In-Depth Post #6: Meeting with Ms. Brookbank

Updates and Changes

Though I have still not found a mentor, Ms. Mulder has put me in contact with Laurie Brookbank who has run half marathons before and has met up with me to give me some advice. I think that I really benefited from the advice of someone who has actually run half marathons before. Though I have read a book about training, it is not the same as getting advice from someone in person. I really appreciated her advice and expertise, it was very helpful. I will elaborate later.

Progress Report

Being back at school, it has been difficult to find time to train. I have only trained three times in the past two weeks (and I should be training at least three days a week), which is not good especially so close to the half marathon which is on June 11th. I am very upset that I have not had time to run, however, I understand that this is a crazy time of year. I still think that with the training I have done so far that I could run a half marathon, but I know that because I lost a lot of training time these past two weeks that my time will not be as good as it could be. I think that I have to commit to training in the mornings, if this means saying that I cannot meet in the mornings because I have to run, then I think that is what it may come to. I am very disappointed with myself for not training as much as I should, however, I think that with everything going on right now, it is unrealistic to expect so much from myself. I have still continued to train a little bit these past two weeks however.

I have also met with Ms. Brookbank last week to talk about in-depth, and I will elaborate on our conversation below under the “A Beautiful Mind” heading.

Difficulties / Goals

It has continued to be difficult to train without a mentor, without someone to keep me accountable for training. I hope that I can find a mentor when I train with Kinetic. This time of year gets very busy and stressful; and, part of the reason that I picked this in-depth project was because I knew that jogging could help me to de-stress. I think that by finding time to jog, it will help me be more relaxed about school work while still making some progress. I really hope to crack-down and train hard in these next few weeks. I think that training is one of my favourite things to do, but I don’t prioritize this as a need, so a lot of times I don’t get to it.  However, I think that I will begin to prioritize more effectively to make sure that I get to train and do other things I love as well.

A Beautiful Mind

For this week, we have read about concepts and alternatives. I found that reading this part of De Bono’s book before the meeting I had was very helpful to asking Ms. Brookbank clarifications about her answers, and asking for further elaboration to answers. Using the idea of pulling out concepts to clarify answers to my questions also helped me to take notes during our conversation.

Some examples of concepts we spoke about during our meeting include: listening to our body and its needs, preparing for anything that could happen on the day of the half-marathon, goal-setting in a variety of contexts, positive visualization, nutrition, importance of professional help, importance of community support in running, and importance of various types of cross-training.

Ms. Brookbank also talked to me about some lesser known knowledge about running and some creative alternatives for my situation. Through this conversation, Ms. Brookbank offered many alternatives to the same question, which was very helpful. What she said came from life-experience and I really appreciated her honesty about running. However, some of things I have read in books, had placed emphasis on different aspects of training. John Stanton, who wrote the two books I read about training, had slightly different views on nutrition and had different alternatives for cross-training. I look at John Stanton as an honorary mentor of mine after reading his books. To illustrate what alternatives Ms. Brookbank offered me and what alternatives other resources have given me, I have made a list below with some of the questions I asked Ms. Brookbank. Her answers are written below the question, and I have included other alternatives from other resources as well, then I will write about it below and explore the two alternatives in a contrasting way.

  1. What is the best way to eat before a short jog (under 10km)? A long jog (over 10km)?

For runs under about an hour and a half, it is best to eat 45 or 50 minutes before the run and to eat something light that will give energy and will make sure that I will not get hungry while running. Some examples include: a banana, toast with peanut butter, applesauce, and other food that is easily digested. For longer runs or a race, Ms. Brookbank recommended: oatmeal, cheese, nuts, crackers, sandwich with a salad, pancakes, or even just a good meal the night before. Ms. Brookbank stressed the importance of eating what you know works best for you and what you know is sure to give you enough energy but will not make you sick. She suggested avoiding seafood, as from her experience, it has not always been the best option.

A fair amount of resources I looked at including John Stanton’s book Running Start to Finish put more emphasis on eating things that will give energy, like carbs, rather than eating food that is light and sure to not make you sick.

2. The week of the half marathon, what are some important things I should keep in mind or do?

Get 8-10 hours of sleep at night leading up to the half marathon to give your body time to regenerate and re-cooperate. Drink a lot of water, especially in the two days before the half marathon. Don’t try any new foods. Rest for two full days before the race, or only do a very light jog (like a 15-minute or 20-minute jog). Prepare mentally for the race by using positive visualization and by setting three types of goals for yourself: a best case scenario goal, a worst case scenario goal, and a realistic goal. Pack your race bag the week before (include things like a change of clothes- for different weather, a change of shoes, a change of socks, a light jacket, gloves, a snack, a body glide, etc.).

In Running Start to Finish, the training program suggests that you run 3km the day before the half marathon, which differs a little bit from Ms. Brookbank’s advice.

3. What type of cross-training options do you recommend and what are the benefits of each?

Ms. Brookbank stressed doing other types of cardio, core-strengthening exercises (like planks, push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups), quad as well as glut-strengthening exercises (like squats, for example), low-impact activities to build up resistance (like swimming, and cycling), and activities to improve agility (like yoga and Pilates). Ms. Brookbank suggested any activity that builds up strength in muscles used for running, cardio, resistance, and agility. She stressed the importance of doing activities you love in a way that also benefits you as a runner.

The other resources I have read place similar emphasis on agility, cardio, and resistance as Ms. Brookbank did. However, I imagine that another mentor could suggest not doing cross-training and focusing solely on running instead.

These are just three examples of questions that I asked Ms. Brookbank, the alternatives she gave, and other alternatives that could also be possibilities for me. Ms. Brookbank placed a lot of emphasis on finding what strategies work best for me and experimenting with them until I find the right balance of cross-training, jogging, nutrition, rest, and other such things. However, other resources I read gave very specific and narrow advice. Ms. Brookbank gave me a variety of alternatives, and I really appreciated her efforts to educate me about this topic. We were both very willing to look for alternatives and I believe that we were creative in doing so. This blog post along with the note-taking I did helped to evaluate the alternatives that I now have as options. I will definitely focus a lot on the nutrition alternatives and experiment with that in coming weeks as it has been something that I have struggled with in the past. Knowing information from other resources and other perspectives, helped me to better appreciate the knowledge and perceptions of Ms. Brookbank. I am so grateful that Ms. Brookbank talked to me about my in-depth and her knowledge has been in-valuable to me. I am very excited to put these alternatives into action.


