Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vermont 100 - Redemtion

To say I had some concern coming into this race would be an understatement. At the same time I was also feeling relatively confident. I knew my training was not up to what it should have been, not enough long, long solo runs, but I had run a few decent races. The main problem was the previous 4 weeks. It started with an accident at home moving a large cement step. A slip and a fall later and I had 6 stitches in my chin and some bruised ribs. It was the ribs that concerned me the most. Doing anything, even laying down, hurt. Seeing what Joan had gone through with her fractured rib, I was definitely concerned for my ability to run at all. The next 4 weeks would be busy and hopefully the healing would be sufficient.
The first test would be the trip to California to pace Gary again at Western States. This would also be my first test with running and sore ribs. A test run the night before didn’t look promising. I had bought some tensor bandage to wrap the ribs and this just didn’t seem to work well. My thought was to try a larger tensor and try that. I would look for some the next day while crewing.
Crewing went well and Gary’s race was going good too. Lots of driving made for a tiring day. I found a 6 inch tensor and by 8 pm started to get ready for pacing. I put on the tensor around my upper abdomen and had to adjust it 3 times before I either left well enough alone or just said to hell with it. I ran from Foresthill back to the next aid station about a 1.5 miles to meet up with Gary. This would be the test and it seemed ok. Sore at first, but nothing too bad and manageable. I ran the next 40 miles with Gary to get him in at 29 hours and 3 minutes. A success all around. The only negative was my ribs the next day or trying to sleep. Very painful.

A trip to Timmins for work mid-week was followed by my trip to England for Victoria’s graduation from Northumbria University. In all 8 plane rides in 9 days. The trip to England went well, other than Aer Lingus misplacing my luggage for 4 days! Managed to climb Scafell in the Lake District. The highest peak in England took us 6.5 hours to climb and come back down on a beautiful day. Good time on my feet training is the way I saw it. A couple of days later I ran up Cheviot Hill, the highest point in Northumberland. Another test of the ribs that went well. It also gave me some good confidence with the hill running and the length of timeout there running.

I arrived back on the Sunday prior to leaving to Vermont. Jet lag and general fatigue set in, but decided to get out for a run on the Tuesday. Again to test the rib, but also to try it without wrapping my ribs. It was a short and successful run and felt good about the approaching weekend.

The Vermont 100 weekend began on Thursday after work with the drive to Montreal to stay at Kate and Gary’s, before setting off Friday morning to Vermont. Scott and Rhonda were supposed to come along for pacing and crewing duties, but had to back out. At this point I was looking forward to seeing what it would be like to run without a pacer. As it turned out Kate had been struggling with some foot issues and doubted whether or not she would be able to run the race. Eventually she would back out and volunteered to pace me. We arrived in Montreal about 10:30 pm and after something to eat and a drink or two we headed off to bed. We were up fairly early Friday and got off to a fairly quick start at 9 ish. Stopped in Burlington, VT for some supplies and lunch. We arrived at Silver Hill Meadow just in time for the registration , weigh in and then the pre-race talk!

Gary had made reservations at Skunk Hollow Tavern for dinner rather than the crappy pasta dinner. This was a good call and we enjoyed a great meal. Got back about 8 pm and attempted to get some sleep, as 3 am would come around far too soon.

