Monday, November 30, 2009


Would you look at a horse and wish that it could fly like an eagle? Or would you ever look at a seal and wish that it could run like a cheetah? I bet that no one in his or her right mind would wish one creature to do what another does best. When watching any animal we appreciate it for what it is and what it can do. It would be crazy to think otherwise but why then do we often wish people in our lives to do what they are not good at and wanting them to be someone who they are not?

The difference between humans and god’s creatures is that we are capable of changing who we are and therefore becoming better at what we are not. However, any of this change can only come from the individual. While it does not hurt to encourage people to change their circle of behaviors our attention and our challenge each day should focus on this:

Accept that everybody like earth’s creatures is different and each having their own role in life. Accept the people in our life for who they are and recognize what they are good at. If we think about people this way we will ultimately get more enjoyment out of life.

Friday, November 27, 2009


If you or someone you know is dissatisfied with their job you can probably narrow it down to one of three things - the position, the people, or the person.

The position is probably the most straightforward of the three, you applied, you accepted, and you committed. What isn't understood is that that process just gets you the job; it doesn't advance you or even guarantee that you will always have it - you have to work to keep it. So why do so many of us complain once we get there?

We signed the contract, agreed to the terms and understood the requirements before we began but maybe we didn't understand the real question - what are you willing to sacrifice?

You have to be willing to work to keep your position but you have to be willing to sacrifice to move ahead in it - you can't have everything. It's simple, in order to do very well in one area of your life you need to devote more time and energy to it, and that will take time and energy away from other areas of your life. You need to make the decision about what's most important to you and understand the consequences of said decision. It's not wrong to choose to devote more time to family and friends during a given period of your life but recognize that if that's the case you're not going to be advancing at work and vice versa.

Maybe you didn't read the fine print and it feels like the demands of the position are greater than what you are willing to sacrifice. If that's the case, you need to shape up or ship out, step up or step down because someone else is willing to go that extra mile and no one wants to hear you whine about why you think you can't.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's the point?

Today we are talking about goals.
We are talking about life.
We are talking about objectives.
We are talking about tasks, roles, and to-do lists...

and I hope we are talking about things created FOR you BY you.

Look at your inbox right now
Now look at your to-do list for today
and finally- your deadlines if not covered above.

How many items from the above list were generated by you as they relate to achieving things that are important to you? How many are handed down to you and you just said 'yes'? How many got handed to you from peers or co-workers and you didn't take the time to think, say no, or defend yourself if someone else is taking advantage of you?

Don't get me wrong - I work my tail off for other people and the success of the organization IS my success. However - my job is not my life, and I have a choice as to what sort of employment environment I place myself in.

If all of your goals and all of your tasks are dictated to you instead of at least some being generated by you... eventually, in a frustrated and defeated moment...

you are going to ask yourself the same question this blog title did today... and you won't have any answers that satisfy why you have to get up and do it again tomorrow.

Wake up tomorrow as though you meant to and do something you can feel really good about, even if it's the starting line (coming up with your goals in the first place).

Aren't you worth at least that?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Training Fleas

How to train fleas? You can place fleas in a jar with a lid on it. The fleas will of course begin to jump, repeatedly hitting the lid in their attempt to escape.

After about 20 minutes, the fleas begin to learn that they cannot escape and stop jumping as high as they did to begin with, to avoid smacking their head on the lid.

Once they become accustomed to the fact that they cannot escape, you can remove the lid and the fleas will continue to jump at a height just short of the top, never escaping the jar. Since the fleas BELIEVE they cannot escape the confines of the jar, they stop trying. Because of their experience with smacking their heads repeatedly, every time they tried to escape, they never even bother looking up to see that the lid is no longer there.

Interesting hey…Sometimes, people who are just starting on a new goal (career, relationship, physical..whatever your goal may be) have never bumped their heads before. They may believe that the sky is the limit and there is nothing they cannot do. They are already planning all of the ways they are going to get to where they want to be. This is a great attitude to have. However, often times if someone has never bumped their head they may give up and quit easily when they discover that it is harder than they expected.

Then we have people who have hit their head so often in the past, that they are afraid to even try to jump. They don’t even attempt to get to where they could be because what’s of the attitude of ‘what’s the point.. they won’t make it..’ They are afraid to get their hopes up again, only to have them dashed another time. So afraid that they haven’t even noticed that the lid has been removed…

How many times have you hit the lid when trying to reach a new goal? Have you stopped to look up and see if the lid is still there? This applies to all your beliefs of what you can and can not do - to everything in your life that is holding you back. Have you stopped trying, or assumed there’s a lid in place because of past experiences?

Don’t let life’s failures ‘train’ you to stop trying. Instead learn the lessons so you can jump even higher the next time. The lid only stays in place if you keep it there, and you’re the only one who can remove it..

Friday, November 20, 2009

You Have to Name It to Claim It

Get clear about what you want, and take your turn. Common sense might suggest that one of the easiest steps in getting what you want from life is to ‘place your order’: to stand up and declare what it is that you desire. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you cannot name, and name with great specificity, what it is that you want, then you will never be able to step up and claim it.

Most people do not know how to describe what they want, because they don’t have a clue what it really is. Indecision creates inaction. Inaction leads to results that you do not want.

