Saturday, 20 November 2010

Sounds of Running...

He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. ~ Harold Wilson

We had our first snowfall of the season today. Compared to what I'm used to, this would be what I call a light dusting. But this is Wet Coast so even the mere hint of snow can mean total catastrophe on the roads. Thankfully that wasn't the case today.

I love it when an event, like snow, signals the change of the seasons. Some have troubles with change. For them, it's uncomfortable and scary. I think I thrive off of change, which is probably why I love the changing seasons. It's almost like Mother Nature's way of helping those who like things to stay the same. She ever so gently invites you to embrace change with little things like the first green bud on a tree, the first scorching day, the first leaf hitting the ground, or the first snowfall.

This morning I woke up way to early for a Saturday. After lounging around for a while I decided it was time to get up and celebrate this crisp glorious first snowfall by going for a run. For the first time in a long while I bundled up for my run. Not that it's cold compared to some provinces right now, but the thicker leggings and a toque were a must.

The plan was to run from home, cross over the river and then run uphill to the suspension bridge, and back home again. The last few runs I've gone the opposite way, but this morning called for a challenge - to go UP!

The atmosphere outside was peaceful right from the start. As I got into the first section of trail I tuned my ears to the glorious sounds that surrounded me and went into my happy place....

  • "Good girl, pat, pat"...said the man to his dog who sat patiently as I ran by, all the while looking at me with a glint in her eye.
  • Giggle, laugh, giggle...the children who got to play in the little whisp of snow we had.
  • Crunch, crunch, shoes on the gravel and dirt.
  • Gurgle, burgle, gurgle....the water from the creeks washing over the smooth rocks and making it's way to the ocean.
  • Clomp, clomp, feet hitting the wooden boardwalk in the trail.
  • Jingle, jingle, keys jumping up and down in my pocket.
  • Twitter, tweet, twitter...the birdies greeting me in the woods.
  • ROOOOAAARRR!!! the water falling down the waterfall and crash landing on the rocks below.
  • Mmphht, mmphtt!...snot rockets.
  • Splash, gloosh, shoes slopping through the mud.
  • Wheeze, gasp, breathing as I run up the stairs and then more stairs.
  • Jingle, jangle, jingle....the tags on the dogs who want to run with me up the stairs.
  • Thump, thump, heart beating a quick staccato.
  • Squeak, creak, groan...the music of the suspension bridge.
So many sounds and yet so peaceful. It was one of those runs that make you thankful for the beauty that surrounds us...and thankful I am!

Peace out my glorious friends!

Friday, 1 October 2010


Glance at the sun,
See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of earth's greenings.
Now, think."
~ Hildegard von Bingen

I have been reading the book Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart. (I highly recommend it - please get it from your local library.) Its about remaking the way we make things. In other words, or traditional thoughts of recycling are not enough in the big scheme of things. The planet is overwhelmed, and change needs to happen.

In addtion to reading the book, I'm taking a course on renewable energy. All of this has me thinking a lot lately about what we are doing to our beloved Mother Earth. I wonder why is it that there are so many people afraid of change to the point that they don't want to REALLY see what's going on?

Then I think, what can I do? Will all the little changes I've made in my life really add up to anything? Am I doing enough? What is enough? How can one make change when so many others have dug their heels into the ground and refuse to budge? And are there any other people out there that feel like I do???

These were the thoughts that went through my mind this morning. So I sat in meditation and felt the peace of just being. Then I wrote a long letter to a friend and shared some joys that I had felt recently.

The peace and joy I felt seemed to open up a little part of me, because just after I laid the letter by the door, ready for the post, a song came into my head. For me, it wasn't just the song that was so powerful, but the exact verse at which it entered my mind...

"You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I'll hope someday you'll join us,
And the world will live as one."
~ John Lennon, Imagine.

I felt much better after. Nuff said.

Peace out beautiful people.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Lean, Mean, Peace Machine...

"The mind is everything. What you think, you become." ~ Buddha

If there is one thing that I have always loved to do, it's go to the gym. I've been going to the gym, off and on, since I was sweet sixteen and working at Gold's Gym in North Vancouver in trade for a membership. I love the peace and quiet I can feel there, even with the Ahnold wanna be in the corner grunting like he's constipated.

In fact, the thing I really missed when I was triathlon training was going to the gym. I would be able to for a while, and then the swim, bike run hours would increase to the point I couldn't fit it in. Now though, the gym is my main thing, and the rest of the stuff I do is gravy!

