RHS Teachers & Students going the Distance

I am often reminded that I work in a fantastic school with some really special teachers, and it is worth sharing some of this with everybody else. This year one of our teachers, Nadia Gandhi, decided she wanted to be increase her own personal fitness. She was encouraged and supported by another teacher, Marieve Fontaine, and the two of them signed up for a Somersault Events Try-a-Tri. Soon enough both ladies were running at lunch, biking on the weekends, and getting in swims when they could. To say they were proud of their accomplishments is an understatement.

Fast forward to this school year, and both women wanted to encourage our students to become more active, both physically and socially. Marieve, along with teachers Katie McColeman, and Ruth McKeague, started a girls running club with the goal of completing the 5km or 10km Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women, a race which is focused on increasing awareness of women’s mental health issues.


Ridgemont Runs for Women 2017

Ridgemont is a school which has students from across the globe. In recent years we have seen an influx of young men and women from Somalia, Nepal, and most recently Syria. Their experiences are varied, but they rarely resemble the life experiences of others. As newcomers to Canada, they also need additional supports in our community. Teacher Nadia Gandhi has partnered with the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISCO) to support a group of student who are entered to run the Ottawa Race Weekend 5k this month. This group started with strength and cardio training during our very cold and snowy Ottawa winter. They ran indoors to begin, and then moved outdoors and ran ran or shine (Ottawa has had a lot of wet days!). As a staff, we are very proud of Ms. Gandhi and her students. Take a moment to read her note about her project:
On May 27th, my ELDCO/DO class will be running a 5km race as part of Ottawa Race Weekend. We are part of OCISO’s team called, ” Running for a New Start – Going the Distance for Refugees”.  
Part pilot project/part literacy project in resilience, my students are showing tremendous efforts. Every week since March we have been training and now that the weather ​is warmer we will be tracking our 5km twice a week.
As part of our efforts we are fundraising for OCISO. See link below to donate if you are so inclined. 
Thanks RHS!

RHS ELDs going the distance

If you’ve been thinking about supporting a charity, please consider this worthy cause. As we enter one of the busiest times of the school year, these two examples of teachers going beyond the classroom to teach their students life lessons is refreshing and encouraging. Thanks to all of the amazing teachers at my school who make this such an incredible place to work.

Winter Running

This year I’ve decided to keep running as much as possible. Unlike other years when I stop running in the fall and then start again in the spring, having enjoyed a lovely winter rest, this year I’m running in the winter. Okay, so I wasn’t great at running in the late fall and early winter, but I did get out a few times. I even ran indoors a few times. What amazed me was that I still had some decent speed in my legs and lungs. That said, preparing to brave the cold of an Ottawa winter was a whole other issue.

In December I took part in Jayme Rae’s plank challenge. Since this worked out so well, I thought I might try to take on Run Ottawa’s running streak challenge #RORunStreak on Twitter and Instagram. At first I wasn’t sure I would be able to even do this since I don’t like to run in the cold, but then I got to thinking that I have to go out to walk the dog anyway so why not run; we could both use the exercise. Two things I had to consider:

  1. Kip is a spaz and has typically tripped me when we have tried to run before. Did I really want to risk a wipe out?

The more I exercise, the more I learn that running is like trying to get little kids to eat something. On average it takes 11 attempts at a food before a child will realize it’s okay and they like it. Running is the same; you can’t just give up. If you want to succeed, then you must try more than once. This was going to be my one more time moment.

If you’ve followed me on Twitter or Instagram then you know I have in fact been running almost every day this month. Some days it’s just 1.5 km in the morning and again at night, some days it’s a bit longer. I was lucky that the first few days of January were relatively mild here so getting out was easier than I thought. By the end of the first week, though, the temperature dropped to a brisk -16C (felt like -20C). Since the dog still had to go, we ran around the block. Guess what? We both survived. In fact within a few days Kip and I seemed to have figured how to run together. After 17 days, there have only been 3 days when I wasn’t able to run, but I did walk those days.

My mother, a long time runner, told me that running in winter is simply a matter of dressing right and being careful. I have to admit she is right. I still have trouble figuring out how many layers to wear, but it’s a lesson I’m happy to keep learning. I’m not a hardcore winter runner, but I’m getting the hang of it. It doesn’t scare me like it used to, and I know I will appreciate the effort come spring. Maybe one of the nicest things to come from my efforts was a colleague telling me I have inspired her to run with her dog this winter.

