My first Marathon. Was with Mickey. As in Mouse.

Written by travisr on February 1st, 2016

Oh the years and years of this blog.

But maybe here’s a round where some reflecting makes some sense.

And probably best before the memories become too hazy.  And who knows.  Maybe someone is weighing whether or not to do a marathon, or even a Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend event.

So.  I still can’t believe I did it.  To the extent I have to think to myself, “Did it really happen?”  But it did. The medal and the zillions of Facebook posts prove that.

And in terms of any “Should I’s” the answer is simple: yes.  Do it!  And learn from those who already have.

Without getting to deep, I’m proud: that I tried a first marathon, that I got some training in beforehand, and that I survived the whole endeavour. And that alone has made the whole adventure pretty cool.  It’s nice to do something difficult and then to feel good about it afterwards.  TBH, I’m not a super natural runner (nor am I especially fast) BUT I can enjoy it.  And for me, that’s enough.


So.  The experience itself.  Maybe best split-up into: the goods, the bads, and the uglies.

The Good:

  • I’m a theme park fan.  And a Disney one too.  That’s no secret.  This was my 4th trip to WDW.  I’ve also been to Disneyland once (as a kid) and to Disneyland Paris not so long ago.  For me, a RunDisney event was probably inevitable. While I’d kind of been-there-done-that with much of the park, this was a good chance to get a bit of the park in and see some of what is new with a bit of a bigger goal in mind.  Our big run was Sunday morning and we arrived late Thursday night.  This gave us a few days of adventures prior to the run, while cautious to not overdo it with any walking around or eating, etc.
  • The course was SUPER thoughtfully designed.  No crazy hills.  More excitement as the 26.2 miles went along.  Through 4 parks (Magic Kingdom first with the castle all light up for the night… I was thrilled I made it there by sunrise to see it that way, then Animal Kingdom at the 1/2 point where I hit a wee bit of an early wall., then Wide World of Sports where we could grab a photo with Mickey! where the crowds remained pretty much alongside some entertainment to Disney Studios–chocolate bar!–and then the Boardwalk to Epcot.  Water was generally after a park so that once things were less distracting, there was still something to look forward to.
  • Crowds. Were. Amazing.  I don’t know what came over me but I high-fived probably every single person in the crowd.  haha.  I’m not really that sort of person normally.  But it took my mind of the monotony of running.  The volunteers were all super amazing too!  Big smiles!  Filled with encouragement.  Awesome!  I want to cheer and volunteer now too.  No lie.
  • Running with a partner-in-crime.  In this case, my cousin Layla.  I had never really done that before.  But it was so great to have some one to talk to, and scheme with, and to not feel so isolated because of.  We had a ton of fun.  I was the slower one in our duo, so I had to really confirm she was good with coaching me along but she was, and the coaching and the “push” was super appreciated.
  • The people were super cool.  Costumes.  Friendly faces to take a pic.  Quick little exchanges of exhausted faces or smiles or comments.  The track was PACKED but it really made the experience feel more exciting than frustrating.  Everyone there was there to have fun and get. it. done.
  • A gospel choir??!  I mean come on!  Right at Mile 26 before that little 0.2!  Awesome!  And a few other neat surprises.
  • How fun was wearing the medal afterwards?!  haha, we were like mini-celebrities!  Was great!  Now I need to figure out where to park mine.  It’s pretty bulky and impressively designed, too!

The Bad:

  • No word of a lie.  The run starts at 5:30 and the complications of getting 20,000 people to the start on time meant that we’d have to be ON our bus at 4:00am to know we’d get there.  While this was no-lie nuts, it actually meant that 1/4 of the marathon was in the dark which was nice.
  • Training in the dead of winter and then going to a tropical place.  Really, just the training in winter.  We actually ended up doing most of our December training on tracks (the Olympic Oval and West Side rec).  This meant NO hills and NO excitement.  We lucked out because our run was actually cool.  Sun came out for the last bit but there was really no heat-shock, especially after adjusting to the humidity for a few days prior.
  • Shaking any pressures can be tough.  But I did it right away.  My one goal was to run the first half and go from there.  So I did.  After that half I did take walking breaks.  Obviously.  My time was 1.25h slower than double my half time.  I also took photo breaks the second half with characters and at landmarks.  At no point did I think I would not finish.  At some points I wished I could have gone faster or with more consistent running.  BUT.  That would have meant more consistent training.