Though I have been very busy lately, I am making it a goal for myself to make time to train, to keep myself accountable, to try new alternatives for nutrition, cross training, as well as stretching, and to use this running in-depth project to my advantage when dealing with stress. Though I am disappointed that I have not spent as much time doing my in-depth as I would like; I am still proud of the work I have done so far and am now trying to use that disappointing feeling to motivate me to train. I am very happy with how the meeting with Ms. Brookbank went and I will definitely use the information she provided me with in my training process. I am looking forward to the next few weeks of training and starting to train with Kinetic.

I hope that everyone’s in-depth projects are going well, good luck to everyone as they reach the half-way point in their in-depth projects!

In-Depth Post #5: The Six Hats


Updates and Changes

Though I have still not found a mentor, Ms. Mulder has put me in contact with a teacher who has run half marathons before and may be able to meet with me to give me some advice on training. I think that I would really benefit from some advice from someone who has actually run a half marathon. Though I have read a book about training, it is not the same as getting advice from someone in person. Even though I have not had someone to mentor me in this process so far, I will hopefully have a mentor when I start the training program at Kinetic on April 29th. However, I am going to turn 16 very soon and may be able to begin training with the running room before that time by doing some drop-in classes. This may be beneficial and give me a better idea of what training with Kinetic will look like. I am looking forward to continue training and have found that the closest half-marathon event that I can attend is on June 11th; it is at Garry Point park in Steveston and the fee is only $15 all together.

Progress Report

Over the spring break I had more time to train and I think that I made a lot of progress. Having more time to train has really been helpful since I have to begin running longer distances now. Over the spring break I did two 10 km runs with times under 1 hour and 10 minutes. I am really proud of this accomplishment, and I can now see that doing speed training and hill training has helped me to be faster when I run longer distances as well. However, I also now know that I do need to work harder to build up my stamina and to keep a constant pace while running longer distances. Being back at school, it has been more difficult to find as much time to train as I would like. However, I hope that I can keep my good habits from the spring break on until the end of this year.

Difficulties / Goals

It has continued to be difficult to train without a mentor. I find that I don’t keep myself as accountable, and if I have questions about training, I have to find ways to answer the questions myself. I hope that I can find a mentor where I will train with Kinetic. For the next few weeks, I want to make sure that I keep myself accountable and make time to run and train. This is the time of year when school gets a lot busier and more stressful, and part of the reason that I picked this in-depth project was because I knew that jogging could help me to de-stress. I think that by finding time to train, it will help me be more relaxed about school work while still making progress with my in-depth.

A Beautiful Mind

I really enjoyed the reading this week, I never thought to break down conversation by the six hat method; but I find that after reading about it, I think about the six hats in everyday conversations. To be productive, I think that it is really important to be on the same page and have a similar mindset as the person you are working with about the situation at hand. Using these “hats” can result in better more productive thinking, shorter and more productive meetings, as well as improved communication, collaboration and understanding. There are a lot of applications of the six hats, including in working with a mentor. Since I have not found a mentor, I will analyze a chain of e-mails with the running room when I asked them to train with them and identify the hats in the conversation. If you have not read Edward De Bono’s A Beautiful Mind below is a helpful graphic to understand what each of the six thinking hats mean.

Image result for de bono 6 hats


Dear Port Coquitlam Running Room,

(White Hat) I am Renee Boldut, a grade ten student at Gleneagle Secondary and I would like to take part in the Running Room marathon training program.  (Red hat) I would like to take part in the marathon training and will be 16 on April 2nd but would like to start training as soon as possible. (Green hat) I was wondering if I would still be eligible with my age. (Yellow Hat) I have a five-month long in-depth study project where we get to cultivate or learn new skills in any field. I have chosen to train for a marathon to push myself physically and have already started training hard towards my goal. (Red hat) I would ideally like to run a marathon and I think that training with the Running Room would really help me. (Green hat) If I am not eligible, do you know of any other marathon training programs that I may qualify for with my age?

(Yellow hat) Thank you for your help and support, I really appreciate it. I hope to be in touch soon!

Hi Renee,

(Red hat) How fantastic that you are so keen on running! (White and black hat) For our running programs you will need to be 16 year old.  (Green hat) You could try the community centre or even your school about possible running programs- programs geared for your age.  Maybe a PE teacher/coach could advise you.  (Yellow hat) In a few years you will be good to go here and I would be happy to have you!


Manager Port Coquitlam Running Room


I think that this exercise was helpful to analyze my own thinking and communicating styles in conversation with others. I think that from this exercise I have learned that I rarely use the black hat, and that maybe I should learn to practice more critical judgment and caution in conversations. Voicing my negative opinions more often may help in areas of my life and may help me to come to solutions more quickly.

I hope that everyone’s in-depth projects are going well! From looking at everyone’s blogs, it seems like most people are having a lot of fun with this project and making the best of this opportunity! I cannot wait to see all of the final products at in-depth!


In-depth Post #4: Jogging the Path Less Travelled


Updates and Changes

I have joined a running clinic at Kinetic in Port Moody, however, I have found out this week that because I have joined the half marathon program, it does not start until April 29th. Once I join, I will go running twice a week with a professional and a group. As a part of the program, a professional will also help me figure out what gear works best for me while training and racing. I really like that extra add on, I think that it will be very helpful to know what gear is best for my needs an price range. I once had a bad experience using a pair of shoes that were too small for me while jogging and some of my toenails fell of as a result; I hope to avoid that situation in the future.

Progress Report

I have been lagging behind a bit with my training. I have not had as much time lately to go running. For the past two weeks instead of running 4-5 times a week I am only running 2-3 times a week. I still do at least one day of hills for strengthening my legs and one day of distance to build up my endurance; however, I have not been doing all of my speed training. I am not happy that I have not done as much as I wanted to over these past two weeks; but on the other hand it has been very busy and it has been difficult to find an hour a day or more to jog. I think that my pace is still pretty good, and by focusing a bit more on strengthening my legs now, I will be able to run faster in the future.

