Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Dream Continues....

"The pessimist sees only the tunnel; the optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel; the realist sees the tunnel and the light- and the next tunnel."
                     -Sydney J. Harris (a Tom Jackman contribution)


Throughout Run The Dream's Epic 2008 Journey- Born out of Hope, developed through Vision, and initiated by Action- everyday has been a learning experience about how human nature, in Canada, shapes where we were yesterday, where we are today, and where we are going tomorrow, as individuals, and a society.

I'll be the first to admit that 199 Running Days, 8020 kilometres, over 40 kilometre as a daily average, with 800+ hrs spent running would be considered, by some, a milestone if achieved in one lifetime, let alone one year.  But, one who sees these numbers would be missing intrinsic purpose for Run The Dream.  
The merits of the obstacles should never overshadow the merits of the opportunities.  On September 11th, 2007, six weeks after breaking my ankle, my cast came off.  It was during those six weeks on crutches, that the body, mind and soul agreed the feat of running coast-to-coast could be and would be achieved!  By no means did I have all the answers, but I had to take the first step of planning a route, which led to writing a business plan, which led to one of the most difficult steps- Sharing my idea with other people.  But, one of the healthiest aspects of communicating your thoughts and ideas is accepting criticism. At first, it was frustrating to be rejected by two well-established children's charities, but someone once told me that "Success is Never An Orphan For Long."  If you want to go far in life, whether personal, or professional, you need to surround yourself with a great team of people you can trust, respect, communicate openly with and who support your vision! Most, if not all, of Run The Dream's success should be credited to my 'Dream Team', and sponsors, who unconditionally supported me, from St. John's, NL, to Victoria, BC, and Terry Robinson, from Ottawa to Winnipeg.  Run The Dream's objective was to "Help Jonathan Howard Turn Children's Dream's Into Abilities" and I thank the team for staying focussed on the mission statement.

I could never find a specific book about how to run across Canada, but over the course of this first major Run The Dream endeavour many life lessons were learned.  Adapt to your surroundings is at the top of the list!  This does not mean you compromise what you believe in, but rather admit what works, admit what doesn't work, make rational changes, and move forward.  There is no shame in admitting mistakes, after all, we are all humans!  The second lesson learned during the run was how building relationships is much more important, and sustainable, then the satisfaction of a transaction.  Raising money is key component to any charitable organization, but many people I met had a greater gift then just the size of their cheque book- It is their time, dedication, energy, and access to resources I do not have that can pay greater dividends, for children and families affected by Autism, which is going to be a key foundation of gaining the profile this issue deserves in Canada and the world.  Someone once told me that "A Rising Tide Floats All Boats."  Every Canadian and global citizen can play a part!
For the majority of the blog entries I wrote, "The Dream Continues" Perhaps the beauty of achieving your #1 dream is the creation of a new "Dream List". For the next week or two the pen and paper will be in full brainstorming mode about how "The Dream Continues...".  There are two items I'd like to highlight as we move forward into 2009.

Firstly, I need your help!  There are many roads I did not travel but where television does.  I received an e-mail from a friend who motivated me to put together an audition video for a CBC show called Canada's Next Great Prime Minister and would appreciate your feedback on my entry as we attempt to bring Autism Spectrum Disorders the profile it deserves in this country.

Secondly, stayed tuned to the Run The Dream website over the days, weeks and months to come.  Every Canadian's support was greatly appreciated over the course of the run and is needed even more as we move forward together.  I encourage you to stay up-to-date on events by signing up for the newsletter.

Lastly, but most importantly, when one chapter ends a new one begins.  I encourage everyone who has read this blog entry to make a list of their 20 dreams.  Under each dream write the first step which will make your dream closer to becoming a reality.  Ask yourself this question- Why am I not taking that step today?  Remember, anything is possible, if you "Dream Like You've Never Failed!"

The Dream Continues....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Lap Around The Block....

The realization of completing the run the has not sunk in! Vancouver Island has a vast population of people so the Run The Dream autism awareness component continues.
The two days following the final run day to Mile '0' were spent between Victoria and Nanaimo, British Columbia.  First stop was Victoria Mayor, Dean Fortin's office.  Special thanks to Shelley Bauder Aldridge and her children Austin (who has Autism) and Emily for joining the brief meeting with Mayor Fortin.