When I started at my local gym (aka rec centre) I tried going several different times of the day to figure out what worked. Turns out first thing bright and early works best. Less people and less youngin's trying to earn their first hernia while impressing their friends.

As I spend a fair amount of time at the gym, there are some things that I have observed. Some things are new to this gym, and some things never change no matter what gym I'm at!

  1. I don't understand grunting or growling or yelling. Surely this takes more of your energy that you could be using to lift all that weight. In all honesty, it sounds like you are about to poop your pants. Seriously. Rather than grunting, groaning and yelling, why not take off a plate or two and see what happens. You might actually be able to do one set with perfect form! Focus on your breath my friend!
  2. If you have to wriggle and worm about as you do bicep curls with the cable...then the weight is just too heavy for you. If you add the groaning as above...well you just plain need help. You look silly and you are going to hurt yourself. I know, you are just a teenager, but someone really should point this out. Notice how your friend is doing it? See how he doesn't wiggle and worm around whilst doing cable bicep curls? That's the RIGHT way. Stop trying to lift the same weight as him - you can't. One day maybe, but you are going to have to work at it and wait for those hormones to kick in.
  3. It never ceases to amaze me how HEAVY the tiniest people can sound on the treadmill. The one morning I heard this THUD, THUD, THUD, on the treadmill. It was so loud I could barely hear my thoughts. So I look over and there are two big guys and one very slim, petit woman using the treadmills. I watched their foot falls to figure out who was making all the racket. Sure enough it was the tiny woman. Perhaps she should consider doing less of a flat footed approach? My body was cringing at the thought of the impact her body was suffering!
  4. Why is it whenever I have to work on my pull ups - in other words I hop up to the bar so my chin is level, then slooooowly lower myself down in an attempt to train my body to do pullups - that there is always a guy who is doing a million pullups beside me? The one day there was a guy, I swear he must have been a gymnast, who would do a pullup, then push himself up over the bar till he was above the bar with straight arms! He did this several times...I quietly slunked away after my few reps.
  5. I will admit it, I was impressed by the guy who was doing deadlifts with 6 - 45 lb plates on either side of the bar. It was hard not to stare cause it was just so darn amazing. Needless to say I moved to another part of the gym with my wee 15 lb weights...
  6. We have our very own Clark Kent at our gym. I'm not kidding. I was warming up on the rowing machine when this guy sits on the rowing machine beside me. I see in the reflection of the window that he has Clark Kent glasses and hair. He's wearing baggy sweatpants that are floods, and a baggy sweatshirt. Next thing I know he's done his warm up and heads to the weights. He takes his hoodie and sweat pants off to reveal the body of a 6' tall gymnast in a tank top in shorts! From Clark Kent to Superman!
  7. There is always someone who is "ripe". I mean RIPE. As in needs some deordant badly. Where are the AXE spray gals when you need them?? I know it's first thing in the morning, but still. It's so bad that I involuntarily gag when I go by him, which is why now when I have to walk by, I make sure I take a deep breath, inconsipicuously, and let it out really slowly as I go past. The bad thing is he's a really nice fellow. Always smiling and kind. But WOW - the smell is insane.
  8. I'll never understand folks who have no concept of what's going on around them. Hi there! Yes, that's me right there beside you with my body like a crab hovering off the ground and my head resting on a fit ball trying to do one arm barbell chest presses. You may not have noticed me as you were too busy talking to your friends when you squeezed into my personal space. Please feel free to stand super close to me, but be aware that I might just drop this weight on your foot if you get too close. Heh.
  9. So I'm talking to the manager of gym and he asks me what my background is with training and whatnot. I explain that I've been in and out of the gym for the last mumbly mumbly years, but the last four years was spent doing triathlon. He says, "We were wondering if you were one of those fitness competitors, cause you look like one who is in between contests." Well, my ego blew up like a balloon hearing this, but of course I modestly replied, "Thank you! Actually I've got some chunk on me that I am trying to lose so I'm can get more defined." He says, "Ya, thats why we figured you were in between competitions." Ah yes. You did say that didn't you... Here that? Ffffffffpppptttt...that's the sound of my ego being deflated a mere 30 seconds after it inflated. I love when stuff like this happens in life because it's a good reminder. Not to mention it makes me laugh whenever I think about it.