Not knowing exactly what you want is a major problem for a number of reasons. We live in a world where the most you will ever get is what you ask for. That’s true about your major goals as well as your day to day desires.

Since naming what you truly want is so basic to having it, you must proceed with great care in deciding the answer. Being wrong or misguided about what you want is even worse than not knowing at all. You must also pay attention to the time element associated with what you really want. Opportunities for getting what you want are time limited. They have a shelf life that can and will expire.

By being specific and defining your goal in as many different ways as you can, you’ll develop a more intimate understanding of what you want. As a result, the choices you make along the way will be more goal-directed. You’ll be more likely to recognize your goal when you get there, since you’ll have so many criteria by which to measure it.

Claiming it takes resolve and commitment. You must be willing to step up when the time is right and claim what you want and deserve. Understand that this is a competitive world in which we live. There are a lot of people who are ready, willing, and able to take from you that which is rightfully yours. Why would you want to make it easier for them? Why leave your windows open for thieves? Once you have strength and resolve enough to believe that you deserve what it is that you want, then and only then will you be bold enough to say, ‘It is my time, it is my turn; this is for me, and I claim it, here and now.’

Claim what it is that you want and deserve, because no one will do it for you. No one can step up and claim your place for you. If you don’t then it doesn’t get done. Make the resolve, now, that your wants are worth having and that when the time comes, you will claim you’re right to have them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Learning to fail... again

thanks to Jen Segger for writing about her experience.

Well, this bog post wraps up the 2009 race season. I’ve just returned from 2 tiring weeks in Portugal racing at the adventure racing world championships. My apologies to start; I know the race website was a complete disaster to follow. Feel comfort though in knowing that the race was a completely chaotic experience for everyone and we spent 7 days on the race course not really knowing what we were doing, confused and guessing.

But, let’s keep this in the positive shall we! I got to see incredible areas of Portugal. We were so remote in these crazy villages, wedged high on hillsides, cobblestone roads, little cafes in every nook and cranny. We purchased bread from moving trucks as we went, we tried to speak the language and we got to see lots of old race friends.It was quite the way to see the country. We had a mix of rain and sun which kept it interesting. I rarely took off my arcteryx beta LT and managed to only wear tights 1 night. I think we climbed and hiked every hill in the country. Actually, it’s pretty safe to say that maybe 40km out of 900km in total was actually flat. We had a great guy by the name of Mecca who so kindly volunteered to crew for us, leaving his regular Portugal team to do so. We were so fortunate and very grateful. My achilles held out (YEAH) but, the road to recovery now will be long and slow. I will not run again until I am 100% better as I suffered a great deal on this race course to make it through. My feet are in excellent shape except for 2 bad toenails, thanks to my Salomon XT wings and my SOLE Footbeds.

Ok, so the race itself. As we knew going in, we would be racing European format style and it would not be a typical adventure race. In other words, it would not be the fastest team that would win. Going from our 6th place finish at last year’s worlds would be very hard to duplicate. And we were very right. This year was a race of strategy combined with luck. Faced with an overwhelming amount of checkpoints (and I should mention that if you want CP3 to count for example, then you need to get 3A, 3B, 3C and sometimes 3D just to get 1 point) cut off times and rules that seemed to change and bend non-stop. I felt like we spent out entire race strategizing, not really knowing what CP’s to go after, not knowing what position we were in and do we make those cut-offs and then what happens? Hmmm, this was a game, not a race! I found it to be very frustrating, as did many of the international teams. I can see, though, that when you understand what you need to do, it could actually be fun. So I guess this race was just a big learning experience (albeit it an expensive one!) It was rogaine format so yes, the goal is to get as many CP’s as possible. But there were so many other factors involved that we spent way too much time analyzing and debating. Even this year's winners, Helly Hansen, didn’t complete the race course last year. It’s a type of format that you just need to learn by doing.

As far as my team, nuun-FeedtheMachine, it was great to go through the experience with my trusty team mates. We had no bike mechanicals which is always a plus.Besides my achilles, Matzke suffered some bad knee tendonitis which took its toll on him as we began a canyoneering section early one morning. And of course, there was the usual “sore ass” issue as we spent almost 2 straight days on our bikes due to the mess of a race that we got ourselves into. Rinn and Matzke had a good wipeout on their rollerblades during a death trap session through some bustling Portugese town. I thought we were all going to die for sure as we flailed our way around round-abouts and cobblestone crosswalks. But wait, no, it would be the crazy downhill sections of shear terror where you couldn’t see the next turn or even worse, STOP if a car suddenly got in your way. All in all, we have had some good laughs out there and we crawled our way to the finish line on Saturday afternoon (having not brought the map with us that would take us to the end, it was a long long, very long ride to the end.)

My mindset now is to just take this race as a chance to have learned a new skill as a racer and to put it behind me and move forward. I’ve decided not to dwell on it because 2009 has already been a great year of racing, exploring and pushing my own boundaries. I am excited that today marks day #1 of R&R and I thank everyone who has given me support and encouragement to always move forward.

“If we do not fail, we do not learn” and to this I can truly attest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old Dogs and New Tricks

After just returning from a weekend where I was able to tick another goal off of the before I die list, it's important to share and remind people how it feels to do something new. Something meaningful and new.

