Race to Deliver

Race to DeliverThe race Sunday morning (November 19) for God’s Love We Deliver was fantastic! I felt so moved by the spirit of New Yorkers. Joan Rivers was involved with this charity for over 25 years, and personally delivered meals to people at Christmas time. They currently deliver 1.7 million meals a year to 6,800 New Yorkers who are too ill to prepare meals. Mostly people with HIV/Aids (until 2001 that was the exclusive population served). Joan Rivers won $500,000 for this charity on Celebrity Apprentice in 2009.
Race to Deliver
This was the New York Road Runner’s 24th annual Race to Deliver, to raise money for the charity. Kinky Boots was one of the race sponsors, and a Broadway star sang the national anthem at the beginning of the race.
Race to Deliver

Before the race I had time to look at the statues on the Literary Walk of the Mall in Central Park, and learn more about the history of New York.

It was my 8th race this year, and I got to run on the same 4-mile loop as the people who ran the 60K ultra marathon the day before. I volunteered for the 60K, and watched the amazing runners do the 4-mile loop over and over. Some kept running as though 60K is nothing, and others were visibly limping as the miles went on, but they all had that little bit of crazy that I love about New York!

Race to DeliverI feel so lucky to be here and part of this incredible city. It was wonderful to look back today on the year and to take some time to contemplate how magical it has been–how much I’ve experienced, how much I’ve grown and changed. I feel like I belong to this city and these people.

Karen Rempel races in New York Road Runners 9 + 1

5th Ave Mile FinishSept. 10, 2017 – As many of you will recall, I ran in the New York Marathon in the fall of 2016, and it was truly one of the most amazing days of my life. People loved the Bowie costume, and I loved running for 5 hours straight through all 5 boroughs!

This year I am running in the New York Road Runners 9 + 1. It is a program for residents, or at least for people who are able to attend 10 races in the city throughout the year. If I run in 9 races in 2017 and volunteer at one race, I will qualify automatically for admission into the 2018 marathon.

One of the races I ran in this year is the Fifth Avenue Mile. I was super excited to be running down the middle of Fifth Avenue for this one! Though I thought the race would start at the south end of Central Park and go south from there, past Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany’s, and all the other fabulous stores. But no, it started at 80th St and went to 60th. I was disappointed about this, so I decided to just keep running past the finish line, and I ran all the way to 10th St, where I live. I heard the name David Bowie mentioned several times as I ran down the avenue. I am glad to be keeping his memory alive.

A handsome German tourist took this picture of me (below) when I was finished. It was 3.5 miles in all. The timed mile of the race took 8:31–possibly my fastest mile since highschool! And then another 26 minutes to run 50 more blocks. What a great way to spend Sunday morning.

I arrived at the race about an hour early, so I had coffee and fruit salad at the counter at this delightful New York diner on W. 82 Street, called Nectar 82:

And then I spent 20 minutes looking at Egyptian mummies at the Metropolitan Museum before it was time to line up for my heat. Ah, New York!

Karen Rempel is running in New York Marathon to raise funds for Harlem United

2008 HalfThis is so exciting! I will be running in the New York Marathon on November 6, 2016 to raise money for Harlem United. My goal is to raise $3,000 for this fantastic organization that helps Harlem community members by providing access to health care, resources, and education about AIDS and HIV. They provide quality HIV prevention, housing, and care services in a safe and nurturing environment to unite Harlem’s diverse communities and address the needs of all people living with and threatened by HIV/AIDS.

I’m asking all my friends, family, and colleagues to help support the amazing work that Harlem United does, and cheer me on in my dream of running the New York Marathon.

If you can help, please visit my donor page. You can sponsor me by:

  • Mile ($26 for the 26.2 miles of the marathon)
  • Kilometre ($42 for the 42 kilometres of the race)
  • Meal ($100 to buy a group lunch for LGBT youth at risk for contracting HIV)
  • Or pick your own amount!

Here is an inspirational video on YouTube about the impact Harlem United has made in helping people who had no hope.

Visit my donor page often for photos and updates on my race training progress.

