All posts by ActiveSteve

ActiveSteve and the Act of Engagement

In the Shade of Gazebo

Do you see what I just did there with the title? Pretty clever, hunh? I can guarantee you all that this blog post will be unlike most of the ones that I write out for you all. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’ll be the only time you ever read about such an occasion from me 🙂 The genesis of the plans for this momentous occasion happened some time ago. In fact, the moment was over three months in the making! It’s a story that makes me very happy, and I’d like to take a few paragraphs to write about how it all happened. Obviously, you know the outcome of it all, but it’s still fun to go back in time and see how it all came about. Please read on if you’re a romantic and want to hear the tale.

Engagement Weekend Pictures

2010 was a pretty major year in my life. Early in the year, I went through some pretty big changes. One thing that didn’t change was my passion for racing and being in the great outdoors. To those ends, I’d signed up for the Frontier Adventure Challenge, which was to be held at Deerhurst Resort near Huntsville. I had no room booked, and no team. Just going solo for the fun of it. I can honestly say there is no way I could have predicted what was in store. There was volunteer at that race. Her name? Deanna. I’d met her in 2006 at another race, and we’d gotten along well every time we’d hung out at races. She, along with her uncle and father, often helped out at these events. However, in the past, I’d obviously never made any passes or hit on her, just joked, talked, and got along. This time however, I thought I’d perhaps be a little more forward with her. We were both single, so why not? What’s the harm?

That night, after the awards, we both attended the same post-race party and flirted with each other and went for a nice evening stroll that stretched late into the night. Having nowhere to sleep, I walked Deanna back to her room, then promptly returned to my car for an uncomfortable, yet happy sleep in the passenger seat with all my stinky gear (all this alluded to in the original blog post from that race).

The next day, we spoke a little bit, and then I had to leave. I had just moved into my new house, and was still setting things up. Deanna was also helping out at the high-school race that day, so she was busy. However, some spark had started the previous night, and I was rather intrigued. So, on the way home, while stopped at Dixie Lee in Barry’s Bay, I tentatively texted her my email address and other info. I also innocently asked if she might like to visit me for a weekend (she lived in Toronto). To my surprise, she said yes the next day. Later I learned that her process was basically that she couldn’t find a good enough reason to say no, hence saying yes!

That first weekend almost didn’t happen, as she remembered some other plans that had been made, but a last-minute shuffling, and she was on a train to Ottawa. I was very nervous at the prospect, and spent most of the week trying to get the house in some sort of shape to accept guests that I’d like to make a favourable impression on. Painting, wiring, furniture, etc. All had to be done. All the while training, and chatting lots with Deanna via email and texts. During the visit, we started to get to know each other a lot better, and I did my best to cook nice meals and show her great things to keep her interest. Neither of us truly knew where it would go, but we had a lot of fun just being around each other. I believe the quote from her that weekend which will forever remain in my head is “If you treat me this well all the time, you’ll never get rid of me.” We laughed about that, but who would have guessed how prophetic it would prove to be!

Over the course of the next few months the fun and happiness only grew greater every time we saw each other. When we were apart, we kept in constant contact through emails, instant messages, Skype video calls, phone calls, etc. etc. It didn’t take long for both of us to hate the time apart, and when a weekend would pass where we weren’t together, something was clearly missing. In fact, to try and make things work even better, I negotiated an arrangement at work whereby I could work from the Toronto office for 1 week per month starting in the fall.

Of course, even that quickly became not enough. We knew we were bound to be together and that we both wanted to accelerate that process. As such, Deanna took the big plunge and started looking for work in Ottawa. Although there was some discussion, it was agreed that this was the best option, as our lifestyle was more suited to Ottawa than Toronto on the whole. I couldn’t overlook the fact that she was making a large change for me, and could only hope that this was the right decision!

As all of you will know and can likely attest, this was absolutely the right choice, and the best thing to happen in both of our lives. We are both happy beyond words, and to this day, are pained whenever we need to be apart for any length of time. Quite obviously to me, it was time to start thinking about next steps. Occasionally, perhaps after a drink or two, I’d invariably joke with Deanna and say ‘marry me’. She would usually say yes, but pointed out that a ring was needed. Also, her nanny was constantly teasing us and asking if we were engaged yet. Something had to be done.