I have been watching NFL football for 20 years. To go see my first game, with 69,000 new friends, was outstanding. While some people have been to many games (that was my wife's 13th NFL experience), others will never care to see one, and that's okay.

What is not okay, however, is to take yourself out of the game to sit on the sidelines and watch others play before your time. I don't know when my time is, and neither do you. While I may not have as much stubborn relentlessness as I did as a misguided teenager playing football and thinking the world was mine for the taking... I have learned to harness a little more focus and some valuable experience along the way.

This has made me realize that there are some stages we go through in life, some great, some unfortunate and forthcoming if we're not careful.

1. The wide-eyed youth. This can be literally a youth who is excited about the notion of possibility, or it can be us at any age when we have our eyes opened to new sports, career potentials, and other new possibilities.
2. The sophomore. Still lots to learn and we're probably quiet around upperclassmen, but around freshman we're eager to dish out all the advice we've earned in our first year university/ 1st running race/ 1st year of business/ etc. We're hungry to learn but scared to show our perceived inexperience.
3. "The vet". The senior in college, the years-experienced manager, the couple who's been married for 5 years talking to newlyweds, etc. Here is where a relative wealth of experience has the potential to close our minds and make us think we know more than we do. After repeated success with our own proven theories, we begin the think they are more universal and time-tested than might actually be the case.
4. The old dog. The grandparent or retiree, the coach or business owner. Someone who has been at it a lifetime it seems who is resistant to learn and just wants to get to the point quickly because they've "seen and done it all before"
5. The new old dog. This is the kind of person I aspire to be. I know that when I'm 75 I may have to scale down my physical goals compared to what they are now. I may have more of a philanthropic and social/ family focus and less of a business one. But to me a 'new old dog' is someone who could probably teach their peers as much or more than anyone around them, yet is still the most willing to learn, and often the last to speak.

Learning and challenging ourselves are supposed to be lifelong engagements. While the content and focus of these new experience may change shape over time, when they stop altogether- at least in my humble opinion- is the day we truly begin to age.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Haney to Harrison Relay by Cory M

On November 7th IF Kitsilano participated in the Haney to Harrison Relay, which is an 8-person running relay that spans 100km from Maple Ridge to Harrison Hot Springs. Much like any other destinations that us coaches participate in we brought along customers to create their own teams and participate in the run, but this year the IF Kits crew used this relay as a great opportunity to team build and grow as a coaching unit by having an all-coaches team. Each coach would run a specific section of the course, with the different legs of the race ranging from 9 to 15km and terrains varying from flat to mildly undulating, to the steep uphill or even a downhill sprint. At each transition the baton, or in this case a timing chip worn around the wrist or ankle, would be passed to the next coach.

Luke took the first leg of the race to set the pace for the rest of the group. Because of the length of the race, start times were staggered early in the morning to allow plenty of time for most teams to finish while the sun was still up. So Luke took his start at 6:45am, wearing a headlamp and brightly coloured shirt so that traffic would see him clearly. It also being well into fall in the lower mainland area, which also meant rain, and lots of it! The first leg was a mildly undulating 9.3km, and Luke made good work of passing people from the start and pushing his pace. He pushed hard enough even to the point of loosing breakfast along the run... twice! Setting a good pace, he finished 4th out of 28th in our corporate division.

At the next checkpoint, Jeff Berger took the reins and headed out on his 13.5km leg of many winding, rolling hills. At this point the rain started to pick up a little bit more with winds blowing right into Jeff’s face. The pace started out well, but around 7km into his 2nd leg of the race Jeff started to feel a lot of pain in the front of his shin. Slowly the pain increased until he could no longer deny the onset of a stress fracture that was now hobbling his run. Race directors who passed Jeff along the highway has seen his limp and worried about his health. I was picked up from the 2nd transition point where would be taking the 3rd leg of the race and was brought to where Jeff was hobbling along the course. Not wanting to be relieved of his leg of the race, Jeff pushed on for the remaining 3km with me jogging beside him.

Finally they both reached the 2nd transition and I took off on my 15km leg of steep uphill, followed by steady downhill. Rain now coming at me sideways it was impossible to stay dry. Especially when most of the race lined very closely to the highway and oncoming traffic would splash puddles in the direction of runners.  Cheering people on along the way, I made up pace and passed a number of other runners in our corporate division. We had lost a bit of ground due to Jeff’s injury and it would be up to us as a team to get it back. I finish my long leg of the race and pass the timing chip off to Ashley.

Up until a year ago Ashley had not been so much of a runner. Previous knee injuries had prevented her from tolerating the long duration of impact to her joints. Recently however she has developed into one of our facilities more avid runners and has made huge strides in her run progressions. Her leg of the race was a 14.4km run of steep downhill followed by a nice long stretch of relatively flat farmland. Coming down the final stretch, we could see her make a final sprint to pass one last runner before Kevin would take over.

As Kevin’s leg of the race was a relatively flat and not overly technical for his 13km, the difficulty of this leg is consistently pushing the pace of the run. It is very easy to get caught in a relaxed and comfortable run on the flats, so it takes a lot of mental toughness to keep speeding up and not settling into that tempo. Give Kevin credit for doing a good job of this and moving us as a team up the leader board.