I have continued to look for mentors through family friends and the running clinic but have not found people who are willing. Training for a half-marathon is very time-consuming and it is a difficult process. It is difficult to find someone who is willing to basically train a long side me. I am pretty sure that once I begin the running clinic however, that the professional there would be willing to be my mentor. When I went to the store front I talked to some of the trainers there and asked if they could mentor me before the clinic starts, but was unsuccessful. Most trainers are very busy and could use the same time mentoring to instead mentor a paying client. It has been disappointing to come up empty handed once again, however, I am hopeful that a family friend may be able to guide me or that I will get a mentor once the running clinic starts.

Difficulties / Goals

Though running is an individual sport, there are a lot of benefits to training with a partner or in a group such as: keeping each other accountable, giving each other helpful advice from observations running together, and being able to relate to at least one other person who is going through the training process as well. I think that my experience is not as rich as it could be as, right now, I am going through the training process by myself. I think that by finding some friends to train with, at the very least, would be helpful. Ideally, I would find a mentor that I could train with; that would be extremely helpful. I think that right now, I am struggling with my speed training and have hit a rut; I am not improving as much as I would like in that area and I think that running with someone who has insight on the issue may help. Though I have read about the topic, it is difficult to put it in practice all the time.

I have planned to partake in some of the MEC running series races as a part of my training; however, most of the race dates coincide with practice hike days for adventure trip. Though I also get good exercise through practice hikes, it is not the same as training. This is frustrating, however, there is very little I can do about this issue. I think that the best thing to do is go to as many races as I can and adjust to do similar distances as the races on different days around the same time for a similar effect when there is a practice hike.

A Beautiful Mind

Though I do not have a mentor, I have used de Bono’s suggestions to try and convince people to be my mentor. When talking to the trainers at Kinetic, I asked them many questions about their profession and about how to train properly. I believe that asking them questions and listening has helped me gain more knowledge, but it has also helped me to form a deeper connection with them. I asked a lot of “fishing” questions to try and start interesting conversations. Through the conversations I learned more about the proper footwear for different types of running (trail running versus running on the street) and I learned that proper nutrition for training may actually look markedly different from person to person and that I need to find what works best for me and my training program. Different trainers had different outlooks on running as a sport and it was interesting to see how people can have so many different perspectives about the same topic. I really enjoyed the section of the reading this week that asked us to look at how we ask questions, how effective we are at asking questions, and suggested creative strategies to asking questions. This type of metacognitive thinking is something that I rarely get the chance to do and I think this reflection on my communication skills, especially how I ask questions, has really helped me to become more specific about my questions. I usually ask fishing questions, and this upcoming week, I want to aim to ask more shooting questions by using some of the strategies listed in the book. My favourite strategy is: #11 Ask a multiple choice question. Was this useful? I like this because I would have never thought to pose a question verbatim as a multiple choice and I am curious to see how realistic it is to do so.


I hope that everyone is doing well with their in-depth projects, I cannot wait to read all of your blog posts and see your final products!

In-depth Post 3: Running Start to Finish


Updates and Changes

Over the past few weeks I have been contacting local running clinics, contacting local marathons and races, making a training schedule, reading training books, and asking friends and family for help finding a mentor. After contacting local running clinics as well as a few places that are holding marathons and races; I have made a few more changes to my in-depth. Instead of training for a full marathon, I will train for a half. This will allow me to train with a clinic, have more ease in finding a mentor, and be able to participate in more races close to home on the weekends. Though I had my heart set on running a marathon, there are not a lot of local options; and going to Green River in Washington for a marathon can get expensive especially when I have to pay for transportation, overnight stay, and the marathon itself. I think that this decision is more realistic, but may not be as big of a challenge. I think that I will continue to train very hard and may use this training for a half marathon as a stepping stone to doing a full marathon. There are a lot of all-age marathons; these are marathons without time limits, but there are no all ages marathons near Vancouver or within the timeframe of in-depth.

It has been a rollercoaster these past few weeks looking for a mentor. I thought that Brian O’Neil, an old rock climbing instructor of mine and Take a Hike instructor currently; however, after some complications it turns out that he cannot mentor me anymore. After Brian could no longer be my mentor I called and e-mailed some local training clinics, but no clinics would allow me to train with them for a full marathon. Now that I am only training for a half marathon, I hope that some of the clinics I contacted earlier will now accept me. Though I still do not technically qualify by regular standards for a half marathon, I will by the time I will be running them, so I hope that I can still train with a running clinic and find a mentor through the running clinic. I have contacted the running room and kinetic as they are my top two choices. If those do not work out, then I will continue to contact other clinics on my list.

Athletics Canada Youth Age Recommendations

Age Maximum Distance
12 and Under 1K – 2K
13   8K
14   10K
15   10K
16 21.1K
17 21.1K
18 42.2K


Progress Report

Image result for running start to finish
This is the book I am currently reading. Image sourced from:

For the past two weeks I have been contacting local running clinics, contacting local marathons and races, making a training schedule, reading training books, asking friends and family for help finding a mentor, and training independently.  I have created a running schedule after reading John Stanton’s Running Start to Finish. The book has been very helpful and has helped me get into the training mind-set. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on heart rate training, cross training, and running injuries. This book contained a lot of helpful advice, and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to improve at running. Ms. Leblond recommended it to me and I am very happy that I got the chance to read it. Up until this week, I was actually on a marathon training schedule in hopes that I may still be able to complete the full marathon. However, this week I have dialed it back to half marathon training and it has been going very well. Because of the weather I have been running inside on the treadmill, but I hope to get back outdoors soon. I have so far not been fruitful in finding a mentor, but I hope that my adjusted goal will allow for me to find a mentor with more ease. I have looked into signing up for the MEC race series, and can still participate in most races except for the 55 km and the 42.2 km races. I have decided to sign up by the race so that I can mix and match road races and trail races to have a variety. Doing these races will help set benchmarks for my training. Most of the races are on Sundays, so it works with my schedule; there are multiple half marathon races available and I am thinking about attempting to do more than one so that I can improve my time. However, as of right now, I am using a four-month training program to get to a two-hour half marathon time. The schedule may change quite a bit in the future, but I hope to stick to it. This week I only trained on Monday and Tuesday (instead of Tuesday and Wednesday) but did not train on Wednesday or Thursday. It has been a busy week and though it may be okay to miss some runs, I definitely need to do my speed and hill runs as well as my endurance runs. I think that making a concrete schedule will help to keep me accountable.

