Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Counting Blessings

Why do you run? Because you love it? Because it's part of who you are? Because it gives you space? Solace? Comfort? Let's you eat pie? Pushes you beyond? How do you choose your big goal? Based on distance? Destination? Technical terrain? How long do you train for it? A year? A season? A few months? 

People keep asking me all these questions about the Bruce Trail. My answer? Most often? 

Because you didn't think I would.

Pay attention to your sports headlines today. Let me know how many times you hear about disability. I bet 98% of it's use refers to a player being injured and no longer able to take part. 

I believe persons with disabilities are being competitive, active, and engaged. And those that aren't are looked down on. Likely they don't know where to start. That's where Achilles Canada comes in. They taught me to run. They gave me tools to navigate the tough stuff. They connected me with amazing giving guide runners, bikers, swimmers. 

Please help me to spread the word about our End to End Bruce Trail run. Please share our story in your lunch room, over the water cooler. Please connect with Achilles and volunteer. 

And please know, that without all your love and belief... This wouldn't be happening.


Much love


Monday, July 14, 2014

T - MINUS 20

The COUNTDOWN is on!

Hold your horses, slow the buggy, take a deep breath.

There are exactly 20 days left until the Envisions END TO END CHALLENGE along the Bruce Trail begins.

Set your nerves aside and stop biting those nails!

Okay, so we are all excited and SUPER grateful for all your support and help so far in making this adventure one to remember.  And as the days tick away, as the big chunks of training subside, we have one last big announcement to make!!

To help us share around our message - that disabled athletes CAN and DO everyday - we are inviting you to take part in a little challenge.

For the next 20 days, tell us your favourite places to run, or favourite routes.  Either ones you have run or ones you hope to.  Attach the picture below and share our campaign around.  MAKE SURE YOU TAG Rhonda-Marie Avery in your post.

fb Rhonda-Marie Avery
Twitter @ramavery
instagram batgirl78

Every time you do the above, your name will be entered into a soon-to-be-announced PRIZE PACK!

Let's make the world stand up and notice.  Let's create this space for disabled athletes to show up at your local trail race, your destination ironman, your learn to run clinics.  Let's shout from the tree tops that no matter who you are or where you start from... you can accomplish ANYTHING!

Thank you for all your belief and being part of this journey!

Much love,

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In Between

In the tiny crevices between training and life responsibility, between your "A" race and the step ups to keep you motivated, between sleep and waking... That's the place it's easy to lose all sanity in.  That's where you get to sit and worry about the details.  Where the what if's come out to play.  That's the time where the delicate doubt dances its tempestuous flirt in front of you. 

It's both the time to hold your beliefs close and protective, as well as the time to reach out and gather strength from others. It's the place where character builds upon the subconscious decisions you make minute by minute.  There is little room for ego here, but much need for confidence.  You can't float through this storm.  But neither can you swim upriver against the currents you've let out of the dam up stream.  

We are almost there. With 53 days to go until the first step on the Bruce is taken, we are almost there. When this year started, I attempted to buffer this space with adventurous distractions to keep my motivation high.  This weekend is one such adventure.  We are headed to Michigan for a 24hr bike race, ours spent on a tandem bike of course.  Sometimes you need an adventure for adventures sake.  Either that or the sound of a blind girl singing Journey on the bikes stoker seat for 22.5 hrs.  Training for this event has been interesting.  Most certainly I have neglected far too many coach recommended bike trainer hours.  But last night I was a bit more determined to get outside and ride.  With no guide (or tandem captain) available, I borrowed my daughters bike and bravely took to the high school track in the darker evening hours.  I haven't ridden solo in years.  I haven't had to steer in years.  I haven't been solely responsible for my own safety in, well, ok... bad example... 

But step back a minute.  What's your training like?  Do you train alone?  Do you organize group long runs?  Or rides? Do you go to the pool alone? Run the trails by yourself?  Do you brave the gym by yourself?  