Next stop, Duncan, where Deputy Mayor Ray Cadorette took time out of his busy Friday-Before-The-Holidays schedule to meet and talk about the run.

Ladysmith Town Hall was the final resting stop for the day.  Councillor Gillian Dashwood welcomed the Dream on behalf of Ladysmith, B.C., along with fellow councillors, city employees and members of the community.
Interestingly, the weather has continued to be unseasonably cold for Vancouver Island. Yesterday, in Nanaimo, the temperatures dropped to -16 C (colder than any running day), but that didn't stop the Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization (NUKO) from holding an outdoor fundraiser.  NUKO is a local organization that supports the needs of children and youth (with neuro-developmental disabilities) and their families.  Thanks to all those who braved the cold, including Nanaimo Mayor John Rutten.
Above is a picture of the main street in Ladysmith, B.C. with over 30 centimetres of snow!

For the next week, the Century Plaza Hotel, in Vancouver, is accommodating the Dream (BIG thank you to the GM Sergio!).  There is a lot of planning and brainstorming for Run The Dream continuing the Dream in 2009!

Stay tuned for the big announcements, as they happen, as well as a Run The Dream- Year In Review for 2008.

The Dream Continues...  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

199 Running Days and 8,020 kms Later....

If you had asked me before the run why, despite the prevailing headwinds, I was running from east to west, my response would have been because I was going to be ending in a part of Canada that is known for its temperate climate during the December months.

Mother Nature has been fairly kind to me thus far, but decided to throw one last challenge my way- snow, wind and bone-chilling temperatures!  Little did she know that after 198 days of running, you learn to expect the unexpected, after all this is Canada!
5PM Wednesday, December 17/08
I boarded the ferry at the Tsawwassen Terminal.  Thanks to the Delta Police force for the last escort on the mainland.

8AM Thursday, December 18/08
Begin the last 33.5 kms from Swartz Bay on route to Victoria, B.C.

9:30AM (KM 15)- Traffic accident, due to the weather conditions!  For the first time on this entire run I am running, on the shoulder, faster than the motorists for a good 15 minutes.

10:30 AM (KM 25)- Enter into the Greater Victoria Area....45 minutes away from MILE 'O'

11:18 AM (The Final KM)- Braiden Gilmore, no stranger to the challenges of Autism runs the last 200 metres with me to MILE 'O'

12PM- I made my way over to the British Columbia Legislature where the Honourable Tom Christensen, Minister of Children and Family Development welcomed Run The Dream on behalf of the Premier Gordon Campbell.

For those wondering about the 'toe dip', the snow was so deep that the beach was closed!  I instead decided to be the first Cross Canada runner to do a snow angel, at Mile 'O', in the shadow of the Terry Fox Statue.
The run may have ended, BUT....

The Dream Still Continues....


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Step At A Time....

Sleep has now become optional and adrenaline has filled the void.  Over the past two days, between run segments, I've had the chance to meet with newly elected Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson, who despite riding his bike to work, in a severe snowstorm, still made our meeting on time! 
Their are no boundaries as to who is affected, in their lives, by Autism- even the family of the ownership group of the Vancouver Canucks, who, earlier this year, launched the Canuck Autism Network (CAN), to help spread the awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the province of British Columbia.  I'd like to thank the organization for inviting me to Kerrisdale Elementary School and help launch their 'We Can be Friends' Programme.
I would also like to thank the Mayor of Richmond, Malcolm Brodie;  Delta Councillor, Scott Hamilton; Delta CAO, George V. Harvie for welcoming 'The Dream' into their municipalities. 

Time now for my last 15 kms, on the mainland, to the Tsawwassen Ferry, at 5pm, which will take me to Vancouver Island.
For those who lost count of when 2010 Olympics were coming to Vancouver, I took this picture as of December 16th/08, at 8:16pm PST for you.

As for Run The Dream, Running Days to Victoria, B.C.........ONE!

The Dream Continues.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Return to Innocence....

