Sears Great Canadian Run – Ottawa Report

On October 5th, 2 weeks after the Toronto Sears 100k Run, we had the Ottawa to Montebello one! My IT band was pretty irritated still, but I was going for ART and chiro and it felt a lot better.  I had strict instructions to stop if it seized.  I had my fingers crossed that that wasn’t going to happen.  We had a really great run the day before, and came across the run signs!

Sears Great Canadian Run This Way!
Sears Great Canadian Run This Way!

Yeah, I’m a goof.

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We gathered at the Aviation Museum in the early (read dark) hours of the morning to get ourselves ready for the run.  Lucky for us, and super crew family Cameron and Monica, we only live 5 minutes away 🙂

Toronto was amazing, we met so many people at the start, (I forgot to mention ENDURrun Michelle was there!!), but in Ottawa it’s the home team.  The crew are all very close friends of the GGT family, it was going to be a great day!

The pre-run speeches had us in tears again, and determined to get this run underway to show the kids and their families our support.

It was cold and rainy, but we were in great spirits!


Team GGT


The day was overcast and cool.  And then it rained.  All. Day. Long.

It’s a bit wet

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and windy

We had a blast though.  Mike S drove his SUV with speakers hanging out the windows blasting music. Then at 20K he stood on the side of the road holding a serving tray with little paper cups with tiny umbrellas in them… skewered fruit.  At 40k he stood there in the rain with another tray, this time, gelato.  At 60k we were all pretty miserable, and I was freezing and by myself (as usual LOL) and he drove up along side me, and handed me a steaming hot cup of ginger tea with honey (and yes, he grated the ginger by hand on the course).  It was heavenly.  At 80k out came his Coleman stove again, to make us chicken noodle soup.  On a cold, wet, long and painful day for all of us, you can imagine what joy this brought us.  Mike is always ready with a smile, a joke, a hug.  Top notch.

Also of note, our bike sweeper was repeat offender Trevor.  He biked in the cold all day, and at one point couldn’t feel his feet or hands.  He asked on Facebook a few days before the run for our power songs.  I chose Van Halen’s ‘Right Now’.  At one point I was really struggling with my knee, and he put it on.  BIG GRIN.  Then we played games – if I could guess the song at first note, I get to ride the bike. I came SO CLOSE with Sail (Awolnation), but never won.

Big props to Dr. Troy and Dr. Todd and the whole gang at Holistic Clinic, for working on us when we needed them.  Troy fired me at one point because my knee was beyond help and further treatment would make it worse.  My prescription – run until I can’t, then walk, then ice at the hotel, and have a drink.  And that’s what I did.

Somehow I don’t really remember the ferry ride across, which is surprising because I’m terrified of boats.  Once we got to Montebello it was pitch black and the team soldiered on in the dark with our headlamps.  We ran in the last bit to the lodge, and it was so wonderful to be finished!  It’s a lot of emotion in two weeks!

Team GoodGuysTri raised over a whopping $95K to end kids cancers through these two events.  This will make such a huge difference.  I’m honoured to have been a part of it.

Gratuitous angry knee shot.


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Sears Great Canadian Run – Toronto Report

I was volunteer crew for Steve at the 2013 Sears Great Canadian Run.  The experience was incredible, for both of us.  This year we joined the GoodGuysTri team to run both the Toronto and the Ottawa 100k runs.  This was just a bit daunting, but after finishing the i2P 100k, I felt confident that this was going to be doable.

The Toronto run was held Sept 20th, 4 weeks to the day after the i2P 100k.  The nice thing about this is you don’t need to do any more long runs, since you just did one :).  The not so good thing is that you just did one.