I recently recieved an update to my training program. Jen is my trainer through the rec center. I noticed another gal, Shelley, doing some really great stuff with free weights and bosu balls etc so I asked her who put together her program. She pointed me to Jen. The first thing we worked on was my core in an attempt to help my lower back and glute/hip thingy that continues to haunt me.

Last Monday she updated my program and I love it. She has me doing walking lunges while holding a dumbell straight armed over my head. Then I get to do pushups with my feet resting on top of a fit ball. In between the pushups I roll the ball towards me by pulling my knees to my chest. There's a whole mess of activities like that. I went through the whole program today and by the end my body was like a faucet of sweet. It felt good. I'm on my way to becoming a lean, mean, peace machine!

Tomorrow I think I will take it easy and do some glutes and core are a wee bit grumpy from today because they aren't used to the new workout routine. In fact, I could use one of those donut thingys to sit on...or a really good cushion. Oh, it's a climbing night tomorrow will be interesting to see how much stronger I am as I haven't been at the wall during the summer.

So many activities, so little time!

Peace out my happy sweaty gym rats!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Motorcyle Diaries...

"Like a true nature's child, we were born, born to be wild..." ~ Steppenwolf

I'll tell ya a little secret...I sometimes sing 'Born to be Wild' by Steppenwolf when I'm riding my motorbike Dorky, true, but oh does it put a smile on my face!

I'm not sure exactly when the love of motorcycles got into my bloodstream. It's possible it was when I was 2 years old. That was the first time I was ever on a bike - albeit it was a wee motorbike, likely a 250.

My folks and I lived in Japan for some of my younger years and that was our transportation. Both Mom and Dad had a bike, and there was a kid seat somehow attached to it for yours truly. As they didn't have motorcycle helmuts small enough in that day, I got to wear my cousin Brian's old hockey helmut. I believe there was a Canadian flag sticker on the front of the helmut too. I'm going to have to scrounge up the photos - I do remember I was always smiling.

Then when I was sixteen I had the joy of riding on the back of a classic Triumph bike. As another song says, "Oh, what a feeling, what a rush!". I think that's when being on a motorbike REALLY took hold of me. Since that time I'd finangled my way on to the backs of my friends bikes ranging from Ninja's to Harleys. My heart has always been with the Harley Davidson though.

Here's another little secret about me...well, not so secret to some...I LOVE classic cars and classic bikes. LOVE THEM. My dream cars are the 1964 Corvette (mine would be stock cherry red with white leather interior) and the 1955 Chevy Belair (mine would be metallic purple with purple dingle balls and a pair of white fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror).

But enough about cars, this piece is about bikes. A few years ago I looked into fulfilling a dream of mine - buying a Harley Davidson. A Sporster to be exact. Why the Sporster? Because for the most part the style of it hasn't changed since it was introduced in 1952 as the Model K Sport. She was a modern bike with classic styling, how could I not love it?! Anyways, I had been in the bike shop, talked about buying a Sporty and about taking lessons. Unfortunately, life went all pear shape in an unexpected way and buying a motorbike was out of the question. Life went on though and in quite a glorious way.

Flash forward six years later and I find myself moving back to my hometown and in the company of one of my dearest friends, Terresa, who's known me for 30 years. We had actually lost contact for almost 20 years when we finally found each other just before I moved back. Lucky for me she was as wonderful as she always was! She too shared the passion of the bike, but unlike me, she had acted on it.

So when I moved back she gave me a gental nudge and said, 'So, when are you going to get a bike?'. I had been busy drooling over photos of her Harley, a Dyna Lowrider. I mentioned that the first step would be lessons. Luckily for me she could refer me to the riding school she went to, Open Road Training. They were fantastic and in no time I was ready to take my drivers test.

First though, a bike. I wasn't in a rush to buy a bike per se, but knew that it would be better if I had one to ride and practice on. My dream was to get a Harley, but they were out of my price range. That was until Terresa, the miracle worker, mentioned a friend of hers was selling her Harley. And get this, it was a Sporster! Could this be true??? Could I possibly be an owner of a Harley Sporty??

Long story short, becasue there are other stories to tell, I did end up buying the bike. She is beautiful! She's a 1997 HD Sporster Hugger 883. Just right for a shorty like me.