Thanks to @RunOttawa and all the #RORunStreak participants for your continued encouragement and support!

Thinking Out Loud Thursday #6


Another Thinking Out Loud Thursday – linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons.

#1 — Effort v1

Each Thursday I read Rebecca’s TOLT posts and I think. “How does she find time to do that EVERY week?” Of course, like exercise, it just has to happen. So today I took a few minutes for myself and wrote this and one other blog post. I really must try to do this more often because (1) I enjoy the writing process and (2) it is good for me to exercise my brain in a different way.

#2 — Effort v2

Much of this year has been whipping by, and November was no exception. With the days getting shorter and colder, I did not get out to run at all even though I said I would.  On the weekend, however, my brother-in-law and exercise mentor reminded my that this is our off-season. Not sit on your butt and do nothing season, but off-season when we do other things for exercise. Sure I am not running outside, but I do skate 2 or 3 times a week as a ringette and hockey coach. I walk the dog daily. I walk all over my school daily. But still I need to do more.  So not that December is upon us, I am heading back to the workout spoace in my basement and revving up the SWORKIT app for some stretching and HIIT workouts. at the very least I will be more relaxed and will have a fighting chance at staving off the holiday eating.  Also, today I started Jayme Rae‘s #24DAYSOFPLANKMAS challenge.


I managed 50 seconds of plant work today to get things started. Yay me!

#3 — Family

Recent events have reminded me yet again the importance of family. Lots of hugs for my wife and kids these days.

My WordPress.com Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 6 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.
Amazingly I have been using WordPress.com for 6 years! I’m not really sure where the time has gone, but suddenly I’m here. I know when I started using the platform in my classroom I had great plans to communicate with my students — which I did sort of. Then I created a variety of other sites for other purposes, which were also used sort of. Finally I created this site. While I am not a power user like many other blogger, I still find time to post things about my journey towards a healthier me, as well as some photos and book reviews. Here’s hoping I can log a few more kilometers running and biking and crank out a few more post in the coming year.
Thanks for playing along!

Distance Demon Demolished

When the snow cleared in the spring, I hit the trails knowing that I actually had a goal race in mind. Yes I signed up for a Sprint Tri in May, but I saw that as a decent starting point for my running plan for the year.  My focus, my goal,  for the year was the half marathon. I found a few different training plans that I followed, some weeks more successfully than others. I continued to get stronger, not worrying too much about speed, focusing instead on my form and over all running health. I suffered through some minor injuries, I tried new gear, I found new routes. I even ran on my vacation!

I’ve only ever ran a half marathon once before, 5 years ago when I completed the 2012 Army Run Half. Some of my family absolutely refused to believe I actually ran that race. Their disbelief isn’t really a surprise. At that time I was not much of a runner. I didn’t have a training plan, and I certainly didn’t seem to have the skills needed to complete that distance. In fact I did complete the race, even making many of the normal mistakes new runners make, in a less than stunning 2:49. I was just about the last male runner to cross the line, but I did finish. At the time, I said I would NEVER run that far again. Of course famous last words being what they are, last year I got the urge to try the half at least one more time.

Fast forward to September 2016 when I was planning on returning to the Army Run Half. I was thinking that I this was a distance I could revisit as a more knowledgeable and more confidant runner. Part of me was thinking it would be great to accomplish this before I turn 50 — I’m 49 this year — and this being the 5th anniversary of my only other attempt at the Half seemed auspicious. Unfortunately I had to opt out of the race at the last minute. I even had my bib. But not running was the right choice.

After choosing the DNS, I spent much of September and October in a running funk. I still ran, but it was a little aimless, and nothing long. Last weekend, on a gorgeous October afternoon I hit the trails with the plan of hitting the magic 21.1 km mark. My original goal time for the race had been anything under 2:30, maybe 2:15 to 2:20 range, but I didn’t have any real expectation to go faster than that. Using the tried and true 10:1 ratio (thanks John Stanton!), I started running along some new trails. It was a bit cooler than I had thought, a blustery 6C, but it was a sunny day. Fortunately, much of the route was tree lined trails so the wind wasn’t too bad. Of course since I am new to cooler temperature running, I had a hard time figuring out what to wear. Having settled on my Army Run Half shirt and an Under Armour running sweater on top and Lulu Surge shorts and Running Room Calf sleeves on the bottom, I was off. At first I regretted not having gloves, but once I got moving I was fine. In fact I almost regretted the double layer on top, but it was also fine.