The Ugly:

  • Honestly, no ugly.  haha, we did get scolded twice.  Once for running and visiting with two strangers for a bit (i.e. 30 seconds) as some ladies felt we were taking up too much space.  And one for posing for a photo our own way rather than the photographers way.


I actually had a blast.  I was FILLED with adrenaline the whole day afterwards!  I couldn’t walk but I was pumped (and by couldn’t walk, I wasn’t sore really but ULTRA stiff-muscled).

I actually think I have another marathon in me.   Maybe one late-summer to mid-fall so that training is more possible.  The first 1/3 I felt GREAT so how amazing would it be to train and sustain that.  Prior to this, I didn’t really know if this would be a one-and-only or not.

I also kind of realized a bit what works for me.  I don’t need my own water.  I can just count on the stations.  I know which little gels and jellies make me happy.  I learned where I crash a bit and what I can do to get past it all.

Two big blisters but nothing debilitating.  Prevented any other damage by planning ahead.

And so two halves in April!  Within a week!  But no Disney characters at them, because they’re right here in Calgary.

Lifelist item box, checked!!  And a vacation surrounding the whole adventure.  5:15.28.  I’ll take it.

And now want to get that down a little.  🙂



Written by travisr on January 6th, 2016

July 30th, 2011 was the sort-of beginning.  That was my first 10k.  In Vancouver.  An Australian and Canadian venture.  I had never done an any k really, and survived.

Since then, 2 more 10k’s.  A 17k (odd, non?), and 4 halfs (of those halfs, two not-so-bad, two brutal).   I think.  And an airport runway run in there somewhere, too.

Then April 26, 2015 the other sort-of beginning.  That was when discussion began to take real form.  During a half actually for registration on April 28, 2015 for this.  The real deal.  A marathon.  Full stop.

Without mincing words, I’m undertrained.  I’m not not-at-all trained.  But typically trained.  My first half, I had never done more than 10k.  And now, my first full, I’ve never done much more than half.  BUT.  I’m more trained than I ever have been.  I’ve been chipping away at fairly consistent runs and know my pace and abilities.

All my runs lately have been indoor tracks.  This full allegedly doesn’t have much for hills, so I’m banking on the fact I have have done, oh, none.

The good news?  Whatever I do, it will be a Personal Best.  The bad news? There isn’t really any.  I’m not worried about not finishing.  I’m not worried about time.  I’m nervous.  But I’m more excited than nervous.  And the whole thing will be an adventure.  With thousands of other people.

So now.

Shoes packed.  Gels too.  Double layered socks ready.

19 water stops.  5 of them with food.

3 x 14k.  And then a little bit.  Thinking of it in thirds makes it easier for me somehow.  Maybe because those thirds present a distance I can actually picture.

So let’s see how this goes!  Have rounded up some amazing people.  The surroundings will be pretty fun.

Ready [I think] to run my [Mickey] ears off.


front row

Written by travisr on September 24th, 2015

I like k.d. lang.  Enough to notice that I wanted to get to see Balletlujah.  Enough maybe even to remember her on The Muppets growing up.

I saw k.d. live in Summer 2006, discovering the world.  So naturally, I thought about that a bit.  It was a big summer.  A Montreal summer.  So as I sat in one of Alberta’s two Jubilee’s I thought about the Olympic O.  And all of that.  There was a moment before k.d. sang then when people stomped their feet to stop a Member of Parliament from speaking, and I had never experienced anything like that before.  Ever.

