Monday, July 11, 2016

Heading West, A Trail Sampler Menu

See Derrick's website to read about our recent trip to Oregon and California. Click here to find it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dion Red Barn 2016

It wouldn't feel right to let a winter pass without doing at least one snowshoe race, so I was happy to be able to run the Dion Red Barn race this past weekend. I had a blast, and am really glad to have kicked off my year by getting in a race. Having not raced in a while, I started nice and conservatively for once, and found the snow conditions good for me, with deep and sloppy snow that slows down the road runners, ha. The last km was a lot more packed from being repeated from the start, and it revealed the true state of my running speed as Bryan and Matt, the guys I was running with, took off and put a lot of time on me in a short distance. It was kind of funny actually, and inspires me as I'm notching up my training. Overall I'm pretty happy with how it went!

Full race details here

Some people asked for the soup recipe...see below.

Just after the start. Photo by
The last hill, nearing the end. Photo by

Brennan, Tasha and Hazel working the kit pickup. Photo by Grace Vanderzande
Start video by ScallyEventPhotos

 Red Barn Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced (optional)
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 sweet potatoes, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 cups spinach, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic. Add all remaining ingredients except spinach and simmer until sweet potatoes are soft. (Or add everything to a slow cooker and cook on low for several hours.) Stir in spinach just before serving.

Jack Judge enjoying some warm soup after his race. Photo by Grace Vanderzande

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dear Mali,

I wasn’t sure what to make of you when I brought you home for Neeka all those years ago. You’re the only dog she never tried to beat up when she first met, so that was a good sign. She must have respected that you came in smelling like the SPCA where you both did hard time.

You and I didn’t click quite as quickly; my love for you was more of a learning curve. It was really cool how, over time, our bond grew and grew and you ended up being my best furry friend for many years. You weren’t one of those sensitive types though; your needs were your own, and your love of food was bloody overpowering. I always joked you would trade me in a heartbeat for half a crouton - you couldn’t have helped your insatiable self. But I also know that once you gulped it down, you would have looked around and wondered where the hell I was.

You never had the raw running talent of our huskies - and believe me I know what that kind of comparison feels like - but neither of us let that stop us from doing it anyway. I have so many memories from all those miles we logged together. Do you remember the epic snow run around Arkon Loop? It’s astounding that you were able to do that, so impressive. You always did like the cool winter runs. And now that I think of it, the fact you preferred running with booties meant you had more in common with Iditarod dogs than the huskies did! You were also the best at defense in our pond hockey games. They were all too puck-obsessed to block the guy with the stick!

In later years you preferred warmer temps, and I’m so sorry we didn’t get to the beach again. I longed to take you swimming to soothe your achy joints. Then we could have sprawled in the grass and enjoyed deep, satisfying sniffs of spring. I wanted to see that contentment in your eyes after enduring the olfactory desert of winter. That’s not easy for a hound dog.

We were lucky this winter wasn’t too bad, so we could still get around as best we could. I’m grateful for the special time we had these last few months. It was hard for both of us, but we needed each other.

I never told you, not wanting the others to overhear, but you were my mom's favourite. With your floppy ears and soulful eyes, you were pretty damn irresistible. She would have been sad for me today, but she would also point out how fortunate we all were. A life well-loved is a life well-lived, she would say.

I’m not sure you knew my name, so I won’t bother signing this letter.

You knew who I was.

Miss you my friend.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


It has been an easy winter in Ontario this year, but finally we do have some snow. I got my usual winter cold out of the way last week, and after a couple of days of barely making it off the couch, I was able to at least enjoy walking on our property, which I did once in the morning and once at night for a couple of days. It's amazing how even if you can't run, simply sticking to your normal routine in a modified way is such a mental boost.

These photos don't do the winter sky justice, but the pale yellows and pinks are stunning this time of year.

I'm currently developing my running and adventure goals for 2016 and am excited to be a member of the La Sportiva Mountain Running Team again this year. I appreciate their continued support after a difficult last year for me, where running goals took a back seat.

More soon!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Storm

I've spent my whole life trying to outrun my fears.

Dodging around rain clouds of doubt, anxiety, darkness, insecurity; always trying to fight my way toward patches of sunshine. 

Then I encountered a storm that was too big, too dark, too powerful. I could see it on the horizon chasing me down. I knew every time I saw it coming that I was so fucking doomed. So I ran harder than I ever had, driven by my quaking fear. 

But there was no outrunning it; grief storm had me cornered. Wearily I turned to face it as I crumpled to the ground. In my surrender it raged over me and turned me inside out. 