Almost done and still smiling

I even found time to take some pictures. It really was a gorgeous fall day.

I kept a pretty steady but comfortable pace the entire way and I was really happy to finish in 2:09 with and average pace of 6:02/km.

When I hit the trails, I wasn’t convinced I could actually run as far and as fast as I did. I had pretty much stopped training and running seriously, but clearly there was enough muscle memory left. And I’m glad I there was because my Distance Demon was Demolished! I knew I could run a Half Marathon distance, but now I know I can do it in a respectable time and without suffering for days afterwards. The Half and I still have some unfinished business, but this time there won’t be any Demons in my way.

Thinking Out Loud Thursday #5


This post is yet another link up with Amanda at RunningWithSpoons.

  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” So wrote Charles Dickens at the start of A Tale of Two Cities, a book I used to teach, and lines that so clearly summed up today. What had already promised to be a very long day of work began with me being rear ended when I was a bout 5 minutes from work. My van now has a hole the size of my phone in its bumper. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but the other driver and I are both inconvenienced by the accident and the resulting repairs. Of course I still had to make it through the day, but it was, to quote a friend, a peppy day and my Admin partners and I seemed to be putting out fires. All. Day. Long. On the plus side though we had a good turn out for our Parent-Teacher Interview night, and I won the 50-50 fundraising draw for our #TeamCostaRica school trip.
  • I recently applied to be part of the Team Awesome for #runottawa2017. This is an initiative by the organizers of the Ottawa Race Weekend to harness the enthusiasm social media savvy runners to post updates about their training plans, struggles, goals, and race weekend activities. As this is the Canada’s 150th birthday year, I thought it would be great to be part of this opportunity to connect with other runners to celebrate a sport I enjoy and the city I love to run in. I discovered Team Awesome last year when fellow teacher and runner Rebecca Wemyss wrote about it on Twitter. Here’s hoping I’m selected, but I know there will be lots of other worthy applicants.
  • Jon Snow may not know anything, but I know winter is coming to Ottawa. I have not been shy about being a fair weather runner, and I’m worried that as the temperatures dip and the precipitation turns white I will not get out for runs. In fact today is the first snowfall in Ottawa with a predicated 5-10 cm expected. Thanks Rebecca for this great photo of her last out door track session.


    A photo posted by rebeccaruns (@rebeccaruns) on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:39pm PDT

    Typically the first snowfall doesn’t stick, but at the end of the day there was noticeable accumulation. Last weekend I tried to toughen myself up a bit by running in the rain. Surprise surprise I didn’t melt so I’m sure I can run in snow, but I know I have to build some resilience (and wear proper clothes). This morning as I was walking my dog, my neighbour was heading our for her run. Oh how I envy her confidence running in the cold!

  • On the weekend I managed to do something I wasn’t 100% sure I could actually do. My long run on Sunday was 21.5km, and I managed to run it in 2:09:49. Not only did I run a half marathon, I crushed my previous time by 40 minutes. Of course this was the distance I had been training for most of the year, but my time is still 10 minutes faster than  thought it would be. The accomplishment itself warrants its own post, which is coming soon.

    Distance demon demolished #longrun #runchat #runningdad #Ottawa

    A photo posted by Chris Hale (@seehalerun) on Oct 23, 2016 at 1:14pm PDT


Thinking Out Loud Thursday #4


This is another link up with Amanda at Running With Spoons.

  • I blinked and September was over; now we’re at the first long weekend of the school year, Canadian Thanksgiving. Looking forward to lots of family time and way too much good food. YUM!
  • One of my goals has been to stay active as we move into fall and winter. This week I actually managed to exercise every day. Sunday I had a hard skate with my daughter’s ringette team. We even got on the ice early so there was more than an hour on the ice. Monday the team had dry-land training where the girls did body wieght and cardio exercises followed by a rousing game of handball. Of course the coaches lead the activity — good modelling and team building — so that was hour 2 for the week. It turns out that skating and exercises use similar but different muscles. Tuesday I hit the trails for a run while the team had power-skating. Although I planned for 30 minutes, I was done 5 km in 26 minutes so I kept going, but then I was in the middle of the forest after 6 km and I had to keep running to the end of the trail. As I ran out of the trail and into the parking lot, Strava let me know I had gone 7 km in 39 minutes. The first 5 km were harder than they needed to be, and I sure felt it the next day when all of my leg muscles seemed to be sore. Wednesday was a day for walking, including a nice 3 km walk after dinner. I’m still a bit sore today, but I’ve been walking a lot and stretching too so things are getting better. I may even get in a short run.
  • My average run length these days seems to be about 7 km in about 40 minutes, averaging 5:35-ish / km. A little over a year ago, my average run was 5 km, and I was running about 2 mins/km slower. I am still amazed that I can run as far and as fast as I do. I am a runner.
  • Wednesday October 5 was World CP Day. If you are interested in learning about this day, and about CP, please check out the website https://worldcpday.org/.

