I’ve been told by great runners that pacing is the key to a great race.

But pacing is also really hard to do!

I presume that this is why so many races offer ‘pace-bunnies’ – people who commit to doing the discipline of running at exactly a 6:00 km, for example, so that all that you as the runner have to do is keep in time.

The reason pacing is so important is that you start the race with lots of energy – you’re pumped up and excited! Maybe you’ve been tappering for a few days and you’re loaded up on carbs. Either way, you feel like you could conquer the world! So you go out … fast. But energy is sort of like your paycheque. If you blow it all in the first day, there’s not much left for the rest of the week!

And pacing is also something we in the disability world have to think about – only for me it isn’t just a thing to think about on days when I’m doing a big race. I have to think about it every day!

If I get up in the morning, and my room’s a mess and I have a little bit of energy, I still have to say, ‘nope … not going to do that … that would take too much energy’.

If I have a hankering for something complicated for lunch like a grilled cheese sandwich and there’s no one here to make it for me, or if my kids want to wander through the mall for hours at a time (an experience I used to thoroughly enjoy), or if my friend messages me at 7:00 pm and says, ‘hey, do you want to catch a movie?’ the answer almost always has to be ‘nope … not going to do that … that would take too much energy’. Because the only alternative is that I crash – and crash hard – later on.

When you live a life constrained by limited energy levels, everything you do has to be paced out carefully. There can be no surprises, and there has to be lots of opportunity to say, ‘I wanted to, but my energy’s too low, so I can’t.’

Yes, they have therapists to teach this stuff, but I’ll be honest, it’s like pacing when you run: you have to dial it back until you feel like you are going immensely slower than you could, and then you have to hold that pace! You have to be willing to surrender your need to prove yourself, to keep up with your loved ones, to score points or achieve things and instead learn simply to run your own race.

Otherwise you might find yourself joining me on the couch for some much needed rest.


Toronto Waterfront 10K – Race Report

This week’s race started with a gruelling 4:20 am alarm! But the sky was starting to lighten already and we slipped into our race gear, grabbed our pre-made banana-peanutbutter-walnut-chocolate-chip muffins, and headed out the door by 4:45.

We stopped to pick up our friend Sarah – gamely joining us as an ‘angel’ today, along with another friend, Mindy, who we hadn’t seen for about 15 years! I love how running brings us into closer community!

We headed down the 400 and into Toronto. Thunderstorms had been called for today, but we looked in the clear for the time being, and the hope was that they would hold off.

We met up with the myTeamTriumph Canada crew at a parkette near the race start on University Avenue, met up with the rest of the teams and did our pre-race pictures. I recognized one of the other Captain’s from the previous race, and he was pretty excited to be participating again – I couldn’t blame it! What a wonderful day for a race!

When we got ourselves together and headed over to the start line we discovered we were in time to watch the hand-cycle racers get started – wow, are they ever fast – followed closely by the Elite athletes and the top age-groupers. Then we tucked in around the back to find our starting corral.

Something that they’re still working on here in Canada is convincing the race organizers to let us self-seed or even start at the front. It means we start with the ‘walkers’ at the back of the pack, which would be fine … if we walked. But none of us do! This means that we spend the first half of the race slowly working our way through the crowds until we find those who are actually running at our pace. Last time we did a big race, this was quite a pain, because a lot of people seem to wear their headphones during races, and don’t seem to pay a lot of attention to their surroundings. However, this time we brought a cow bell – which seemed to work quite well! People assumed I was ringing it to cheer them on (which is true), but it also helped them become more aware that we were behind them, which really helped!

We went out at a 6:00/km pace, but then found our rhythm at about a 6:30/km. It was the perfect pace for such a hot, humid day!

I loved that the race course was lined with all sorts of fantastic cheering squads – people with signs, groups that drummed, did cheerleading and waved pompoms all added to the energy of the race!

Down University to York, to Bremnar to Lakeshore, and then on, under the Gardner, past the CNE, to Parkside and then double-back to the CNE.

The race was very well organized, and they really looked after us at the finish line – water, medals, bananas, donuts (for those who could stomach them), and a wet washcloth to wipe yourself down with were all welcome comforts. In the finish shoot we met up with one of the other Captains, a boy with two prosthetic above-knee boomerang legs, who had apparently run some of the race himself! I was super-impressed!

Toronto Waterfront Medal Selfie

We finally settled down with the rest of the myTeamTriumph crowd near the bandstand, and watched them hand out the medals to the top Elite and Masters winners, followed by two yoga classes. Lots of free samples kept the rest of us happy.

One of the folks from myTeamTriumph had driven our car to the finish line for us, so it was a short walk back and a pretty straightforward drive home. Got in about an hour before the thunderstorm hit, so I’m going to call that perfect timing! 🙂

It’s For Real!

Just wanted to post and let everyone know that the bank transfer has happened, and the chair has been ordered!