Monday (rest) Tuesday Wednesday (speed and hills) Thursday Friday (rest) Saturday Sunday (endurance)
Week 1 Off 4 k 3 k 4 k Off 3 k 7 k
Week 2 Off 4 k 3 k 4 k Off 3 k 7 k
Week 3 Off 3 k 4 k 3 k Off 4 k 7 k
Week 4 Off 4 k 4 k 4 k Off 3 k 9 k
Week 5 Off 5 k 3 k 5 k Off 3 k 9 k
Week 6 Off 4 k 3 k 4 k Off 4 k 10 k
Week 7 Off 4 k 4 k 4 k Off 4 k 10 k
Week 8 Off 4 k 5 k 4 k Off 5 k 12k
Week 9 Off 4 k 6 k 4 k Off 5 k 14 k
Week 10 Off 5 k 7 k 5 k Off 6 k 16 k
Week 11 Off 5 k 8 k 5 k Off 6 k 16 k
Week 12 Off 5 k 7 k 5 k Off 6 k 12 k
Week 13 Off 6 k 7 k 6 k Off 6 k 18 k
Week 14 Off 6 k 7 k 6 k Off 6 k 18 k
Week 15 Off 6 k 7 k 6 k Off 6 k 20 k
Week 16 Off 10 k 6 k 10 k Off 3 k 6 k


Difficulties / Goals

I have had a lot of difficulties finding a mentor, so that has been my biggest goal so far. I know that last year finding a mentor was one of the hardest things, but it made it worth it in the end. I hope that after changing my goals to something more realistic that I will be accepted by a training facility and that I can find a mentor through that facility. Training has also obviously been difficult as it is very time consuming. Instead of spending about an hour a week on in-depth, I am spending close to three hours a week currently. I have not had any issues with the running itself however, but if I do run into problems I will be more prepared after reading about how to optimize running. For this week, I hope to contact running clinics again to see if they will accept me now. I will continue to train, look for possible mentors in the community, and read about training strategies.

A Beautiful Mind

Though I do not have a mentor yet, I found this week’s passage from A Beautiful Mind very interesting. I liked that it included communication strategies like ways of sharing information, offering possibilities, asking questions and making connections with the things around you; these strategies could apply to many types of conversations. I really enjoyed the parts where it stressed the importance of talking about your passions to people who are knowledgeable on the topic, and people who don’t know a lot on the topic. Both situations are learning opportunities for everyone involved and I think that I will keep that in mind the nest time someone asks me about my in-depth project. I am quick to brush off talking to people about topics they may not know a lot about as I think that they wont care very much, but this passage made me realize that it is a learning opportunity for me and the person I am talking to. This week we were asked to try and do the following:

  • #6 To find and make connections that link matters together and generates interest.
  • #10 To explore, to elaborate and to pull interest out of the matter.
  • #3 To use the “what if” statement to get to new lines of thought.
  • #2 to ask for clarification whenever you are unclear or in doubt about something the mentor tells you or shows you.
  • # 5 to share a personal story that illustrates the conversation topic.
  • # 10 to modify an idea to make it more acceptable to yourself and to make it stronger or more practical.

Though I may not be able to use these strategies with my mentor, I can use them while talking to people in everyday life, talking to my old mentor using these strategies, and using these strategies in phone conversations while trying to find a mentor. I think that sharing a personal story that illustrates my passion for running may be very helpful in convincing a running clinic to accept me at my age.



I think that I have made a lot of progress over the past few weeks even though I have re-directed my project again. I am happy that I did make a change to my project because I was having a very hard time with age-restrictions before; I hope that now it will be less of an issue. I am very happy about the training program, it is very exciting for me to be on this journey, already on week two of training! I am very excited for in-depth now that I have found the right parameters for my project; however, I do hope to find a mentor soon as I think that a mentor would be very helpful to the training process. My in-depth project started out rocky with a few project changes happening over the course of the past few weeks; however, I now feel like I am on track to achieving my goal! I hope that everyone’s in-depth projects are going well and that everyone gains something new from their projects!



As I described in the post above, I have had trouble finding a running clinic and a mentor for my in-depth project. However, after visiting some running clinic’s store fronts; I had some success. I am legible for the Kinetic running clinic program as long as an adult accompanies me.  I have signed up for the program with my mum and we will start the week after next. I hope to find a mentor through the running clinic, however, a family friend has also offered to mentor me. I would prefer to work with a professional in the community, but I think that someone with reasonable expertise that can keep me accountable would also be good enough. I am very happy that I have remained persistent and found a clinic that works well for me. The advise from the A Beautiful Mind about sharing a personal story that illustrates passions was helpful in convincing the running clinic to accept me at my age. I am very happy that I went into those locations and knew what I was going to say to put my best foot forward and try to join the running clinic. Though the Running Room did not accept me, I think that it just made getting accepted by Kinetic even better. I am very happy with the progress I have made in the last week.

Training has also gone well, though I sometimes skip weekday training I am happy that I have kept up with training on the weekends. I am very excited to soon begin training with a clinic and hopefully I can soon begin to train with a mentor.

In-Depth Post 2: Run Forest, Run!

Updates and Changes

A lot has changed with my in-depth project over the past two weeks. After pursuing a few options for mentors that turned out to be dead ends, I came to re-think my approach to in-depth this year. Last year I did a project that was out of my comfort zone, something that was a big challenge. Though I did challenge myself this year; I do already know some basics of sewing and have already done a craft-based in-depth. I saw my failure to find a mentor in sewing as an opportunity to re-direct my project and challenge myself in a different way instead. I have decided to train—ideally—for a full marathon. I finally decided to change my project after, Pam, a potential mentor, said that she could not mentor me at this time. I was very disappointed at first; but being a mentor is a big commitment that takes a lot of time and I understand that it is difficult. At this point, I thought that maybe this was a blessing in disguise and decided to begin pursuing marathon training for my in-depth.