But, what I didn’t know ballet or music could do, the song before the final song (spoiler: Hallelujah), was really bring me back in time.

k.d. lang’s cover of Jane Siberry’s “Love is Everything” put me in 2004–not so long before 2006.  Smack dab in the middle of it.  Pretty instantly.   In winter.  Freezing cold winter.  Hymns of the 49th Parallel was out and I wouldn’t have discovered it on my own.  Listening to the song and the narrative of the ballet, I was on Whyte Ave in the freezing cold winter, hearing all the rest of it, in the Grand Am that didn’t always start, and at the legislature skating, and smelling Thierry Mugler pear green cologne no idea at all Calgary life lie ahead.  Behind on everything.  Serving tables, and that’s actually probably why.  Trying mussels.   A favourite zip up sweater.

And she was there in the audience watching, too.  Probably not thinking about Montreal.  Or Radio-Canada.  Or breaking up or mussels. Well.  Actually she probably was a bit, the breaking up part, that theme was pretty prevalent.

But interesting to grieve a bit and give gratitude a bit for what was and what wasn’t in an art form mostly unfamiliar to me alongside ms. lang.  With that unfamiliar, some unexpected.  So I’m glad.



Written by travisr on September 3rd, 2015

Bright and early this morning I provided a really short reflection on the idea of courage.  I looked towards Dr. Brené Brown and to my basic understanding of French and framed courage as moving forward, maybe fearlessly but maybe fearfully too, but with a passionate heart (Coeur.  See what Brené taught me to do there?).

The point wasn’t to say to colleagues, “Ah, gee! Look at me with so much courage!”

It was to give sincere thanks to colleagues for the work I’d seen so far: really important and heart-felt work and an invitation to continue in that spirit.

My work, though, has invoked courage.  Courage to join a new team and context.  Courage to learn.  But courage, too, to leave somewhere for change: where I was more than happy and more than challenged, surrounded by incredible and inspiring people.

This week was a strange one.

I started work last week getting to know my sites, coordinators, working with teachers and schools participating in our program.  But it was this week when I didn’t have a first day.  I didn’t have a bell.  Not the harsh usual one or the pleasant magic wand one I had most recently.  I didn’t have a usual, normal, familiar anything.

This week was also, though, a really satisfying one.

I’m loving what I do.  I’m doing work I feel is essential to our city (and world).  I’m challenged.  Days fly by.  And I’m doing something new.  In fact, I’m doing something I couldn’t have known I wanted to do growing up because I didn’t know it existed.

I’m getting much better at telling people what I do.  And gauging if they care before I get into details.  Maybe I’ll have to post the synopsis.

But I’m getting settled.  I’m learning more. My heart is in it.  And I’m grateful.

Not a bad place to be to take on the new adventure.



Written by travisr on August 5th, 2015

So.  Until soon, I’ve never been to Hawaii.  (Until last summer, I hadn’t been to Chicago.  That trip, though, was at the beginning of the season when sunsets were still late and not noticeably earlier.)

I’m beyond thrilled to go.  I connect in Vancouver on the way to swim on this side of the Pacific before that side with an incredible friend.  I stopped at my favourite Calgary mall for some essentials (t-shirts and shorts).  And I’m charging my iPad (which seems really disproportionately slow charging-time-wise in comparison to my iPhone.)

I really thought I’d have some things done before I went.  (i.e. My course. A start on my marathon training. An organized condo life.) But, oh well, I don’t.

No real goals for this trip.  Ocean time and lounging time rank high.  Some unexpected would be perfect.  Now that my friend circle is awfully spread out, I really just like meals out and shenanigans with each member however it comes.  And if the wherever is tropical, no complaints here.

But I do want some sun.  And some Instagram photos.  And to spit out some saltwater.  And a conundrum between leaving flipflops on on the beach only to have sand get kicked up or to have it too hot on the bottom of feet.  And overpriced drinks.

So life is good.  And fall is looking intriguing too.

