Eventually this blog will become a wonderful story, collaboration and reflection of our journey, education and commitment to how and why we've become vegan runners. At age 40, with two children (Jackson and Nathan), we've discovered something in ourselves that we didn't know existed and the result of this discovery has had an incredible impact on our life, our love, and our family.

This blog is intended to share our experiences as plant based runners. Come on in and join our story...

~ Zoe and Brad

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Road 2 Hope Hamilton Marathon

Road 2 Hope- Hamilton Marathon

A funny thing happened during the race today as I was reunited with a runner I first met at last spring's Around the Bay road race. He kept me going that day at a painful but successful pace. I was hurting and he knew it. His encouragement helped me get to the finish with my best time ever at that race. After the race, I happened to meet him in the stands. I shook his hand and thanked him for his help which he brushed off as no big deal.

It was around km 18-19 of today's race when a figure not unlike most of the others strode up beside me with a big smile on his face. There he was, my compadre from the spring! We finished this race together and chatted quite a bit along the way. I learned that his name is Seybou and our recent running experiences are very similar. He was aiming for 3:15 and convinced me we could make it there together. This was a truly awesome way to share the achievement and give it a much deeper meaning. Cheers to my friend Seybou. You have helped me more than you know!
Two happy runners! Seybou and I after the race

I had some doubts going into the race today with the sudden onset of freezing temperatures, second guessing my training and the usual pre-race nervousness. But the planets aligned for me today.

I ran a personal record AND Boston qualifying time of 3:13:26. 3:15 was my target time, but I realistically thought 3:20 was more likely. I was able to stick with the 3:15 pace bunny (who was awesome!) to the end and give a little kick at the finish (at the pace bunnys' urging). This was a first for me as I usually fall apart in the last 10k.

For the last couple of months I altered my training a bit (after running consecutive 3:25 marathons), running LESS mileage with more focus on intense intervals, hills and overall body fitness. I replaced some mid-distance leisurely runs (10-15k), with cycling (3-4 times a week to work), stair workouts (weekly) and swimming (twice a week). It appears that this cross training approach paid dividends with a little more energy in the final stages of the race.

It also provides further proof that plant based nutrition can be utilized to achieve great(er) athletic accomplishment.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why do I Run

I ran the Toronto Marathon. Why a miracle? I had already accepted that I had to back out of the race. Two weeks ago, during one of my long training runs, I suffered a pulled calf muscle. Three days ago, I woke up with a fever, sinus cold and cough. Regardless, I knew I had to try. I wanted to cross the line that said “Start”.

Finishing didn’t matter. I woke to thunder and lightning and pouring rain. As I sipped my coffee and ate my oatmeal, the rain slammed onto the course (which I could easily see from the hotel window). I wondered how wet my shoes and socks would get…how far I could go before the blisters started? My throat hurt, my spirits were down and I wasn’t’ sure at that point if I could do it. Minutes before the gun went off, I received a text from a friend, “You don’t have to finish. It is everything you did to get to the starting line that is the accomplishment”. That was all I needed. I felt so proud of the dedicated hard work, and perseverance, over the last six months of training. My eyes teared as I crossed the starting line. I turned my iPod off and listened to the sounds of the crowd as they cheered the runners. I didn’t have anyone particular cheering me and yet, I found solace in those who made eye contact with me and gave me that encouraging glance. As I ran those first few kilometers, my mind drifted to a quote, recently shared with me by a friend (also a principal) , James Cowper, from his blog post called, “Why do I run? Because its hard.”
Long distance running is personal and political, but even more, it’s transcendental. You transcend “normal” behavior as well as your own expectations. Over time, this serial transcendence plateaus at a different idea of “normal.” Through this beautiful, empowering process, you locate and relocate your identity. You constantly create new conceptions of what’s possible and those new concepts become part of you. The key here is this: You then become more involved with the world as an agent of change. You rage a bit. And this entire process is modeled. Others witness it; many are moved by it—they change for the better. In this ongoing empowerment and transcendence, you are a public model, whether or not you think so. When you start running seventy miles a week, the people around you will eventually take notice and become curious. It’s an exceptional thing. (James McWilliams — historian, activist — published on the blog, Myths About The Vegetarian Myth.)
This quote reminds me of what we discuss in learning and teaching. When we engage in anything – a project, a written work, a song, an art, a book, and we speak our thoughts and share our ideals- we empower others. When we write and share stories and interact with one another, we risk causing ripples of our ideals and maybe, just maybe, we might cause people to question, to ask, to wonder and to seek more – of themselves and of others. Maybe, our actions, whether it be the hours of training for a marathon or the hours of learning in schools make us catalysts for change, inspiring others to join our endeavor or create their own (whatever it may be).