Going in to the run I was nervous, but very excited.  We had family (Steve’s brother Cameron and his wife Monica, their daughter Emily and her BF Johnny Young IV), and chosen family (Agnes and Dave), our GGT family, and all their families and friends.  We also won the RV for the day, so we had our crew cars and this amazing vehicle.  After listening to a very moving speech from a young cancer survivor we were in tears and ready to run the distance to show our support.  Some pre-run photos:

Still Dark



The run started in Collingwood. Other than running along some pretty major highway (which was under construction), the route was fairly uneventful.  We had a lot of fun!





Oh, it was hilly though.  I came into the run feeling great, but at 20k I started having problems with my IT band.  I continued to run through it, though it was getting pretty irritated.  By 30k I knew I was in trouble.  Unfortunately some of the other members of the team were also having problems of various kinds, but we all pushed through as hard as we could.  Since we had to stick together, and had to run at a 6 min/km pace in order to finish together, if we fell too far behind we would get swept to the next checkpoint.  My knee was slowing me down considerably as I wasn’t able to bend it, so I ended up being swept a few times.  Once I’d get to the next checkpoint I’d start running or walking again and wait for the team to pass me, until I got swept again.  It really is a logistical nightmare keeping track of everyone, which is why it’s so great to have two runners per vehicle, so everyone looks out for their own.


Love the Hillier Sisters!
Cameron Always Cheering!
Cameron Always Cheering!

The day was very very hard for all of us, there was a torrential downpour at one point, a lot of lightening, a small snake, and a lot of hills.

Steve’s Mom came out to meet us at 70k in or so, and tagged along.  And then we got this.  Yeah, we can keep going.

Cole Never Gave Up
Cole Never Gave Up

Agnes and Nadia shared bike sweeping duties, and it was amazing to have their ‘on the ground’ support.  I can’t say enough how helpful they were.  And Agnes had an excellent playlist.  Also a shout out to David Y who took out ‘The Stick’ and worked on my leg several times to keep me moving.  What a great bunch!  The next photos were taken just before sundown, with around 7k to go.



Pep Talk from Dave
Pep Talk from Dave
93k Mark
93k Mark


By the time we got to Blue Mountain the finish was moved inside for us.  We came in and felt like rockstars.  But it wasn’t about us.  It was about the kids.  Regardless of what we felt, it was worth it. We did it.

GGT SGCR 100k Finish Toronto
GGT SGCR 100k Finish Toronto

i2P 100k Trail Run – Race Report

The i2P 100k trail run was held on August 23-24, 2014.  The run is a fundraiser for impossible2Possible, the foundation started by our coach, Ray Zahab.

This was the first year the run had a 100k distance, and to be honest with my 2014 race schedule as it was, I figured this was going to be too much for me to handle, and thought running the 50k would be a much smarter entry into ultrarunning.   When Ray told me about the concept, and the belt buckle, and I had no choice but to commit.

I organized a pre-run sushi night.  I think we’re having fun 🙂


We parked our cars at Lac Philippe in the Gatineau Park and were shuttled to The Ark by the lovely Jaime Macdonald.  Yeah, we really do like to have fun.

Let’s roll!!


The concept I referred to earlier?  Ray invited his ultrarunner friends to join us for the evening and the first 50k of the run.  They would be there to help us along, keep us entertained and moving us forward.  At the Ark Ray spoke about i2P, and how the money raised from the event fees would be used to pay for upcoming youth expeditions (check out the i2P site for this amazing work).  We enjoyed a wonderful dinner of grilled salmon and potatoes, and mingled with the ultra running pros and the other runners.  Most of the runners who signed up for the 100k were newbies to the distance, so there was some trepidation of what was to come.

Steve and I before the run.
Pre-run Photo!