I’ve been wanting to run in the New York Marathon for 20 years, since I first began running in 1996. It’s the largest marathon in the world (yikes!) and goes through all five boroughs of New York City. This will be my first full marathon, though I’ve run ten half marathons. I’m thrilled to finally run this race and to raise money for Harlem United. This is a celebration of my new life in New York and I am putting down roots by contributing to the well-being of my community there.

Karen Rempel is in love–it’s springtime in New York

Financial Distric Ferry TerminalYesterday was the first day of spring, and it snowed in New York. I went for a run as glorious flakes skirled and floated through the air, stage-lit by the lights along the Hudson River walk. It’s a nice hour-long run from my place in the village along the Hudson to the Financial District Ferry Terminal and back.

Tennis players on the Hudson River courtsI passed tennis players on my way to the ferry terminal, enjoying the gentle snowfall, and caught a glimpse of One World, nestled between the legs of two other high rises.

One World TowerNew Yorkers still call this the World Trade Center.

ESBOn the way back, I could see the Empire State Building in the distance, over 70 blocks away (the lit tower in the center of the photo). I love seeing these two landmarks as I go about the city. They are orientation touchstones, helping people find their way, much like a striking tree or cliff formation would have guided our ancestors.

Christmas Eve in the West Village

My street at Christmas

on the hudson river, people take selfies and groupies against the fading bright layers of sunset

a muscled black man in combat gray t-shirt, jeans, leather boots, and earbuds sits down on a bench facing the river, singing in falsetto

I do a double-take as I run by

a french-speaking family of 7 or 8 spans the entire walkway

I pause a beat for a gap and slip through

a police boat flashes blue and red lights on the jersey shore

down river, lady liberty shines pale green across the water

I do an extra leg along the river, strong and free

I can run forever and don’t want to ever stop

but friends and dinner at EN japanese are on the menu, so I cross west street at eleventh when the white walker beckons

a young man in a black suit, white shirt, sits on a stool at the corner of perry and bleecker, playing mournful cello

he smiles when I run by

four twenty-somethings dressed holiday festive fill the sidewalk, one of the women carrying pink lilies, on their way to a dinner party

I swerve into the street to pass

I bet a lot of people live in sixth floor walk-ups

don’t you think some people own the top two floors?

no way!

on the next corner, a giant black SUV idles at the curb

a diminutive black man holds open the door for a very large black man

I wonder if he’s a famous rapper

I smile at the driver in complicity about the glory of being near this man

he doesn’t get it

at seventh ave and greenwich the light is with me but sirens are coming my way, a block uptown

I dash across flying on endorphins and more glory

jayrunning across greenwich, two guys on bikes run the light at charles and I slow and change my angle to let them pass in front of me

we rule the night


coins jingling in his paper cup, the grizzled black man who sits on an over-turned bucket next to the magazine stand at sixth avenue and west ninth street sings

and heaven and nature sing

and heaven and nature sing

and hea-ven and he-e-ven and nature sing

the sirens rise

Phantom trail run best race ever

Phantom last runner

Some of you might be wondering how the Phantom Trail Race on November 12 went. I must say, it was one of the best races I’ve ever run. It was as if I had my own personal race course set up for me in the forest, with an aid station, and volunteers at every turn of the course to cheer me on and show me the way.

I ran the race with my friend Tim Kelly. For some reason, the organizers decided to start the race a few minutes early. Tim and I had been waiting in his car for the race start, because it was very chilly out. So when we got to the start line, we found out we’d missed the starting gun. Oh well! All the other runners were well ahead, and soon Tim had disappeared into the distance as well.

A short way into the course I met a race volunteer who was looking for some lost sheep–runners who had strayed from the path. They were soon found, and we did a short technical section of the trail, involving steep, slippery stairs, together. Then they were off into the distance, and my own personal race began. For the next two hours it literally seemed like I was the only runner in the forest.

Two more hours, you ask? For a 12 KM race? Yes, this is part of why it was the most enjoyable race ever. I treated it like a Sunday run in the woods–a long, slow run. I didn’t try to go fast, but just let my body go at the pace it wanted. For the entire race! It was cold, wet, muddy, and raining, but I was in heaven. There was lots to interest me, as much of the course was new to me; a mystery around every turn. I had a map to guide me, which kept me from getting too anxious about not knowing where I was.

