Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A Couple of Get to Know Me Poems

I Am

I am the willow that bends in the wind
But does not break
I am the tide that caresses your feet
As you walk along the shore
I am the wave, powerful
Crashing on the rocks
I am the river cutting through
Walls of stone
Over time-relentless
I am the rain, washing
I am the wind bringing
You flowers
Whenever I blow.
I am the earth, to comfort you
To hold you
Till the end of time.


There For You

If I were a sweater
I’d be your favourite
baggy, loose fitting
warm and comfortable
a little frayed
at the cuffs
I’d have a hood to keep out the cold north wind
Some pockets to hold your hand
on late evening strolls through the forest
I’d wrap myself around your bare shoulders
as we lay out under the stars
howling at the moon
protecting you from the elements
and anything that comes your way
I’d have a zipper
allowing me to adapt to any situation
all the way up for those cool autumn mornings
when you have coffee on the deck
Stained of course, coffee, wine, a little blood
my imperfections
adding character
On those days when you think you don’t need me
I’d be there jammed into your pack
Just in case
When passion overtakes you
I’d lie in a heap beside your bed
waiting to cover
your shivering body

I’d be there for you.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Ottawa Race Report- 2016 (better late than never)

So we have seen the good the bad and the ugly (thanks Patrick and Mike for sharing). I thought I would share my version of the Ottawa Race Weekend, albeit a little late. For some, this was the Ottawa RACE weekend, searching for personal bests and qualifying times. For others it was the Ottawa RUN weekend for me it was the Ottawa FUN weekend.

Signing up for the half marathon in early fall got the race juices flowing again. I set a lofty goal as I went about making a plan. With more than six months to play with a goal to run a sub 1H30min half marathon wasn’t all that unrealistic. The plan was to put in some varied miles including some tempo runs and interval training and lose some weight in the process. As all runners know, life happens and mine did in a very big way. In early October I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Amman, Jordan helping in the selection process of resettling Syrians, Iraqis, Sudanese and Somalis to Canada. Something that I thought would only be a two week commitment. To this day, the commitment continues. Emotionally taxing to say the least, my energy was invested in the race for life for a small group of East Africans instead of chasing the sub 1:30 half marathon.

With my new friends lives in the balance, my focus shifted from running to letter writing, meetings and more letter writing my training suffered, though my soul soared untethered as I was doing what I was called to do.

The average month of training looked like Saturdays and Wednesday with the run ninjas and one other run per week (2-10k). Late April and May brought three great runs. A sub two hour effort for 21.1k in Painesville, Ohio the day before my daughter’s grad. A 15km MEC trail race where I “gave’r” for the first time in a long time and the following week a 22k sub 2 hour effort thanks to the P-train and a run ninja 10k.

During this not so ideal training, the plan evolved from a hard, focused effort to having a fun weekend with a great group of people. So enough of the excuses let’s get to the race report. Race day minus 24 hours or so.  A 7:00AM meet up in the MEC parking lot to rendezvous with all those who were travelling together. I arrived just a little late, no fault of my own, of course as Marcy needed an extra 5 minutes to do her hair. With the obligatory ninja group photo out of the way, we were off commencing the Ottawa Race Weekend 2016. We made it all the way to Tim Horton’s before our first pitstop. Yep the one at Ardaugh and Essa. I hope this wasn’t an omen of things to come.

Lewis and I drew short straws and got to ride with Sarah and Marcy. They were great company, truly, and we didn’t have to worry about radio reception as we got further north due to the constant chatter from the back seat. Pre race strategies were kept to a minimum as the boys in the front listen to conversations about penises and vaginas. It got extremely quiet for a while and I got a little worried until I realized Marcy was taking a nap and Sarah was kicking ass at work.  Another well timed Timmies pitstop had Lewis and I running for the bushes as the rest lined up to use the loo. An all too common occurrence at races as large as Ottawa. The rest of the ride to the nation’s capital went off without a hitch. Our convoy wound its way through some beautiful country with moose and osprey sightings giving it a very Canadian feel.

We parked a few kilometers away and walked along the scenic canal, as long as you didn’t look too closely at the water. The sea of blue MEC shirts at the expo was something. Memories flooding back to a time, as a coach, watching energetic youth disembarking the bus as we arrived at the track. Similarly clad athletes on a mission, of course, but so much more, the nervous energy, the laughing and the smiles all marked us as runners and ninjas as we waited for our inspirational friend Jim Willet to arrive. His arrival caused a few stares from those nearby as we cheered on Jim as he made his way through the gauntlet of our outstretched arms. High fives and smiles all around seem to capture the emotions of that significant moment.

