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 ♥

Happiness is only real when it’s shared.

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Team 101 – True North Strong and Fast

Happiness is only real when it’s shared. This is what is written on the back of the medal that I received for the Ragnar Relay that I ran this past weekend. And I couldn’t agree more. A few years ago I had an idea that, at the time was just a dream. I have completed running events – 10K, half marathon, marathon but I needed an event that was different. I wanted to be a part of something. I didn’t know what it was but this idea kept coming back to me. Last summer I discovered Ragnar Relays. This was it! This was what I had been looking for.

Ragnar is a 200ish mile running relay. 12 runners in 2 vans each run 3 legs to complete this continuous race. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, I chose Ragnar Adirondacks (that’s right – mountains!) As I told people about this, the common response was “Why?” or “Does this sound like fun to you?”. It did sound like fun to me, and it was. Only it was so much better that I had ever imagined.

As a swimmer and a runner I am not generally part of a team. My events are individual. Being part of this 12 runner team was incredible! Going into it I was concerned that the faster runners on the team would resent having me there, but that concern disappeared after the first leg. We were truly a team and we all played our part. Being the analytical person that I am, I created a spreadsheet with the time that each person would take based on their pace. We all used this tool and we watched as runner after runner beat their expected time. We all worked together to measure against our pace time. I was never compared to the speedy Boston Qualifiers. I was only compared to the pace that I had estimated.

My other concern was that most of the team members had never met one another and would they get along? As I sat at dinner after the race and watched conversations and interactions between people who had met only 60 hours earlier, I realized that bonds were created this weekend. We were part of a team and that brought us together, that and being in a van together for 25+ hours!

One of the funniest moments happened while we were at the start line. We were representing Canada in our red and white with the team name True North Strong and Fast. As we were having our picture taken in walked Team USA. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

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This event was so much more than a running race. The support, companionship, scenery and hilarious moments strongly outweighed the difficult runs, lack of sleep and smelly vans. And while it was a competition, the support among all the teams was amazing. Cheering for other runners and even supportive words during a “kill” (when you pass another team). Being polite Canadians we used the term “I’m sorry, eh” instead of kill (and we had a lot of them!).

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There is a term used within Ragnar to describe the feeling once the race is finished. I think most of our team is suffering from a “Ragnover”… I am still suffering 4 days later.

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Of the 277 teams that raced we placed 13th! 25 hours and 39 minutes. Can’t wait for the next one!

Find your inner wild ~ Ragnar

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Photo credits – Ryan Kovack

Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one!

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Grand Bend – July 2016

Today is the first day of school. I am not a student. I don’t have kids in school, but to me the first day back is a day for a fresh start. I have spent the past few months in “summer mode”.  It’s not that I didn’t do anything but there was a fair amount of time just being lazy – a little too much Netflix, days at the beach and quite a few long weekends eating and drinking too much. These are all good things and I thoroughly enjoyed the summer but there wasn’t much progress on moving toward my goals.

To be fair, my fitness goals remained my top priority. I knew that if I took a break from those, it would be a) too painful to start again (literally) and b) I wouldn’t be able to catch up or reach those goals. So I have been swimming, with the goal of 365 kms this year and running to train for the Ragnar Relay in a few weeks!

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about me feeling bad that I enjoyed the summer. It’s just time. Time to get back to routine, time to get back to my daily rituals, time to make progress on the other goals and dreams. The awesome thing is that I’m really excited to start doing things. As fun as it has been, I’ve had enough. In the past, once I started down the path of laziness it was hard to turn back. This year though I knew the free pass was for the summer only and so this morning I had no issue getting back to making progress on things. In fact I craved it!

Some people might argue that you should always be on, always be moving forward to reach your dreams. And maybe they’re right. But I think that the break helps. It is time to reflect, relax and then when it’s over, time to refocus. And there is a new energy which is even stronger than before the break. Do whatever works for you… just don’t stay in lazy mode too long!

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That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet ~ Emily Dickinson

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I spent the last few days visiting my Aunt and Uncle on Georgian Bay. It felt strange being there as I knew it would be my last visit. They sold their house and are moving at the end of the month. I was 5 years old when they bought the place and I have been up there almost every summer since.

As I was out in the water I was thinking about how much I have enjoyed being there over the years. I realized that this is one of those things that could easily be remembered as a great place where I longed to return, somewhere I wished I had spent more time. I am happy that I didn’t take it for granted, I didn’t say “I’ll just go up next year”. I went… every year!

One of my traditions while up on Champlain Road was to run to the convenience store and back. Some summers the store was open, other years it was closed. I never actually went in. It was 8kms there and back. Some summers it was a regular training run and other summers it was an incredibly painful experience but either way I always did it.

Do you think the new owner would mind if I just parked in the driveway and ran to the store and back… for old time’s sake?

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened ~ Dr. Seuss

I am definitely going to miss this place but it’s time for a new adventure! Where will I start make new memories next summer?