3 am did come far too soon and as usual I didn’t get a lot of sleep, but that is par for the course when it comes to these type of events. The start was at 4, so it was just a matter of getting ready and a bite to eat and then we’d be off. Kate had decided not to run, because of a foot injury and therefore would help Joan crew. Gary had said we would run together so that we could both pace each other. I’m not big on running someone else’s race, but would see how it would go.
At 4 am the race started and we trotted down the gravel road from Silver Hill Meadow to the first hill and then the trails. I had worn a long sleeve over a short sleeve shirt as it was a cool morning, but we hadn’t hit the trails before I was taking the long sleeve off. There was definitely some humidity out there. When we hit the trails Gary started pushing the pace a bit. I wasn’t willing to go any faster than I needed and decided that if he wanted to go I wouldn’t hold him back. When I stopped for my first pee of many he was gone.
I tried to temper my pace so that I was taking it easy, but I was already struggling mentally for some reason. I just felt out of sorts. I was peeing a lot and started feeling the urge for a bathroom break in the first 5 miles or so. Like the last time I did the race the first porta potty was at 11 miles and I made sure I used it again. Ominously it seemed like a lot that was going on this race was very similar to 2 years ago when I DNF’d here. The course was slightly different in areas and I could only remember bits and pieces of it. I was in no hurry at this point and was more than willing to let runners pass me, which they did. As it was my running math equation was figuring out my pace and how I was doing based on a 24 hour finish or just finishing etc. I was well ahead of where I thought I should be. Eventually I came in Pretty House aid station where my crew would be at 4:07. I was thinking it would be closer to 4:30. I tried to eat a few things here as the Trail Butter that I was using wasn’t working well. Got rid of a few extra items I was carrying with Joan and as I was leaving I ran into Brent Colwell, who I had run with at the Midwest Grand slam last year. We ran and chatted for the next 10 miles to Stage Rd. and as Joan had told me, this made the time go by very quickly and I felt so much better at this aid station. Also ran into a couple of other Ontarians crewing for a runner here too, Joe Cleary and Kim van Delst. I grabbed more to eat, more mountain dew as usual and headed back out. A short run down the road was followed by a step climb straight up. At his time I was by myself again, but was feeling in a much better place. Definitely in a better place than 2 years ago. Typical of the trail sections, this climb was long and steep. It would be another 16 miles before I would see the girls and it would be a medical aid station. The only concern I had was losing too much weight, otherwise I was feeling stronger by the mile. At about 35 miles I was starting to pass some of the runners I had been passed by myself earlier and at the Lincoln Covered Bridge aid station (39.6 miles) we turned to power up one of the longest hills in the race, at least that’s the way it seemed.. I remembered this distinctly from 2 years ago. I was running/power walking with Bob from New Hampshire at this point and we chatted a lot. He is the president of the Sub 4 Hour 50 states marathon club and urged me to join up. He is 66 and this was his second attempt at Vermont to finish his first 100 miler. As the hill went on I left him behind. I was passing lots of runners again as my power walking was much quicker. This gave me a lot of confidence and I knew I feeling a lot better than last time. By the time I came into Camp 10 Bear I was feeling great and had just powered down one of the long downhills. I jumped on the scale and I was down 10 pounds!!!! Holy shit! I explained that the scales they used yesterday could not have been right as it showed me to be 176, about 10 pounds heavier than I normally am. After talking to the medical director, he realized I good to go and let me. I filled up with food and drink changed my shoes, socks and shirt and relubed my feet and off I went. I was only about 20 minutes behind Gary. I then chased off to get to the next aid station where I had dropped last time. I had been suffering muscle seizures and not fueled myself at all right. This time despite being down a lot of weight I was doing really well, both physically and now mentally. I wasn’t really looking forward to the next 20 miles as it “seemed like a long way”, but knew that Kate was going to pace me from Camp 10 Bear (2) at 70 miles. From this point on though I was running strong powering through the flats and down hills and power walking the up hills. I even had a few people comment on how I was doing on the up hills. I started picking runners off. I passed 40 runners between the Camp 10 Bear aid stations and had finished 70 miles in under 15 hours. At this rate I was on pace to go under 22 hours, although I knew this was unlikely as fatigue would set in soon enough and it did shortly after 70 miles. I cam into Camp 10 Bear and again got weighed. 165lbs! again they had to confer and talk to me. I told them it was the best I had felt in a race and was ready to go. I guess that was good enough as they let head out. Again a quick bite, some broth and drinks and off I went. The next section was another brutal up hill. Kate helped push me at this point as I was struggling to keep my pace up. I would still run the down hills hard and again no one was passing me, I was doing the passing. I came into Spirit of 76 aid station strong and was only 4 minutes behind Gary, but I Had to sit down and recoup here. I didn’t stay long, but just needed a little downtime. A can of mountain dew seemed to help too. I headed out again with 23 miles to go and a little over 7 hours to buckle (sub 24hours) Now I began to think that this was definitely possible. Initially my goal was to just finish and get the opportunity to qualify for Western States. Now it was to buckle as well. There were still a lot of hills to climb yet and I had stay focused.
Bills aid station at 89 miles was another medical weight station and I thought we’d never get there. It seemed to take forever. But we got there and I was surprised to see so many runners who had passed me early in the race. I had now caught them. One of the “elite” women racers, Denise Bourassa came in after me. Although I had another sit down I got going quick with a coffee in hand. My mind was losing it a bit and the coffee would help.
I was still running the down hills well and passing more runners. By the time I hit Polly’s at mile 96 I had passed almost 80 runners from mile 21. With less than 5 miles to go and 2 hours to complete 24 hours I knew I had this in the bag and could almost crawl in. The only problem was that running down hill had become an issue with a sore left knee starting to act up. So we walked the last 4 miles as much as possible anyway, knowing fine well that I’d have no trouble making it in under 24 hours.
I finished at 23:15:21 for 105th place. 14th in my age group. Very satisfying indeed. It was a tough course, the toughest 100 I have done. I know there are a lot tougher out there too, but for me right now I’m in good place, knowing that I have conquered one of my demons.