January 2012. Dates are announced for upcoming adventure races, and lo and behold, the Frontier Adventure Challenge was once again on the first weekend of May. Not only that, but it would be held at Deerhurst resort. It was too perfect. 2 years to the day, in the exact same location, we’d be together again, with me racing solo, and Deanna volunteering. It was now my mission to plan the perfect proposal for us. Over the next few months, I turned my attention to acquiring the perfect engagement ring, which ended up being custom made for her. I also sought her father’s blessing on the matter, and spoke to her uncle Bill about perhaps helping on the day by taking pictures. Eventually, this also turned into having her sister and mom at the same place as well, and Deanna’s nanny even coming down the next day for brunch.

All the seeds were sown, and it was now just a matter of timing. I’d only gotten the final ring back a couple days earlier, and had to sneak around numerous times to make sure Deanna didn’t know I had a ring for her. I was now at the mercy of weather and the race. I didn’t want to propose outside in the pouring rain, or have a really bad race where people were grumpy. Luckily, everything worked out perfectly. I had a great race, then proceeded to shower and clean up, and tuck the ring box in my pocket. On the pretext of snapping a few photos in the setting sun near the water where we’d first gotten to know each other two years ago, I convinced her to join me. I set the camera on a tripod, and took a couple photos. I then hit ‘record’ on the camera, got down on one knee, and popped the question.

I got exactly the reaction I’d hoped for, and had totally taken her by surprise. She was so excited to show the ring to her parents. I then asked her “Why do you think they’re here?”. It then dawned on her that this had been orchestrated some time ago. The rest of the weekend it was great to see how giddy and excited Deanna was. We had Sunday brunch with several family members before finally heading home, now as an engaged couple! It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. However, I maintain that the best decision is the one where I decided to text her from Dixie Lee in Barry’s Bay that day two years ago. I could have just let it go and maybe ran into her again in the future, both following different paths, but on that day, in that moment, something truly amazing began, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this journey unfolds. Deanna, I Love you, and you have made me the happiest man in the world already!

Haven’t seen the proposal yet? Check out the end of the video below for a snippet 🙂

Sneak Peak of Proposal in Video

Slaying the Beast for a 6th Time

Two Runners, One Love

42.2km. 28,133 strides. 2,400+ calories burned, 12 small cups of gatorade consumed. 2 gel packs consumed. Several pounds of sweat. 3hrs 16mins and 30seconds. 1 giant smile, and a cool medal. That, in a nutshell, summarizes my efforts on Sunday, May 29th at the Ottawa Race Weekend where I ran the marathon. It was my 6th time running a standalone marathon, and I can still honestly say the running a marathon is one of the toughest events I do. The effort required to run nearly flat-out for 42,200m can not be understated. We all know people who glibly say “I could run a marathon”. I just smile and agree with them. But those words generally haunt anyone who has taken it upon themselves to prove it. Particularly in those who attempt to prove it with any sort of respectable finishing time. Now don’t jump on me, every single person who crosses the line has accomplished something few have, but there is ‘participating’, and then there is ‘running’ or ‘competing’. Me, I run, I don’t compete. I am my only competition in this event. If you are so inclined, I invite you to read the rest of my thoughts on this race following the link. Also, you can check out just a few snaps I have post-race of the event. As you’ll see, I wasn’t the only one to toe the line at the ORW!

I might as well get the results out of the way now, since I’ve already spilled the beans in my opening salvo. My training regimen and plan was focused on completing the marathon in 3hrs 20mins. However, I knew that 3:15 would be a Boston Qualifier. So come race day, that’s what I pushed for. As a wise person once said “Plan your race, and race your plan”. I firmly believe that and always tell people you will finish exactly where you should finish in a marathon. Just ask Kev and Greg, who got the times they trained for right on the head. With my 3:16:30, I secured 283rd place overall. 64th in my category (of 436) and 259th in my gender (of 2733). My pace was very consistent, as the splits show in the results, so I was tickled pink with that result. Sadly, my efforts did not net me a Boston Qualifier. However, since I’d ran it last year, and likely wouldn’t get in next year anyway, it was sort of secondary. I still beat my target goal, and this ended up being my 2nd fastest time ever, so apparently I’ve still ‘got it’.