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
Saturday morning, unseasonably cooler weather had settled into the lower mainland, but that did not stop my running partners, from Chilliwick, led by Louanne McDonald, join me for a 23 km run to Abbottsford, B.C.  Thankfully the 70 km/hr winds were at our back!  Meeting us at City Hall was Mayor George Peary.
In the afternoon I continued onto Willowbrook Shopping Centre, in Langley, B.C.  Thank you to the many supporters who took time out of their holiday shopping schedule to come out and support Run The Dream.  I had the opportunity to meet with Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender and MP Mark Warwara.

Today, after my last running off day, I headed another step closer to Vancouver and Victoria. On my way I stopped in at James Kennedy Elementary School to speak with the students, had a brief lunch time stop in Surrey, B.C. to meet with Mayor Dianne Watts, and concluded with a fundraising stop at the Grand Villa Casino, in Burnaby, B.C., with a welcome, on behalf of the mayor, Councillor Sav Dhaliwal.
Lastly, but most importantly, I must thank Wendy Durnan, a mother who knows first-hand the obstacles of raising an autistic child.  It continues to amaze me the inner strength of families who deal with this issue 24/7 and yet still go the extra distance, with the little energy left, to make a difference outside the household.  Wendy is another example of the many parents who are Canadian Heroes!  Thank you Wendy and family!

Special thanks to the Best Western, in Langley, and Delta Suites, in Vancouver, for accommodating 'The Dream'.

3 Running Days Left...Dec 18th- Victoria, B.C.

The Dream Continues......

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hope, Vision, Action.....

What's the first step in achieving any dream?- HOPE!
Yesterday, before leaving Hope, B.C., I had the chance to meet with two Councillors of Hope- Councillor Tim Hudie and Councillor Steve Schroeder.  
The second step closer to achieving a dream- VISION!

The most important step towards achieving a dream- ACTION!
Yesterday, by end of day, 'The Dream' arrived in Chilliwack, B.C.

Canada, and the world, I'd like to introduce you to Mitchell.  Mitchell, a student at Tyson Elementary School, was diagnosed with Aspergers, a form of Autism, and wanted to help Run The Dream spread the awareness of about the lack of services and support, the lack of research and the lack of public education across the country for others living and affected by Autism. Mitchell, with the assistance of his classmates, set up a 'Change for Change' table every morning before school and raised over $400!  This morning I came and thanked Mitchell, his teacher Louanne Macdonald, and the entire Tyson/Chilliwack community.

A hero is an individual with hope,  vision, but most importantly takes action!  Mitchell, like many other grassroots leaders I've met across this great country should be commended for their efforts!

Late today, I also had the privilege of meeting Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz and many of the city staff at an informal meeting.  Tomorrow morning I'll be running out of Chilliwack with a group of runners, but I'll save that story for next time!

Special thanks to the Travelodge,  in Chilliwack, for accommodating 'The Dream'.

5 Running Days....145 kms left until Victoria, B.C.- Dec 18th

The Dream Continues....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rolling Down The Highway....

What a difference elevation can make!  Neglectful me forgot to charge the battery in the camera so you are just going to have to trust me when I say that there was a lot of snow through Allisons Pass (Elevation 1341 m) and 30 kms later it was all gone!
If you noticed, I've gotten rid of the toque for now because the weather is considerably warmer on the west side of the Rockies.  For the next couple days temperatures are supposed to be in the high single digits.
The terrain has virtually been all steep downhills and I have been using the tractor trailer "Runaway Lanes" as my rest areas.  British Columbia lower mainland here I come!
Special thanks to the Best Western, in Hope, for accommodating 'The Dream'.

7 Running Days left- Dec 18th, Victoria, B.C.

The Dream Continues...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Coming Around The 'Final' Mountain....

"The only fence against the world  is a thorough knowledge of it."
-John Locke
Hello from Princeton (as of Friday) and now Manning Park (as of today)!  The run has taken me back into the winding roads and back country of British Columbia, along Highway 3.  Nothing but amazing views and wildlife of the Cascade mountains!
While in Princeton, I was welcomed by two councillors representing the mayor and stopped in at Vermillion Forks Elementary School for a presentation on the run.
When I woke up the other day and was preparing for the run, we had some visitors in our parking lot.

Special thanks to the Manning Park Lodge for accommodating 'The Dream'.

9 Running Days left until Victoria, B.C.- Dec 18th/08

The Dream Continues.....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Running Preparation....