Gary finished 100th only 10 minutes ahead of me. Brent had a great second half finishing in 22:38 for 88th place. Bob got his finish too, in 26:52.

What’s next? Harricana 50 mile in Quebec in the middle of September, followed by the Bear 100 two weeks later. That one will be the very hard.

Monday, June 2, 2014

North Face Endurance Challenge

I know! I’ve been a little negligent in updating my blog. So here is the latest since just before O24.

O24 in Kirtland, Ohio was a little different from the previous year, cooler temps, more runners, but for the most part the same good crowd of runners. So it was good to meet up with some old friends from the Ohio area and beyond.

We arrived on Friday around dinner time and went straight to the race site for our race packets and picked up Dave and Ben’s packets too. Then it was off to Dave’s for dinner and the Morl’s special hospitality. Great to have a place to stay when we go to the Cleveland area for races. Dinner is usually an open invitation to all who want to stop by and I’m surprised by how few do take advantage of it. My only issue was since switching to a low carb, high fat diet recently, pasta and bread really don’t work. But when in Rome…

We were up early the next morning to get ready for the nice 8am start. The race follows a 1 mile trail loop through a park with I hill in the middle. Actually its more or less uphill for the first part and downhill for the second.
I wasn’t sure what my goals were, just to go and have a decent time. Joan was coming off a recently fractured rib, so would be just happy getting in a few loops to see how it felt. For me, in the back of my mind I had to think about next week which would be the North Face Bear Mountain 50 mile race. As the day went on I started to reign in any lofty goals that I may have had. Partially being lazy, partially using as an excuse to stop early. As it was I got in 50 miles, and really didn’t feel like going any further. Although I got in another 5 miles pacing Dave later.
Joan surprisingly got in over 40 miles on the day. Her rib was sore, but she was able to run off and on and do a lot more than anyone thought. Quite a few people didn’t do what they expected to do. Our friend Sandy from Michigan was going for 100 miles, but settled with 100k. Dave managed a repeat of last year, getting in his 100 miles. The winner ran over 120 miles.

As I stated before the following weekend was a trip to Bear Mountain, NY for the TNF 50mile endurance challenge. Gary from Montreal was also coming down for it and would meet at the race hotel on Friday. This would be my first real race while on my new LCHF diet. So far I was feeling good and the food was great. Staying away from sugar was no problem, away from starches a bit more difficult. Not that I wanted the potatoes etc. it was that everywhere you go it is the main option, or fires, or chips, and bread!!!
We had made some pemmican the week before to experiment with snacking options. Although the consistency wasn’t great it tasted good. I would use it in the race to see how that would sustain me as opposed to gels. I would also bring a bag of nuts too. I had been running gel free for the past few weeks and only using nuts to sustain me with no issues at all. The LCHF theory is that after an initial time of getting used to the diet your body would then use its own fat stores to fuel itself, negating the need for carbs during endurance events. I had some special bacon/egg muffins for my pre-race breakfast too. Very tasty!
Friday night we had to drive down to White Plains, NY for the packet pick up and found a place to eat nearby, although not without some difficulty. The North Face store was in an upscale mall and we had a hard time finding our way out of it. We met up with Kent from Niagara Falls and he joined us for dinner.
The TNF race started at 5 am so it was a very early morning/ Up at 3 and on our way before 4. We travelled to the other side of the river to get on our shuttles o the start area. Unfortunately we went to the wrong place, the start area! Luckily someone was there to direct us to the shuttle bus pick up spot. It wasn’t long before we gathered at the start area milling about with others trying to stay calm. This race is advertised as the toughest on the NF circuit, lots of climbing, rocks, routes, water and after last week’s rains mud! And it didn’t disappoint in any of those. To the point that, it really hampered my race. The rocks gave me lots to worry about, due to the week ankles that I have. I made it worse by using some different shoes than I am used to. With the talk of the mud before had me questioning the use of my Hoka’s, which tend to be useless in the mud. Therefore I went bought a pair of Salomon Speed Cross 3’s. This was a very questionable move, knowing what my history with Salomon was. Years ago I owned a pair of XT Wings and they almost broke my ankle, the number of times I turned over on them. So I was very hesitant to buy Salomon shoes. My friend Scott had bought a pair of Fell Raiser shoes and raved about them. When I went looking for a pair they only had the Speed Cross, so I thought I’d take a chance. No don’t get me wrong these shoes are nice and enjoyed them on the trails at home, but they aren’t as gnarly as Bear Mountain was.
To make a long story short I had a crappy race, fell once, turned my ankle an unknown number of times (only the right one) and took it very easy on the rocky downhills. I think also the previous weeks 50 mile run took its toll. It was a tough race, very technical, lots of climbing, water and mud as advertised. Normally I would have expected to run about 10 to 11 hours for this type of race, but I finished in just under 13 hours!! I almost dropped at 40 miles. The aid station at 40 miles was beside the parking lot where my car was parked…. Oh so tempting. I had to lay down for a while before leaving that station and struggled mentally to keep going.
Scott and Gary had great races, although they were only about 45 minutes ahead of me, they were very happy.
So after that what do I do? Sign up for the next North Face Endurance Challenge event in Washington on June 7th. We Ultra runners have very poor or short memories.
Since NY, I’ve been taking it easy, maybe too easy. But I figured I needed some rest. Gary mentioned to me that running a quick half marathon and a decent 30k Around the Bay in the lead up to NY as well as the 50 miles at O24 probably had a lot to do with my lousy race than anything.
The LCHF diet is going good. I’m down to the lowest constant weight that I have been at in many years and feeling good. It’s still a work in progress, but we are working with recipes etc. Also started to see a new Chiropractor/physio/everything guy who is helping me with my ankles and especially my right side issues. Hope this will help the weakness in the right joints and make me a stronger runner.
Since originally writing this posting, I turned my ankle again last Thursday on some awesome trails that I was running with Scott. So I haven't run since an don't until the TNFEC DC race. Hopefully my ankles will cooperate.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Prep for O24