I can hardly believe that this has happened – and am blown away by how quickly it happened! You guys! We raised just over $8000 in under two weeks. I feel incredibly encouraged and humbled by your generosity. The power of community is an incredible thing, and I am beyond grateful!

The colour chart above shows just some of the colours I get to choose from for the racing chair. I can’t tell you just yet which colour we’ll go with, but I can tell you that we’ll be sure to make a splash! 🙂

MEC 5K Earl Rowe – Race Report

The morning came way too early for those of us who had stayed up to enjoy a beautiful Friday evening in June, but it was well worth it as we pulled into Earl Rowe Provincial Park just after 8:00 on Saturday morning. The 1/2 marathon had already started so we trundled slowly past runners as we made our way to the parking lot.

We had decided to do this race just the two of us, so we were signed up for the 5K.

We got our race bibs and made our way over to the starting line. Lots of Runninjas were around to high-five and wish a great run to, so that always sets the stage for a great race!

The 10K group got off just after 9:00, and the 5K kicked off about five minutes later. We had decided to aim for a 4:30 pace, and were able to hold it very steady for the first kilometer, but as soon as the hills showed up we realized that there is a huge difference between pushing the stroller on a training run by yourself or a race with another runner and doing the whole thing on your own!

We eased up the pace a bit over the next few kilometers as we trundled through wooded patches and around the lake. I’m working on figuring out how to best encourage us along, and have realized that helping to keep us on pace is probably one of the best things I can do. I don’t tell Trevor to run faster or slower – I just call out our splits as they shift, and allow him to do what makes the most sense for him in response. On this note, I have to say that I wish that Strava showed not only your overall split average, but your current split, as I felt like the further along in the race we got the more difficult it was to tell where we were at.

The weather was absolutely beautiful, however, and this was the first race of the year that I was able to run without a blanket! I even took my shoes off so that I could work on my tan!

In the end we ran the 5K in a time of 25:50 – almost exactly half of our pace at the SportingLife 10K, which we had had additional runners for. I was very pleased!

To top it off, the crew from the Runninjas and MEC had put on a bar-b-q after the event to raise money for my chair. With their donations of $300, I am pleased to report that we are now 100% of 100% of the way to our goal, and the chair will be paid for this week!!!

Barrie Fun Run – Race Report

The skies were dark and threatening as we arrived at the SouthShore Centre on May 31st. The wind was strong and cold, and I was grateful for all of my layers! But riding on the high that we had passed the half-way mark on our chair fundraising, and thrilled to see the MEC Barrie Runninjas come out in full force, I was ready for whatever came.

One of the challenges of being in a wheelchair is always logistics. I dislike sitting in my race chair when we’re not racing, as I have very little autonomy in the chair – I can’t get in or out on my own (for example, to use the bathroom), and can’t move myself around independently (so the group might wander off, but I might still be sitting there). So I like to also have my wheelchair, but then we have to navigate a wheelchair and a stroller and the fact that the roads are blocked off for a couple of kilometers in either direction of the start line, and you start to see that when it’s just Trevor and I showing up for a race, it’s a little more complicated than for your average runner! 🙂 Our learning from this race is that if I push the stroller and Trevor pushes me, we move pretty swiftly, so that’s good to know moving forward!

We arrived to find the MEC crew gathering, and when we asked who was planning on helping to push we got a rousing crew! Dave, Juan, Chris and Cher all committed to helping Trevor get me around, and the team fell into a rhythm and a speed that seemed to work well for everyone.

According to Strava, we over 10 km we averaged about a 4:30/km pace, and came in at 45:57.9!

heather-with-dave-mec-barrie-fun-run.jpgI had worried at the beginning of the race that I would slow these capable individuals down, and make them feel like they had to hold back, but several of the team members repeated what I have heard regularly since I started this – that being a part of the team makes running and racing more exciting and fun, and actually challenges them to run faster than they otherwise would.

It was a great evening, and so much fun to be out on the course and a part of things!

Barrie Food Bank – RoundUP Training Run

This morning’s training run with the Barrie Runninjas coincided with the Barrie Food Bank’s RoundUP, so we decided to do our training route from MEC across to Ardagh Bluffs School and then back again down Ardagh to MEC.

We had a great crowd out, with lots of people happy to push! I have been amazed at this group of runners. This was only my second morning out and both weeks I’ve had people queuing up for a chance to join in. This is what first caught my attention about the running and triathlon communities in Simcoe when Trevor first started participating years ago – the camaraderie, acceptance and sense of community were incredibly enticing and I always wanted to be part of the fun!

Thanks to the Runninjas for a great morning out, a super-fast training pace, a chance to be part of the Food Bank event in a wonderfully community way, and of course the smoothies back at the store!