Figure 1: My 1997 Harley Davidson Sporster Hugger 883

Next up after buying the bike, and before I went for my test, was several hours with my other friend, and Terresa's boyfriend, Reza. He and I rode to the PNE grounds parking lot where he put me through the gears of slow maneuvering on my bike. I'll admit it, I was a little overwhelmed by my bike at first. It was a Harley and it had a lot of power. But after hours of going around and around in small circles, doing figure eights, starting/stopping on a hill - with Reza standing in front of me so I HAD to stop, and learning to park on hills etc, I finally became one with my bike. Oh and lets not forget him making me get up to speed, slam the brakes on till the back end fishtailed, then start and turning. An excellent safety maneuver I should add! But scary when you are learning it!

All this practice was great because when it came time for me to do my drivers test, I aced it. I was comfortable and confident. But not too confident of course. I'm fully aware of the dangers of riding. After all, I was once employed as a vehicular accident reconstructionist! I know what can happen when bike meets (fill in the blank). Rule #1 of riding - NO ONE CAN SEE YOU! Which is the case most of the time so it's best to just assume it's like that 100% and hopefully you will avoid any 'incidents'.

It was because of that rule, and the fact that the parental unit weren't as excited as I was about my new toy that I decided to be smart...and respectful of their feelings. I got a bright orange vest. Sigh...

Figure 2: The vest - front side

Figure 3: The vest, back side.

At least the vest isn't TOO dorky. It does say Harley Davidson and it has kick ass reflective flames on the back side. True, I would love to ride the streets with a tank top on and sexy leather vest like my friends do, but the reality is I'm a safety girl. So I have my full face helmut, nice thick leather jacket with pads, and my vest. Oh, and I swear it gets brighter as it gets darker out. I stopped in at my friend Chris and Joanne's, long time owners and riders of sweet Harley's, one evening after riding. I think they were blinded by my vest. At least they didn't laugh at me??

Figure 4: Me, the vest, and my bike

I don't think the vest looks too horrible on. Actually, it's rather slimming. However, the other day I went riding with Terresa and Suzanne. We took the low road out to Horseshoe Bay, which is stunning! Once you get through West Van traffic, it's a curving windy road that follows the waterfront. Ahh, the smell of salt water while riding your bike is heavenly.

Here's the funny part... Terresa and Suzanne show up on their Harleys' wearing 'traditional' wear of jeans, tank tops and little leather vests. They look stunning to say the least, like something you'd see in a bike magazine. It was hot out, hence they opted not to wear their jackets. Me, I bundle up in my full face helmut, full leather jacket and, yup, the vest. I needed to get riding quick or I was going to fall over from the heat. The good thing was as soon as we started riding I was cool enough, except at the occassional long red light, which we kept getting.

As we rode the girls were in front of me. I kept noticing all the dudes in the cars and trucks around us checking them out. Funny, here I am wearing a bright orange vest but no one's looking at me! Before you think I'm being all 'poor whoas me', trust me, I'm not. I thought it was fantastic and had a good chuckle over it! Hey, I know underneath all these layers there is a Buddha Biker Babe, as my friend Ken so sweetly called me. I must say, I think that is one advantage of being a girl on a bike - you get noticed more, which is a good thing as hopefully that means the person won't cut into your lane. Heck even I get noticed when I'm on my own and they see the blond pigtail waving about outside my helmut! Or maybe it's the vest...

Figure 5: Buddha Biker Babe

Oh, I almost forgot! I named my bike 'Belle', after the Beauty and the Beast's character. Why? Because she's blue and Belle had a blue dress, plus Belle was spunky and sought out adventure. She wasn'ts afraid either.

I've been out on Belle a few times on my own and I love it! My heart rate goes up ever so slightly as I take her cover off (that my parents ever so kindly bought so she'd stay dry and clean) and start her up. She sounds ever so lovely...although the neighbors might think otherwise? Ah well. When they see the beaming smile I have while riding her, perhaps they'll forgive me for a slight noise disturbance now and then.

And maybe, just maybe, if you listen close as you pull up beside me, you might just hear the lyrics to a familiar a true natures child, we were born, born to be wild....

Peace out my born to be wild friends!

Friday, 30 July 2010

Teddy Bear's Picnic...

Beneath the trees, where nobody sees,
They'll hide and seek as long as they please,
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic" ~ Jimmy Kennedy

My friend Matti introduced me to the song 'The Teddy Bear's Picnic" by John Walter Bratton many years ago. I instantly loved it. I loved it even more when I read a story about a mortician who was working on a fellow who had been killed by a bear. As he dealt with what was left of the poor dude, he had the song "The Teddy Bear's Picnic" playing. Personally, I love that sense of humour.