At each of our transitions we were fortunate enough to have some amazing volunteers who spent their day driving around to each of the drop off locations and hauling around a carload of sweaty, wet runners. Thank you very much to Brittany and Reuben for helping this happen for the Kits team. It was also mandatory for each team to provide a volunteer who would marshal a specific section of the race and make sure that no one was lost and that all transitions happened smoothly. Our ex-receptionist/ current Support Center extraordinaire Nikkie Ruud jumped at the chance to help us out and we are all very grateful… even if it meant that race organizers seemed to have made up a job on the spot for you to “count trains”!

Moses’ turn came to run the 6th leg of the race, where continuous undulating hills lined 13km of path in front of him. The tricky thing about running in these later legs of the race, especially with the weather being as cold and rainy as it was, is making sure that our runners weren’t too cold from standing around supporting our other runners all morning. Being ill prepared for the run could result in muscle tears, cramping, or worse of all, a slow run time! That’s why we took lots of preparation in warming up adequately before each leg of the race and taking the baton in full stride.

Devon Goldstein was a previous trainer with us in Kitsilano until she left to pursue other career options. Although she no longer works with us here at IF, it was great for her to want to come back and contribute to the team by participating in the 7th leg of the race. Her previous run experience and Marathon training made her an excellent match for the steep uphill climb that rose in front of her 13.5km leg.  But what comes up must also come down. So Devon was rewarded with her hill climb with a speedy downhill descent into the last transition.

Kara is another one of our coaches who has made huge strides in her run progressions over the last couple of months. After just completing her first Marathon in Kelowna, Kara had the strength to “bring it home” for the team. Although she had a shorter leg of the race with a relatively flat 8km, she sprinted the entire way and made that final push to get IF Kits up the leader board and to a final team time of 8 hours 18 minutes.

The big take-aways that I personally got from the race this year interestingly enough reflected closely the keys that we use as a company to be successful.
High levels of communication- at each point along the way, from getting participants ready months in advance, to the day-of communication between all participants and volunteers, the high level of communication that we had made our run go as smoothly as possibly.
The right people will play- meaning that we had the right people in the right place for us to succeed. People with the same attitude of success pushing towards a common goal. (i.e.- Luke pushing himself to puking, Berger fighting through the adversity of his stress fracture, Cory running with his teammate for motivation, and everyone fighting their best to come from a 26th place start to a 12th place finish in our corporate category)
Follow the systems- Our key to success was laid out in front of us every step of the way. Our training programs were laid out clearly for us to follow, our race directions and maps were made up for us to get us to each transition smoothly, the itinerary was laid out clearly in the A-Z. Being successful was as easy as not deviating from the path.

I am very excited to take part again next year in the Haney to Harrison race as it was a fun way to grow as a team and be competitive. I look forward to both West Van and White Rock also getting a team together so that we could potentially set up a little bit of a friendly wager… anyone interested?

Monday, November 16, 2009


On Monday November the 2nd we posted a new idea about ‘Currency’ and that every person has different currencies or values that are unique to their individuality. Depending on the stage of life we are in, values or currencies may change while some remain forever the same. Understanding this as well as knowing that when we live by our values we are more likely to succeed, think how far we would get if we accepted ‘Challenge’ as one of our personal currencies.

Embracing ‘Challenge’ as a personal currency means that we appreciate the value in doing new things and avoid the complacency we often naturally accept instead. Doing something new brings the opportunity to learn more about life and to experience things we have not before. By being open to challenge we will ultimately find ourselves accomplishing more than we ever thought we would.

Here are some simple challenges that we can consider to better our lives:
1) Rather than doing the same 30min treadmill run week by week, try it outside and build up week by week until you can run for a total of 60min. Not many people can run for 60 straight minutes, which usually is enough to cover 10km.
2) An artist who enjoys drawing and painting could try using computer applications to create what they normally would on canvas. Conversely, those only ever to use computer programs to draw can try simple pen and paper.
3) At work, try something different. A hair stylist could learn how to color hair rather than only be known for their cuts. A teacher could start coaching one of the school teams to find a new way of connecting with the students.
4) If you play on a sports team, try playing a different position. It will give a greater appreciation for other viewpoints as well as improve your weaknesses.

The hard part of challenge is just that – it is hard. New challenges take us outside of our comfort zone, force us to work at what we are not usually good at and often make us fall on our face. Yet falling followed by the act of getting back up to make another attempt is one of the most powerful choices we can make which forces us to grow and be better. Challenge brings adversity and perseverance through adversity does not just build character, it reveals it.

While challenge promotes growth, it is important not to take on more challenges than one can handle at a given time. The best way to approach a challenge is to face it head on, learn and master it before taking on another. Having challenge as a personal value is something that will shake the foundations of routine, overcome plateau and make us stronger individuals better equipped to face some of the tougher challenges that life may throw at us when we least expect it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Good or Bad?

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. ~ William Shakespeare

There is no reality; only perception. Accepting this means that you embrace the fact that, no matter what happens in your life, how you interpret the event is up to you. Whatever meaning or value a particular circumstance has for you will be the meaning or value that you give it.

The key point is that where your perceptions are concerned, you have the ability to choose differently from what you are currently choosing if you wish. When it comes to how you see things, you do have a choice.