This idea for in-depth came up after coming back from Everest basecamp. My mum and I were talking one day about what our next physical challenge should be, and we decided to try do a marathon together. Since I would already be training, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to also make it my in-depth project. Making training for a marathon my in-depth would help the process as I would have the chance to reflect in blog posts, have a mentor to help me along the way, and help to keep myself accountable for training.

I want to do a full marathon because I really want to push myself physically. I have experience with running, but I have never ran with a goal in mind, and have never jogged more than 10 or 12 km at a time. I have done long hikes however, and I believe that from my experience, I do have the potential to do a full marathon. I wanted to train with my family because during the year, we are all very busy; this is an opportunity to spend time together and achieve a shared goal.

Progress Report

Since last week, I have begun researching possible mentors, training programs, and marathons. There are a lot of training programs in the community, and I thought that I could find a mentor with in a training program. Some places that offer marathon training programs include: The Running Room, USA FIT Vancouver, Peak Center Vancouver, Forerunners, and Kinetic. They are all close by and follow a similar regimen: train at home two to three times a week and one to two times a week with a group led by instructors. Additionally, some programs offer extras like nutritional advice and educational talks. Most of the programs do not cost a lot, with the most expensive running clinic at $150 for a 16-week program. If I cannot find a program suited to me (which may be the case for reasons I will go into more detail below) than I can join a running club in the community and train more independently with a mentor. I have also been looking into marathons that I can register for; many are reasonable priced and sound very exciting. However, I may not qualify for most marathons as I am under 18.

Image result for bmo marathon
Ideally I wanted to do the BMO marathon, but I am too young… image sourced from:


Age is the biggest difficulty I have run into so far. Many running clinics will not accept people under 18 to train, however, they do sometimes accept people over 16 to train with a parent. Many marathons also do not allow people under 18 to participate. Not qualifying due to my age is a very difficult challenge because it is out of my control. However, I do plan on contacting training facilities to find out if they can make an exception as I will soon turn 16. I have found one marathon done by MEC, for a very low cost, that seems to not have any age-restrictions from what I have read on the website, but I will have to double check. The only issue with the MEC marathon is that it is at the end of April, which does not leave a lot of time for training. If I do not find a marathon in the area, then I will do the Greenriver marathon in Washington as it has a very low cost and has no age restrictions; however, it is far away. Another challenge I have faced is simply starting in-depth from scratch; I am considering re-doing certain parts of the learning contract to more clearly set goals for my new focus. In-depth is definitely time sensitive and if I do not start training properly and registering for a marathon soon, I could loose out on this season and run out of time to train and complete a marathon. I think that the most obvious difficulty I will face is the physical and mental aspect of long distance running at a young age. This is the type of project that requires a lot of time and effort over a long period of time. It will definitely be a challenge, but I am up for it.

Image result for mec race series vancouver 2017


I hope that I will train three to four times a week in total and train with my mentor for one to two of the training sessions per week. I ideally want to do a full marathon, however, if I find through training that I am not able to do that, then I will re-focus and aim to do a half-marathon. Through in-depth this year, I hope to become healthier and more aware of my physical abilities. I hope to learn how to train, take care of and acclimatize my body for marathon training and for future endeavours. I think that knowledge of how to take care of my body is applicable in many other aspects of my life and would be a great help to me. I have a lot of hope for this project, it is a very big endeavour, but I believe that with the right training and the right mentor, it is within my capabilities.

A Beautiful Mind

Though I don’t have a mentor yet, I still really enjoyed the communication strategies talked about in A Beautiful Mind and see their applications relative to me. I know that I personally tend to agree a lot with the people around me as I struggle to differ and disagree as to not cause any kinds of conflicts. Reading about ways to differ and disagree in a healthy way challenged me this week to use some of the strategies when talking to other people. I liked that emphasis was placed on communicating ideas wholly and truthfully to challenge and help each other. This idea helped me see the importance in talking about differences and disagreements in a respectful way, and the good things that can come from them. One strategy that I really liked was #8: “You may want to disagree to show a different personal experience.” I thought that this type of advice would have also been helpful last year during in-depth. I was often too shy to speak out about differences of opinion in shoe design, and that hindered the design of my shoes as the seams were not all located where I would have liked them to be. Speaking out about the difference would have helped better the final product. I think that A Beautiful Mind will be very helpful in developing the relationship with my future mentor, and I look forward to continuing to read it.


I am very happy to have changed my in-depth project and think that it is better suited to me and that I will get more out of this experience. I know that it will be a difficult journey, and that I will not have a lot of time to achieve my goal, but I have a lot of hope that I will run a full marathon. I think that I have the determination and potential to achieve my goal. I am very excited to begin this journey again and get to see everyone around me also develop new passions and skills.

To-Do List for the Next Two Weeks

  • Continue to search for running clinics and programs.
  • Contact the Running Room and Kinetics (most flexible with ages) call and e-mail.
  • Contact friends and family who have ran marathons for advice and possible mentorship hook-ups.
  • Ask for extension for the criminal record check if mentor is not found very soon!
  • Continue to run regularly and begin to make more serious goals.
  • Re-do the goals chart and time chart from the learner’s contract to make sure that I keep myself accountable.
  • Other?

In-Depth: Sew Far Sew Good

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This is the latest dress I have been fascinated by. Image from:

For my in-depth project, I have decided to study sewing. I have wanted to learn to sew for a long time and thought that this would be a great opportunity. After ending up taking a fashion merchandising class last year, I have been very fascinated with the way clothing is produced, sold, and recycled. This interest has led to a chronic case of online shopping (here are some websites) which opened the door to some realizations. I first realized that I really liked looking at pretty things. Secondly, I realized that I could not afford anything on the sites I was looking at. It simply was not feasible to buy a $2,000 blouse or a dress that costs as much as a year of university. Thirdly, I realized that most of the garments I admired from afar, were very simple; and then I came to my fourth realization. The realization that if I cannot buy it, maybe I can make it. Maybe I could make it better, with my own designs, with the perfect sizing, with the perfect materials, colours, prints and trims. I realized that I could really make something; something that could make me very happy.