 Running 42 Kilometers was a feat for me. Something that, while thousands of people do, I never imagined I could. I learned, that like anything we want to accomplish: with endurance, with practice, with an open mind, with drive and most importantly with support from others, we can overcome just about anything we want – even with our differences and deficits. More importantly, maybe our actions might inspire others. I thank my many friends, and colleagues for cheering me on virtually. My twitter stream was filled with comments of encouragement, support and inspiration from educators and learners across our Globe. Proudly, I crossed that finish line with my husband (@pipe72) waiting and cheering proudly. Maybe it wasn’t really a miracle after all.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why Plant Based?

Why plant based??

My journey to becoming vegetarian and eventually vegan goes something like this...

I first gave up eating meat because I had lost my appetite for it. It just wasn't tasting as good as I thought it should. One too many over cooked, flavorless chicken breasts and fatty steaks, I guess. My wife had been cleaning up her diet and my youngest son (he was 10yrs old at the time) had also been pressuring me to stop eating "dead animals"! So, on a bit of a whim, I decided to give it a try. 
It just so happened that I was training for my first marathon at this time. It occurred to me, after declaring my intention to become vegetarian, that maybe this was not the best time to give up meat. I decided to do some research. What I learned changed how I look at fitness and nutrition completely!
Not only could I train and successfully complete a marathon, I could exceed my expectations through faster recovery and stronger lean muscle mass. Gone were the days of sore, inflamed muscles and overall body fatigue after long workouts. I felt amazing! I had more energy and mental clarity of purpose than I could remember ever having before. These feelings were further enhanced when I stopped eating dairy products going entirely vegan. 
As if that wasn't enough reason to truly believe in this lifestyle, and it is a lifestyle, not just a "diet" or temporary "cleanse", it became the catalyst for a nearly wholesale change in my outlook towards almost everything in life! As my palate shifted and matured, so too did my attitude towards my marriage, family, work, knowledge and community. I am much more open to new ideas and to operating outside my comfort zone in order to learn and live a fuller more satisfying life. 
I can't attribute all of these changes directly to a plant based diet, but it was definitely the catalyst for change in me. Allowing myself to NOT accept the "status quo" and to change some of my bad habits was not that difficult. All I had to do was make the decision. Draw a line in the sand and stick to it. 
I'm so glad I did!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sweet Potato Burrito with Kale Salad and Fresh Salsa

It can be hard when a family that live together all have different dietary needs.

I'm fairly certain that I am not alone here. I've been making different foods for my children since they were born. I am a touch surprised that still, after 13 years, I struggle to find something we all like.  

The following meal is one of the TWO family favourites and is easily adapted for the non-vegan/vegetarian eater. The other, all inclusive family favourite is Mexican Bean burritos.

Vegan - Sweet Potato Burrito
* I often bring this to potlucks with a side of guacamole and salsa. So delicious.
Shred and peel sweet potatoes ( 5-6)
In Olive Oil, fry up onions and garlic and then add shredded sweet potatoes
Add Cinnamon (tsp)
Add Cumin (tbsp)
Add Chilli Powder (tbsp)
Add Curry Powder (tbsp)

Add sweet potato mixture, salsa (fresh) and hot sauce if desired.
Roll it up, ensuring both ends are tucked in
Fry on both sides OR use Panini/Sandwich Maker (works nicely)
Non-Vegan’s ----> Add Mexican Cheese

Vegan - Kale Super Sweet Salad
One large bunch of Kale into bite size pieces
One large mango chopped into small bits
One sweet onion chopped
4 to 6 dates in small pieces
Roasted cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette
15 cherry tomatoes cut in half
Quarter cup of sun dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons of Red wine vinegar
Quarter cup of cranberries
Quarter cup of chopped walnuts
Quarter cup of pumpkin seeds

Fresh Salsa - Vitamix
6 vine tomatoes
3 jalapeño peppers
1 sweet onion
Handful cilantro
1 Mango
2 garlic gloves

Green Ginger Goodness - Vitamix
Half Liter of pineapple coconut water
Half a fresh mango
Dozen fresh green grapes
Handful of frozen sliced peaches
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger
Handful of spinach
One scoop Vega protein powder
Four ice cubes

Friday, September 6, 2013

Garlicky Sweet n’Spicy Kale Chips

Garlicky Sweet n’Spicy Kale Chips 

These are a FAVOURITE snack in our household. Sometimes, I cut the Cashews down by half due to the high fat content. The dates and hot oil together play tricks on the tastebuds, but oohhhhh they are scrumptious! No salt, no sugar, no saturated fats, no dairy and all natural.