It's the Wednesday before O24 and I've just got my last run in, a 10k at a fairly quick pace. Not sure why I was running quick as )24 won't be quick.
O24 or Outrun 24 hour endurance run is held in Kirtland, Ohio and this will be the 3rd year of "running" this event and my second time there. I met the race director Zack Johnson while running Green Jewel the year he was preparing to put on the first O24 and invited to come down. Unfortunately I had already committed to Pick Your Poison and couldn't make the inaugural event. It has been held the same weekend as PYP each year. So I told him I would definitely make it for 2013. It was a great event held in a nice wooded park on a 1 mile trail loop with one significant hill in the middle. I dropped at 13 hours last year after getting in 100k. Although I was disappointed in not getting 100 miles in, I was looking at the bigger picture. I had a few knee issues the seemed to be getting worse as the race went on so with the Mid west Grand Slam on the horizon I thought it prudent to cut it "short". What made it more special though was Joan coming up with just over 100k to get in more than double her previous best mileage.
This year we committed to head down again and race and run with lots of friends we have made in north east Ohio, who we haven't seen in a quite a while.
The build up to O24 has been fairly good. While not getting in much long distance runs, I have been getting in lots of weekly mileage with many back to back long runs, culminating in the past weekends 85k. A couple of races thrown in for good measure have me feeling fairly good. Just the usual right leg issues which don't seem to bother me as much in long, long events.
Around the Bay was a surprise to be involved in and cam e up with a good race there. Then last week I did the Marden Marathon, actually a half. Not sure why they insist on calling it a Marathon. It was a good little event on a tough rolling hill course with some good climbs thrown in for good measure. Came out with a 1:34, which I was very pleased with.
So Friday we are off to Ohio. Joan is injured after fracturing a rib in a fall on some ice a few weeks ago, but is intent on getting some mileage in regardless, even if it is all walking.
We both have races the falling week too. Joan is off with her girls to run the Flying Pig marathon in Cincinnati, where she is also supposed to run the 5k and 10k too, to complete the triple.
I wil be off to Bear Mountain, NY for the North Face 50 mile race. Hopefully I can recover in time.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Around the Bay Recap

The 120th annual Around the Bay Road race too k place on Sunday and I was fortunate enough to pick up a bib, courtesy of Justin from the Running Room. He couldn’t run it and as Joan had already picked a bib herself I thought…

So with a 9:30 am start we could get up a reasonable time (6 am) for a race and drive down to Hamilton for the race. We got there with about an hour to spare and set about getting into Copps Coliseum to keep warm. Although it was milder than previous weeks it was still rather chilly, but sunny. I expected to see lots of familiar faces, but didn’t see anyone until we got into the start corals. We got there a little late and I wished Joan good luck and headed forward in the crowd to try and get a better starting position. The closest I could get was quite a ways behind the 3 hour pace bunny, but as nothing was at stake and I was “just running” this race I stood back and relaxed. I saw Chewy before the start, but that was it.

