Long Road to Boston

I first learned about Mark Sutcliffe's book back in May when I was on his talk show to speak about the Ottawa Marathon. He mentioned that he was publishing a book on his journey to Boston. Being on my own quest to Hopkinton, I made a mental note that this would be a must read for myself. Fast forward to October, I was invited to attend Mark's hometown book launch of the Long Road to Boston. Hosted at Ottawa City Hall, more than 200 people crowded into the Mayor's Board Room on October 24th to support the book. After being introduced by Mayor Jim Watson, Mark spoke passionately about his quest to Boston and pointed to the various people around the room who were a part of that journey.


I took the book home that night and began reading. Mark sets the stage by using the first few chapters to give a history of the marathon event and the Boston Marathon. While not all new information for me, I got chills with the reminder of how epic the forty-two-point-two event really is. From the first Olympic games, to K.V.Switzer and the 2013 attacks, there is a reason why the marathon holds so much importance to runners.

Mark tells his story of starting out as an "average" runner, who eventually Boston Qualifies and completes the race from Hopkinton to Boston (spoiler alert). While not always a runner, after getting started, running had became a huge part of his life. I couldn't believe how much of Mark's story I could relate to.

After his first marathon in 2004, Mark went on to complete more than twenty marathons, including the Boston Marathon course with Dean Karnazes. Like many of us, the task of Boston Qualifying seemed unthinkable for many years. I found myself smiling through many pages where Mark reflects on how crazy of an idea Boston Qualifying was, but ultimately found himself obsessed.

Equipped with spreadsheets, training plans, supportive running friends and family, Mark recalls the highs and lows of his journey. While the "journey" is why we run, the outcomes are not always pretty. Mark talks about marathon finishes within seconds of a BQ and the trials that inevitably crop up with marathon training. Regardless if you are chasing the unicorn or not, most can relate to the feeling of being oh-so-close-but-yet-so-far, vividly told by Mark.

The Long Road to Boston is story of why Boston means so much to runners and inspires readers to believe that nothing is impossible. I highly recommend this book for any runner, especially those acquainted in dreaming big and on a quest for self-improvement.



For those of you in Ottawa, Mark will be leading this week's Run Ottawa 6@6 (Wednesday, November 16)! Join myself and fellow Run Ottawa members at Bridgehead Roastery and Coffeehouse at 6:00 pm for a 6K run, followed by a couple of stories from the Long Road to Boston. 

If you cannot make it to the run on time, feel free to join the talk portion around 6:30 pm. More information about the event can be found on Facebook.

Have you read the Long Road to Boston?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine

Insider guide: Ottawa Race Weekend

With Race Weekend upon us, I wanted to share a few local tips and recommendations to runners coming into town. I’ll leave the race information to the official race website, so if you're looking for start times or details on baggage check, you're in the wrong place (go here). However, if you're looking for some good local food joints, running stores, coffee shops, gluten free snacks, then you’ve coming the right place! FOOD

Let’s start with the basics. I know runners love their staples and would often rather make their own meals...

Whole Foods Landsdowne ParkSobey's at Metcalf and Lisgar 

Knowing runners are a finicky bunch, I wanted to let you know where to get your specific milk/nut butter/gluten free__. As you’d expect, both of these grocery stores also have great salad and hot food bars. Whole Foods is located at Lansdowne (short jont down Bank Street), and Sobey's is right downtown (practically at the Start Line).

If you're looking to eat out...

Fiazza Fresh Fired, 86 Murray Street (Byward Market)

We have eaten here a couple times and have really enjoyed the pizza and salads. It’s a chill atmosphere and accommodating to most dietary preferences. If you’re looking for somewhere to carb-load, this is a great place to do it. It’s also located in the Byward Market, which is a hot spot for local shops, bakeries and night life. If you prefer to lay low in your hotel room (I totally get it), Fiazza does deliver.


A+ Sushi, 202 Bank Street

With simple carbs, protein, sodium and minimal fiber, sushi can be a great pre-race meal. G and I discovered A+ Sushi a year ago and have had a number of good experiences here. It’s reasonably priced and offers a menu with lots of selection. It’s also located right downtown; likely walking distance from your hotel. Did I mention it was all you can eat?

Town, 296 Elgin street

As one of my favourite restaurants in Ottawa, I have to add Town to this list. Unfortunately, it might be impossible to get a reservation, but, hey! We’re runners. Nothing’s impossible. They have great lunch and dinner menus, with lots of locally sourced ingredients. The service and food never disappoints.



Bridgehead, multiple locations downtown 

For coffee, Bridgehead is your go to spot (seriously, Ottawa loves Bridgehead). Chances are you’re staying in a hotel downtown, which means there’s likely a Bridgehead a block away. This locally popular coffee shop really does offer it all: coffee, teas, cookies, cakes, gluten free/vegan/dairy free snacks, salad bowls and hearty sandwiches. They also have a rewards program that gives you a free coffee or specialty drink every 12 drinks.

My personal favourites from Bridgehead would have to be the Oolong Kombucha (Bridgehead’s own brew), the coconut macaroon (FOR THE LOVE), the fruit and seed bar, and the almond milk latte.


Menchies, 80 George Street (Byward Market)

Located in the Byward Market, this is a perfect destination for you to go for a stroll and stretch your legs. Menchie's frozen yogurt is gluten-free, vegan, and no high fructose corn syrup. Always a good option for a snack or dessert!


Sports 4, 149 Bank Street 

Sports 4 is one of the local favourite running watering holes. They carry a range of shoes, clothes, gels and accessories. I frequent Sports 4 often and always find myself chatting with the many knowledgeable employees. If you're in town on a Wednesday, the Negative Splits Run Club meets at Sports 4 for a group run.

