It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed ~ Napoleon Hill

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Team 57 – True North Strong & Fast

Being part of a team changes the dynamic of competition. Running with eleven teammates who are encouraging and supporting one another creates an environment where the individual has a greater need to succeed then when competing alone. This past weekend we participated in our second Ragnar Relay. 36 legs, 12 runners, 2 vans and 200-ish miles. We ran from Cobourg to Niagara Falls. It’s far… look at a map!

Many people ask us “Why?”. Why would we run so far, why would we spend 26 1/2 hours in a van, why would we run through the night with very little sleep. I’m sure each of the 12 runners on our team has a different answer to that. My answer – because working together to run 200 miles with these other 11 runners made me push myself harder than I would if I were alone. It made me want their success on their runs even more than I wanted it for myself and because I alone couldn’t run 200 miles but with my team I could (and did)!

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much ~ Helen Keller

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of the year. It didn’t fit the criteria of goal setting as it was neither specific nor measurable but it was important to me. Last year when I ran my first overnight relay I suffered terribly on my third leg. In fact it was the worst run I have ever had. If it had been a training run I would have just quit but I was in the middle of the Adirondacks, by myself and I had no option but to complete my run and get to the next exchange point. I hadn’t fuelled properly and had no energy. I was up all night and I hadn’t eaten since I finished my last run 8 hours prior. The goal that I set this year was to run this Ragnar more prepared. So I adjusted how and when I ate and it worked. My third leg was one of the fastest paces that I have ever run. I used that terrible experience from last year and overcame the issues of lack of sleep and weird eating patterns. I ran my third leg 26 seconds per km faster than the first two legs. So despite my goal not being specific or measurable I certainly accomplished it!

I watched in awe as runner after runner came in under their anticipated pace times. Seeing the determination on their face and knowing that they left nothing on the course. It was truly inspiring and pushed me on each of my runs, as to not let my teammates down. Not all of the runs were perfect though. There were struggles in the middle of the night. There was a strong head wind, it was dark and there were directional signs missing. But rather than these factors causing defeat, they created a stronger bond, with the team stopping on the side of the road for encouragement to get the runner to the next exchange point. The team did what they needed to do so that every runner knew, that while they struggled, they were not alone.

As our final runner came across the finish line I cried. Partly because she was crying but mainly because I was so proud of our team for getting us so far.

And finishing 18th of 209 teams and 1st in the mixed sub masters category was an added bonus!

We even made it into Canadian Running Magazine’s online photos of the event (Second day of Reebok Ragnar Niagara – 3rd last picture with the caption “Finish” that’s us!)

Now that’s its over I am missing my teammates and wondering what’s next?!?

“We believe that being a Ragnarian is more than being a runner; that misery loves company and happiness is “only real when shared”; that there is a badass inside all of us; that everyone deserves to be cheered at the finish line; that tutus make you run faster; that what happens in the van stays in the van; that adventure can only be found if you are looking for it: and that a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay to watch the sunrise with our friends. Together we ran 200-ish miles. Together we can accomplish anything. WE ARE RAGNARIANS.”

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View of the Niagara River from Exchange Point 34
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The Finish Line!
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Why we really run! The beer tent at the finish line in the most spectacular venue – at the top of the Falls!

Don’t dwell on those who let you down. Cherish those who hold you up.

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I make it a habit to surround myself with positive, successful, kind people. Just by me having this mindset, I have created an environment where at this point, I rarely deal with negative people anymore. Until this week!

This week I was in an unfortunate situation with a person who is an aggressive, egocentric and very angry bully. He had an agenda and was out to hurt innocent people to fulfill his goal. I think because I really don’t come in contact with this kind of person regularly I was shocked that someone could be this negative and hurtful. It’s not that I don’t know that these type of people exist but they are not in my life so I don’t give them any thought.

The situation has been resolved but it was a very stressful two days where I felt anxious and angry. Feelings that I try very hard to stay away from. And based on how I felt this week, will try even harder to avoid.

I don’t understand how someone thinks that their life will be better by treating people disrespectfully or intentionally hurting them. I appreciate that this person obviously has some issues and insecurities but intimidating and threatening others is not the way to deal with them.

I know that I am a better person because of the amazing people that I surround myself with. I have always realized this but through this incident it has become even more clear.

What a wonderful thing that happens when good people get together.

A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes. ~ Gandhi

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The news is full of such negativity and hate that I just don’t participate in it. I don’t read newspapers and I don’t watch the news (I don’t even have a tv!). Am I uneducated about some issues? Yes probably, but I would rather fill my time reading and watching things that are inspirational and positive, things that are going to make my life better.

I met a women in Florida a few weeks ago and she wanted to talk politics. Do I like our Prime Minister? What do I think about Trump? I told her politely that I don’t follow politics and that I spend my time on things that I can control. Trump being president is not something that I can control. I didn’t even get a vote. I’m Canadian. I told her that I can put positive things in my head or negative things and I choose positive. She paused for a moment and agreed that I had a very good outlook on life.