Large Head of Fresh Kale (cut or tear it off stem and break into medium, chip sized pieces)
3/4 Cup of  Raw Cashews (soaked for a few hours to soften) -> Very healthy and full of monounsaturate fats, calcium, dietary fiber BUT also very HIGH FAT. Replace Cashews with Salsa - it works.
4 Gloves of Garlic
2 tbsp of hot olive oil (jalapeño)
6-8 pitted dates
1/3 Cup of Almond Milk 

In blender mix all the ingredients (except the Kale, of course, which is in a large bowl).  Once consistency is thick and creamy (I like it to still have a few chunks), use your hands (gets messy, so gloves are handy) and spread, meld, fuse, press…all over the Kale.  Piece by piece, put the Kale on they trays, trying to isolate each one. I always start the dehydrator at HIGH for one hour and the lower the temperature for about 8 hours. If no dehydrator, do the same thing at low temperature in oven (180 degrees or so).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Vegan Wild Blueberry and Date Muffin Goodness

VEGAN Blueberry & Date Muffins
These muffins definitely top our favourite snack list. They are so easy to make, contain no eggs, no butter, no refined sugar and no dairy products. We eat them before a workout and sometimes during a workout or even just for a healthy ‘pick-me-up’ sort of snack during the day. Ingredients are all natural, there is no salt and the milled flax seed provides Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids and an awesome dose of iron and fibre. 

Dry Ingredients:
2/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 Cup Ground Flax Seed
1 tbsp Baking Power
1 tbsp Baking Soda
Wet Ingredients:
Chopped dates (natural sugar and potassium is great for recovery!!)
Mashed Banana mixed with Apple Sauce (Potassium)
Cup of Wild Blueberries (super antioxidant)
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 Cup of Agave Nectar
1 Cup of Almond or Flax Milk
Topping and Filling:
Sliced Almonds
Touch of Brown Sugar
Chia Seeds and/or Cacao Nibs (complex carbs and very high source of FIBER)
Fresh or Frozen Blueberries (with some juice) - with spoon, place (press) into centre of muffin after filling muffin pan
Mix dry and wet ingredients.  Fill Muffin pans ¾ full. Bake at around 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Time ALWAYS varies as it depends on the consistency of mixture which is never perfect. Remember to grease the pan.

The muffin themselves are approximately  150 Calories of PURE PLANT POWER GOODNESS.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Québec des Deux Rives Marathon

The Québec City marathon took place on August 25th. The course began in Lévis, across the St. Lawrence river from Québec City. This was a very small, intimate affair with around 1500 runners gathered at the start area. No pushing and shoving for positional advantage here! Although very much a francophone dominated field, everyone was very helpful and welcoming to us (my wife, Zoe, and I) english speaking folks. The universal language of physical fitness and personal challenge was unifying as always. After a quick countdown with some loud music and nervous shuffling of feet, we were off and running!

The first six km, from the Lévis Convention Centre to a dedicated pedestrian/bike path, were unspectacular. Once on the bike path however, everything changed. The path cut behind some suburban housing surveys on the edge of town and gradually lead downhill to the waters edge, where it remained for the next ten km. Amazing views of the St. Lawrence river and Québec City on the other side. The Chateau Frontenac loomed large over the runners as if to say, "Take as long as you need... I'll be here whenever you get here..."

Small riverside communities dominated the next ten/eleven km. Giant stone cliffs on one side of the street and the mighty river on the other. Traditional brick French houses and small frame cottages filled in where the rock and water had not. People cheered and clanged bells from their front porches over Sunday morning coffee. It was all very festive and very relaxed. I enjoyed this stretch of the run as much as any ten km I have ever run. That's how picturesque and beautiful it was!

The "Pont de Québec" was interesting in that I crossed the one km bridge virtually alone. By now the field had spread out considerably. The temperature was becoming a factor as the race wore on. There were plenty of cold water sponges and showers along this final stretch of the race. Offerings of banana and orange were a nice treat! Not as many spectators here, but live music in the form of drums, sax and guitar are always welcome in my books.

Québec City is not very big. By the time the race entered the city limits, it was all but over. Pockets of crowds were present here and there, but it wasn't until the final km that I really felt the boost that only a large encouraging audience can inspire. As I pushed every last bit of energy out through my legs, the clapping and cheering washed over me and helped me finish much stronger than I thought I could. An awesome feeling to be sure!

This was an exceptional route. I would greatly recommend it to anyone looking to run a relaxed, low key, "small town" type of race. It was also great for planning a vacation around. We rented a condo/apartment in Levis, five minutes walk from the ferry to Québec City. It was very reasonably priced and had a fantastic view of Québec City. We stayed a full week and found Lévis to be a good fit for us. A little less hustle and bustle while retaining the charm of a very French town.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013



We will be updating this page through a GOOGLE DOC, PINTEREST, SCOOP IT, and other SOCIAL MEDIA.  We hope to get some suggestions and ideas from others as well as offer our support to families or individuals thinking of changing their diet.

Our Favourite Vegan Family MEALS (AT HOME)   (WE WELCOME SUGGESTIONS!)