This is an ongoing theme in my life.  This want to prove my ability balanced upon the tipping point with the need to have help from wonderful volunteers.  Whether they drive me to the trails and run slow for a few hours, or pick me up to go to the pool, or brace open water swimming tethered to a near stranger - I need them all.  And I am so grateful for every second.  

But back to your training, how would it be different if you had to rely on someone else's schedule, motivation, effort, availability for 88% of everything?  Would you have picked that A race? Who's bringing you to the start line? Who's driving you home?  Will they wait until you're finished?  Who's guiding? Can they run your speed? Who is training with you?  If your only trail access was by car, how often would you get exposure to the similar terrain that your race will be on?  How would your training change, if you depended on others to open the doors and make it accessible?  

How would your training be different if someone was relying on you, to do that for them?

A guide runners job is nearly thankless.  Cramming in workouts that aren't your tempo, or at your preferred time of day, or in the location you'd love to train in.  A volunteers job is less than pretty.  Drive here or there.  Pick up smelly gross runners.  Put the bike rack on the beloved car.  Change shoes and socks worth calling home about.  Supplying food and water on demand to this outwardly toddler transformed person you thought you knew.  

Ultra running changes you.  It makes you spin around and wonder, who am I to think I can do this? Or can't do this?  What do I offer the world?  Why is it that strength has so very little to do with finishing this race?  

Of course on a littler note, it also makes you do the sniff test on your clothes to decide whether you could get just one more run out of them. What's 50 more km gonna do?  It makes you squat in places your mom might be ashamed of.  It makes you an extrovert even when you just crave the quiet solace of the trail.  It makes you jump in the puddles and smile at the moon.  It makes you aware of the visiting rights of humans in the woods.  It puts a pace in your heart rate that brings a sense of calm like no other.  

But, would it do that for you, if you had to rely on others to make it so?

53 days to go.  None of this would be possible without the help and support of so many people.  There are those who are guiding a day on the trail in August, those I've bullied into guiding a training run already, those who put up with my rambling contemplative emails at stupid o'clock when I'm nearly caught in the space between.  There are those who helped by donating what they could, those that spread the word, those that have made some calls and organized details.  And there is that one person who lets me come home every night and hears my hopeful stubborn footsteps pacing around at all hours, in the dark.  I have no words to express my gratitude to everyone for believing in this cause. For believing in me. 

The Bruce Trails Northern Carin is calling in the distance.  I hear it standing there, declaring a start as much as a beginning.  I see it when I sleep.  I've gotten close to the Southern Carin.  It's very standoffish to me.  It whispers not yet my dear, not yet.  Earn your keep.  Stand tall every step. And cross that space in between. 

Much love on the run, 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What Moves You?

On the short list of things that move you, on the quick notes of what motivates you, on the memo of what gets you up in the morning... where does purpose fit in?

How do you connect the dots between your dreams and your drive?  Is there a secret strategic dance you practice under the moon when no one's around?  Does promising yourself you will, mean enough to you to make it happen?  If not, why not?

Shouldn't the promises you make yourself be the most important promises you make?  Shouldn't YOU be worth the investment?

Write your own Cliffnotes. Be your own subject.  Be your own hero.  Be your gas pedal and motivation and steering wheel.  Be your own get up and go.  Create a sense of self awareness that our everyday is so very lacking in.  Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What are you willing to work towards?  Decide. ... Decide, before someone decides for you.

There are a mere 87 days until this quest along the Bruce Trail begins.  That means there are 107 days until it ends.  There are buckets of effort kept in my closet; carefully canned and settling under dust.  They await their calling.  They await my need.  They are my reserve.  They are my hopes of making a statement for disabled people.  They are my fear of slipping through the cracks.  They are my training, my blood, sweat and tears.  They are all those people who support me; my family, my friends, my perfect strangers lost in their own struggles.  They are the wishing well pennies, the fairy dust I swept off my pillow.  They are the loud and the hush of my want.  And my heart beats to open each one, in time.