At 11PM or so we were ready to head out.  We strapped on our headlamps to run the first 7-8 kms around a freshly bushwhacked trail, which would be used as a snowshoe trail this winter.  This trail had a lot of little stumps to not trip over, and over 1000 ft of elevation.  We took off, ran by the llamas (heee!) into the dark.  1km in, so far so good.  Then at 2k I start to feel pretty queasy.  Then I realize that the motion of my Petzl is making me motion sick.  Seriously??  I should have practiced more than once running with a lamp.  I popped a ginger chew and slowed it down hoping for the best.  Once we were back at the Ark, a quick stop to pick up our packs, and off we went toward Lac Philippe.  We ran along the Gatineau River on the Trans Canada Trail, which thankfully is a  gravel road, so I was able to turn my lamp to low and wide to try to make it less jumpy.  We chatted with the other participants as we ran, and I realized that I’d never run with Ray before.  It really was fun.  We had to run as a pack so that no one got left behind (this was part of the plan) and it was an easy pace.  Poor Steve had tripped over a root with both feet within the first 5k (I don’t know how he didn’t face plant) and pulled his groin muscle, so he had to stop and stretch a lot, but trudged along quietly.  At 20k the crew opened up their cars with pizza, and at 30k (I think it was, it’s been a few months and my memory isn’t as sharp!!) we crossed the Wakefield covered bridge (it was really something) and ran quietly through the town to the entrance to the Gatineau Park at the Wakefield Mill.  Here we took a short break and were given coffee to warm up.  Ray and Ryan then took off, asking for a 15 minute head start to mark the trail.  From this point onward we could race.  The trail markers were glow sticks, and the guest at the back was tasked with picking them up.  Since we were solidly in the rear, we helped.  Back in the woods my lamp was bothering me again, but I was able to suck on gin gins and mostly put the nausea out of my head.  I had never run these trails before, it was a lot of fun.  We expected to see some sort of wildlife, but didn’t.  Finally we saw the sunrise and I could turn off my lamp.  I was feeling pretty tired before this, but was super charged to see daylight! We arrived at Lac Philippe at 6:30, so we had 90 minutes before the start of the next 50k.  I took the opportunity to change my clothes, wash my face, eat some oranges and salted potatoes, and take a little nap in the back of the car.  My nap lasted about 4 minutes because friends who were running the morning events kept popping their heads in to say hi.

After hobbling for 45kms, Steve made the decision to not continue (smart).  Because he finished the 50K, he received the 50 belt buckle.  While I was thinking during the overnight that I wasn’t going to be able to continue to the 2nd 50 because of the 7 hours of nausea and not eating, I was ready to go and see what happens.

Start of the 2nd 50k

I had been having some minor adductor tightness off and on the weeks leading up to the run, and it was there the whole night, and again when I picked up but as long as I kept moving, I was ok.  I don’t know how I was suddenly alone, but I ran on hoping I was on the right track.  I made it up to Richard’s Cabin (yurt) and on my way back to the checkpoint at the beach, I bumped into the rest of my run buds – I thought they were way ahead of me!  I hooked up with Jaime on the way, we both got off trail a bit, but made it to the beach.  I was tired and decided to wait for my buds and runt he rest with them, as they arrived shortly after.


I’m tired!

We did the next 15k together, firmly in last place – we didn’t care though, we were going to finish our first 100k!  Once we checked in we only had 12k to go and off we went around the lake.  Since we were at the back, Ray sent out support for us (to make we kept moving ;)), in the form of the wonderful John Zahab and Jean Blain.  Laura was having stomach issues, so we walked a bit and listened to John and Jean’s stories, which were so motivating.  I kept drinking because it was getting really warm out, and then when Laura felt better and was able to run again, I was way too bloated to run.  I hated to slow us down further, so Jean and Laura went off and John stayed with me as we walked (and ran when I thought i could) it in.  WE DID IT.

Only a few metres to go! Nope, couldn’t run it.

But oh my goodness the bloat!!  John told Steve to get some salt into me, and some food a bit later, and I’d be ok.  I wasn’t worried, I knew it would settle, but I couldn’t extend the straps on my pack any further and they were really tight.  Yuck.  I got huge hugs from everyone, I finished last for the first time in any event (it was bound to happen!) and felt SO BAD that it took me that long to get it done (Garmin died, but it was somewhere between 14 & 14.5 hours).  I was so happy to be done.  And so happy with my first buckle!!