The scariest section of the race was an extremely steep mossy, slimy wooden staircase that led to a narrow wood suspension bridge over a very deep gorge, with rushing waters far below. I slowed to a snail’s pace for that bit, terrified that I might lose my balance, slip, and fall into the gorge. I didn’t, of course, and after a short climb on the other side of the bridge, came to the aid station. The folks there were very kind, and offered me all manner of goodies. I had a tiny Clif bar, and a drink of some sweet pink substance, and felt very energized to continue for the second half of the race.

As you might expect, given my late start and my very slow pace, I was the last runner to complete the race. But this was not a problem for me. I felt tremendous pleasure at running for 2 hours and 15 minutes straight, at my own pace, in my own private race. What a gift! Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers who made this incredible experience possible.

Wearing no clothes makes you run faster

Phantom 12K trail race routeNow I know why some of my friends who are really good runners wear hardly any clothes! I’m not talking about streaking, exactly, though I remember that was a really popular activity when I was a kid. I’m talking about my observation that the friends I’ve run with who are fast runners dress very lightly.

I went for a gorgeous fall run yesterday afternoon, running along the Burrard Inlet on the Trans Canada Trail. I left for the run at about 5:00, and it seemed so sunny and warm that I just wore my running skirt and a t-shirt. But by the time I got to the trail it was in the shade, and there was a crisp fall chill in the air. Let me tell you, I haven’t run so fast since I did the Longest Day Run with my fastest-ever 10K race time.

It was so cold, the only thing to do was run fast to try to beat the cold. And it actually works! It was a brisk half-hour run, and the endorphin high was unbelievable! I feel stoked for my next race, the Phantom Run 12K trail race on November 12. This will be the second trail race I’ve done at the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (you might recall the famous Hallow’s Eve Half), and I’m excited about running up the Homestead Trail to the finish line. But I think I’m going to dress more warmly that day.

In love with the night – night running, that is

Night forestJust back from an amazing full moon trail run along the Burrard Inlet. Once again I am in love with the night and with night running. Night runs are the special ones. They usually happen when life is so busy I have to just push against the limits and boundaries and go for a run after dark. Thinking about some of my favourite night runs tonight, I realized that they most often occur at or near the full moon. Maybe I have wolf blood!

Tonight, running on the trail, there were glimpses of the lovely moon, near full, gleaming through the trees. At other times, the trail was in deep shadow. I literally could not see if there was a trail in front of me. Running into the shadows I felt the night thick around me, a palpable presence. Velvety, luminous, warm, and contactful. Those precious moments reawakened the enchantment of life.

Other night runs I recall have been equally entrancing. I remember vividly aFull moon long run along a deserted paved road in the White Mountains, winding up towards the Bristlecone Pine forest, home of some of the oldest living beings on earth. Running in the dark, following the faint glow of the painted line down the middle of the road, the night was a luminous dark mist around me. Another amazing night run was the Klondike Road Relay, which I have described to you before. The road led from Skagway, Alaska, through a mountain pass and on down to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. If you recall, that run began with a white mouse crossing my trail.

The adventurous Nancy Wake, who was a spy in World War II, died recently. She was also known as the White Mouse. I am sure she had many night adventures, much more daring and harrowing than the moments I have recounted here. What a zest for life she had! May her spirit be at peace.

ChiRunning and Yoga at BC Wilderness Visions

July 16-17, 2011 – CANCELLED

$349 includes teaching fees and delicious organic vegetarian lunch, snacks, and teaAngela ChiRunning at Hastings Park

Location: Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, North Vancouver

9:30 – 4:30, Saturday & Sunday

Guides: Angela and Karen are teaming up for the second year in a row. For a glimpse into the awesome time had by all at last year’s ChiRunning and yoga retreat, see here.

  • Learn to run free of injury!
  • Learn to run effortlessly!
  • Learn to be energy efficient!
  • Learn how to create Chi Energy Flow!