The storm re-calibrated me like mountains have done to the hills I run at home, the north did to our winter winds, and my ultras have done to my ability to endure all that fear.

Now the sky is clearing, the winds are subsiding and the sun is starting to warm the ground I rest on. I am sensing a calmness and a trust rising up in me. I know I'll never be the same. 

I would give it all back a thousand times over to have my mother back. With her passing she left us each some of her mighty courage. We need it, and I don't intend to squander her gift.

I'm through with running away.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Rest, Regroup, Redirect, Share

After a bumpy and stressful first half of 2015, I’ve been enjoying a period of rest through the summer, feeling my energy seep back in a healing way and experiencing a good reset. As with benefiting from a training effect after a hard workout, now that I’m feeling recovered I’m emerging a stronger person. From that place it is possible to see forward with more clarity. I’ve switched up my training to get back to doing a lot more strength work at the gym. Yoga has been great for base strength and injury prevention, but I’ve lost some functional, dynamic strength and it is fun to get back to having a dedicated time and place to re-develop it. 

From a place of starting to get more excited about the direction my training is heading, it follows that lining up some races is next. It has been a quiet year in that regard, and I hope to make up for lost time now that my enthusiasm is back, and just in time for some cooler weather.

Coaching and Workshops

Something I’ve long-known about running is it is sometimes best when shared. I’ve recently formalized what I’ve been doing informally for a few years, and started working as a coach with Spafford Health and Adventure. I have current openings for a couple of athletes if anyone is interested! Full details can be found at

Also, later this year and into 2016 Derrick and I will be putting on a series of trail and ultrarunning workshops. This was something we were hoping to have off the ground for earlier this year, but it has taken longer than expected to get them rolling. Stay tuned for more details! With the rapid growth in the sport our goal is to introduce participants to every aspect: tons of practical information, guidance geared to every level, inspiration, and direction. We also want to pass on a sense of the ethos and culture that has historically been aligned with the sport, to help preserve some of the best aspects of trail and ultrarunning as things evolve and grow in exciting new directions.  

I think the sport has taken off because people are looking to it for something authentic and life-affirming. We live in a time where it is overvalued to be perfectly polished. Individuality is stifled in favour of trying to be just like everyone else. It is refreshing to come back from a trail run with dirt-caked legs, oozing scrapes, bug bites, dripping sweat and disheveled hair, raw-yet-empowered from pushing our limits. it brings us in touch with our natural state of being. It's also a visceral reminder to bring to other areas of our lives the courage to make our own decisions, to risk making mistakes rather than always playing it safe. 

Some photo highlights of the Summer

On Whiteface Mountain, New York (photo by Joe Azze, Mountain Peak Fitness)

Ray Zahab of impossible2Possible dazzling us with his keynote for our work conference in June

Playing on the trails at Gould Lake Conservation Area

Frisbee with my mom! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Perfect Run

Just over ten years ago, Derrick and I attempted to fastpack the Rideau Trail from Ottawa to Kingston for our honeymoon run. We fell short of that goal, but when I wrote of the attempt for a Trail Runner article I rationalized that we'd someday finish up the parts of the trail we had missed. To be honest I didn't even believe myself because I thought we had already seen all the good parts of the trail, either on our training runs through the years, or in the four days we were on the trail for that fastpack.

This weekend we were running the Foley Mountain section of the RT, and Derrick was keen on checking out a trail segment that headed west from there. We had never noticed the trailhead before and weren't expecting much, so we were thrilled when it turned out to be a total gem of a trail. It was everything that I love about trail running in the Canadian Shield: lots of steep ups and downs and very rocky. Some sections were flat rock along ridges and others were littered with smaller rocks where you have to focus on every step. I love how the constant changes keep you in the flow of the moment.

Lately I've been feeling stale and finding it hard to muster much excitement in my running. When I'm in a phase like this I inevitably find I start looking too hard for satisfaction from running in the wrong way. By wrong I guess I mean backwards, because I'm looking for elusive outcomes to make it all better. Things like insisting on certain times, splits, placing, and workout paces, arriving at goals, and even that good old buddy BMI, are all simply outcomes. They usually stem from the inputs of finding peace, joy and solitude in nature; de-stressing via a good workout; being inspired by the pull of adventure; sharing miles and encouragement with others; choosing meaningful goals to work towards; doing work solely for the satisfaction it brings; and of course, playing just for the fun of it. 

This unexpected section of trail, discovered a decade after I thought there was nothing left to see here, with just the perfect person on a perfect summer day, reminded me to shift my mind out of reverse, and instead just go with the flow.