One of the harshest tests of this truth occurred in the life of Dr. Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who was captured by the Nazis during World War II and held prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Writing afterward of his experiences in the camp, Dr. Frankl described the obsessive control that the guards exercised: each day, he and his fellow prisoners were told when to sit, when to stand, when to work, when to eat and when to sleep – and they were told whether they would be allowed to live or die.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Dr. Frankl noted that in the face of these unending atrocities, he discovered one very important aspect of his existence that the guards could not control. They could not control what attitude he took about his suffering. They could not force upon him how he would interpret and react to his treatment.

At a particular moment in the midst of his imprisonment, Dr. Frankl made a life decision. He saw that if he were made to suffer these terrible events in his life for no meaning, he would go insane. He decided, instead, to live by the principle that, we only know and experience this life through the meaning or relevance of perceptions that we assign it.

The lesson in Dr. Frankl’s experience is the realization that between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. ~ Dr. Victor Frankl

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Most of us can't imagine

Today being Rememberance Day in Canada and Veteran's Day in the United States, it's important that we take stock of just how lucky we are and why we have such luck.

In light of the recent economic crisis, so much attention has been focused on finance, business fundamentals, and scraping by that many of us have been nearly 100% focused - on us.

Hence the title of today's blog - most of us can't imagine. I have a 13 month old son at home, and I can't imagine leaving him or my wife as I head off to war, yet that is what so many of our veterans have had to do, and so many of our soldiers are doing right now to protect the rest of us from having to make such sacrifices.

Unbeleivably, my grandfather was one of 5 brothers who went to war, and luckily enough, all 5 returned. Can you imagine how his parents felt?

We live in a time where bugets are tight compared to what they were 14 months ago. Big deal. Most of us are so lucky that we don't know the price of ultimate sacrifice. It is important though, that lucky as we are, we are not naive to this fact. People you will never hear of died to help provide the freedom that we enjoy.

This post is not written for us to feel guilty; rather to feel loved by our veterans and our current soldiers who ensure we have the kind of life that we can go about our business and pursue our dreams rather than fear for tomorrow.

Make the most of your life to ensure their sacrifices are not in vain, and when you see a veteran or a soldier decked out - we can all take a few steps out of the way to meet them and thank them. We owe them at least that.

Thank you troops!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Canadian's Invade Virginia by Gary Robins

I'll do my absolute best to keep this to a readable length here... 

I was shooting for a sub 7hr run time which would have been a near 23 minute improvement over my 08 run time. The 08 race was my first ever fifty miler as I'd only started to fully concentrate on running, verses multi-sport, four months prior. The 09 version ended up being my second ever 50 miler and a much better race for me.

I obviously had to go out harder off the start verses last year but I was definitely surprised to find myself alternating the lead with Montrail U.S. runner Geoff 'The Alaskan Assassin' Roes (if no one else has referred to him by this name yet then I get to claim it when it sticks!) through the first 20 miles of the race. Lon Freeman was never more than a few steps behind and Valmir Nunes was always visible when we hit an exposed switchback area.

(Goeff Roes leading, me in second, RD Clark Zealand poaching the course!)

At the half way point of the race I was nine minutes ahead of my 08 pace and right on target for a sub 7hr effort. Geoff had managed to distance himself from me over the previous climb and he hit the mid-way aid just three minutes up. As I departed I could see Lon coming in just a minute back.

After departed the mid-way aid you venture into the longest climb of the fifty miles. In 08 I had to walk most of the climbs, this year I'd trained myself to be better on the climbs and faster on the runnable terrain. The course is 90% fire roads so I actually did some road mileage and my first road race in over 5yrs while preparing for the course. Although I did manage to run the entire course, save one section of about 200 meters, both Geoff and Lon had proved to be better up-hill runners than myself. Knowing this I had prepared for Lon to catch and pass me, which he did within about ten minutes. He managed a larger gap than I anticipated though and eventually he gained five full minutes on me. Little did we then know, Geoff was on a constant acceleration and while the rest of us just struggled to hang on Geoff simply ran the second half of the course faster than anyone had ever dreamed was even possible.

At about the 33m mark (55km) you hit the first real singletrack terrain of the course. Last year I nearly died through here, so this year I made sure to have something left in the tank for it. Once you complete this 5m/8k loop the course is predominately downhill to the finish line...which has always been my strength. I wasn't even two miles into the loop when I heard a runner from behind. Valmir was still lingering and with foot speed the likes of which I will simply never possess, he scared me enough to push my through the undulations of this loop. Thankfully and surprisingly I would not see him again until he crossed the finish line.

I exited the loop and was told Lon was four minutes up on me. I was feeling way stronger than I thought I would this late in the race and I vocalized that I thought I might still be able to close that gap over the final 10m/16k of the race. The next few aid stations told a different story though as the splits coming my way were growing, not shrinking.

As I hit the final aid station of the day, and with but 3.5 miles to go to the finish line, I was given one more split,

"Lon left here...exactly...two minutes ago." 