Angela no longer has Achilles tendonitis since using the ChiRunning form, which combines the inner focus and flow of T’ai Chi with the power and energy of running to create a revolutionary running form and philosophy that takes the pounding, pain, and potential damage out of the sport of running. The ChiRunning program increases mental clarity and focus, enhances the joy of running, and turns running into a safe and effective life-long program for health, fitness, and well-being. Angela has run 20 marathons and completed Iron Man Canada in 2008.

Karen has developed a yoga practice that supports long distance running. Combining yoga with running helped her overcome knee pain and IT band problems, to cross the threshold from the 10K distance to the half-marathon! Her most adventurous race was the Klondike Road Relay from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon. Yoga is a millenia-old discipline that provides the perfect complement to your running practice. It brings suppleness to the entire body, builds core strength, and safely releases the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles during a run. The relaxation that yoga brings allows your body to run for longer distances with ease.

This 2-day non-residential retreat in the beautiful North Shore mountains will teach you the fundamentals of the ChiRunning form as well as a post-run yoga practice that is more fun than the old stretches you learned in gym class!

Mornings will begin with a group check-in in the crystal-clear mountain air, followed by running and yoga. In the afternoon we’ll teach you methods for connecting with the Chi energy in nature, and then give you a chance to practice what you’ve learned with more ChiRunning. The days will end with a final yoga session to send you home feeling relaxed and connected with nature and yourself.

This weekend retreat will give you time and space to connect with your body and with nature, and you’ll return to the city feeling refreshed and enlivened.

Optional reading: ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running, by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer

To register, please fill in the online Registration Form. For payment information, see Fees. We’ll send you directions and a suggested gear list when you register.

Part 5: Ceremony for owl and the wild ones

Great grey owl, photographer Chris DoddsAs I have mentioned previously, a wise wild woman suggested that the great grey owls I encountered this summer were angry. I considered her interpretation of the events, and decided to follow her suggestion of performing a ceremony to let the owls know of my good intentions.

I have long been interested in sacred ceremony and ritual, and first learned the pagan method of working with the four directions. Interestingly, the four directions, which often correspond to the four elements of water, earth, air, and fire, are used in many cultures the world over. The pagan rituals I learned had their roots in Celtic traditions. When I studied to become a vision fast guide, the same four elements were assigned in the same order around the wheel, but a quarter turn further along! This usage arose out of the ways of the Native American traditions of the Lakota people. However, the roots for the Lakota medicine wheel are said to arise from the ceremonies of the ancient Mayan people. It can become very confusing and perhaps impossible to determine which traditions originated where.

But what is clear is that earth-based peoples the world over have identified the usefulness of a nature-based psychology and ceremony that uses the four directions, orienting by the path of the sun across the sky from east to west and the north and south poles of the earth. Similarly, different cultures have selected similar elements as being significant to work with, including the four I’ve named. Other cultures sometimes incorporate additional elements too. For example, in both Buddhist ceremony and pagan ritual the element of ether or space is sometimes used. The Dagara people of West Central Africa use the elements of earth, water, fire, mineral, and nature (green growing things).

I’d like to tell you about a way of beginning a ceremony that I learned at the School of Lost Borders. This ceremony is used by many different Native American and First Nations peoples. It involves calling in the spirits of the seven directions (earth, sky, and centre are the other three) with the use of the smoke of the sacred sage plant.

I put an egg-sized amount of dried sage leaves into a seashell bowl, and lit different spots with a wooden match. I blew on the embers to help the leaves burn. When the sage was smoking nicely, there in my kitchen, I began by greeting the spirits of the east and asking them to be with me in the ceremony. I named a few of the qualities of the east direction, and offered the smoke of the sacred sage to the spirits. Then I repeated this for the other six directions. This act is called “calling in the directions” and it is often performed at the beginning of nature ceremony.

The second step is to smudge oneself with the smoke, for purification, and also to help shift consciousness into a ceremonial openness. If there is a group, the smudge bowl is usually passed clockwise around the circle, and each person smudges the parts of their body they feel moved to cleanse. I smudged my whole body from head to toe, using an eagle feather to brush the smoke over the front and back of my body.