What moves you?  When you get up to go for a run, do you preplan a route?  Do you feel the trail tempting you during your best REM cycle?  Can you lose yourself against the contrast of the oldest tree decorated in morning dewy webs waiting to kiss you?  Can you cleanse a piece of desire in the cold creek that splashes over your shoe?  Do you have to set an alarm? Or is the sunrise enough? Where is your purpose?

Have you taken it out of your junk drawer? Polished it up? Set it out to be admired and questioned in the sunlight streaming through the drapes?  Purpose, when thriving, when pulsing with it's own need, refuses to be quiet and hidden.  It screams like the toddler in all of us, PAY ATTENTION!!!! Pay attention, or you will miss it.  Or you will ignore it.

87 days until with deliberate steps, this amazing team of volunteers takes flight.  87 days until every step means something more than I could ever have hoped for.  87 days to start the journey of meeting myself.  107 days until I get to reach out and shake her hand, hold her in a crushing embrace, and whisper.... "It's about freaking time you showed up!"

Please join us on this adventure from End to End of the Bruce Trail.  Please share your time with us.  Follow along.  Come run a bit with us.  Share our tale with your circle.  Please help create awareness for all disabled athletes.  Dream big, wide awake.


Much love on the run,

Friday, March 28, 2014

10 Minutes....

How do you measure 10 minutes?

There is, at least for me, a huge gap in the wanting for time to pass and the actual passing of time.  I have been stuck in the same ten minutes of time before, for what seemed like forever.  Time is this concept we have placed all our trust in.  We believe in it.  We assume it is an absolute.  A thing we can thank the sun for.  A passage through.  A movement in.  A moment in.  A thought.

Give me a second.  Hang on a second.  Slow down a minute there.  Hurry up, we don't have all day. Quick like a bunny.  Step it up.  Let's make some tracks.

Time will tell.  She always does.  The tale she tells is mostly up to you though.

Ten minutes.  Let's encapsulate this ten minutes.  Let's contemplate this ten minutes, in context.  During an exam? One you are failing? On a long run? At the beginning? Nearer to the end? Slowly? Quickly?

An ultra runner measures ten minutes the same way.  Ten minutes until I will let myself walk again.  Ten minutes until I have to start running again.  Ten minutes until the race starts.  Ten minutes to wait in line for the portapot... (what am I doing I'm an ultra runner, where's the nearest tree?).  Ten minutes off my last PB time on this course.  Ten minutes for the next mile. Ten minutes to the next aid station.  Ten minutes until I see my tent again, my crew again, civilization again. Ten minutes I might lose my mind in. Ten minutes to change the world. Longest ten minutes ever.  Longest five seconds ever. Don't give up.

Then we stop.  Perhaps we don't stop running, or walking, or crawling forward.  But we take pause mentally and regroup.  Challenge our physical space against this person we have set out to be.  And one deep breath after the next, make an important decision.  A life changing decision.  One we will make over and over again.

Who am I?

My answer for this is always the same.  I swear I merely forget from time to time.  My answer is always the stepping stone for the next moment.  I may not know who I am.  But I know who I don't want to be.  I know who I'm aiming to be.  I know, specifically, the vastness of the universe I know nothing about, that is waiting for me just beyond.  Just past this next step.... If I would only brave taking it.

Will you brave taking it with me?

This journey along the Bruce Trail in August has so many steps.  The "timeline" will take me through some of the darkest corners of my inhibitions.  First, back to the Boston Marathon, where the events of last year still haunt my dreams and threaten to shake the foundation of my trust.  This is a trust I work daily to cement.  A trust in the earth beneath my feet, always being there to rise up and meet me.  A trust in the goodness of people and their willingness to help.  A trust in the universe to show me the direction I should take next in life.  After Boston, there are a few events to keep smiles ever present.  A marathon here or there. A 10 mile swim. A 24 hour bike race.  A nap or two.  And then the Bruce.

