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Find your inspiration

What motivates you to get out there on a daily basis?

On a daily basis, I try to find all good reasons to run.  I love running, but I am human and I have weaknesses.

After a very emotional day yesterday, today I failed to run no more that 0.7 of a mile and turned back and walked home…

Why do I need to feel so accomplished every day?

On a daily basis, we are all confronted with these 4 questions, I believe, we all need to be able to answer these questions on a daily basis.

  1. How do I get myself out do to what I want to do?
  2. Why do I want to want to do what I do?
  3. Who is so much better than me, and does that help me? Who is influencing me to be the best I can be
  4. What is preventing me from me being my best every day?

After the past 2 months, 7 weeks ago I ran my second and best Boston Marathon, which is one of many accomplishments on my wall….since I  have experienced a lack of motivation.  Most who know me think am ultra-motivated; I have never been ultra-motivated, it is truly the people around me that inspire and motivate me, at all levels.

Today, I was inspired by my stepdaughter as I coached her to her first ever track workout…exactly the same reason why the bonds I have made with the people in my life mean more than any result I ever had.

I encourage you to not only embrace your process but more importantly the people involved.

Happy Trails!!






BELIEF…the Powerful Words of a Coach

Just a little over a month ago, the day after I posted my last blog expressing a great amount of DOUBT in myself prior to the Chicago Marathon, I had a pivotal conversation with my current coaches Benny and Kevin from Runners Edge.

Benny is a very experience coach and runner himself, he not only gave me very specific guidance for the the Chicago Marathon route, he looked back on his spreadsheets to some interval workouts we had done in the months before, hand calculated some numbers on a sticky note and proceeded to tell me:

“you are capable of running under 3:25″

I responded with “WHHAAT?” No way! I listed my excuses…  I packed my bags still planning to run a 3:35-3:40 if that…still with those words above ringing in my head….

Winston and I travelled to Chicago and absolutely fell in LOVE with the city.  We did all the “wrong” things like walking ~20k around the city 2 days before, indulging in Happy Hours and eating rich, delicious food.

Then morning before race day Winston and I were eating breakfast and the infamous Bongo Room (with what seemed like the rest of the 45,000 Chicago Marathon runners)….and came across THE ABBOTT WORLD MARATHON MAJORS, achallenge of running 6 major international marathons: (Tokyo, London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago and NYC).

My eyebrows raised and I instantly placed this new item on my bucket list.  2 and 2 added up – the qualifying time for a guaranteed entry to NYC Marathon was under 3:26.

Then and there I decided to try for the pace Benny said I was capable of running.  I would set out and hold between 7:40-8:00 min/mile pace for the first 15 miles and reassess there. With no fear of failure.  On the sidelines, chasing me around the city was my very supportive fiance, Winston and what felt like the entire city of Chicago.  I never reassessed, I…Just. Kept. Running.


My results

The race itself ended up being surreal, it was a spectacular crisp fall day with bluebird sky.  Little went through my head, but these three things, (and NYC marathon)

  1. Benny’s words: “you are capable of running under 3:25″
  2. A focus on swinging my arms parallel and not across the midline of my body
  3. And this image of feet moving circularly from the book the Chi of Running 


After 5 years of being a coach myself, I had sincerely forgot how truly powerful words are.  Words have the ability to either positively or negatively to be the catalyst to great action.  I have had a lot of coaches in my time back in my rowing days.  The effective coaches are those with the ability help realize self belief.

“You can have all the tools in the world but if you don’t genuinely believe in yourself, it’s useless”. ~Ken Jeong

How many times can we all look back in life and say – “I wish I believed in myself more?”

 All too many I am sure.  Lesson learned, the 2016 Chicago Marathon for me was about belief.  Next time you are doubting yourself, maybe ask a mentor, friend or coach – I bet they believe in you more than you can imagine.


Happy Trails!!

All great changes are preceded by chaos

octopus“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”

– Deepak Chopra

No hums or ho’s….after Toronto Marathon (actually during) life took a complete FLIP FLOP.  After 3 home sales in 1 month, while finishing off my full time coaching career at UBC, getting engaged, moving myself and my life across the country (literally with a cross country road trip) to be with my Fiance in Ontario…I realized how awesome and dynamic life can continue to be.


Now, I am settling well into Niagara, Ontario into our beautiful home and a fantastic Real Estate Brokerage and team (McGarr Realty), along with my other contract with Athletics Ontario as their Road Running Coordinator.