Now I was ready to greet the owls. My plan was to drive to the North Shore, and run through the woods until I came to the place where the owls lived. Since I would be running, I didn’t want to bring all the gear to do the smudging in the woods. But I will tell you, this is the first time I’ve done a ceremony in stages like this. Which is a teaching about ceremony: it is creative, flexible, and responsive to circumstances! Before I left the house, I did tuck a few items for the ceremony into the pockets of my running jacket. Plus of course grabbed my driver’s license and cell phone in case of emergency! I had another ceremonial object waiting in the car, which I would carry while I ran…

I drove over to the North Shore, taking the route up Lynn Valley Road rather than Lillooet Road because I knew I wouldn’t be finished before the gates at the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve were locked. It was getting near dusk already. I parked near the trail that crossed Lynn Creek, and ran through the woods until I reached the place where I had the two owl encounters. I had noted well the tall dead tree that the owls had perched on during both encounters, beside a small creek at a bend in the path. I’ve been on this trail hundreds of times, so it was easy to find the spot again. From their behaviour, I believe this tree marked the edge of the great grey owls’ territory. 

I have to tell you, I felt somewhat fearful that the owls would appear during the ceremony, and perhaps attack my poor head again.  I even wore my glasses while running (something I never do) so that I would be able to see them better if they appeared. So I was on the alert for their presence, and performed the ceremony rather more quickly than I might have otherwise.

I carefully climbed down the steep bank in the semi-darkness to a very wide root that was at the base of the owl-tree. Following my wise guide’s suggestion, I had brought a bouquet of flowers for the owls, which I tucked behind the root so they stood up nicely. Then I took out a small pyrex bowl and placed it on the wide root. I filled the bowl with a mixture of sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds. I blessed the spot with my hands using Reiki. Then I climbed back up onto the path.

Whew! No sign of the owls yet. But I was sure that they were aware of my presence. I faced downhill, into their territory, and addressed the owls quite loudly. I figured it was unlikely anyone would come along the path since it was almost dark, and the creek was bubbling away at high volume, so my voice was drowned out anyway. But I trusted that the owls would hear what I had to say.

First I thanked them for the blessing of the encounters I had with them, and told them that I had meant no harm. I expressed my appreciation for the learning I have received, and told them I heard their message that they and the other wild creatures need wild places to live in. That people are encroaching too much, and not leaving them the room they need to thrive. I expressed my intention to help protect the wild creatures and wild places. I also explained about the offerings I had brought; the red and yellow of the tulips represented the red strength of the owls and my golden joy at meeting them, combined together into a single flower. The seeds I confessed I didn’t think they would eat, although some birds do eat seeds. But perhaps their favourite prey, the vole, would eat the seeds. Thus my hope was to nourish the creatures that would feed them. I wasn’t about to bring some voles or mice as an offering! (But I didn’t say that.)

After I had said everything I could think of to the owls, I blessed the land and all the creatures who live there, again using Reiki. I bowed, rose, and then turned and headed back up the path. An interesting thing happened as I was driving home. It was now dark, and all the tail lights, head lights, and traffic lights appeared as bursts of colour. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw that my pupils were very dilated, like the eyes of the owl! It just so happened that I had an eye exam earlier that day, and my pupils were dilated from the drops the optometrist gave me. But it seemed fitting that I was now seeing through the eyes of the owl!

The final step of the ceremony was to close it where I had opened it, in the kitchen. I held the eagle feather up, faced east, and thanked all the spirits for being with me in the ceremony. Then I scattered the ashes of the sage on the wind.

I performed this ceremony on Wednesday. Saturday morning, an email from the Green Party arrived in my inbox. It was a call for volunteers to fill three roles in the party leadership, including Publications Chair. Wow! A role I am completely qualified to perform, right now, with my existing skills and life experiences. I went to the Green Party website to have a look at their policies and documentation, and my heart sang as I reviewed their 10 Core Principles. They include sustainability, ecological wisdom, social justice, respect for diversity, non-violence, and participatory democracy! My prayer for the right work I can do to help protect the wild ones has been answered! And I don’t even have to go to law school for three years! 🙂 I think this is strong medicine. Maybe it’s owl medicine.

Photo Credit: Image Copyright Christopher Dodds, used with kind permission. All Rights Reserved. See other examples of Chris’s beautiful work at Chris Dodds Photo