So happy to be finished!


I slipped on my compression socks and we drove toward home – I was nodding off the whole way. We stopped for pho (that’s all I thought about all day!), and after my shower Steve had the bowl next to the bed!  I climbed in, had some soup, texted with my daughter, and nodded off.  I’d wake and eat more soup, text some more, and nod off.  I woke up to the sound of Steve coming in with DAIRY QUEEN PEANUT BUSTER PARFAIT and the angels sang.  it was still over 30C, so when I took the lid off ice cream dripped all over the sheet.  Of course I licked it off, then slurped from the container because it kept dripping everywhere.  I looked up, ice cream now on my chin and my nose, to Steve staring at me with his mouth open LOL!  He said “you know there’s a napkin right beside you”.  I laughed because I never considered anything other than licking the sheet!!?!?  I finished the best ice cream ever, went to the washroom to wash my face, took the facecloth and wiped the sheet (Steve asked if I wanted to change the sheets or if I was saving the dried ice cream for later LOL), rolled over, and was out until 5:30AM when the alarm went off for work.

Great event.  I’m really proud to have finished!

My first (100k) buckle!

*a couple of the images were taken by Melanie Clement and Jordan Thoms for i2P, which I shamefully borrowed from Facebook.


ENDURrun International 2014 – Una’s Race Report

The ENDURrun International is a 8 day, 7 event race held August 10-17 in the Kitchener-Waterloo, ON area.  Steve and I participated in the ‘Ultimate’ category, and since it is fitting, this report will be in stages too!

Pre-race athlete briefing

The race briefing was held at race director, Lloyd Schmidt’s home.  We knew a couple of people who were going to be at the race, so we caught up with them and got to know some of the participants. We also picked up our race kits which were really fantastic – technical shirt, hat, bottle, and race technical shirt.  Lloyd walked us through what to expect and introduced some of the race staff and volunteers.  We mingled some more and then headed back to our B&B for a light dinner and early bed.  We were ready.

Stage 1 – Half Marathon

This was an awesome event.  The route was a two loop course that went through Conestogo, on the golf course paths, around RIM park and back.  There were no major hills, but the last bit to the finish was a steady climb.  Both Steve and I felt really great and we both kept a consistent pace, but trying to keep a bit in the bank because the week was just starting.  I passed 4 people coming up the last hill and that was pretty cool.  I finished in 1:49:40 with a 9 minute PB, and this effort put me in 9th overall in the ladies’ ultimate.



Once the race was over we were introduced to the perks:

  • the staff at KW Health Connection volunteered their time by providing massage therapy and chiropractic services onsite EVERY SINGLE DAY after each event.    We made sure to get in line every day to get our legs worked on, we felt so great afterwards!


  • the FOOD.  I can’t explain how blown away we were at the food that was available to us every day. Candies, cookies, fruit, vegetables, homemade hummus (different types every day), sliced meats, and then crockpots with hot dishes.  At the end Ian made smoothies for everyone.  These volunteers stood every single day for HOURS helping us.  We are so grateful!  The photo is from another day…


Stage 1

Stage 2 – 15k Time Trial

This race is also known as the ‘Tour de France of Running’, so in addition to the standard road race events, there are two time trials.  We started in reverse order of our half marathon finish times in 1 minute increments.  I was charged.


I kept my focus on the guy in front of me, and it took me 5k to pass him, then I was able to pass a few more. By the time I hit the finish line I had passed 10 runners.  I was really happy with that.  I finished in 8th place with a time of 1:14:57, which moved me up to 8th.


We went for sushi that night with some of the other runners.  They showed us how we are supposed to order sushi – none of this 2 of this and 3 of that business.  20 of everything was the way to go!  We were surprised that there is no butterfish served at the sushi houses of the area.  It’s our favourite!