Soon we started, or at least shuffled towards the start line. It took about 4 minutes to get over the line. My goal was to just run by feel and hopefully get finished in under 2:30. My previous best was the last time I ran it in 2006 and was a 2:07, but those days were long past. Once we were able to actually start running I tried to keep a consistent pace and found myself passing lots of runners and knocking off pace bunnies as I went. Quickly passing the 3 hour bunny, then the 2:55… 2:50 and so on. About 4 k in I passed Steen and then Donna, I looked for others, but wasn’t seeing the runners I was expecting to see. I noticed my pace was steady at about a 4:35 min/k, which is much quicker than I was expecting, but it was feeling good. The first 10k were much different than when I last ran this race, with a few more hills to deal with. After about 13 k or so I came across Jamie Nielsen, who I hadn’t seen in a long while. So we chatted and ran together for the next 5 k or so, also passed Jim, before hitting the Burlington section of the course. I was surprised to come across Chris McPeake at about 18k or so. I was still passing lots of runners, but now the hills in Burlington were starting to slow me down a bit. Although they were probably slowing everyone down at this point. Through the next few k I passed Andre and Terry and then somehow lost Jamie. I was starting to get a little sore as we came across the last aid station before the “hill”. The next downhill helped and high fiving the “little” guy helped, but then the “hill” took a lot out of me. By the time I got to the top my legs were like jelly. I didn’t stop, but kept on going, albeit at a slower pace. 4 k to go and I passed Vince C. from Burlington who I’ve seen in a number of events of the years. I came into Copps and finished in 2:23. Much better than I was expecting and feeling good. Saw a few others after too, Bryan came in not long after me and Jamie.

Joan felt good about her race, she wasn’t racing and just determined to get it done.
All in all it was a good day. The weather cooperated and it wasn’t as windy as predicted.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Around The Bay

Well apparently it has been 8 years since I last ran Around the Bay 30k. I had to look it up and I thought it had been at least 5 years. The last Time I ran it (2006), it was the first year that it finished in Copps Coliseum. I also thought I had run it seven years in a row, but it seems that it was only 6, according to the results at Sportstats.
I had no plan to run it again, but when Joan picked up a race bib from a friend, it became a question of how to get her down to Hamilton for the race. As it turned out the opportunity came about for me to pick up a bib too. So thinking that I would be running at least 30k that day anyway, I figured it would be worth running the race.
The last time I ran it I ran 2:07, still a PB for the distance which will not be in danger of being broken this year, or ever actually. 30k is basically a sprint now, in comparison to the races I normally do and I haven’t run “fast” in a long time.
Still I am looking forward to competing this weekend as “Justin” and looking to at least break 2:30. The silver medal days are past me now.
The course looks to have changed a bit from what I remember. Starting near Copps, it goes north toward the lake instead of going east. Taking Burlington St. out to the east end. Always a great event, hoping the small niggling injuries stay put long enough for me to get it done.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Green Jewel 50k

I think this race was one that wasn't meant to be. Fortunately it did happen for me and ended with a decent result.
The week before was a challenge, with a calf strain on my "last" long run on Saturday I was worried about how that would affect my run. Then the tingling of a sore throat starting mid week, what else could go wrong? We had said that if there was even a hint that the weather would be crappy in Cleveland we wouldn't go after such a lousy winter, but as it happened the forecast was for temperatures above freezing. So we headed down to Cleveland on Friday afternoon.
This would be my 4th Green Jewel in a row. A great early season race to see where your fitness levels are. It would also be Joan's first crack at it. She was injured last year and came along for support the year before.
Its not an easy race, although its all on pavement it is mostly uphill, gradually for the first 38k, then sharply uphill and followed by about 10k of rolling hills and then finishing with 2k down hill. The 10k of rollers usually get me.

We arrived in Cleveland at about 6:00pm with the temperature at a balmy 11C!! woohoo.