This type of mentality (if I can’t find it, I will make it) is a part of my DNA. It is part of the reason why I chose to learn to make shoes for in-depth last year. It is the reason why my dad makes bags for a hobby, and why my grandmother sews. Through this type of mentality, I have learned that if you really want something, you have to work for it. However, it is nearly impossible to do anything alone.

I have begun to look for my mentor, and after a very good recommendation, I found Pam. She has been teaching sewing for over 30 years and is a very well-versed sewer. I have begun to pursue her as my mentor and I hope that it works out well. I know that last year, finding a mentor was one of the most difficult parts of in-depth. However, I have begun to search for other people that could possibly be my mentor if Pam cannot be. I have not contacted anyone as of yet, but will do so next week if I do not have a more solid response from Pam. I have looked at sewing teachers in Port Coquitlam, and Coquitlam as well as at local classes at sewing shops like Fabricana. If all else fails, I kind neighbour has offered to help me in this endeavour after hearing about my search for a sewing mentor. However, I would prefer to step further outside of my comfort zone and work with someone new, and someone who is a professional in the field. I hope to cultivate a strong relationship with my mentor, as I have maintained with my mentor from last year. I strive to talk openly about feedback, maintain not only a good working relationship but a friendly relationship with my mentor, and to work together to make the best plan for my learning.

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Its a time to sew! Image sourced from:

I have made some rather ambitious goals for my learning. I am aiming to make a mini-collection of three different looks that each show the sewing techniques I have learned. Ideally I would make one dress, one skirt, one pair of pants, a blouse, and a simple jacket (maybe cape style). All of the garments would be very simple in silhouette as to not complicate myself. This is a rather difficult goal for the allotted time but I feel very passionately about this endeavour and will work hard to achieve it. Some specific sewing skills I would like to learn are: sewing with different stitches, patching old clothing, hemming clothing, installing buttons, zippers, elastics waists, and pockets, as well installing zippers, and adding details like embroidery, piping, and applique. I would also ideally like to learn how to change fabrics by ruching, pleating, and layering. Learning some good pre-sewing techniques like: designing with practicality in mind, choosing appropriate materials as well as treating them, and patterning clothing are also all very important to me.

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Ideas for a possible final product…

For the final presentation, I would ideally like to have a mini-fashion show to showcase the clothes I have made. For this presentation style to work, I would need time on the stage to present, models to wear the clothing, music to go with the catwalk portion of the presentation, and a speech to go with the rest of the presentation. To add to the presentation, Ms. Mulder has suggested that I create a few small pieces for the MC’s of the in-depth night, and I really like the sound of that idea. However, if my sewing skills are not at that level yet, or if I have not finished enough pieces at that time than I will make a small station with a poster board showing the steps I took in learning to sew and in creating the garments; showing physical evidence like patterns, designs, and fabric swatches to illustrate the complexity of the project. I would still also continue to display my final products in this scenario. However, I hope that the first option works out.

I have not done a lot so far for in-depth besides contacting a possible mentor, learning some basic sewing terms (enough to make more specific goals), making my learner’s contract, and researching for my in-depth research essay. However, everything has been going very well so far and I am very excited thinking about the final products.

I am very happy with my choice of in-depth project this year; I think that picking something like sewing is good because it is a very good life skill to have. I believe that in the future if I ever have to modify clothes for a job interview and such I would have the ability to. It would also be a great skill because I can then make clothes for myself to save money, trust in the quality, trust in the ethics of the garment, and have clothes that best suit me. I am excited to hear that Emily is also studying sewing this year and I hope that we get the chance to connect and collaborate. In-depth is off to a great start this year and I hope this positivity carries over into May and beyond.

I am looking forward to seeing the in-depth projects of all the Talons this year develop over the course of the next five months. I know that seeing everyone develop all of this new knowledge and skills will be quite the sight to see. Good luck to everyone!

Update: In case you were wondering, I am still working on my in-depth project from last year. I have just finished lasting my shoes and will soon start to put on the soling. I am going in to the shop tomorrow and will upload some pictures for a progress update then. The shoes, obviously, took a lot longer than expected. However, I am very happy that I have stuck with this project; it has brought a lot of great things into my life including a job and a few new friends. I hope to finish the shoes in time for this years in-depth; I hope to wear them on the day of, but am afraid that my feet will have out-grown the shoes by the time they are finished. It is looking like I will finish in March, so I have some extra time before May if anything goes wrong.

Learning Opportunities

This whole In-Depth project has been such a great learning experience. I have learned not just from my own project, but from everyone’s projects—which are all so diverse. I have also had many new learning opportunities that have exposed me to new learning. Opportunities provided to me by my very trying and patient mentor Ron, who agreed to guide and help me when no one else would. Ron has

This is the machine I use to stretch the shoes.

exposed me to the shoe making and repair environment, through the little tasks he asks me to do (like stretching the shoes or gluing and sanding heels) I learn more about the different parts of the shoe, and shoe maintenance. Learning the ins and outs of shoes is really helpful as I create my own pair because I can see what works with shoes and what doesn’t. It has also really helped to keep in mind practicality while designing. This problem-solving type of learning has really pushed me in the right direction and exposed me to this new environment in ways I wouldn’t have expected. To re-inforce the new learning that I do, I often read about the procedures I have completed (from Ron’s vast library) as well as ask Ron or other cobblers around about more efficient ways of doing these procedures. Reading and talking about some of the jobs that I do around helps cement what I have learned, and improve for the next time I have to do the task. I really have improved through these methods, when I first started to do my basic maintenance jobs, they took me over two hours to complete, and now they take me about one hour to finish, with even more precision now. To accelerate my learning, I have the opportunity to work in the shop more

This book has helped me through all the processes.

frequently, like I did over the break. I also have the opportunity to read about procedures before performing them to prepare and to practice my sewing at home on scrap leather before sewing my shoes (I sewed my inner lining and I found out that I am sewing is not my strong suit). Volunteering to work with machines I will need to use to make my shoes in the future has also accelerated my learning because I improve at using them, so when it comes time to make my shoes, I will do a better job. Ron has made an effort to find openings for me to get acquainted with some of the more heavy-duty machinery. Our mentoring relationship is still going very well and I think that our learning and teaching styles fit very well together. When we are together, we talk about shoes and my project, work in the shop, what we did over the week, other plans for the weekend, and our families. We are learning quite a bit about each other including things like our personal interests (especially music since we play it while we work), our vacation plans, and more about our family histories. Ron’s son works in the shop, so I hear many interesting stories about Tom as a child. I really like having that personal connection with my mentor, it makes it much easier to effectively communicate and makes the process smoother.