I recently moved back to my beloved British Columbia and decided to live in the part that is a rain forest. Wait, isn't most of it rain forest?? Hmmm....

But I digress. I love where I live because I'm within walking distance of a couple of trails. One trail will take me up into many various mountainous areas. The other trail, Hastings Creek Trail, is just around the corner from my street. Hastings Creek and the area actually stretches out a fair bit, but there is one portion where there is a trail.

I love this trail because I can run it as an out and back in about a half hours time, which is great for a short run. Because of how it's laid out with lots of roots, logs, branches, rocks, LOTS of stairs and an upward grade till the turnaround point, I can make the run as intense as I want. Also, I love to walk through here to get to the library, which I visit on a weekly basis. Did I mention it also leads me to two of my favourite places to obtain chai soy lattes??

Now you may be wondering what does the Teddy Bears Picnic and my trails have to do with one another. That's easy, we have bears. Two that I was told about when I moved in and most likely more I'm learning. Those two have apparantly adopted our neighborhood. With the exception of new people (yep, that'd be me), most know not to leave anything out that can be mistaken for food. We keep our garbage indoors (or we do as soon as we learn that bears can get into our sealed off backyard...yup, that was me again) and only put it out on garbage day JUST before the garabage man is to arrive.

I still haven't figured out how Mr. Bear got into the fenced backyard or how I didn't hear him knock over the garbage bin and start ripping apart the bag etc...but he visits here fairly frequently as the bear scat and witness reports tells us. Needless to say, when I'm out running the trails I do accept the fact that I may meet a bear. Or a coyote, as we have big ones here.

I don't really think about it too much, or I didn't until Jennifer, a personal trainer at the recreation centre I go to, mentioned they had just removed a 600 lb bear from the Hastings Creek area. This was after I was telling her I love to run through there. "Uh, sorry, did you say SIX HUNDRED POUNDS??"

Okay, certainly he couldn't have been hanging out in MY wee portion of Hastings Creek?? I mean, exactly how quiet is a 600 lb bear? It's not like he's going to sneak up behind me...right??? Right??!! Sigh. I think I'm going to have to review all the bear literature I have from when I lived and hiked in the Rockies. Perhaps they have a section on 'How sneaky bears are."

Needless to say I will continue to run and walk through that bit of the trail. I will just keep my ears for sounds of bears. If they make any. And perhaps I won't doddle as I sometimes do when I see a squirrel or a butterfly. I tend to stop on the trail and just watch whatever little forest creature is frolicking about. At least I do when I'm walking through.

Below are some photos of my beloved Hastings Trail. I took then when my friend Shelley and I walked through with Rex the dog. No bears that day.

Oh, and for the record, should I ever end this life at the paws of a bear...please make sure whoever is doing the autopsy is listening to "Teddy Bear's Picnic" as they piece back my remains. That way you can guarantee that wherever my spirit or energy is, I will be smiling and laughing.

Peace out my lovely teddy bear friends!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Taking One For The Team...

"Make your feet your friend." ~ J.M. Barrie

on Wednesday nights I go to the indoor climbing wall with my friend Lisa. There we meet up with some of the climbing gals and literally hang out for an hour or so. It's great fun, but the last time we went it was hot outside, which mean really hot inside.

Of course you don't notice the heat too much till you are part way up the wall and you, or rather I, start to get even more sweaty than normal, which is saying a lot as I sweat like a waterfall. This means it's even more difficult than normal to keep your hands connected to the holds. Not to mention it's rather trying when you have sweat running down your face and dangling off your nose, which tickles, but you don't want to let go to wipe it off.

And did I mention how "hummy" it gets in there. PHEW! Sometimes it takes a moment to get used to the smell. And not gasp. Or gag.

Needless to say when Lisa asked if I wanted to go climbing, I suggested that since it was so nice outside perhaps we could go for a hike instead? I was so happy when she said yes! We share the feelings about the hot hummy climbing wall.

Better yet, we were going to hike the BCMC Grouse trail, which starts off at the same place as the very famous Grouse Grind, but is less travelled. Considering it's summer and the parking lot was full, full, full, I'm glad we chose this trail instead.

A little information about the trail: It is 3.3 km of sheer UP. There is an elevation gain of 853 m (~ 0.5 mi) and the average grade is 25.8%. The trail is quite narrow in spots and one must be mindful of their footing.