Race weekend tip: Check your virtual race bag to save $15 on in store purchases at Sports 4! If you're a Run Ottawa member, save 10% off everything, always!

Running Room, 160 Slater Street 

Located right downtown, Running Room is a safe bet for all things running. This Canadian chain does a great job in carrying a full line of gels, shoes and acessories. Personally, I'm grateful that the 160 Slater Street store always has my Hammer Gels stocked! If you’re a Goodlife member, be sure to let them know for your 10% off (always).

Race weekend tip: Check your virtual race bag to save 10% off your purchase at the Running Room expo booth!

If you're from out of town, where are you visiting from?

If you're local, any suggestions to add to this list?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running MagazineHave a suggestion for a runner profileLet me know!

Weekend in MTL

We all arrived at my sister and brother-in-law's house on Friday night. My parents are here for the weekend as well. We are here celebrating my Mom's birthday and Mother's Day, and have tickets for Cirque de Soliel! This also meant an early start to my 27k long run. I planned a straightforward route for Saturday morning, that would take me from their place, through downtown, getting me back here before 10:00 am. Overall, I'd say the run went well. Admittedly, I wasn't sure how it was going to go. My legs were feeling pretty good by the time I went to bed on Friday night, so I knew I was going to get'er done the next morning. As planned, I woke up early, drank my coffee, ate my Picky Bar, strapped on my compression socks, and hit the road.

I'll admit, I have been experiencing some tight calves this week. At this point, I'm not overly worried about this. I'm chalking it up to peak marathon training, and have committed myself to adjusting runs as needed. I'm also icing and rolling lots.


The route was primarily on sidewalks. I left the house before 7:00 am, so the streets were pretty quiet. I ran 13.5km out to the Olympic Stadium then turned around. I had one Hammer espresso gel around the turn around, and carried water in my handheld. Throughout this training cycle, I'm pleased to have pretty much nailed my fuel plan (this did not happen overnight).

I focused on keeping this run easy. With four weeks out from the Ottawa Marathon, I knew there was no need to be a hero.  The plan was to pick it up a bit in the last 10km with strides in the last 5km. I was pleased with the 27km I put in the bank. I was grateful for the change in landscapes and, after warming up, the distance seemed to pass pretty quickly. This throwback was on repeat throughout.

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In the afternoon, we went to check out the Atwater Market! There was a Beer Festival on, and lots of local vendors. Obviously I had to get some authentic Quebec maple butter. Yum. As I mentioned, tonight we're heading to Cirque de Soliel! One of their shows has recently come to Old Montreal.


What's your favourite city to explore while running? 

Have you been to Montreal? The Atwater Market? 

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.


Thoughts from Niagara & Canadian Running article

I spent the weekend at my parents in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The days were full of non-running related events, but that didn’t prevent me from getting my long run in on Saturday morning. Frankly, I wouldn’t miss a long run in Niagara for the world. I had 27km on the schedule. After last week’s 32km (half outside in the rain & slush, and half on the mill), I knew this run, on one of my favourite routes, was going to be a piece of cake. I got up early, had my coffee and was out the door around 7:30am. The temperature was ideal. I was wearing a long sleeve top, light vest, leggings, and I was set. I left the subdivision where my parents live, and made a beeline for the country roads. For those of you who are not familiar with Niagara-on-the-Lake, this is wine country. Vineyards for miles. I smile just thinking of it. I have a few places that are special to my heart, and this is one of them.


I listened to podcasts for the first 13.5k, which took me into Queenston, past the Brock Monument and the historical home of Laura Secord. I had a Hammer gel at 9km. At the turn around I switch to my music, which gave me an extra boost.

I knew that I was pacing steadily in the 5:40s for the first half of my run. With negative splits being an area I’m working on, I decided I’d try to pick it up for the last half, all the while remaining within my assigned pace range for the day (5:30-6:00).

As I ran back, the memory of me running the Niagara Ultra Trail Marathon on this route in 2013 flooded back to me. I got emotional for a second. I told myself to get it together, we were negative split-ing today. Despite my efforts, I revisited memories I haven't thought about in a while. That marathon was the race I ran six weeks after finishing the 2013 Ottawa Marathon in a {disappointing at the time4:02. I had placed a lot of pressure on myself for Ottawa and thought I could have done better; so I registered for Niagara (do what I say NOT WHAT I DO). I ended up finishing Niagara in {an even more disappointing at the time} 4:34.

I look back on this now and laugh. I was so impatient with myself. Running a fast-to-you marathon takes time. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but combining my overtraining and {lack of} training plan, I wasn’t exactly working with a recipe for success. Running has taught me to appreciate and ENJOY the process. Nothing worth having comes to fruition over night. 

With these thoughts in my head, I carried on. I was running directly into a head wind, and I kept being reminded of the head wind I ran into the first half of the Hamilton Marathon. I told myself to suck it up and get going. I had ten kilometres left and you never know what’ll greet you on race day.

17) 5:34 18) 5:34 19) 5:26 20) 5:32 21) 5:24 22) 5:34 23) 5:33 24) 5:34 25) 5:29 26) 5:49 27) 5:32

I finished strong. I stuck with the plan and the distance ticked off. That's the nice thing about country roads. You loose yourself in the landscape. It felt like I had just started, and here I was getting back home. Thank you Niagara for another successful long run. If it’s possible for a route to replenish the soul, this route would be it. 

What’s your favourite rural route?

In other news, my running story was published in Canadian Running Magazine, Canada's premier running publication. I was so thrilled to see this last night. Thank you Canadian Running and Noel Paine for selecting me for this honour! You can read the article here.

Connect with Canadian Running Magazine on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Connect with Noel Paine on Twitter and check out more of his articles with Canadian Running Magazine here.