So we return, how do you measure ten minutes?  Is it easier to let it go without a watch? Is it more comfortable to not think of time ticking away?

128 days until my feet (along with the feet of so many wonderful volunteers) touch the Bruce Trail and begin.  Each day bringing us closer to the end.  Each day setting out to show the world that disabled athletes are out there, trying, investing, training, focusing, and looking forward to the next ten minutes.

Every minute is a gift.  Whether or not it was wrapped in beautiful paper and bows, or mud and twigs - it's still a gift.

Much love on the run,


For more information on our campaign and the Bruce Trail Challenge please click the links above.
Show your support and share us around!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A "Teachable Moment" In Time...With Barrie's MP Patrick Brown

... But wait, what is a "Teachable Moment"?

Solo shared this term with me once upon a time.  It caught my attention so much so that I search it out whenever, and wherever I can.  Ekaterina Solovieva SOLO tells us that a teachable moment is any moment that offers a lesson when it's not necessarily expected.

At the end of February I had the opportunity to spend a morning with Barrie's MP Patrick Brown. (More info on Patrick here)  Two dear friends of mine; Joan Van Hilten (read her blog here) and Patrick Voo (read his blog here) joined in the fun.  Ultra runners by habit and guide runners by chance, these two helped to share the lessons of How To Guide Run a Rhonda with our MP.

Our goal for this adventure? To share with our MP what it's like to guide run and also to share the concept of a small thing I would call "multisensory perception".  How does running take on a new level of awareness if one sense is removed?  Patrick Brown, after guide running around a loop with the group, then agreed to blindfold himself and be guide run around the same loop.  Watch and see what happens...

Adventures in blindrunning continue!  Lets get the word out there!

Please click back on the tabs above to read the Challenge and what this Bruce Trail adventure is all about.

Please share our Go Fund Me page with your friends and family.  Let them know we are out to raise awareness and funds for Achilles Canada!!

Much love on the run,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Envisions And The Light Within

Dream big! And plan bigger! This year I hope to make that statement a way of life, not just words I utter in my empty moments.... This year the universe introduced me to my Salomon Sister Solo (Kate) and we've plotted a big challenge... Take a look and see for yourself!

Together with Solo's help we hope to create a heightened awareness for disabled athletes by raising funds for Achilles Canada/International. Please stay tuned for details as we adventure through this journey and strive to make some big dreams come true! We will be blogging and updating soon.   Much love   rm  Links to love:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Bruce

The Challenge:
End To End Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail runs south from Tobermory to Niagara. It is the longest and oldest footpath. Go look them up! Did you know they run off of donations? Become a member, support some of our national heritage...

For many many years the adventure hiker has braved making the End to End trek along the Bruce Trail. In more recent years, the ultra running community has shown some interest in attempting this 885km trail as a "Big Goal". To which I say, Thank you! You Ultrarunner folk are so inspiring!

As a disabled endurance athlete, my goal is always to show up, do my best and put all concepts of my disability aside to accomplish an adventure that most would not try. Or rather that most would assume I might not try.

I say BE BRAVE! Everyday... no matter what anyone says. Do your best and see what you can accomplish.

Let me ask you this, What do you know of disabled sport? Or in a larger sense, What do you know of disability?

Did you know that apparently 10% of the worlds population is disabled? Did you know that 40% of people have a disabled person in their immediate circle of family and friends? Did you know that the "disabled" are the worlds largest minority group?

Did you realise, it's also the group that any of us could become a member of at any time?

How would you feel if I took hockey away from you? Not a hockey fan? okay tennis? or soccer? or running? Walking? Cycling? Swimming? get the idea.

Here's another question; When you imagine an olympic swimmer, do they have two arms? Can they hear you cheering for them? Do you think that altering your image of this swimmer changes your thinking? Or change theirs?

Now what if that same disabled swimmer is slowing down your exit from the gym change room? What if that same disabled swimmer is stuck at home without a way to get to the gym to train? What if that disabled swimmer is a child lost in their dreams of one day, merely, taking part?