Stage 2

Stage 3 – 30k Trail Run

Since this was a trail run we decided to wear our Trailrunner Nation PEKs tattoos (performance enhancing kokopelli).  We also decided this would be a good time to try something new (because that’s what you’re supposed to do in races right? LOL) and try Tailwind Nutrition. This run is held at Bechtel Park – 6 loops of the track, fields, and wood trails.  I very much underestimated how challenging this course was going to be, and at 10k I was really feeling it.  My stomach was also feeling pretty lousy from when I woke up so the first 10k so I didn’t eat or drink anything, which didn’t help with my energy.  I plodded along, counting the laps until I finished.  I’m telling you, I was never, ever so happy to finish an event!  It took me far longer than I thought it should have, and I was certainly humbled.


What was fantastic though were the other runners, we cheered each other on at each lap when we saw each other.  And then the signs – one for each runner attached to the trees in the woods – these two things made me realize that we were in a very different race than what we know – this is a family. I felt really weak after the event, my body was vibrating for the longest time, but I put on my 110% compression (HIGHLY recommended), ate and drank what I could, and had a massage.  I kept my spot in 8th for the day and 8th overall with a time of 3:14:29, for which I was very happy!  Oh, best part of the whole Bechtel stage?  I was introduced to Bechtel hair.  Jodi, I love you. And Tailwind rocks.


Stage 3

Stage 4 – 10 Mile Hill Run

After Bechtel I was feeling a bit concerned about how this was going to shake out.  Steve and I booked massages at KW to flush out the legs and to work my adductor and piriformis that I was feeling all week.  When we got to Camp Heidelberg we had a short run to shake out the legs.  My adductor and hamstrings were really tight.  The race started half way down the hill, so we had a tiny bit of momentum to get back up the hill.  The hills compared to Blair Hill in Ottawa, and we had done quite a bit of training on Blair, so once I was confident I wasn’t going to snap my legs, I started to speed up.  This is some of the hills we ran.


I LOVED this course!  I did get confused though, because I thought it was an out and back, but the turnaround was at 9k.  Then I remembered that Lloyd had mentioned a surprise, so I thought “oh! he’s making it an 18k!  that’s the surprise!”.  Sigh.  I got to the last water station and cheered with them, then turned right, as this was the route we took in.  I then heard a lot of commotion behind me, so I thought another runner was coming through… until Katya was running next to me and telling me I went the wrong way.  Poor girl had to chase me because I had my iPod on.  I turned around laughing, and profusely grateful, and was on my way, much to the amusement of the two police officers who were laughing and shaking their heads.  I made it back to the finish without getting lost again and had a laugh with Lloyd, who couldn’t understand how I did.  At the presentation of the results he announced that I had the honour of being the first person to get lost on that course!  I finished in 9th, but maintained my 8th place with a time of 1:28:37 and felt really good!


Stage 4

Stage 4.5 – Rest day… food with the other runners!  And of course, because we’re streaking, and it was on the same day, AND they offered a virtual run, we ran a 5k virtual fun run with all proceeds going to the Sears Great Canadian Run to #EndKidsCancers.