On my shoes, I have finished the forming and cutting the soles, cutting and sewing my inner liner, and cutting out my uppers along with the spare parts. It was a lot of work over these past few weeks, but my shoes are really coming together. Though the process is moving alblog imageong relatively fast, I am still scared that I might not finish in time. Shoe-making is a long process and I know that lasting the shoes will take me a long time. I will definitely finish making my shoes by the end of the year, but I don’t know if I will finish in time for In-depth night in May. However, I am really happy with the progress that I am making and understand that there is only so much I can do to finish in time. Either way, I am learning a lot that I can put to use in other projects later on in life.

I am very grateful that we had to do these blog posts asking certain questions of us. I wouldn’t have reflected and tried to improve upon my project had I not done these blogs. I definitely wouldn’t have focused so much on my relationship with my mentor if not for these posts, but I am so glad that I did. When we started these blog posts, I was anything but excited, but now I think I will miss doing them for the next four weeks. Though, I will have to admit I am a bit relieved I don’t have to worry about these posts anymore.  I think that I got myself on the right track with the first few posts and that I will hopefully continue on this path and continue to reflect upon and adjust my project accordingly.

Working Remotely on my Shoes

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For our blog posts this week, we were asked to analyze our relationships with our mentors and what we can do to improve our relationships. I am very happy for the chance to reflect on this topic and apply the strategies theorized in this blog post to my real life relationship with my mentor so that I can have a better working relationship with Ron. I decided to answer the following questions in this blog post: What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions? What logical challenges affected your communication? What factors affected your ability to interact effectively? What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring interactions? What is the action plan for implementing each of the three strategies? I hope that in my blog post you can see how I answer these questions and relate them to my relationship with Ron. I am glad to reflect on this topic and try improve upon the connection I have with my mentor.

I think that Ron and I have reasonably productive sessions with a healthy sense of affability. We have made a lot of progress with the shoes during our sessions. His teaching style and my learning style have really clicked; we are very effective and efficient in relation to each

Over Coming Obstacles

other. Through our sessions together, I have come to know Ron better and I am sure he has gotten to know me better as well. I think that because we have learned more about each other’s history with cobbling, our mutual interests, and our learning as well as teaching styles, we have formed a strong working relationship. Though there are many things that have gone well in our mentoring sessions, there are still some logical challenges that affect our communication and factors that affect our ability to interact effectively. Some factors that have affected our ability to communicate effectively include our discrepancy in age and our different cultures. This is challenging because we prioritize things differently, place emphasis on different things, and have some very different interests. An example of these challenges factoring into our relationship was when Ron used some analogies to help my learning. His metaphors were good, but they made little sense to me because they was in reference to things I am too young to have been around for and are no longer a part of modern pop culture[1]. Three strategies I can implicate to overcome the challenges in communication that Ron and I face are prioritization of tasks, continued communication during the week, and openness to each other’s interests. ImageThrough prioritizing, we can become more efficient in communication. I plan to implicate this by using the ABC prioritization method when creating our agendas for our meetings. By communicating throughout the week before and after our sessions, I hope to create a stronger bond with my mentor as well as get better at interacting and working together. I would like to implement this weekly communication by e-mailing Ron regularly before our meetings to create agendas and discuss any questions or concerns that we may have. Staying open to each other’s interests is key to improving our relationship because of such a big difference in age and culture, we need to remain open to new things the other may introduce. By remaining open to new things, we get to know each other better and we get a better understanding of a different culture as well as time. I think that my relationship with my mentor is pretty good but that by implementing these strategies, I can improve it further so that we work better together and so that we both get more out of the relationship as well as learn from each other.

The type of leather I will be using.

I am pretty happy with how my in-depth project has been going so far; however, I have not made a lot of progress over the past two weeks because my mentor was away on vacation and because I of the first aid course (we missed two meetings). Though I could not physically work on my shoes, I did do some research on my own to try move forward and think ahead. This week I finalized my designs for the shoe and have definitely decided on the basic oxford shoe with a monk strap. After doing some research on cobbling methods, I have come to some preliminary conclusions about material. I have started to explore material options since my next step, which I will hopefully have accomplished by tomorrow afternoon, is cutting out my material for the shoe. I have decided to go with a soft and dark leather because it is easy to work with and will not show any mistakes that I make on my first pair of shoes. I think that researching on my own time has helped me get a better idea of how practical I really need to be in this process. Though I would prefer to make my shoes out of hard leather, I know that it would be very impractical and hard during the process.

In-depth has been a lot more fun than I expected, but it has also been a lot more work. This project is a lot larger than I initially thought, however, I don’t really mind because we get to explore a topic of our interests. I think that my passion for shoes has made this feel less like work and more like a fun adventure. I can not wait to begin sewing my shoes!

I could not add all the picture sources in the descriptions because of formatting issues so here are the sources for some of the pictures (in order form top to bottom)

Picture 1 , Picture 2, Picture 3.

[1] Ron really likes rock music from the 1970’s and talks about it often. However, I don’t understand anything he says when he talks about it.

Falling Head Over HEELS For Cobbling

Inside the store.

My mentor is Ron Nijdam, a third generation Dutch cobbler. He is well informed about shoe repair and has been involved in cobbling from a young age. The first time Ron tried his hand at cobbling was as a child in his grandfather’s shoe repair shop sanding and gluing heels. However, Ron learned the fine art of cobbling as a teenager when he worked in his father’s shoe repair shop. Ron was always very involved in his family’s business and was exposed to shoe repair from a young age. Ron soon moved from Holland to Canada and created his own shop in Vancouver on Denman Street where the Quick Cobbler operated for over 20 years. He has recently re-located the Quick Cobbler; but has added on some new branches to his store including Northopedics and Shuz Canada. Northopedics specializes in orthopedics while Shuz Canada creates custom made shoes in store. Ron has a lot of experience in repairing and creating shoes.