I chugged a cup of fluid and rocketed outta there. It was almost all down till the final 1m section of road to the line. In the end this information was not accurate, as Lon had a closer to 4min lead at that point, but it was the perfect fuel to allow me to go with an all or nothing approach to end the race. Whether I cramped up and had to walk didn't matter at that point, only top two went straight into Western States and that was my primary goal at the starting line. My final km split times, gravity assisted of course but none the less my legs still had to turn over and absorb the punishment, were:

-4m17s /6.54mile
-4m27s /7.10m
-4m12s /6.45m
-3m37s /5.49m
-3m42s /5.57m
-2m44s (700m of flat road to the line) (3m48s pace /6.07m)

I crossed the line in 7h00m28s...missed out on a sub seven by under thirty seconds and an auto WS entry by two minutes...both tough pills to swallow, but by far and away this was my best performance south of the border, and my first major race that I'm truly happy with the time I laid down. Clark Zealand, David Horton, and the hundreds of others who make this race possible and can somehow convert a 50m fire road run into an incredible trail racing experience, THANK YOU SO MUCH yet again!! I might just have to return again next year and claim those missing 29 seconds.

In the women's race, the girl I've been flattered to call my girlfriend, Tamsin Anstey, in her first EVER 50 miler and just third attempt at running an ultra, laid down the 5th fastest woman's time in the 27 year history of the event!! She has promised me that she'll do a race report that I'll proudly post on here for her...till we get her up and going on her own blog in the near future. 

-Special thanks to my amazing friend Hays Poole who drove 2.5hr from Raleigh, North Carolina to help support me during the race. He was a ROCK STAR who I can't thank enough!!

Full results here, oh yeah, and I forgot to mention, Geoff 'The Alaskan Assassin' Roes...well he kinda destroyed the course like no one thought possible and ended up with a new course record of 6h27m!!! That's over 21min faster than the legendary Dave Mackay's run time, and in my humble opinion, solidifies Geoff as the outright U.S. Ultra Runner Of The Year for 2009...congrats Geoff, it was a pleasure and an honor to meet you this weekend!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Congratulations Dianne Wood - In her own words..

The unimaginable has happened! I just got word (I am away on vacation) that I won the Nutrition challenge. I am incredibly happy and I can’t believe it. Thank you so much Emmery – who read all those food logs and Richard, and Josh, and Kate, and Kati, and Chelsea, and Josh, and Justine…who all had a part in supporting me and the other participants in this challenge.
The nutrition challenge

For the month of October, which included Thanksgiving and Halloween (just saying)
I committed to myself and to Innovative to do the Nutrition & Fitness Challenge. I was tired of my muffin top creeping over my jeans and after my long fun summer of BBQs, restaurants and sitting by a friend’s pool drinking Sauvignon Blanc, I was ready. The scale had reached a new high and my regular routine of working out 3x a week at Innovative with the odd run on my own was not enough to check the balance – so to speak.

I think the key here is that I was ready.

I have to make a plug for Innovative here. The Innovative team is so supportive and truly dedicated and I felt that I had and incredible amount of genuine support to succeed in the challenge. Each trainer was prepared to put in time and went over and above the call of duty to do so. It was truly touching. THANK YOU SO MUCH GUYS.

I started the cleanse a few days early – it didn’t count…but it got me in the habit of not having a glass of wine, doing a food log and thinking about how I was going to change my eating patterns. It was a big adjustment and although the food logs were very helpful there were many nights I would finally settle into bed and just be falling asleep only to jar myself awake and remember that I had to file my food log.

The parameters of the cleanse were narrow but we were encouraged to follow them with common sense. For me…my enemy is flour (and wine). No one can take down a Panini like I can and perhaps no one enjoys pasta like I do (I was probably Italian in a past life). Anyway…I challenged myself to “think outside the sandwich” and took wheat off my list. I also read that Wayne Dyer lost 80 pounds by removing sugar from his diet. He didn’t even drink juice, so I lowered my fruit intake a lot and only ate berries on my sugarless oatmeal in the morning to prevent me from feeling sorry for myself. Wine I sadly discovered was the equivalent of eating a half-cup of white sugar.

The loss of flour was really helpful in so far as I started eating salad with a bit of protein for lunch. I also stopped ‘sink eating’ (eating while I was cooking dinner for my kids) and I started eating small amounts of ‘legal food’ several times a day, (Hummus, vegetables, linseed bread, rice crackers, grilled steak etc.). I did not eat past 6:30pm. If I was truly dying I would make a big bowl of air popped popcorn and spray it with my new best friend …a $34.00 bottle of spray balsamic vinegar stuff. 50 squirts=10 calories!

I didn’t realize until I was almost all the way through the challenge that I
1. Ordered as much food in a restaurant as my husband, and ate it all.
2. Ate so late
3. Ate so much flour
4. Found sugar in so many unlikely places
5. Ate large meals and then starved myself till the next one
6. Ate what I WANTED not what I NEEDED
7. Could avoid butter and fat more easily than I thought.

I think what I noticed more than anything was the things I wasn’t having rather than the things I was having. I had many a dinner of No Dessert and many an outing with No Wine and many a dinnertime with No Butter etc. The nutrition challenge was one thing, but on top of it was the Fitness Challenge! 9 tasks to be completed with a trainer. 24 th street hill run, figure 8 run, 10K run, 3 official races, 3 bike challenges.

Every weekend there was a running race. My friend Virginia, without me even asking, supported me in my running. Thanks Virginia!