The skies looked threatening as a few of us made our way to the 10k start line. I was hoping to catch up with a few friends. The elite running community is still very grass roots and we could pretty much walk in to their warm up area to check out past, present and future Olympians getting ready for the 10k. The skies opened up just as the race began. We got a little wet revelling as the temperature dropped as the rain fell as we waited for the elites to finish up. With rumbling bellies, a few of my roomies decided to hit the pub for a late dinner and a few beers, read poutine and pitchers, to ease the pre race nerves. As a relatively new ninja, this weekend was a great way to get to know a little more about my comrades. We decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel to get some sleep as the boys had an early wake up as they were running the marathon.

Not soon after the lights went out I got a text from my friend Dave to come out for a drink. I sent a message out to any ninja interested in this late night rendezvous but with wake up minus 4-7 hours there weren't any takers. I jumped at the chance to see my friends, so I made my way back across the bridge from Gatineau into Ottawa to meet up with Dave and Rachel. It was a great opportunity for me to catch up with these two wonderful people as it had been too many years since running with and pacing Rachel as she was 'getting back' into running. An inspiration, as she got herself back into elite level running representing Canada and was the third Canadian in this night's rainy 10K. With continued training and her dedication to the sport I can't imagine her not representing Canada in the 2020 Olympics. We decide to call it a night a few hours later. Always wearing my coach's hat, I started my stopwatch to see how long it would take to walk to the start line the next morning. Twenty-seven minutes later I arrived at the hotel. The hotel clock read 3:00AM as I slipped quietly into bed with Lewis.

Post race drinks
The marathon boys were up about an hour and a half later getting fueled up for their race. I wished them luck and laid back down as I tried to get a few more hours of restless sleep. I was ill prepared for race day as I forgot to bring breakfast. I grabbed the lone banana on the dresser and headed down to the lobby. The first shuttle of ninjas were already making their way to the start line. I decided that being in the confined space of a taxi would not be a wise move considering my state. I assured the remaining ninjas that the walk to the start line would take less than twenty-seven minutes so they followed along not waiting for the next taxi. I left the group once we came upon the nearest Timmies as I needed to grab a coffee and something to settle my gurgling tummy. Even in a crowd of thousands, the group was easy to spot, lively chatter and a sea of blue MEC shirts catching my attention. What a feeling to be standing at the start line with this amazing group of people. Once the race was under way, Marcy made me promise to turn to the right to make sure I wasn't going to throw up on her. After five or so kilometers, my stomach settled. Marcy kept to her game plan of not going out to fast and to run at her pace. It was impressive to see as even many experienced runners get caught up with the race and go out too fast. It was inspiring to watch as she continued to tick off the k's. At about the 15k mark she urged me to catch up to Joy, something about me always looking at my watch. She didn't really need me anyways and was doing a great job running her own race. I stretched my legs a bit as I caught up to Joy. The timing was perfect, as Joy was just beginning to fall off pace. I pushed her a little or maybe a bit more than a little as she was mumbling something under her breath. As we approached the bridge to reverse directions and head along the canal to the finish line people were dropping like flies as the temperature was rising and the psychological affect of passing the finish line on the other side of the canal was starting to get into peoples minds. Joy persevered and pushed right to the line. A gathering of ninjas awaited at the finish line, hugs and high fives were shared.

We all finished as ninjas but the effort was ours and ours alone. Not since my coaching days have I seen such a bunch of like minded individuals offer so much support for one another and though I haven't been a member of this group for long- I feel like I have always belonged.

Monday, 1 August 2016


About a year ago, I took part in an online writing course something I decided to do on a whim. It turned out to be thirty days of splitting myself open to share my heart with the world or at least to anyone that would listen. Since then I have posted a few poems on facebook, instagram and twitter but thought it was about time to gather them all in one place. So today, this blog was born in hopes that many more poems will be created and shared. This is the one that started it all.


Box thinkers, Rule makers
slowly poisoning my mind.
Rules- not mine
But, step by step
I follow.
Keeps me in check.
My blood runs black with
My heart pounding, racing
can't take it anymore.

Suffocating soul
has declared independence
from my old self, the box fitting self.
In search of
the new me, the true me
the always been there me,
the shackled and forgotten me.

I will let my heart- bleed
to flush the poison from my life
I will let my heart- ache
to let raw emotion flow
I will let my heart- be open
to receive love from others
I will let my heart- love
for that, is what I need.

Blood spilt, mixing with ink
creating a horrible mess
I will tell my story, none the less.
I will feel alive!