I respect that people have interest in discussing politics and being informed on all of the issues. I just don’t have that interest and the “discussions”, particularly online, get pretty nasty. Spending my time reading or hearing this puts me in a negative mindset which then affects the way I think about everything.

We can’t control who is Prime Minister or President (once the decision has been made) but we can put more positivity into the world. If we want to make the world a better place, and I think that’s what we all want, than we should engage in positive activities. Hold the door, give compliments, help someone in need, smile, give blood. Do something that is going to add good to the world rather than complaining about what you don’t like about others. Just think of the ripple effect this would have if everyone was acting in kindness. Continuing to give time to the issues fuelled by politicians and the media is just feeding the negativity.

And let’s read more stories like this one about Reddy and Jax…

Boy has his hair cut like his friend. Now he thinks they can’t be told apart

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Success occurs when your dreams are bigger than your excuses.

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This morning it was 6 degrees C and pouring rain. I was on the couch under a warm blanket. The plan was to run 5K and as I looked out the window the excuses seemed almost too easy, but guess what? I did it!

It’s really easy to make excuses, it’s so easy that sometimes we don’t consciously realize that we’re doing it. I could have justified not running, instead staying in the house this morning, what sane person would go running in the pouring rain? But I’ve got goals and sitting on the couch under a warm blanket isn’t going to help me achieve them.

The trick I’ve been using when those excuses appear… and they ALWAYS appear… is to remember what the end goal is. I am running another Ragnar Relay in May and my goal is to run all 3 legs at a certain pace. The first 2 legs aren’t the problem. The third leg is the challenge! Running approximately 8kms after spending the past 20 hours in a van, with no sleep, weird eating patterns and having already run 16kms IS the challenge. At the relay in September I struggled with the third leg, really struggled and I am not suffering through that again. So this time I WILL be fully trained.

Better training includes running even when it’s cold and pouring rain. So this morning while I was trying to talk myself out of the run I thought of my goal, I thought of that terrible third leg in September and I put my shoes on and did it.

If you’re struggling to fight the excuses and the thought of your goal doesn’t help you push through, maybe that goal isn’t the right one. Ask yourself why you set the goal. I had this issue last year. I set a swimming goal but I set it for the sake of setting it and not for any other reason. The result was, I fell behind and started hating swimming. So I gave up that goal and focused on something else. Something that I truly wanted to do. The giving up part was difficult for me but that was just my ego getting in the way.

A good goal should be something that you truly want to achieve, something that you are passionate about. If these things are true, the excuses become less of an issue and easier to push through.

I’m certainly not saying that I never make excuses, procrastinate or skip workouts but I am far more conscious of it now and fight a little hard to just get it done!

Many things aren’t equal but everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day.  We make time for what we truly want.

Because when we stop and look, we see just how far we’ve come

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Key Largo – November 2016

In the past couple of weeks people have been talking a lot about how happy they are that 2016 is over, what a terrible year it was. I am not going to deny that tragic events didn’t happen in 2016. And some of these people suffered loss or were dealing with illness. It’s not my place to tell them that 2016 wasn’t a terrible year for them, but it did make me think.

Hearing this repeatedly started me thinking about what my thoughts were on the past year. I thought about things that happened in the world, but most of my memories were of what happened to me, my family and my friends.

While there were definitely some negative aspects to the year, I have to say that 2016 was pretty incredible. When I analyzed this (because I analyze, or over-analyze everything) I realized that I put the most weight on things that I control. This past year I put more effort into making my life full and amazing than I have in any previous year.

Great things happened this year, because I made them happen. I pushed to fulfill adventures that were out of my comfort zone because I knew the outcome would be worth it. Amazing years don’t happen by doing the same thing as the previous year.

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As the new year starts there is now a lot of talk about “2017 is going to be amazing” and “This is going to be best year yet” and I truly hope that this is true for everyone. But unless everyone plays an active role in their life and doesn’t just let it happen, I fear that in December I am going to hear “I can’t wait until 2017 is over, it’s been a terrible year”. Bad events are going to happen every year, most of them we have no control over. So again in 2017 I am going to do what I need to do, to make MY life and year amazing.

Before setting goals for 2017, I looked back and documented all that I had accomplished in the past year. Wow… it was a pretty cool exercise!

Don’t let your life be a series of “what if’s” make it a series of “what’s next”

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The Canadian flag being raised after the gold medal for Women’s 4×200 freestyle relay

There are always those reasons (excuses) that I can think of not to do something, but usually the reasons to do it far outweigh the excuses. So why is it that the excuses often win out? It is easier to play it safe, it’s easier to just stay in the routine and it usually requires less effort to do what I always do.

This past week was one of the most amazing weeks I’ve had in a long time. Was it out of routine? Yes. Did it take effort to make it work? Yes. Did I have to drive 5 hours each way? Yes. Were there other things that needed to get done this week? YES!