I thought it was great that the challenge started out with a 5km. We did the Run for the Cure. No problem. It was a good warm up. The Turkey trot was fantastic because after Thanksgiving dinner who doesn’t want to get out and move some of that gravy off your butt. The challenge included a local 10 km and then there was the fun and amazing sea wall run…the James Cunningham. The biking challenges were ridiculous. I never bike. I dusted off my mountain bike, filled up my tires, found one of my kid’s bike helmets and was off. I absolutely hated it…at first. But after I rode the Stanley park ride…I could see myself attempting longer rides. I thought I was going to bloody well die doing the Cypress ride but thank god Tracy told me that getting up to the highway was the hard part and that the ride up Cypress was gradual and wasn’t the killer. Had she not told me that, I might have thrown in the towel after riding to the top of 21st Street. I can’t tell you how good it was to get to the second look out. I literally couldn’t believe I did it; the ride home was a great reward. Actually…I would do it again.

I learned something really important and really interesting:
Exercise is about strength, and health and food is about weight.

That means if you want to lose weight….of course it is a good idea to exercise but you aren’t going to lose weight by only exercising. You are going to lose weight by changing how you eat.
I also learned that weight loss is not fast. It is infuriatingly slow but it is steady. I just kept thinking about how long it took to put it on. Watching what you eat as well as exercising is obviously the key. Upping your fitness routine tightens you up and shocks your body into working harder. I think I was at a plateau and my body was used to my fitness routine- so adding some extra challenges was a good idea to bump me into a new zone. (wow…that really sounded athletic!)

I think the greatest thing about the challenges was that in the beginning I hated every single one and at the end of each one I loved them. I surprised myself. I couldn’t believe I actually could do these things and to tell you the truth…after a few of them, I even called my Mom.

Thanks to all the trainers and friends that supported me.
What’s next?

Friday, November 06, 2009


Challenge. It may be defined as a demanding or stimulating situation that tests someone's abilities. It offers people the opportunity to find deeper powers within themselves and to discover things about themselves that they never really knew; they are what force us to go beyond the norm. But, ‘life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are,’ Bernice Johnson Regan.

Everyone understands the benefits of being challenged and most of us recognize that we need it in order to become better in the long term, but what no one mentions is how difficult it is on a daily basis, to be constantly pushed to be better than you were yesterday. It is uncomfortable. As health professionals we do it everyday, demanding more from our customers than their perceived best, but when is it enough?

Never. People challenge you because they care; they see your potential and want to help you reach it. They believe in you. If you let them down you are letting yourself down, because they demand no less than your best. And even if you can’t appreciate it right now, they genuinely want to see you succeed.

Work hard to not let these people down. Be glad that they see something worth challenging. And don't let the challenges paralyze you; use them to discover who you are.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fun race to follow... The 2009 Adventure Race championship

The Adventure Race World Championship 2009 is starting this week in Portugal. The new edition will once more welcome the best international adventure racing teams, allowing them to explore the amazing beauty of the central region of the country. It will be an opportunity to see the best teams in the world to compete between them at the highest level in Adventure Racing, demonstrating their skills and their knowledge. Estoril Portugal XPD Race aims to showcase the potential of Portugal as a prime location for Adventure Racing and the skills of the Portuguese for organizing large international sporting events.

The Adventure Race World Championship 2009 in Portugal will once more welcome the best international adventure racing teams, allowing them to explore the amazing beauty of the central region of the country. It will be an opportunity to see the best teams in the world to compete between them at the highest level in Adventure Racing, demonstrating their skills and their knowledge.

The 2009 edition of the XPD race will be organised as follows:

-Dates: 8th to 13th of November 2009

-Total estimated distance: 700/800 kmLength/

-Format: 5 days (approximately 120 hours to complete the race)/Non-Stop

-Support: Provided by the organisation

-Teams of 4 members with at least one female member that have to stay together at all times.
2 teams from Canada will be racing #12 Kinetic and #9 ATP,Salomon. Jen Segger from Squamish will also be there racing with a USA team # 18 NUUN,Feed the Machine.
These teams have been training together for a year for this race only and some have raced many years to arrive to this Championship.
Go check it out and see what these amazing athletes are putting themself through for 5 days, 24hours a day.
Take the time to look at pictures, you will be amazed and hopefully inspired by what they have to go through.
For something a little easier, you can always think about racing in the following for next season. It's a great way to start!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Vulnerability is Strength

This week I have had the privilege of hearing many people's stories; both teammates and customers.

What is so rewarding for me after writing my story 5 years ago and sharing it I don't know how many times - is when people feel "lifted" through sharing, and then realize that there are okay on the other end.

The opened up and trusted someone and that trust was not abused.

They shared their deepest darkest secrets and instead of that knowledge being used against them they were set free.

They shared their most vulnerable side with someone else and it helped bridge a gap in understanding.

...and with enough time, self work, and then understanding - they can use their story to help others.

We all have a story. Some are plain, some are sad, some belong in movies that would make all of us cry. What many of us fail to realize is a) we often aren't the ones holding the pens (we are letting our story get written for us; we are victims) b) we are re-writing the same chapter over and over (we haven't broken the cycle) or c) we have a best-seller and we aren't sharing it!

This week alone I've had people share their stories of abuse, death, insecurity, guilt, self- sabotage, and gender-trust issues. While each one had a different origin - NONE are/ were hopeless and all can lead somewhere positive.

We must remember as we take our next breath that we can grab the pen at any time, we can write a new chapter, and it's never to late to change or own life or help someone else change theirs by sharing what might well be our own best seller.