I am looking towards the Chicago Marathon entry this coming weekend  (which I entered back in the spring prior to this fun…no way was I going to scrap the entry!)….needless to say, I have been “tapering” now for about 5 months.


Uncertainty is not always the best race plan, but this weekend this is mine. This will be my 7th road marathon, I am smart enough to know that uncertainty is realistic.

After those, I am, however, CERTAIN that I will enjoy the moments (and appreciate that muscle memory and my 2 months of “cramming” may help).

About a month ago, I joined a local running group here called “Runners Edge” and have my very first coach (Benny and Kevin) since rowing at an elite level.  I will consult with them tomorrow and whatever pace they tell me to race this weekend, I will try.

Regardless, Winston and I get a lovely weekend away in Chicago with ~3.5-4 ish hours of me running!!

Happy trails!


The Realistic Pace – Toronto Marathon 2016


Tomorrow I run the Toronto Marathon and have two goals – hold an even pace, and run under 3hr30.

Pacing is an entertaining subject for myself who has completely perfected the art of “fly-and-dying” with marathons and ultra marathons.  It really is a true art to find your personal speed threshold you can hold for 26.2 miles.


#1) TRAIN AND RECOVER  I have finally spent some good quality time finding my realistic marathon “race” pace.  Using a sub 3:30 program from Runkeeper, I did some quality training runs and workouts.  My training was anything but ideal (with life that got busy and I got very burnt out) but I did have some good workouts and confidence boosting threshold workouts such as 16×1′ sprint, 6 miles at 10km pace, 3×3 miles/5×1 miles at faster than my half marathon pace, and the infamous “fast finish long run”.

#2) PROPER  TAPER: I am still trying to find what works for me…

#3) COMMIT TO THE PACE ON THE DAY Tomorrow I run the Goodlife Toronto Marathon with a goal of running under 7:50 minutes/mile (<3hr30 marathon), the true test will be can I manage my realistic pace enough to allow for a steady race and not fly and die?   Theory says to negative split (go slower in the first half than the second).

I am confident about #1 and #2 in the past, #3 for me will be the challenge.  Coming from a sport of rowing where we essentially sprinted for 6-8 minutes, the second a clock is timing me and I have a large group to run with, I have an innate fight or flight race mechanism that takes over and I want to run faster than I “should”.

Race results and splits will be posted on Results


Going to try but we shall see…looking forward to it!! 🙂


Be accountable to yourself and others.

arm-up (1)

I just came back from my first road “long run” after my most recent race ~2 months ago.  I…became accountable…and told Winston that I was “…off to try a 24k run, first long once since marathon”.

Yes, of course I hit that 18km point, content as can be with the workout as it was, hit a red light at a crosswalk, and looked over my shoulder, the sun glistened on the beautifully shiny, parked EVO (one of our car shares here in vancouver)


I pondered the thought of revving that puppy up and packin’ it in through the city and up my hill to my apartment.

But no….I was not only accountable to myself, I was accountable to Winston.  So off I trotted…

Accountability is one of my top coaching philosophies.  We talk about this daily with our athletes – accountability to their teammates is how they push to the limits that they do.

Though I have no running team per-se, I reach to others (like telling someone my goal).  The limits I can push with my trail running group or in races, is beyond what I ever push by myself.

In the time being, today (by my fun lonesome), because I was accountable, not only did it end up being an awesome run, it was my fastest pace long training run to date!  Even when I got home I did an extra 1km loop, just cuz 🙂

So here is my tip of the day – next time you challenge yourself, tell someone you are doing it, it may just help you through that wall.

Happy Trails!

“You’ll never accomplish the results you want until you are willing to do what you don’t necessarily want to do”.  ~Trish Blackwell

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


I have always said sport is synonymous with life, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  This is what one of my very first coaches ~ Olympian, Brenda Taylor, said all the time.

The human body has an amazing capacity to cope and adapt to stressors.  Whether you are getting yourself to and through a tough job interview, dealing with a personal illness, sorting out finances, a new child in the house, a 10×800 track workout (or even all of the above), our body is equipped to cope with these stressors, and we will amaze ourselves in hindsight.  Then, stronger from dealing with the last one, the next challenge will be waiting for you ahead, guaranteed.

I sit here writing having dealt with many challenges in my life, through each challenge that very mantra “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, echoed in my head.

Over 10 years ago, in the peak of my National rowing career, one month before the 2006 World Championships, I was nearly killed by a car being driven ~70km/hr by a driver, blinded by the sunrise.