Running is 99 percent mental, 99 percent preparation and 2 percent talent.  The only thing you can't plan for is weather, but even that condition is an obstacle you can use as an opportunity for greater mental toughness and better daily preparation.
As mentioned in a previous blog entry, the hourly average speed is at its highest peak ever- 10+ km/hr.  Better technique, nutrition and terrain knowledge are some aspects contributing to this performance level.

For example, tomorrow's run is looking to be between a 35-40 km run.  Thanks to google technology, the elevation of the run will be between 517-652 metres with 41 major changes in elevation.  To put that in comparison to next weeks run through Manning Park, the elevation will be between 763-1400 metres, with 65 major changes in elevation, over 42.5 kms.
Thanks to that homework, as usual, I'll carb load the night before with lots of pasta and chicken.  During the course of the run, I'll drink about .5 litres of gatorade or water every 8-10 kms (40-50 minutes) while indulging in power gels, fruit, almonds or electrolyte pills.  The most important element of the run is to keep the brain stimulated and highly functioning.

Throughout the 188 running days across the country no day has ever been the same.  My Ipod habits have been to either listen to documentaries on various current issues, famous speeches in history, motivational speakers or various musical playlists with an eclectic range and variety.  Sometimes I prefer to have no Ipod and listen to the sounds of the road.
If problems ever arise on the road the most successful way of troubleshooting has been to stop and address the issue ASAP before the issue becomes a problem.

The meteorologist (WMB) is calling for freezing rain tomorrow afternoon.  Looks like a sunrise start! 

11 Running Days...390 kms until Victoria, B.C.- Dec 18th

The Dream Continues...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goodbye Okanagan....Hello Home Stretch!!...

If I could run the remaining distance all at once- I would!! The thought had crossed my mind several times and probably will again over the next couple weeks.  If I haven't said it already-The Okanagan is amazing!!  A different climate and a different landscape with lots and lots of orchards and vineyards to see from the road. 

Yesterday, even with the running off day, there was a lot to do.  The morning was spent meeting with Penticton Mayor, Dan Ashton and councillors Dan Albas and John Vassilaki.

Around noon, I had the privilege to come and speak to the students at Summerland Secondary School (SSS). I'd like to thank all the students for jogging around the field before I shared the experiences of Run The Dream.  I'd like to thank Nicki, in Grade 10, who came up in front of the entire school and talked about her life experiences and ambitions while living with Aspergers. 

I left Penticton this morning and ran to Keremeos (45.5 kms).  It was there I met with Keremeos Mayor, Walter Despot, who taught me about the Pocket Desert which exists about 25 kilometres southeast of town, closer to Oliver, BC.  On today's run I did spot a few mountain goats high up.

Lastly, special thanks to the Lakeside Inn, in Penticton, and the Best Western, in Princeton, for accommodating 'The Dream'.

12 Running Days.....435 kms to Victoria, BC- Dec 18th

The Dream Continues....

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Rain....

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
-George Bernard Shaw

Great morning from the Okanagan Valley!!  It may be overcast, it may be raining, but behind the clouds and drizzle there is sunshine! 
The Okanagan experience continues to be filled with surprises.  On Friday, the run was cut short due to lack of visibility caused by a winter blizzard.  At 4pm, I headed over to visit with Wayne Lippert, Mayor of Vernon, and was greeted by many well wishers who deal with Autism on a daily basis.  I'd like to thank Mayor Lippert for inviting me as his guest that evening to the Community Living Christmas fundraiser where special mention was made about the objectives of Run The Dream.  I don't make this up, but it seems whether I am at a grocery store, a fundraiser, or a school, everyone seems to have some connection with Autism.

On Saturday, I was on the move again towards Kelowna and beyond.  It was just one of those days I was going to go out and run the 42 kms, but about 6 hours later the odometer said 58.9 kms.  You never plan for those days, but when the feet feel like they won't touch ground, you keep flying!!

Sunday was the usual rest day and this morning I'll be meeting with Sharon Shepperd, Mayor of Kelowna, before running to Penticton (Home of the Canadian Ironman competition).

Special thanks to the Prestige Inn, in Vernon, and the Best Western, in Kelowna, for accommodating 'The Dream'.

14 Running Days.....530 kms to Victoria, B.C- Dec 18th

The Dream Continues....