 Our FAVOURITE Hamilton Restaurants with Vegan Options:

 1) Naroma Pizza  Mario and his gang have catered to our Vegan tastes. In fact, they keep our "Vegan Pizza" order pinned up so we don't have to repeat it each time:
Copia Pizza - Vegetale. No Cheese. Add: Mushrooms, Tomato, Rapini, Garlic and Artichoke. Extra Hot Pepper Oil on the side. Casa Salad (@2) Dressing on the side, Balsamic oil on the side.

Seriously - ask for the "Zoe and Brad" Vegan Pizza and you will be guaranteed to get the best VEGAN pizza that you've ever had.

 2) Sensational Semosa (Hamilton Farmer's Market) There are so so so many VEGAN OPTIONS. Better yet, there are options here for the whole family (Meat and cheese lovers!) Brad and I thoroughly enjoy the JUMBO VEGAN SEMOSA and ALWAYS bring them with us to eat before a race.

3) Mex-I-can on James Street North. This is probably the best mexican restaurant in this area. In fact, we've been hard strapped to find any mexican restaurant that serves as delicious food as this one. They have food for the entire family - Vegan, Vegetarian and Meat eaters! Our favourite is the cactus burritos and of course, the freshly made guacamole. We've grown accustomed to waiting a little longer for our food - but we know it is always worth it.


Monday, August 19, 2013


 Eventually this blog will become a wonderful story, collaboration and reflection of our journey, education and commitment to how and why we've become vegan runners. At age 40, with two children (Jackson and Nathan), we've discovered something in ourselves that we didn't know existed and the result of this discovery has had an incredible impact on our life, our love, and our family.

~  Zoe and Brad

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lucky -

For anyone who has run the "Around The Bay" road race in Hamilton, Ontario the last few years, I think you know who Lucky is. He sits in front of the cemetary on Valley Inn Road just before "Heartbreak Hill" between km 25-26 of the 30km race. It is a common superstition to shake his hand or give him a high five for good luck before the challenging hill ahead. He is at that exact spot every year. Rain or shine. This is far from unusual in running races except "Lucky", and I'm not sure the acceptable way to say this... has no legs! Other than the obvious irony of his nickname, I have not given him too much thought, during the race or otherwise. This past summer, however, I have had to deal with a few training related injuries while preparing for my first marathon. Nothing serious. Knee tendinitis and hip flexor issues. But enough that I have had to take a break from running a couple of times for the first time in my life. I was starting to let frustration get the better of me. Then I thought of "Lucky". I don't know his real name but I think I will always remember that I am "lucky". Lucky to able to participate in one of the oldest and purest of sports. What a gift it is to be able to run. Run fast. Run far. Run whenever I have a chance. From now on I will enjoy every single breath of fresh air. Every quirky or mundane site along the route. As well as the physical and mental benefits running provides. So, thanks Lucky. You have helped me remember how fortunate I am to be on the open road with nothing but my own two feet and miles to cover. I won't take it for granted again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Winter Training...Reflections by Brad

There is definitely a little more meaning in the knowing nod or wave from a fellow runner in the winter months. The eyes betray the discipline and determination required to maintain a training regimen in cold weather. Focused. Singular. Abrupt even. But, if you look deeper, in that split second of eye contact, there is respect, camaraderie and kinship. With my next marathon set for late May in Ottawa, eight weeks from now, I have been reflecting a great deal on the last few months of training. I competed in the Around the Bay road race in late March (30k-Hamilton, Ontario). That race signals the end of winter and the start of spring for me.
Training through the winter in Southern Ontario, definitely has its challenges. Weather being the biggest of them. Cold temperatures are a given. It is the unpredictable mix of snow, sleet and rain that brings questions of sanity to the forefront of ones mind. But, I'm not alone. I'll cross paths with another person. I assume they know what I know. I can see it in their eyes. The outdoors can be very majestic when not over populated by humans. Some of the best runs I have ever had were in the dead of winter. The roads and trails are nearly deserted. Many times I have come across deer on a snow covered forest path and marveled at how silently they go about their business. Other times, when the snow is fresh and the sky is grey, running on a country road can feel like entering a living charcoal sketch, where the only colours are black and white and the shades between. Then there are times when the air is cold and crisp. The ground is dry and hard. The sun is blinding, and the sky is the most amazing bright blue, a blue very different from the rest of the year. So different from spring, summer and fall that you forget all about it until the next winter sighting. I see all of this in that split second of recognition.
Rather than use the weather as a crutch or an excuse, I try to embrace it and enjoy all it has to offer. It's nice to know there are others who feel the same. There is no better feeling than standing in a hot shower, with a recovery smoothie, taking stock of that days run. The sense of accomplishment and the refocusing on work still to be done is invaluable, and is what keeps me coming back for more. That, and the knowing glance.