Abruptly, that day life changed. My sole focus of being one of the best lightweight rowers in the world that year, I woke up on the side of the road in a pool of blood with shattered bones and a shattered helmet, and very confused with a significant brain injury.  But, I was LUCKY.  Through the impact of the accident my limp and unconscious body hit the bumper windshield and then flew over top the vehicle and onto the ground below.  Police said, I was lucky that the windshield was the second impact – not the frame. Without my helmet, which was split in 2, Doctors said I would have been a vegetable or dead.  3 weeks later after having crazy nerve pain from a one of my broken bones poking into my Brachial Plexus, I went through an emergency surgery after they found that same bone sitting dangerously close to my Jugular Artery.  Again, lucky!!

Stubborn as usual, and ignoring doctors prognoses (after much patience, persistence, and therapy) I went onto continue to compete for Canada for the next 5-6 years .  In those years, I also woke up to the rest of the world.  Prior to the accident I had been a very serious athlete, with tunnel vision.  After the accident I realized that life is much too short to sweat the small stuff and that family and loved ones are much more important than sport.

Two years following my accident my father was much too young to be diagnosed with cancer.  His journey for the next 7 years was a rollercoaster but I believe it was triumphant and beautiful as he embraced his last days more than ever, playing music for people and surrounding himself with the most positive people he could, when he could.  Myself, my mother, and my sister were fortunate enough to be able to be with him, hold him and say goodbye to his very last breaths.

Recently, I have witnessed my sister suffer with a severe form of (Chrone’s/Colitis) in and out of the hospital, with multiple surgeries, medical mishaps, long hospital stays, and ICU incidents over the past 4 years.  After a courageous 4 years of patience, pain and persistence (and a life no one can even imagine), she is thankfully on the up!

As we all know, sometimes life gives you the test before you have had the time to understand the lesson.  My sister just had this beautiful epiphany a few weeks back, and is now mentoring other patients who are, new to and, trying to learn to cope with the horrible disease and other GI diseases.

My philosophy with sport is that it helps to strengthen our bodies ability to cope with many stressors.  When I was climbing the second of two 5000ft mountains in my 50 mile ultramarathon, not only did I try to smile as much as possible to appreciate the journey, I reminded myself that “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”.  Be it mentally or physically – hopefully I can continue to be stronger in life with every challenge.

It is not always as easy as just making lemonade out of lemons.  Life can be unfairly rough, we all know.

People ask me why I run ultra marathons.

I say, “because I can.”

When I cannot anymore, I will say, I did.

Happy New Year, and Happy Trails!!




Smart Race Recovery Tactics

Marathon Finish Line

Congratulations, you have finished your race!!

Now what?

Remember, regardless of your training regime the act of racing, especially distance races are a large stressor to your system.  Your body will adapt to, and become stronger from, that stress with and only with adequate rest and recovery.

A post race recovery regime is so often overlooked and by far the most important component to smart training, racing and injury prevention.

Practicing patience directly after your race by implementing proactive race day recovery tactics, adequate rest, followed by easing back into training maturely you will feel up-to-snuff after your race sooner, you will one-up your fitness coming back stronger from your race to move towards an even fitter version of yourself!!

To the contrary, with inadequate rest and recovery you can very, very, easily get knocked down and, even worse, injured.

There is a plethora of information out there about each one of these topics (I plan to address each and every one of the following subjects in detail with this blog and website in the future), but as a brief summary, here are a few tips you may want to consider implementing into your recovery regime:

Be proactive! Plan for your recovery regime beforehand.

Before the race:

  • It is well known that your immune system is compromised directly after distance races. Bring a change of clothes (many races have drop bags/bag checks) with a change fresh clothes as your body temperature often will plummet as blood rushes quickly to the organs that your body involuntarily ignored during your training and racing. I find even in the summer months I am cold after a race. Also, bring some comfortable sandals or any loose fitting shoes to change into. Pack some face wipes, band-aids, and polysporin to apply to any chafing or exposed blisters.
  • Prevent blood pooling and limb swelling – dabble in the flood of compression gear out there.  Especially for long distance races this keeps your circulation in check and helps to prevent blood from pooling.