So why did I not get the BQ? Glad you asked. I had paced myself with the knowledge that a 4:37/km pace would give me a 3:15 finish time. My watch consistently read 4:35/km (Garmin 305). Awesome! Nope! Lesson learned here: NEVER run to a GPS average pace statistic, ALWAYS run with a time reference for km splits. Had I done that, I would have known my time had run out. Reason? Well, my GPS read that I’d covered 42.467 km by the finish line. That is 267m over the official distance. A 1/4 km works out to almost 70 seconds of extra time. The distance on the GPS is always a little off. Silly mistake on my part, but I only realized it on the last couple kilometers where I actually looked at my time! Oh well such is life.

However, as a slight boost to my ego, I’ve decided to play a little bit with statistics here. Yes, it is a bit egocentric of me, but I’ve earned my right to brag a little. First, let’s use the generally held view that between 0.1% and 2% of the population will ever run a marathon (Google it). Next, let’s take a look at the distribution of finishing times for a marathon. In 2009, the numbers for the US show that 9.1% of finishers fall in the 3h to 3h30 bucket of finishing times (BTW, average time is 4:35). That’s where I live. With some fancy-pants multiplication, that tells me that only 0.091% – 0.182% of the world runs that fast. Assuming a global population of 6,775,235,700 for 2009 (World Bank), that makes me faster than 99.82% to 99.91% of the WORLD! Pretty sweet! Just call me rocket man people 🙂

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, what else can I tell you about the marathon this year? Well, this was the first year for a brand new course for the National Capital Marathon. The new route wound us through many of the neighbourhoods of Ottawa now, including the core, Chinatown, Little Italy, Hintonburg, Hull, Manor Park, RockCliffe, New Edinburgh, Ottawa South. My verdict? Loved this new course. Overall, it was pleasantly flat (as opposed to where I did most of my training, in the Gatineau hills!). In spite of the grey skies and early 7am start, the majority of the communities had pulled together to have cheering sections, and each and every one of them was welcomed by the runners. Add the live music along the route to that, and you have all the makings of a truly worthwhile ‘destination’ marathon. The numbers have proved it out as well. The events for the weekend sold out in record time this year. In spite of the numbers though, everything went very smoothly as far as I can tell.

I was lucky enough to be cheered on by different people at all different parts of the course, but every time I saw someone I knew, it was the same amazing feeling, which fuelled my drive to the finish. Speaking of which, the last 2kms were definitely the hardest for me this year. I had to retreat to my pain cave and push hard, as I still hoped I’d magically get the 3:15 on chip time. Happily though, on crossing the finish line, my legs didn’t completely give out. I managed to limp along on my own steam and even chat with other finishers I knew that ended at about the same time. It was also great catching up with old friends that I saw on both the course, as well as after the race in the athlete’s village, including the amazing Ryan Grant, who managed to finish 4th overall in the 1/2 marathon. Apparently he’s gone ‘pro’! Big congrats to him. I also managed to beat a mentor of mine, Dave McMahon, ski and trail-running guru. Mind you, it was his first ever pure ‘road’ marathon, AND he’d raced hard at the 5k the night before. Also great to see my friends Kevin and Greg again.

Of course, the marathon is not the only event, and Deanna also decided to take place in the weekend fun by lacing up for the 1/2 Marathon. She’ll be the first to tell you that she really didn’t train for this race, but still managed to finish with a better time than her first foray last year. Her race started a full 2 hours after mine, so after completing my own race, I put on extra layers and went to watch the runners coming in. That entailed standing around in the pouring rain for about an hour. I was worried about her mood running in such rain, but when I finally saw her, she was fairly beaming with happiness. That was at the 400m to go spot, so I jumped in and ran with her for about 50m and tried to snap her picture while telling her that I was proud of her.