Work Space.

Ron is no doubt experienced when it comes to shoes. He uses his knowledge to mentor and teach others his unique methods for creating and repairing shoes. He has kept his family legacy alive by teaching his sons who actually work in the shop. He has also been mentoring me for the past few weeks. He has created a very welcoming learning environment and encourages my curiosity and creativity in this process. Shoe making is not an exact process and changes with circumstance; Ron’s teaching style reflects that. Each week we meet and work on my pair of shoes for about an hour. Usually Ron will give me instructions, an example, then lets me try complete the task on my own before jumping in near the end to check my work and facilitate any questions that I have. He has been very helpful in explaining all steps that I need to take, but more importantly, the logic behind those steps. Learning the principles behind the tasks I am doing has really helped me get a better understanding of shoe repair and creation on a broader spectrum. I have learned a lot from this mentor-ship so far including things like all of the different components of shoes, the steps needed to take during the design process to create durable shoes, how to take proper measurements of feet, the role of lasts in creating shoes and the importance of design. However, I have also learned a lot about myself from this mentor-ship. I have learned that I am good at taking initiative and working independently when needed. I think that I have developed better inquiry skills.

I think that so far my official mentor Ron has been a great help, however, I have also learned a lot from some unofficial mentors including everyone who works in the shop. I work there about four hours each week, so I have a lot of time to observe how they repair shoes and ask questions about the process. The people who work at the Quick Cobbler have been very helpful and kind. Louis in particular has really helped me adjust to the new job and has showed me all the tasks we have to do. They have all helped along my learning in different ways and have all been very patient with me, even when I made mistakes[1]. They have created a very welcoming learning environment for me and have made me feel like a part of the team.

Having such a good mentor and a community of well-informed people willing to teach me has been absolutely wonderful. I think that my persistence in finding a mentor has really paid off; the Quick Cobbler seems like a very good fit for me. Everyone is very encouraging of my curiosity and creativity. Everyone at the Quick Cobbler has really helped my learning along and has been supportive of my goals. I think that I am making good progress so far, but still need to adjust my goals. I set out to make at least two pairs of shoes, but after working on my first pair for only a few weeks I have realized the process is a lot more complicated than I had originally thought. My new goal is to make only one pair of shoes by the end of this project. I am very glad that I get to reflect in these blog posts and asses my progress so that I can adjust my goals. I have learned a lot in these past few weeks through my experience with my mentor and everyone at the shop. I am very excited for the rest of the project.

Shoe Update: I am in the late design stages. I have found the measurements of my feet for the shoes and lasts (molds) that fit my measurements. I have finalized my design after going back to the drawing board many times. I have decided to make a pair of oxfords with a monk strap. The next step I will take is actually cutting out all of my materials so that I can assemble. I am very excited with my progress and cannot wait to work on my shoes!

[1] I was cleaning out the air compressor by draining the dirty water, however when I went to turn of the nozzle, I increased the velocity of the mud shooting out of the air compressor instead. I got the mud about ten feet up into the air. Cleaning up was a big task, but I have learned from my mistakes.” Righty- tighty, Lefty-loosey” is a very important rhyme to remember.

Image locations for Image one, Image two,  Image three, and Image four.


In-Depth 2016, Cobbling

I am really excited to start the in-depth project. I have done independent projects in the past, but I think that by focusing on specific skills I will get more out of this experience. I decided to learn the basic skills of cobbling. I have worked in the past with leather, industrial sewing machines, and design, so this was a natural point of interest for me. However I am now realizing that making shoes by hand is a lot harder than it seems.

The process so far has been pretty smooth for the most part. Collecting basic information on cobbling and the tools needed has been a great way to relax and get back to my interests in this time of stress. However, I have been having a hard time finding a mentor. I have called several shoe repair shops and have gotten no answers back. Going into this, I knew that cobbling is a niche and that it would be hard to find a mentor, but I didn’t quite expect so much rejection from shops. Nevertheless, I happened upon the website of a very cute cobbling shop based right here in Vancouver and e-mailed them. Nothing has solidified yet, but I hope to be mentored by the shop keeper, Ronald Nidjdam, who seems like a very kind person from his e-mails. To overcome this obstacle, I have just been doing research on shops, e-mailing shops, and calling many others. It has not been easy, but I hope that at least one of the shoe repair shops responds. To entice people in to mentoring me I have offered to volunteer in the shops, but everything is still up in the air right now.

I have made plans to meet with what might be my future mentor in a public place with a parent around. We decided to meet up and talk about the project to see if he can help me in this situation. Ronald has taught all of his employees how to cobble and has given them a good education in shoe making, I hope that he can do the same for me. He has actually been hosting cobbling tutorials in his shop for the past year. Though I don’t have a mentor yet, I think I am making some progress in this field and I hope that by this time tomorrow I will have a mentor to help me along this journey.

This five month long journey will no doubt be hard, but I am very excited to begin working towards my goals. In this project, I hope to get a better understanding of the components of shoes, industrial sewing machines, and design. I hope to develop better sewing skills, more practical structure skills, and basic cobbling skills. Before the end of this project I hope to make at least two pairs of close-toe shoes. For practice on the sewing machine, I may make a bag to see what my limits are. I think that for the bulk of this project I will be trying different methods in creating shoes and really experimenting with those different methods to make my own unique style. I think that showing my learning may be difficult since this is a bit experimental for me and very skill oriented. I will most likely display my final products, two pairs of shoes and a bag, as well as perhaps a tutorial video created by me showing my process in cobbling. My motivation and reward for accomplishing this project will be the products themselves. I often struggle to find shoes or bags that stand out to me, so I will be very motivated to make the products and happy to wear them once they are finished.

I am very excited to actually begin creating my products and experimenting with different methods. I know that it will be a lot of manual work, but I am excited to work with my hands, it is something that I have not done much of lately. I will be posting bi-weekly with updates and progress reports as the project entails. If you have any questions about my project, suggestions for modifications or even advice on how to get a mentor, please leave it in the comments below. I really appreciate all the support from the Talons community! Good luck everyone on your in-depth projects, I am sure that they will be amazing!