We went directly to the Vertical Runner in Brecksville to pick up our race kits and then off to the hotel, a bite to eat and get ready for the morning.
The race doesn't start until 9am, but you have to be at the finish area by 7:30 to get on the buses to get you to the start. This changed from two years ago when the start was delayed as no one was allowed into the finish area until late due to a salamander migration was complete!!
No such troubles any more though.
WE got to the buses and off to the start where it was much cooler than the previous day. The temps were hovering just above freezing and there was ice on the paved trails. The forecast was for it to warm up and then cool down later. With snow possible. Luckily we were able to stay on the bus until just before the start.
Off we went and my plan was to take it easy for the first while as I was still unsure about my calf. The cold that I was battling had also taken hold and was affecting my breathing somewhat, but I couldn't do much about that. About 1.5k in my calf started to bother me a bit more and I started to think that this wasn't going to be a good race if I finished at all. The calf though, didn't get any worse, just some tightness (at least for now).

I was watching my pace and surprisingly Iw as keeping my pace under 5 min/k's (maybe that's not a surprise). The icy sections were tricky and care was needed to get by with out slipping. Just when I though I was doing ok, I went to avoid some ice and my feet went the wrong way and I ended up down on the ground. I quickly picked myself up with the help of another runner. Brushed it off an continued on, but I could feel my right ankle, knee and hip had hit the ground hard and there was some looseness in my ankle that wasn't there before. That was at about 10k. At 12k my left calf cramped badly and I began to think my race was over not even a quarter of the way in. I stopped and walked, walked for about 20 yards and thought I have to try it to see if I can get going again, otherwise I will be done. I slowly started trying to run, it was painful to start, but gradually it just subsided a bit. I backed off the pace to my "goal pace" of 5:20ish and this seemed manageable. I would feel the calf tighten every now and again, but no sharp pains. So I continued on.
I got to half way with no other incidents and my cold didn't seem to be affecting too much either. I passed through half way at about 2:08, which was well ahead of where I though I should be and was on pace to at least set a personal course best (4:31 in 2012). I was feeling very good, but took precautions to walk any steep hills to protect the calf. At the 38k mark is the major hill on the course and although I ran it last year I decided to proceed cautiously and walk it this year. I was starting to unravel a bit here too, my glutes were so tight it was almost painful. I walked past the aid station at the top of the hill to the next stop sign. Once past I ran and continued to run all but the hills. When I was running I was moving well, it was these damn hill stetting in the way. At the same time I was looking forward to them as it was a respite from the running. Somewhere along here with about 10k to go, Laurie Rehbergar passed by in her car to say hi. What I didn't realize initially was the person in the passenger seat waving madly at me was Joan.

She had dropped due to a "broken bum". Her periformis had cramped really badly and caused her enough pain to stop. Unfortunte, but she was smart about it and made the right decision. She still got 25k in.
I continued on and knew as I got closer that my time was liable to be more like 4:40 than 4:30 and as I hit the last 2k downhill stretch I was glad that it was almost over.
I came in at 4:37:52, 9 minutes quicker than last year, so I was happy with that. I will be much happy if one day I can run the entire last 12k strong.

Overall a good day and good to break the string of bad luck with races so far this year.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Run the Bruce Adventure