It’s pre-dive when it’s all left to unfold.  And that’s all now.  🙂


40 x 50m = 2k

Written by travisr on July 3rd, 2015

I’ve just discovered that the absolute best time to swim is at 9:45 pm at the Talisman. On a Friday.  During Stampede.

For starters, it’s the 50m set-up in the training pool which never seems to happen.  I love swimming 50m lengths.  I think for two reasons: one, I’m not turning so much, and two, I’ve not really been able to swim 50m lengths much in my life (in fact, only in Red Deer, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal? Maybe Vancouver, too?).

Also, it’s so empty.  Crazy empty.  Bored lifeguard empty.  There have been so many times, at Talisman especially (and even 1000x worse at Bowview Outdoor Pool) where the circle swimming isn’t happening and the passing and the being passed just lead to wanting to quit before even wanting to start.

But I did my little 2k.  All freestyle (front crawl).  Quick little rests after each 500m.  No missed turns.  I’ll take it.  The hot tub even felt nice with it being 50+ outside.

So, today and yesterday have been making the most out of the first days of summer holidays.  It’s not super easy because not everyone is on break.  A bit of pancake breakfasting.  Some shopping.  Some walking.  Some swimming tonight.  A movie.  Massage Heights.  Groceries.  Patio when friends are available.  Nothing earth shattering.

This weekend out, it’s seeming.

Then Monday hitting the books.  Yet another course due in a few weeks (the last in this whole entire series, maybe, at least for a bit!!  It would be nice to do a course in the actual time frame and not rushed at the end.  But evidently I don’t know how to do that.

Especially with swimming, and sun, and everything else waiting to be dived into.


2k, 42.2k (or 63.3k), 780k respectively

Written by travisr on May 23rd, 2015
  1. I hadn’t been in a pool since Family Day in Vancouver.  At lunch, I have this impulsive desire to go for a swim.  In a moment I’m grabbing my suit and some goggles and heading to the Talisman.  I’m 90% I have some drop-in passes there (turns out I have 10 on file, haha) so a new membership card later to make use of those passes, I’m in the pool doing 2k.  It feels great.  I really do need to swim more.  It’s so meditative and doesn’t feel like exercise in the same way other workouts do.
  2. January 2016.  I’ve signed up for a full marathon.  In Walt Disney World.  Actually I signed-up for a back-to-back half-marathon Saturday and full-marathon Sunday.  Initially signing up for the Goofy Challenge combo was as insurance so I could do either when push came to shove.  But I’m now calculating that I can actually do both.  I’ve found a training schedule that could work for me and some partners in crime.  I’m a little concerned about training in the dark/cold then heading to the hot/humid.  I’m also a little concerned about not getting in Orlando properly with two long-distance REALLY early morning runs BUT I’m pretty pumped about what’s possible with this new project.
  3. Summer 2016.  The Camino de Santiago.  I think it’ll be a go!  After workshops and films and online research, I think the summer after this one will be about some serious walking.  I’m not super sure why I’m so compelled by this one.  As that summer draws closer, I’m curious to see how planning will go.  I know no Spanish.  I’m not really a pilgrim any many senses of the word.  And I don’t even own a backpack or hiking shoes.  So it might be a steep learning curve.

Writing a Pecha Kucha (and not barfing because of nerves)

Written by travisr on May 12th, 2015

(I don’t know why Unicode is suddenly mixing up ? and Â on previous posts either, time to explore the wonderful world of WordPress.)

Last night was PechaKucha Calgary #23, Jam.  After seeing #11. Two, #12. Eureka, #13. Seed, #14. Invest, #16. Sweet 16, #18. Medal, #19. Skin, #20. 20/20, and #22. Global I had to give giving a PechaKucha a try.

Walking out of Global, I said to my friend Joanne, “I’ve just got to do it!” so I dreamed and schemed with some friends and navigated the process.  Our 20’s (Grade 11’s) have the PechaKucha format as one of three final performance tasks in E.L.A. so it all seemed like a good fit.