There is strength in your story if you allow yourself to be vulnerable to tell it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

race your race.

Story by Jill Koenig

Think back to a time in your life when you tried something new.
When I was a teenager I volunteered to work the water station at a 10k (6.2 mile) race.
It was called the "Heaven Can Wait" 10 K run and ironically, it was sponsored by the local cemetery. My job was to pass out water to the runners. I remember being so excited to see all the different kinds of people who passed by and grabbed a cup of water. Some ran past, some walked past and a few wheeled past. I saw so many types of people doing it, I thought maybe I can do it too! So the next year I signed up for the race and gave it a shot. Back then I didn't do much to prepare except jog around my neighborhood. I never tracked how far I jogged, or timed myself, I just ran around. :) I had no time goals for the race, no specialized training, no game plan, nothing. Needless to say that I prepare differently when I run races today, but back then my only goal was to finish. On the day of the race, it was incredibly hot and humid. I remember struggling at about the 5th mile, thinking, "I must be crazy, why did I do this? What was I thinking? And at one point, I said, "I am never doing this again!" Have you ever felt that way about something? You eagerly undertake a goal and in the midst of it comes a moment of struggle, and you realize it is much harder than you imagined it would be?
That first 10 k race was quite an experience. I jogged, I walked, I jogged and I walked. At times, I didn't know if I could finish. Then came a defining moment.

At one point near the end, a 70 year old man ran past me, very very fast, and I felt embarrassed that I was 50+ years younger than he and I couldn't even keep up with him.
I felt defeated for a second but then I realized something. He was running his race and I was running mine. He had different capacities, experience, training and goals for himself. I had mine. (remember my goal was merely to finish). How often in life do we compare ourselves to others and feel disappointed in ourselves when we really shouldn't? After a minute, it hit me that this was a lesson I could draw from. I learned something about myself in that moment. I turned my embarrassment into inspiration.
I decided that I would not give up on running races, in fact, I would run even more races and I would learn how to train and prepare properly and one day I would be one of those 70 year olds who was still running.

As I crossed the finish line, I was proud of my accomplishment. I am so glad I didn't give up on running. Today it is an incredible source of joy in my life. I have run several races since then, 5ks 10ks and I run purely for fun. I have studied running books, made friendships with other runners and I can report that I love it now more than ever.
In life we all have those moments where we compare ourselves to others. It's only natural. Don't allow those moments disempower you. Turn them into motivation and let them inspire you. Use them to show you what is possible.

Every struggle is rich with opportunity.

You define your own race when you define your own Goals.
You decide your race and you decide your own pace.

Life is a series of races.

There are lessons in every race.

There are life lessons to be learned every single day.
If you don't win the race, but you get the lesson, and grow, you are truly a success.

You are a winner.

Live Your Dreams.

Monday, November 02, 2009


Countries are like individuals in that they are all different and all with their unique skin color, language, customs, laws, food and financial currencies. When we enter another country we know that we must abide by new laws, customs and use the currency of that country to get what we want. In Japan, we understand that bowing is the way of greeting people, removal of shoes when entering a home and that to purchase anything we need to have Yen. We would not get far with its people if we tried to pay for your food with Canadian dollars or failed to take off our shoes upon entering someone’s home.

Individuals, like countries are very unique. Every person has grown up with different values and experiences making them the individual they are today. For most of us, we are in contact with people all day and have to deal with different personalities in different situations. If we think of individuality like we do countries we realize that we cannot use our same personal style of thinking and communicating with every single person if we are to get them to listen, trust and to follow our lead.

During our daily interactions, it does not matter what position we are in whether teacher, manager or student, we interact with others and we all have chances to lead people with our individual approaches. But what happens when we use our unique approach and we cannot connect with someone different than us? This outcome is from not having recognized that our currency is not being accepted and we have to use that person’s currency if we are to succeed with them. Essentially, we have not recognized what this person values and what intrinsically motivate this person to succeed. Everyone is different and to effectively lead others we have to appreciate what type of leadership and communication they need. Great leaders will recognize this and make efforts to know other peoples currency.

Whereas one person may value achievement and challenge more than the next, this person will respond well to challenge after challenge in which they then have the chance to see themselves win each time. For someone else who values and needs recognition, to be given a new challenge every week does the opposite of motivating this person to go further. Yet if you were to recognize this person for the things he or she does well, you are feeding their individual currency and have better chances of connecting with what motivates this person to succeed. Currency is different with each person like a country and individual currencies could be any of the following: independence, social, inclusion, security, praise or support.

What is important to note in all this is although knowing our currencies is important we must not continually see it as the be-all end-all way of leading or being lead by others. For example, if your currency is inclusion do not always wait to be included by someone else. Take initiative over your currency to get yourself included. If your currency is to be recognized and you are not getting it will you turn to a negative attitude and lose your motivation? Or will you take the higher road knowing that you are the one in control of your life and continue to make things happen even if you are not being seen for them?

Everyone has different upbringings and values something different. If we can see this in people and change our approach we will be more likely to succeed in relationships on any team whether at work, at home or on the playing field. Conversely, understanding our own currency and knowing that if we are not getting it will we then make change to still follow our goals and stay motivated? Take the time to think of your values and what makes up your currency. Share it with others and take the time to see the different currencies of people you work with in your life.