.... That is why I'm doing this.

On August 4th, 2014, with the help and support of a team of volunteers I will be starting my quest to run the Bruce Trail from the north end to the south. Each day, accompanied by two guide runners we will travel at least the distance of a marathon (42.2km). This adventure in ultrarunning is set out as an Awareness Campaign for Disabled Athletes. The entire journey will take 20 days. The last day, August 23 2014, is the only day we won't be covering an ultra disance. The last 5km of the Bruce Trail, we are hoping you will all join us to walk to the finish. So that together, we can all help to create a space of openness for the participation of all people, disabled or not.

Disabled Athletes here in Canada have access to this wonderful organization called Achilles Canada. Check them out here...

This is the group I learned to run with. This is the group that met me at 5:30am three days a week and taught me to run one min at a time. They taught me to be brave, to ignore limits, to push preconceived notions of all I could do. They have arranged numerous guide runner volunteers over the course of the last five years to help me take part and finish 5K's to 100 mile races. As this journey continues there will be a way to donate to this wonderful organization. Please check them out.

In the meantime, now you know the challenge. Please please follow along as we attempt to make some changes to the way the world thinks about "Disability" and "Sport".
Much love on the run,


Saturday, December 28, 2013

That thing you do....

2013 ends with whatever effort you gave it. The calendar cares not that you wish for one more week, one last attempt. Past is always exactly where your footsteps took you. Best to enjoy all the culmination of a years work done and move forward with gratefulness and an open heart. 

2014  - the year of this dream, this goal of yours.... Is exactly where you set your gaze to. If you see frustration and hurdles - that's what you will go through. If you see hard work and dedication, so too will you see. If you see an impossible task unraveling ..... Well you get the metaphor. 

The Envisions journey has already begun, but we hope to detail a bit more of what's going on with the coming days, weeks, months. We hope to share with you our purpose, hopes and aspirations. We hope to enlighten you with training updates, intermittent race reports and feedback from various guides, crew volunteers and coaches as we travel this path. 

We also invite you to join in the conversation. Tell us what your years goals are. Share how you plan to achieve them, where you gather motivation from. Send us your progress, your training ups and downs. Tell us how having a dream can change your focus. 

As ever, if you wish to offer some support to our quest of end to end disabled running on the Bruce Trail in August 2014, please email us, or tweet us. We would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Relentless hope

The taste of a dream lingers beyond waking. The lure of hope tugs at the corners of our souls. The movement of change, once begun, is stronger than a water fall. It carries with it all the culminated effort of effect as it travels down stream. To stop, to pause, in shallow waters of that karmic dance, can set you free. If you let it.

Every chance you have to do your best, is exactly that - a chance. You are given so many opportunities to put your best foot forward. Oftentimes our everyday gets in the way. Life waits for no one. It carries on, down the path it has set to travel, taking the hopeful along with it. 

What is your dream? What is your goal? What's holding you back from chasing it down? From holding close... From catching some spark of motivation and lighting the trail for others to see? Spend time contemplating your "undoable". What are those goals you gave up on? Those dreams you have decided you're too busy, too young, too unprepared, too old, too tired to go after? Spend a few delicate moments in the silence surrounded by your "undoable". 

If you open yourself up to possibility, to all things attainable, to the unversal law that you are unique and have purpose... You will hear your dreams whisper in that dark. You will feel all the power of intention and driven focus you've been overlooking. You will glimpse your possible future. It's there, tangled among your undoable. It's there, caught in the steam above your morning coffee. Dance your fingers through it. Know all the things you could be. And step into that relentless hope.

In the words of Goerge Sheehan;

"We are of a flesh that asks for more and more challenges, that seeks one frontier after another. What is missing is not physical energy. The fuel is there, waiting to be ignited. We need some spark to light the fires, something to get us into action"

Go be your own spark. And dance among generous kindling.

Much love on the run....