I’m obviously a fan of the nights.  I knew going in I wanted to say something, get personal, but keep it all fairly light.  I also knew there were no real worst-case-scenarios–the audience is super supportive and is there to enjoy things, not to be combative or challenging.

So the process.

First: apply.  I also nudged a few people to give their support if they felt so inclined.

Then wait.  Good news.  You’re in.

Now the doing.

I had read that it’s best to start on paper/cards and move/plan/consider.  I tried to do that but it didn’t really work for me.  I did a bit of handwriting and a bit of slide making and went back and forth forever and ever on the core of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to introduce it.  I ended up going to one my initial ideas actually even after dozens and dozens of alternatives.  I kind of just kept rotating through possible notes, actual script, and visuals over and over.

Slides were due a week before the talk.  This worked in my favour.  It had me writing the first part of my talk verbatim ( and the end to tie things back full circle) and really thinking about order/structure/visuals.  I knew to keep my slides mostly visual and did what most people probably do: making double what I needed then culling them down to 20.

Once the slides were submitted there was no going back.  Which is good.  Otherwise it’s too tempting to tweak and adjust non-stop.  I left it for a few days (almost afraid to see what I had sent in).  Then watched what I submitted and got down to the real work.  Once the visuals were in it was just rotating through actual script and possible notes.  The temptation: to try and squeeze in more and more.  But instead having to really edit down.

I wrote each slide.  I admire people who can adlib more than I did: but my topic had such specific vocabulary and I really wanted to get across the complexities of our work in High School Redesign.  I kept Jam (the night’s word) pretty front and center and really tried to make a daunting topic more accessible through slides that were light and inviting (think animals, memes, and photos–probably too many of me but the goal was to make things personal.)

My take-homes were to be:  Schools are changing.  Change is hard.  The change is necessary.  Let’s do this.

knew I had too many words. (1600 I think?) like two times too many but I also know I speak fast and that’s how this one was going to go.  For each slide (I had charted) I highlighted a panic sentence.  i.e. if things fall apart just read that one sentence and scrap the rest to get re-caught up.  I also know that if I was ever a sentence or two ahead: great!  Only one transition was truly tied to the speech.  I built up a “which animal did he do his Grade 5 paper on?” silly point of tension then had to pause as slide 4/1:00 revealed “oh, he did his report on Alpacas”.   I didn’t adlib tons but was also stumbling a bit.  Much more at the actual event than rehearsing.

I did rehearse.   And I did try to get to almost memorization.   Which I know not everyone loves.  I made a movie of my .pptx so that I could rehearse it easily (easy to export too).  The goal was to use the movie file on my iPhone to rehearse but I didn’t end up doing that.

It was so nice to not have to bring a laptop or any technology.  I’ve never experienced that before actually.  I just had to have my notes (in my case: my script.) I kept them in my hands the whole night and put my phone number on them (haha–thinking of worst case scenarios beforehand).

I enjoyed the night but definitely experienced others’ talks differently than other nights knowing I’d be doing it too.  I had also brought some friends and colleagues along (and family!) so was watching things through their eyes too.  I was 8th.  6 before the break and 5 after.   One talk was between the break and I, and I was the most tuned out of that one (only thinking oh boy this is it).  He had his slides numbered too, which I considered.  So it was like a countdown to terrible-doom slash awesome-excitement.

(I was my most nervous actually about lunchtime beforehand.)

Everyone was so awesome!  I hope I thanked everyone enough.  The welcome, the information, all of it!  So, so sweet to try this out and take a chance and leap!

The benefit for me: something new.
Hopefully a benefit for others: hearing about the awesome and exciting things we’re up to in this crazy world of public education.

I stumbled.  I felt pleased afterwards.  It was a rush!   The awesomeness was made even more awesome by a great crew along for the adventure.  Always something.  🙂

Bit of rambling here, but never bad to have some of this down.  In all, amazing night and fun memory and really cool group to momentarily be a part of!