During the race:

  • Be proactive about recovery during the race and ensure that you consistently replenish glycogen (your body’s energy) stores before they completely deplete.  Set your watch timer to 30 minutes and top up with ~15-30g of carbohydrates (banana, gel, energy drink, etc…)



  • Keep moving, try to walk or jog it out keeping your body moving dynamically, gently stretch out any kinks you feel you can.
  • Within 30 minutes at the very latest (ideally within 15) eat and rehydrate as much as tolerated, preferably carbohydrates with some protein
  • If post race massage is available sign up right away as there is usually a wait time
  • Especially after long distance races, AFTER COOLING DOWN get off your feet.  If there is a comfortable area lay with your feet up a wall)
  • If there is a water way near by stand in cool (preferably very cold).  The recommended duration is a debate, but I personally find it always feels better after any cold treatment regardless of the duration, the longer the better (and no one can really stand too long anyway!!).
  • If you do not have access to a cool water way get yourself a bag of ice and throw it in a tub full of cold water. If you have the facilities or two garbage cans a full contrast bath to the lower body (~5 minutes in cold, 1 minutes in hot) or take a shower with a removable shower head and alternate spraying 1-5  minutes on a the cold setting followed by 1′ on as hot as you can tolerate.
  • Moderate your hydration, keep drinking water mixed with electrolyte, until your urine is very light yellow or clear.
  • Roll!!!  No I do meet somersaults (though this could be a fun addition to a recover regime) travel with a small foam roller (and a lacrosse or tennis ball ).  This can help to push metabolic waste, promotes circulation and can release tension in the muscle fascia.
  • Sleep; yes, absolutely, take a nap if you can after the marathon.  Pay close attention to sleeping as much as you can in those days after the marathon (I know I usually have a very restless night after distance races, so always pack my earplugs, ensure the darkest room possible and pack my personal pillow, when travelling).
  • The next day: move!! Go for a light walk, or a very light spin on a bike
  • ~48 hours after consider booking a massage and taking another cold bath or shower after the massage or continue to roll out muscle fascia


We are all human; everyone and every race is different – just as you set a realistic race goal, set yourself a realistic post race recovery strategy depending on the conditions, air temperature, and location of the race:

These are the proactive recovery steps I personally took last Sunday before, during, and after the Seattle Marathon.

Before the race:

  • We were staying at a lovely AirBnB in Upper Queen Anne (a VERY hilly neighborhood in Seattle), so we smartly parked my car at the bottom of the hill before the race…. such a smart move!!
  •  It was a chilly 30F at the start so I packed a bag full of warm clothes, wool socks and Blundstones to change into after the race, and checked that bag.
  • I wore calf-only compression socks

During the race:

  • I consumed ~100 calories every 30 minutes in the form of 1:1 diluted EFS gel in water, Tailwind in my hydration pack, and the  electrolyte Gatorade Endurance formula the race provided at the aid stations. (I wore a hydration pack this race though in hindsight with the amount of aid stations that was unnecessary)

After the race:

  • I personally always have a tough time eating directly after distance races but after the race I walked around for ~20 minutes, drank the remainder of my Tailwind in my pack and drank ½ of a protein/carbohydrate recovery drink that the race offered, part of this was walking to the bag check (entertainingly hobbled up stadium stairs) where I changed into my warm cozies!
  • Within 30 minutes I was at home and in the shower doing a hot/cold recovery shower.
  • I utilized the lacrosse ball we always travel with and rolled out my feet, calves, hamstrings and glutes for about 20 minutes.
  • Within 90 minutes I had a small serving of leftover spaghetti and meat sauce for lunch (we purposely made too much the night before to make sure we had food on hand after the race), Later on I enjoyed my favorite combo of burger, salty fries and a beer at Betty (delish!!) (this is my own personal ritual).
  • 2 hours later, I was still quite dehydrated so drank MIA (electrolyte) infused water monitoring the color of my urine until it was light yellow/clear.
  • I slept for 9 hours that night, the morning after we went for a light 30-minute walk and deep squatted as much as I could (it wasn’t pretty), though my muscles were not too bad at all relative to races in the past when I did not practice a recovery regime.
  • 2 days later I did a light 25-minute indoors elliptical and stretch, yesterday I did a light 30-minute walk run and today a light spin and, roll and walk.

Clearly, no one is perfect including myself.  I will always be looking to implement better and smarter tactics to my racing and training.

After running personal best marathon this past weekend (3:33:04) , I will now continue to read my body, roll out my kinks, and receive .  I will slowly implement light training and will tentatively plan to be back to a ~70% load of training within a couple of weeks gearing up towards my next race (Orca’s Island 50k at the start of February).

I will continue to direct my body through a recovery regime and allow it adapt to the marathon I just threw at it this past weekend and see my fitness rise ABOVE!

If you wish to read, here is my personal race report blog on the Seattle Marathon this year!

Happy trails!!