Thursdays are For Thinking Out Loud #3

Hey, it’s Thursday and I’m remembering to put a few thoughts out there.

  •  It’s pretty hard to believe that September is over already. It seems like the month just started, but with the return to work and the rinks it really should come as a surprise to me that the month is already over. 
  • My free time this week has been consumed with coaching my daughter’s ringette team, getting my boys to their ice sports — hockey and wheelchair curling — and maybe just a little running. So far this week I managed 12km; I went out planning or 10km but then I was 11 and a bit so I figured why not just do an extra lap around the park to round out the last km 12.1 km at 5:42/km). 
  • Like many Canadians, I’ve been glued to the World Cup of Hockey. Tonight I’m listening to game 2 of the finals while I watch my son play his last sort out game. Here’s hoping Canada finishes things off tonight. Go Canada, go!

Thinking Out Loud Thursday #2


After a late start to my first Thinking Out Loud Thursday, and a missed Thursday last week, I’m back with my second Thinking Out Loud Thursday. This links up with Amanda at Running With Spoons.

  • My wife and I recently celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. We are both amazed that the time has flown by so quickly as it seems like just yesterday that we newlyweds. Of course having three kids aged 19 to 13 should have been a clue that we’ve been together for a while, but it just doesn’t seem like 22 years.
  • Last week was supposed to be race week for me. However I decided early in the week that I would not be running the Army Run Half Marathon. It was the right decision, but it left me feeling a little out of sorts all week. I only ran once, and some of my food choices were questionable, especially on the weekend. I’ve started looking for another fall race that fits my family schedule so that I can possibly get a Half PB. Interestingly, my bib for the Army Run was 4905 — I’m 49 and my last/only half was 5 years ago when I ran the  Army Run in a less than stunning 2:49. After a couple of years of relatively consistent running and learning, I had hoped to PB somewhere below 2:30, but it just wasn’t in the stars. Thankfully Ottawa is a great running city and there are other opportunities.
  • Ringette season is upon us so I am back on the ice as a coach. After a summer of running, my legs feel great and skating is pretty easy, except for some different leg muscles I’m now using.
  • This week I ran with my school’s Cross Country Team.  Last year I had promised to get out with them, but I never made it. It was great to be out with the students and coaches for an easy 5k in the neighborhood. It was especially nice for coaches McColeman and Collins to keep the pace manageable for me and the newest team members (5.2k @ 6:33/km).
  • On the last day of summer, I hit the trail and the road for a stress relieving run. While I was hoping to hit 10k, I wasn’t sure given the limited running I’ve done recently. There was no need to worry however, as I ran a 10K PB in 55:31. My splits were very consistent in the first 5k, but slipped a bit in the second 5. That was fine with me though as it was great to be running. No watch, no stopping, just my phone chirping my split times as I zipped along.


Back to work food temptations!

As often happens when schools come back after the summer break there are treats for staff and students. My school is no different. We provided coffee and muffins for the staff, and our grade 9 students and student leaders were given cheese pizza for lunch.


Muffins for staff

Even though I have been super careful this summer about what and how much I eat, and I told myself I would resist, the temptation was too great. I had two muffins this morning and a slice of pizza at lunch. And I still had the lunch I brought from home.

A small pile of the Pizza for students

Sure I had breakfast at 6:00 am, so I was hungry by mid morning and I don’t get to have lunch until 12:45, but I brought a healthy lunch with veggies and fruit that could be eaten in one sitting or grazed upon throughout the day. Sure I knew better, and I’ve lost weight through my better eating and exercising. But I AM WEAK! All I can do is remind myself that while a couple of treats is the start of a slippery slope, it is not a food mountain-slide. I just have to be mindful of what I eat, and stay away from temptation.

So with only 77 days to go to Christmas break, every day will be an interesting challenge to keep away from free food and empty calories.