi's home at 7 AM and pushed on through the journey. Twenty-four runners strong, we pushed and pulled one another.  Our very own, and much beloved Natalie (an intrepid runner in her own right) joined us for the last leg (is it just me or does Natalie inspire others to no end?). We also had the pleasure of Fast Eddy from British Columbia join us for a portion of the journey... how cool is that!?

It was a slow dance.

It was a perfect dance.

It was a dance of love and grace.

I send my thanks to my friend Sandi who first invited me to David's Journey several months past.  I thank Mandi for her dedication to her family and for her love of David. I thank Junal for his spirit and unbridled energy.  I thank Scott for carrying me over the line. I thank Winnipeg's running community for their inclusivity, for their love of diversity, and for moving their feet. I thank David for being the man he is today; a daddy, a husband, and an icon of hope.

Most of all, I thank the Manitoba Brain Injury Association for piecing David's life together and the lives of many, many other untold journeys.

Well, it is obvious, but worth repeating... especially today, especially now...

It's a good day to be alive.


To donate to Manitoba Brain Injury Association David's Journey click here.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Training For Lean Horse (part 2)

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs.

The Be Good Tanyas

I thought of Bobbi Nicol and Scott Sugimoto this morning while running miles and miles through jungle-like humidity. Actually, I was thinking more of their gait than their person. Scott and Bobbi are accomplished ultra-marathoners and I have always been intrigued with their languid stride and their ability to run for hours on end.

Today I attempted to emulate this graceful, near effortless, slow dance.  The foot turnover is quick and short, not fast, but certainly not slow.  It's not quite a toe strike, but close. I focussed on landing just under my toes on the flat side of my sesamoid (yes, I had to look that one up). My body fell into a comfortable rhythm and my mind wandered peacefully as the miles clicked by. My heart rate was steady and my breathing was comfortable. The occasional unintentional heel-strike broke the tranquility, but I self-corrected within a couple of steps and then all was well once again.  Thanks Bobbi and Scott.

I was at the folk festival last night so I had a late start this morning.  I left the house at about 11:30 AM and returned at around 3:30 PM.  I'm so conditioned to running in the morning that I said "good morning" to about 50 people, and they all replied with a cheery "good-morning" despite it being afternoon! You just have to love Winnipeg.

I booked my hotel in Custer... holy smokes, I think rates in Manhattan are cheaper! I guess they jack up the prices for the ultra weekend. Oh well, it's worth it, small price to pay for achieving my dream of completing an ultra before age 60.... clock's-a-tickin.

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs. 

It's a good day to be alive.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Training for Lean Horse (part 1)

Lean Horse Ultra-marathon
Custer, South Dakota
August 27, 2016

Once bitten, twice shy, third time's a charm.

Lean Horse will be my third attempt at a 50 km ultra marathon. I'm hoping for third time's a charm.

Injuries kept me from starting the previous two. Both injuries occurred within a couple of weeks of race day and both were the result of overtraining. I was on schedule for both ultras. Running 25 miles on trails in southern Ontario while on vacation, Almost stepping on a large golden-brown snake napping on a gravel trail in the backwoods of lost Ontario. Hills.  Hills.  Hills. Running 70 or more miles a week for the days leading up to the ultra. I was even considering upping the ante to a 50 miler. I was that fit, that strong, that cocky.

And then the injury.




I like to think I'm a little smarter this time around. Thanks to my super-fit niece, Ainsley I've been cross-training regularly at Goodlife since January.  I found Bodypump and I haven't looked back.  It's an intense one-hour interval training session that leaves me fully exhausted, yet paradoxically fully exhilarated.  It is without a doubt the single best thing I've done to improve my running in years, not to mention my mental health and my confidence.

"Hi. I'm Mike and I've been working out... you've probably noticed."

I've scaled back on my distance. I will not run more than 50 miles in one week. I won't run speed drills because of the high possibility for injury. I've slowed down to 11 minute/ miles on my long runs.  My shorter runs are no less than 6 miles. I will become less compulsive and more zen. Less competitive and more happy.

I can't really believe I'm saying this but....

As of yesterday I'm eating chicken and fish for the first time in 10 years. I became vegetarian at age 50. Now, two months shy of 60, I'm eating meat.  I haven't the stomach to cross over to red meat or pork. The yuck factor is very strong... think gag!

I ran 22 miles yesterday and truly it felt okay, almost like an old friend, but it was hard... really hard.

When I was 49 I set a goal to run a marathon before age 50.  I've since run 18.

At 59, my goal is to run an ultra before age 60.

Stay tuned for part 2.

It's a good day to be alive.