Just to add to tonights adventure, I decided to wear my Vibram Five Finger toe shoes, also known as barefoot shoes, or more accurately, minimalist shoes. My friend Tina introduced me to these shoes a few years ago, and although I don't wear them year round or all the time, when I do wear them I love them!

Here is a 'before' photo of my feet inside my glorious shoes.

Figure 1: Feet/Shoes pre-hike.

We hadn't been walking long when a fellow came up beside me and started to ask me about my shoes. Needless to say, this is a normal occurrance when people see your shoes and he was the first of several on the trail to ask me about them. Afterall, you have toes in your shoes! (Remind me one day to tell the story of how a little girl was afraid of my shoes...and toes.)

As I walked I went on to explain that they are minimalist shoes, the sole is about 3 mm thick, they are made by Vibram, and I love them because I feel connected with nature. I can feel everything I walk on. Just as I finished my description, we came to the fork in the trail. To the left takes you to along The Grind, to the right, BCMC. We went right.

Figure 2: Beginning of BCMC Trail

Right away I knew I'd love this trail. There were far less people on it! You have to understand, the Grind can be back to back people in the summer and it's not a wide trail! As we started on our journey up the mountain I tried to take in the beauty that surrounded us. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep taking in the beauty and walking. I tend to look down when hiking, and for good reason. Roots, rocks, tree bits, narrow trail and sometimess drop offs where you could fall for a very long time. Until coming to an abrupt stop by hitting a tree or rock. Yeowza.

I did stop now and then to take a photo or grab a sip of water. Of course this also allowed me to catch my breath a bit. It's hard to hike up a mountain and talk at the same time!

Figure 3: Lisa setting the pace and guiding us to where we needed to go.

Thankfully Lisa was leading the way so I could focus on talking and walking. I did look up once in a while to see if I could find the tree markers, those flourescent orange diamonds that mark the trail. I'd like to hike here on a regular basis so I figured I should pay attention a wee bit. For the most part the trail is easy to follow, but there are some areas where you could go off to the left or right.

While we were hiking we could hear the birds, and the odd squirrel chirping away. This little guy decided to pose for a photo. As soon as I was done taking the photo he scampered off chirping away as he went.

Figure 4: The posing squirrel.

I'm not sure how far up we were at this point. My feet were feeling good, and my legs for the most part - despite having a good strength training workout the day before. The one thing I could feel were my calves. It was a nice time to stop for water and take another photo! See how sweaty Lisa is? I was about 5 times as bad. Did I mention how much I sweat??

Figure 5: Lisa, friend, hiker and climber extraordinnaire!

It felt wonderful being in the woods, as well as having a good friend to share the experience with and to chat with. I had been gone the previous week so we had a lot of catching up to do! Here's the thing with chatting while hiking though...sometimes we forget to look up for the trail indicators...

Lisa had mentioned that if you come out of the trail and spot the chairlift, it just means you went off track a wee bit and if you walk to the left you will get back onto the trail towards the roundhouse. Guess what we saw when we came out of the trees?

Figure 6: Ooops, I see chairlift!

We had a good giggle about this. Funny thing was that towards the end I HADbeen looking for the markers and thought we were on the right path. Oh well! Likely it was a good thing because if I ever come up here on my own, or to show someone else the trail, I'll know what to do if I see the chairlift!

At this point I was feeling my legs pretty good. And my lower back. Mental note: must do more low back and core exercises! We weren't 'out of the woods' yet though! There was still more up, albeit less steep up. We headed to the left and got back on the trail. This part is where you are parallel to some of the sewage piping. At one point Lisa said 'Don't take a breathe!' Too late, I had, and I gacked. Urgh. What happened to the glorious smell of pine trees?!

Finally we were at the top. My feet felt fine and I was happy there were no blisters and not too much in the way of rocks or dirt in my shoes. My legs were happy there was no more up of course. I think I'm going to do this hike on a regular basis to build up some strength!

My feet after the hike:

Figure 7: Post-hike tootsies - a little bit more dusty.

Figure 8: Huh, not bad. Kept the dirt out pretty well!

Before we headed down on the gondola, yes, you can take a gondola down rather than walking down, Lisa took a photo of me at the top. That's West Vancouver down below, and you can see the tip of Vancouver where UBC is. It's funny because when we started the hike it was very warm out and sunny. It had covered over a bit and there was a welcome breeze!