A Chair Of My Own

So I’ve been using the Advance Mobility stroller for the past few weeks, and while I am grateful for it, there are two issues with the trial chair I’ve been using. The first is obvious – it isn’t mine! The chair I’ve been using is one of myTeam Triumph’s chairs, and  needs to be available for other athletes to use on a regular basis for races and training runs, so we can’t hold onto it. The second is that it lacks the support I would need to spend extended periods of time in it – the trial chair would create problems with my back and neck muscles, and increase my fatigue levels.

So we talked with the folks at myTeam Triumph and discovered that there was another option – a chair of my own that would make it safe and feasible for me to participate in the training runs and races on an on-going basis. However, it turns out that like everything else in our life right now, we can’t do this alone.

The chair will cost $7500 CDN – Will you help us make this dream a reality?

This chair offers me an opportunity to get out and be part of community again.

This chair offers Trevor and I a chance to dream new dreams in the face of all that has changed in our lives.

And who knows where the journey will take us from here?

For more information on how you can donate, please visit

First Race – Sporting Life 10K

The day started out beautiful and sunny – not hot for me in the chair (hence my extra layers) but warm and comfortable provided the sun stayed out from behind the clouds!

This was our first ever race in the Advance Mobility stroller through myTeamTriumph Canada. Because of this wonderful charity, we had the chance to do something I had never thought possible – run a 10K race, together with a team of people. I was super excited!

Friends of ours from church had gotten up before dawn to drive down together with us to Toronto. Janel and Elijah had committed to running with my husband Trevor, and Carolann was set to crew!

We met up with the myTeamTriumph folks in a little parkette just off of Yonge St., and just north of the start lines. We could hear the music blaring, and see hundreds of people moving towards the start line in their fluorescent orange shirts. The energy building, we loaded myself and the other team captains into our chairs, took some pictures, and headed off to the starting line!

The race organizers had insisted that we start with the last wave of runners, because of the strollers, but we knew we would go out faster than the walkers and parents with small children in tow, so we lined up at the front of our wave and in the end the starting director waved our teams through a few minutes early, and we were off at 8:50 am.

The first few minutes of the race were pure bliss! A wide-open Yonge St., with no runners for most of a kilometre (they had gotten a five minute head start) meant a smooth start to our run.

A few minutes in and we had come up to the back of the crowd, and the real work began. Now my runners had to weave me between the other racers as we overtook pretty much everyone we came up to. The guys would take turns with each person pushing for 500m intervals, and the other two running just ahead and on either side as ‘wing men’ to clear a path. We were moving along at a wonder 5 min/km clip!

Then, just after the 2km mark, as we were doing a handover, Janel caught his foot on the edge of a huge pothole and went down – hard! We paused to help him up and bring him over to the side of the road, but it was obvious that his race was over for the day. His shoe was split, the knee of his pants was torn, and within moments his ankle and foot were swelling.

Though we were devastated to loose him, we called Carolann and relayed our coordinates, and a race volunteer stayed with Janel and he waved us back into the race.

Now Elijah and Trevor had to amp up their game. The guys continued to rotate back and forth as we entered back into the melee of the race. We found that with only two runners it was harder to find a path through. After a few minutes we realized why – this race hadn’t banned headphones, and almost all of the runners were lost in their own world! No one was expecting a large stroller with two strong runners to come barreling past them, and it was difficult to get their attention.

That being said, a teenager on a mission is hard to ignore, and Elijah soon found a way to make a path through the crowd.

We zigged and zagged down Yonge St., took the turns at the bottom nice and wide and finally merged with runners about our speed as we crossed onto the bottom of Spadina and down under the Gardiner to the finish line!

A beautiful day, and a beautiful first race!!


Introducing Me

I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself 🙂

My name is Heather Morgan, and I’ve always loved being active. Despite physical disabilities that resulted in over a dozen surgeries, I’ve always found ways to participate in physical activities: an 80 km canoe trip and the Barrie Sprint Triathlon are just two of the highlights from recent years.

But last fall something happened. My energy plummeted, I developed extreme fatigue and muscle weakness, and I almost entirely lost the ability to walk. Despite rounds of specialist appointments and weeks in the hospital, we still have no answers as to what is wrong with me – no label to help understand the new world I find myself in. What I do know is that I now use a wheelchair to get around, and my autistic husband and autistic teenagers and I are slowly coming to grips with a new – but very different – ‘normal’.

The transition hasn’t been easy, however through an organization called myTeam Triumph Canada we were recently able to pair my husband’s love of long distance sports with my physical limitations and run the Toronto Sporting Life 10K. What an incredible experience!!

Two of the most challenging aspects of any chronic illness or disability are maintaining good mental health in the midst of the process and finding ways to maintain your marriage and other relationships to help you get through. The experience of doing the 10K race gave us a window into a way to help us navigate both of these challenges – training and racing!

So as we set out on this new journey, I thought I would try to chronicle the process. I have lots of ideas in store for what I might get up to, and all of them will be powered by love!