Stage 4.5

Stage 5 – 25.6k Alpine Run

This stage is the one that is most feared by the other runners, and once we saw Chicopee ski hill, we knew why!  It’s really steep!  We were excited to get going and once given the go-ahead I was very careful to stay on track and not go off course.  I was super happy to see our cheer signs again! Except somehow I went off course again, unknowingly of course, until the lead pack came at me and told me that I was going the wrong way.  I thought they must have been kidding, only to be told ‘no joke, you’re leading the race’.  DAMN!!  I was so upset with myself, even moreso when I saw Steve and he asked ‘honey, where are you going?’.  UGH.  Worst of all, I took two people along for the ride with me.  We turned back and backtracked to the top to try to find where we went off course, the whole while telling everyone coming at us ‘we took a wrong turn, keep going’.  Michelle realized that we never saw the 2km marker so our mission was to find it.  The marshall at the top didn’t know how to get us back on track, so we gave up and turned back to continue onward.  I was really worried that I had just DQ’d myself and the other runners with me.  By the time we saw the 5km marker and we were at 5.75 we knew that we had at least made up the ground missed, if not on the right course.  We could see the RD at the bottom of the hill, hands on hips, and I said ‘we’re in trouble’.  LOL.  We showed him our watches and explained we had tried to get back to where we went off, and he told us what we should have done and to keep going.  That log that we had to climb over? Yeah, the flag is a left from there… don’t go along the path up the hill.  UGH UGH UGH.  My adrenaline and anger at what I had done had me picking up the pace and I made up quite a bit of time.


I was really really happy to get this race over with, and face the ridicule I knew I deserved.  Good God what was wrong with me?!?  Maureen gave me a huge hug and kiss at the finish, telling me she loved me (and that she also took a wrong turn her first year at this course… Love you Mau).  I finished 9th and was somehow able to maintain my 8th overall.  Time 3:25:46.

Stage 5


Stage 6 – 10k Time Trial

This stage begins in the town (city?) of Elmira.  I memorized the town, the map, and recited it to everyone I saw.  I was quizzed by the other runners as well.  When it was my turn to start I again apologized to Lloyd for being such a disaster and tried to reassure him that I wasn’t going to get lost today. He is truly a wonderful person and laughed and told me to have a good run.  I was off and paying very close attention that I needed to turn right when I got to the intersection.  I burst out laughing when I saw this:


Yes my friends, each and every turn had a personalized sign for me, to make sure I didn’t get lost. Each of the volunteers on the route were also tasked with ensuring that I knew where I was going.  It was amazing.  I’m happy to report that I didn’t get lost, in fact I had a great run!  My time was 49:58, 6th woman, keeping me at 8th overall.


There was a special award presented at the results to me – a compass LOL!!  The reaction…


Stage 6

In the afternoon we had a potluck to thank the volunteers for all their hard work over the week. Imagine giving that much of your time to put this race on! So grateful!! It was also very fun to hang out with the other runners when we were a little more presentable.


Stage 7 – Marathon

It was really cool to drop off our bottles and gels into the boxes at the start of the marathon so we didn’t have to carry everything.  Steve and I decided we would share bottles, and spaced them out to every 2nd water station.  I felt really really good starting the race.  It was nice, Steve and I got to run together for quite a while, his goal was to stick with me so I could keep him from going out too fast because of his injury.  In retrospect, sharing a bottle is a bad idea when you run together!  We both had to wait while the other had their drink.  Rookies!!

Stage 7

I was feeling great until the half, and then I got really weak.  I wasn’t sure what was going on, I almost broke down and had any old gel on the table, but figured that would be a bad idea, considering gels and I don’t get along.  I had a Jolly Rancher and a GinGin in my SPBelt and had those.  I expect those 50 calories didn’t help a whole lot.  I was dry and weak at 23k, with my emergency fuel,  Justin’s Almond Butter, taped to our bottle and waiting for me at 37.  UGH.  I know better than this!  There was a lot of walking in this second half, and thankfully I had Pierre to keep me company.


We were very happy to be finished, and I was really disappointed with my time (4:16:05… first half 1:56:30, second 2:19:35), and questioned my nutrition strategy.  I was still 8th on the day, and kept my 8th overall.  My legs were seizing pretty badly afterwards, and I couldn’t understand why*



Stage 7

Overall, I can’t say enough about this race.  We are already registered for 2015!  We have never been to any event like this before.  It truly is a family affair, and we are part of that family.  We can’t wait to get back to KW for next year’s run!

*So apparently Steve took the L-Glutamine scoop instead of the Tailwind.  Essentially we were taking in 1/8 of the product than we thought.  No WONDER I felt like crap!!