The Challenge -- The Bruce TrailLegally blind runner, Rhonda-Marie Avery is set to run the Bruce Trail end to end (885km) in 20 days starting August 4 2014 in support of Achilles Canada... The Bruce Trail is Canada's longest, oldest footpath measuring some 885km from the north end in Tobermory to the south end in Niagara.  It is small piece of heaven that many are unaware of, that few have ever even set foot upon.  For those who have, they know the magic that the ground there contains.  They have, perhaps, felt the lingering mist on their cheeks in the cool sunrise.  They have heard the water falls and touched the moss trees, stood where bears have crossed and, maybe, spun around, arms wide, staring up through the coloured leaves at noon on a fall day.  This small piece of earth is a welcoming place for hikers and, more recently, for  a few brave ultrarunners.  This challenge is about a journey from the northern tip of the trail to its southern most end.  This journey has been done before, but never quite like this."My name is Rhonda-Marie Avery.  I am legally blind.  And I run. And I bike. And I swim.  A lot.  And I'm on a be the most powerful verb in my own life.  None of these activities are easy for me to manage without the help of Achilles Canada"This nonprofit organization connects those with disabilities with volunteer guides.  "Over the years, they have helped me to take part in events from 5Km to 100 miles of running, 13km of tethered open water swimming, and 500km of tandem cycling.  Without their involvement, I wouldn't be possible for me to participate to this degree. Oftentimes, for the disabled athlete, getting to the start line is the most difficult task.  As a disable endurance athlete, my goal is always to show up, do my best and put all concepts of my disability aside. I am there to complete an adventure, which regardless of having fewer limitations, perhaps, most would not undertake or would not consider being within my capacity to undertake.  I say BE BRAVE, everyday!  No matter what, do your best and see what you can accomplish"."Let me ask you this; What do you know of disability and sport, or disability in general?  Did you know that apparently 10% of the global population is disabled?  Did you know that the "disabled" are the world largest minority group?  Did you realise, that this is  also the group that any one of us could become a member of at any time?" "When you imagine an olympic swimmer, do they have two arms? Can they hear you cheering them on?  Do you think altering your image of this swimmer changes your thinking....or changes theirs?   Now, what if a disabled swimmer is impeding your exit from the gym change room?  What if a disabled swimmer is stuck at home without a way to get to the gym to train? What if a disabled swimmer is a child lost in their dreams of one day, merely, taking part?..... This is why I am undertaking this journey"  Every day, we are given a choice; not only how we view the world, but also how we let the world view us.  It's time to see "disabled sport" differently, without limits, without boundaries and with all the hope and bravery it deserves, whether a person with challenges wants to simply participate or excel.On August 4 2014, with the help and support of a team of over 50 volunteers, Rhonda-Marie will be starting her quest to run the Bruce Trail from the north end to the south end.  Each day accompanied by two guide runners, they will travel at least the distance of a marathon (42.2km).  Each night they will be billeting with a volunteer family who has kindly opened their doors. The goal of this adventure in ultrarunning is to raise awareness for disabled athletes.  The entire journey will take 20 days.  On the last day, August 23, 2014, please come join in to walk the final 5km of the Bruce Trail and to complete the quest.  In this way, together, we can all help create a space for openness for the involvement of all people, disabled or not.You can follow along in a number of ways;The Envisions Blog

Envisions On The Bruce Blog


@envsions2014Facebook"Envisions ... Rhonda-Marie ... Bruce Trail... Totally Awesome!" Please go investigate the Bruce Trail's webpage... find out how there membership works. Also, find out how, through your help, they secure access to private portions of land that the trail runs through, as this trail is not eclusively on publicly owned land.

The Bruce Trail

Please check out Achilles Canada, this empowering  organization that enables disabled athletes to take part.

Achilles Canada

Achilles Canada is directly sponsoring this run. Please show your support and donate here today.  In the meantime, now you know the challenge.  Please follow along as we attempt to make some changes to the way the world thinks about "disabilty" and "sport".We need your help to make this happen!!  We will be uploading videos as the campaign continues.

Envisions YouTube Channel

As we travel through this Bruce Adventure, a Feature Documentary is being filmed;

8% No Limits Feature Documentary

Friday, February 28, 2014

No Snowshoe Marathon

Well this year is off to a good start race wise, a DNF at Croom Zoom 50k in Florida and a DNS at the Snowshoe Marathon in Vermont. It looks like the Snowshoe event just wasn’t meant to be. Although I really didn’t have my heart in it, as we got closer I was definitely starting to look forward to it. As luck would have it though, a number of things mounted up to scuttle the whole thing. Number one was our Daughter in Law Johanna was admitted to hospital with complications to her pregnancy yesterday. We were not sure what was going on at first and we still planned on going, but then it sounded more serious and likely that she might have to deliver early… Trip off! This was the same day we were going to leave, so rather than leave and have to return we thought it best to stay. It wouldn’t have been a good trip if she had given birth while we were away or have us worrying the whole time either. The other problem was the weather, the cold and very windy conditions along with what turned out to be hours of snow squalls made travel from Barrie near impossible late yesterday. So we stayed home and watched the wind howl and snow blow around outside while we snuggled in and watched a movie.
As for Johanna? Turns out all was ok, at least according to the hospital and she is being released today. She had a fall last week which they believe caused her to have some bleeding and the contractions she was feeling was merely false labour. A night in hospital and lots of rest seem to have done the trick. Fingers crossed that the hospital is correct and all IS ok.
So after a week of tapering it’s time to get back on the horse and run. Although next week is taper week too as we have the Green Jewel again. My 4th year in a row at this event. This also has been up in the air due to concerns about racing in the freezing cold, but it looks like the weather is becoming a bit more favourable in Cleveland with a daytime high of nearly 8C. So at the moment with the forecast the way it is, we are going. Joan is concerned about completing a 50k at this time in her training, but I’ve told her she is very capable of getting it done and if the conditons are good it will be worth it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Taper Time Again etc....