With medals around necks, smiles on faces, and slightly wobbly legs, it was time to head home to host my annual post-race BBQ where I invite friends that raced, their families, and any cheering friends to come over and celebrate our accomplishments. Also doesn’t hurt that my b-day was only a couple days later, so this was like a birthday bbq as well. Unfortunately, we were quite delayed, as we’d parked at the World Exchange Plaza, and there was really no way to get out in a hurry. We literally waited well over an hour before we made any progress. It was extremely annoying. Turns out they only had one exit actually open, and the confusion over that made for a loooonnnnnngggg wait. Once home though, having good friends over made all the pain and annoyance disappear, if only for a while. The sun actually came out, so we all stayed outside, with kids (and Rob) playing in the yard while we all sipped drinks and I played Grillmaster cooking fresh burgers and sausages for all. By 8pm, things were winding down, leaving only a small mess for us to clean up!

4 days later, looking back, I am completely happy with how the race turned out. We both came out with the results we’d hoped for, and are no worse for wear. In fact, we’ve still managed to bike to/from work every day since then. Stiff legs be damned. I also managed to hit the Parc Wednesday night for a good 50k time trial on my Tri bike that felt awesome. After all, it’s time to start prepping for all my other races and events. Next up is the 370km round trip bike tour that is Rideau Lakes in a mere week and a bit! The other thing to be happy about? Well, I’m now 60% of the way towards my Rudy Award for the year. With the 52km Ski Loppett, Winterlude Triathlon, and Marathon done, all that remains is the Rideau Lakes Bike Tour (in a week), and to do an iron-distance triathlon (which I’ll do Labour Day weekend). Good times. Till the next event, may your stiff muscles never stop you from enjoying the world around you! Summer IS here!

Pick Me to Be a Race Reviewer

The Video

The [brief] Pitch

So, you’re looking for dynamic, energetic, race reviewers to give you two-minute video reviews of races they do this year in exchange for paying entry fees? Well, I’d say I’m your reviewer! I’ve got a full slate already this year, but if you’re willing to foot the bill, I’m more than happy to add more races. Curious about me and my race career?

The Proposed Races

Although I’ve already registered for a lot of my races this season, there are a few more that I’d love to do, and with your support, I can actually enter them! Here are the races in question:

About Diabetes


The Canadian Diabetes Association

Established over 50 years ago, the Canadian Diabetes Association is a charitable organization that has grown to include a presence in more than 150 communities across the country. The Canadian Diabetes Association promotes the health of Canadians through diabetes research, education, service and advocacy.

Team Diabetes

Team Diabetes is the national activity fundraising program for the Canadian Diabetes Association. Team Diabetes participants increase public awareness of diabetes by acting as role models in their local communities and inspiring others to get active and involved. They create lifestyle changes reducing the risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes while raising funds for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

What is diabetes?

  • Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot produce insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
  • If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can result in a variety of complications:
    • Diabetes is a leading cause of adult blindness
    • Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure
    • The risk of stroke doubles after a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes
    • Four out of five Canadians with diabetes die of heart disease
    • Diabetes if the leading cause of limb amputations
    • Diabetes causes problems with erection and/or nerve damage

How many people have diabetes?

  • More than 2,250,000 Canadians are believed to have diabetes.
  • In BC alone, there are an estimated 250,000 people living with diabetes.
  • One in three children born today will be diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime.
  • More than 3 million Canadians are expected to be living with diabetes by 2016.

What are the types of diabetes?

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Ten per cent of Canadians with diabetes have type 1.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. Type 2 usually develops in adulthood, although increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are being diagnosed. Ninety per cent of Canadians with diabetes have type 2.
  • Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy.

What is the economic impact of diabetes?

  • People with diabetes incur medical costs that are two to three times higher than those without diabetes. A person with diabetes can face direct costs for medication and supplies ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 a year.
  • Diabetes costs the Canadian economy an estimated $13.2 billion each year. These costs will rise to $15.6 billion by 2010 and $19.2 billion by 2020.
  • One out of ten admissions into an acute care hospital is directly related to diabetes or diabetes-related complications.

Why invest in diabetes?

  • Diabetes is the one disease where science proves that serious and costly complications can be prevented with aggressive treatment and management.
  • Research shows that for every dollar invested to help Canadians with diabetes (and their doctors) better manage their diabetes, the government will save four dollars a year from not having to treat diabetes-related complications in other parts of the healthcare system.

To learn more, visit: the Canadian Diabetes Association webpage.