A year or two ago I heard that Windsor (my hometown) would be hosting the World 25m Swimming Championships. As soon as I heard about it I knew that I wanted to be part of it. Now this is where my plan / execute fails. I have good ideas about things that I want to do but then when it comes time to do them, the excuses come out – I have too much work, I need to go to see clients that week, it’s a long drive – and the idea doesn’t happen.

This time it wasn’t a fail. I went online 6 months ago and completed a volunteer application, I blocked the week in my calendar and I worked around it. I knew that this was important to me, so I figured it out.

You can’t outwit fate by standing on the sidelines placing little side bets about the outcome of life… if you don’t play, you can’t win.

It truly was an incredible week. The event itself was spectacular but being able to experience it  behind the scenes as a volunteer was amazing. My job for the first 3 nights was to put the bibs (the sticker with the finalist’s last name) on the athletes. I got to watch the best swimmers in the world minutes before they raced. I put a bib on Chad le Clos right before he set a world record, I’m not going to take all the credit for the WR. The first night I was a little (or a lot) star-struck. After that it was very interesting to become familiar with their personalities. Most of the athletes were quiet and focused. Some were smiling and talkative.

While getting to see the swimmers up close was the highlight for me, the venue was no less spectacular. The event was held at the WFCU, where the Windsor Spitfires play. That’s right – the pool is at a hockey arena. Per FINA (the global governing body for swimming) regulations a temporary pool has to be installed that is 25m long x 26m wide x 2m deep. A company flew in from Italy to construct it… in 10 days… on a hockey rink! It was amazing to see this pool.

I remember thinking on the first day – I am so happy that this is only the first day and I get to come back for the rest of the week to work and experience this. (My effort to live in the moment is working!) Throughout the week I saw many people from high school and my swimming days. I loved it. Most of them I hadn’t seen in over 2o years!

This was a once in a life time event. A world championship, my favourite sport, in my hometown. If I had let the excuses win, I would have missed it. The next bus is not coming in 15 minutes. It’s not coming again. I was sad to leave today but so happy that I was part of it. I hope this experience will help me in the future to really think about what’s important and to put the excuses aside.

Other volunteers that I met couldn’t believe that I came from out of town (500 kms away) to volunteer at this event. They’d be shocked to find out what I have planned next! Stay tuned…

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This was my “office” for one of my shifts!

We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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My nephews turned 9 in August. Deciding on a gift for them is a struggle for me. It’s not that they don’t want “stuff” but it seems like such a waste of money as they are excited about toys for about 5 minutes and then it goes in their toy room… which I’ve never actually seen them play in. So I decided to do something with them instead, an experience rather than more stuff.

This past weekend the three of us took a road trip. Niagara Falls was the first stop on Friday night and Pittsburg on Saturday. The “gift” was tickets to see the Pittsburg Penguins game. They loved the game but they found a gift in everything that we did.

Our room in Niagara overlooked the falls and at night the lights changed colours, there was a lot of excitement and many pictures taken! They ran into the hotel room to check it out and were excited by many things that I wouldn’t even think about.  The hair dryer (?), the fact that they could watch the Jays game FROM THE BED and the desk chair that spun around.

If we could all see the world through eyes of a child, we could see the magic in everything.

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Happy boy!
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There was a long wait at the border and I was getting impatient, perhaps yelling, and Andrew said to me “Tia, it’s ok, we’re not in a hurry”.  And he was right. We had all day to get to Pittsburg so why worry about how long the border crossing took.

They watched the signs and were anxious to cross the Pennsylvania state line as none of us had ever been to the state. We HAD to stop at the PA Welcome Centre. There was a fascination with the number of Ontario license plates we saw going to see the Jays play in Cleveland. They could NOT believe that people would drive that far for a game. It was totally lost on them that we were driving further than that for a regular season game.

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I think the highlight of the trip was when we walked to our room in the hotel in Pittsburg and there was a vending machine RIGHT ACROSS THE HALL! This was a hot topic of conversation and there was a great deal of time spent looking at the treats inside. Inside the room was AMAZING as we had a view of the PPG Arena, RIGHT FROM OUR ROOM.

Andrew came out of the bathroom before bed with a bloody kleenex announcing that he just pulled his tooth out. Did you know that if you are in the US the tooth fairy pays in US dollars?

The morning after the game there was a 6.6km Mario Lemieux run ( As Andrew pointed out multiple times – it’s 6.6kms because Mario’s number was 66). We could see the finish line from our window. These boys are no strangers to spectating at running races so they insisted that we go out and cheer on the runners (my heart almost burst!) So we did and they got to meet Iceburgh, the Penguins mascot.


Driving through Buffalo on the way home we got to see (from the highway) where the Buffalo Sabres play, which was SO AWESOME!

We spent a lot of time in the car and as we got close to home I asked them if they thought all of the time in the car was worth it. Alexander responded “You’re kidding right?”

I think this was more of a gift for me than it was for them ♥