Its taper week, and where some people dread the lack of running during a taper, I look forward to it. With 3 of the past 4 weeks with mileage over 100k I feel like I could use a break anyway. I peaked out last week at 111k. So now all we have to do is look forward to this weekend and running with snowshoes on for a marathon, or in Joan’s case a half marathon. No mean feat regardless of the distance, especially since the weather is to continue with the polar vortex type weather in and through the weekend. Other than that the training has been going well, as can be noted by the mileage. What has helped a lot though was the new treadmill. I will say Joan broke the old one, but only because she was on it when it stopped working. It could have been ready to go due to all the indoor activity lately.
We did some research and after shopping around picked up an AFG 5.1T treadmill from the Treadmill Factory. They impressed with their knowledge and the lack of a hard sell. What we weren’t expecting was how heavy the new one would be. Me and Billy had a real struggle getting the new one into the basement after removing the old one with ease.
So on Thursday we will off to Montreal after work to stop at Kate and Gary’s before heading to Vermont with them on Friday. Saturday is race day and hopefully we should be finished in time to head back to work on Monday! The course is a 6.5 mile loop that is basically one big hill…. up and down the other side. 4 times! From what I’ve read it’s the going down that will be the challenge. Trying to make it down in one piece.

After the snowshoe race we are supposed to be going to Cleveland the following weekend to do the Green Jewel 50k, my 4th year in a row for this well run race. The only unfortunate part is that it is all on pavement. At the moment we are approaching this race with the thought that if the weather is still freezing cold, we may not go at all. The Green Jewel tends to be a cold race when it is above 0 C, so if it is a lot colder it will feel miserable. We still hope to go and do it.

Another race that has just recently popped up on my radar is the Wall Ultra which takes place in northern England and follows the path of Hadrian’s Wall from Carlisle to Newcastle/Gateshead. So it would be a return home for me in some respects having been born and grown up for a few teenage years near the finish in South Shields. The Wall Ultra is 69 miles and looking at the website looks great and well organized. For those unfamiliar with Hadrian’s Wall, it was a wall built 2000 years ago by Romans to keep the Picts (Scots) out of England. My old friend Paul’s son Chris is planning on doing it this year, so I look forward to his report on what it is like. Since posting on FB about the possibility of doing this race to other expat friends have piped in about going too, Gary in Montreal and Dave in Cleveland. So right now it looks like 2016 may have to be the year for this race as Joan has plans for next year, also over the pond. Hopefully I can stay healthy and will still be running for another couple of years.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


I'm going to try and see if I can start making at least weekly updates. Haven't had that much success in the past, but lets see where this goes.

Last night got in a nice and COLD 30k run, most of it at a nice a slow pace as I ran most of 25k of it with Rhonda and Joan. See Rhonda is legally blind and Joan has been acting as her guide and training together as Rhonda prepares for her run along the entire Bruce Trail in August. An amazing feat for anyone let alone a blind runner. So Joan has been spending a to of time training with and learning how to guide. Last night I took advantage of them going out on a night run, ran down to Rhonda's and then ran 25k with them. Rhonda finds it much easier to run in the dark. Her vision is better with no lights and we went to the 1st line of Oro where it gets "really" dark.
It seas supposed to be about -10C, which is not bad compared to what it has been, but it felt bitterly cold at times. I think I under dressed. Overall it was a good run and was definitely glad to get that run in with a significant snowfall due today. So I may get a Dreadmill run in this afternoon and then another long run tomorrow. I'll play it by ear for the distance tomorrow, it might depend on the road conditions.
I've been dealing with a couple of minor injuries lately and the ankle/lower right leg issue is still a bit of a pain. Rhonda is also my RMT and has been doing wonders to get it better, but it still can be a nagging pain.

With the snowshoe marathon coming up in 4 weeks, I've only been on snowshoes twice this year so thesis going to be interesting. It looks like I may just wing it and see what happens. Its not an important race for me, just something a little different and also something to gauge my fitness level.
After our Florida trip, my fitness level (i.e. weight) was at an level that it hasn't seen in many years. Also coming back injured didn't help and then there has been the weather!!!
Did a 9 day cleanse which got me backdown to a decent weight, still hove "normal", but at least more manageable. Now I just have to get my mileage up, which it looks like I'm getting there this week. I hate the treadmill, but it has been a bit of a godsend this past few weeks and I will rely on it on those days where I just can't get outside, whether its my softness as I get older or just my give shit meter is at an all time low!!