So you'd think that the hike was the exciting part of the trip, wouldn't you. Amazingly enough, it was the last part of the gondola trip that was the climax of the trip. As I mentioned before, the parking lot was packed full of people. Needless to say, we were packed into the 'down' gondola like sardines.

Lisa and I were near the front of it and there was a woman with her three children (under the age of 10) sitting on the seat, while we stood in front/behind them. The youngest girl, about 6 years old, looked a little afraid of the experience. Understandable. This was the first time I actually looked out the windows myself and I'd been on this thing since I was a kid!

There is a bit of a drop off when you get going, and the little girl did not take it very well. Apparantly she didn't take any of it very well because just as we arrived at the base, she looked down between her knees and hurled. EWWWWW!

Did I mention we were packed like sardines in there? I took a step back and used Lisa as a bit of a shield. What can I say, I have ninja princess like survival instinct! Lisa, being a mom, wasn't too fussed over the chunder and took it like a pro. I'd just like to mention here that she has proved herself to be a true friend! She took one for the team and, although she stepped back, calmly, she didn't push me in front of her or give me a look when she realized I had shifted myself so I was directly behind her, thereby hopefully not getting any icky stuff on my shoes and bare legs. EWWWWW!

I think the little one thought we were staring at her with disgust, when really we were concerned and sympathetic. Hey, who hasn't felt cruddy at one point in time and been sick somewhere other than in a bucket or the porcelain throne?! The same could not be said for her sister who uttered the words rather loudly, 'EEWWWWW!!', whereas I just thought that statement, while looking on with concern.

After we disembarked, the now sloshy gondola, we surveyed our legs and feet for splash back. Lisa had done a wonderful job acting as my shield, for which I will always be grateful. I was hurl-free. Unfortunately, she had a wee bit on her shoes and a couple drops on her capris. Nothing that a pro Mom like her couldn't handle with a bit of water. She also commented that she figured the little girl had milk and spaghetti for dinner. This was just too much information for me and I started to get a bit queasy myself.

And that was the finale of our hike up the BCMC Grouse trail. I would recommend it to others, just be mindful that you are not situated near queasy looking little kids on the ride down in the gondola!

Peace out my lovely friends!

Monday, 5 July 2010


The other day I was looking for something, I forget what now, and came across a sheet with a quote on it. Not sure who wrote it, but I remember reading it when I was at university and loving it, so I copied it down. Not surprisingly it's written on purple paper in purple ink, which thankfully hasn't faded.

It was the perfect thing to read when I was in university because I had taken a risk going back to school. For most of my scholastic career I thought I was dumb, so I didn't try. I figured it was best not to try and get a crap grade, then to try and risk failing and look like an idiot. (This theory of course somewhat proving that perhaps I wasn't the most brilliant.) Eventually, I realized I had a brain in this noggin and went back to school. Considering I barely made it out of high school (to be honest, I think they made a mistake because I'm sure I was short a credit, but hey, who was I to point that out??), the fact that I went into engineering was a big shocker to many. But I did it and I graduated.

I have found that the last five years have been about taking some risks, like completing a sprint triathlon, then a half Ironman, then an Ironman.

Then last year I lost a good friend of mine to cancer. She was way too friggin young and it drove the point home that LIFE IS TOO SHORT SO MAKE THE MOST OF IT! Lately I find I am taking more risks. Not in a smoking crack, screw the world kind of way, that's not my style. More the, life is too short so I want to grab it by the horns, kind of risks.

Maybe it's a result of losing Tigger, or maybe it's just a mid life crisis!! Whatever it is, I do feel more alive from taking the risks I have. In the las seven months I've challenged my fear of heights and took up indoor climbing, soon to be outdoor; I went on a mountain biking trip to Moab, a serious mecca of the sport, after not having ridden in 14 year; then I challenged myself in a moutain biking course and found myself rolling off drops that were about 2 ft high with roots and trees waiting for me to ride around after the drop. Yup, those things got the old ticker pounding out of my chest!

The latest risk is doing something I've wanted to do since I was 12 years old, which is forever ago. I finally took a course and learned how to ride a motorcycle. (I passed my road test today with flying colours!) Not only that, I bought one. My dream bike, a Harley Davidson Sporster. This did not please the parental unit I may add. Not that seeing me near death during Ironman did, or when I mentioned I was taking up rock climbing and my dad responded "Isn't that dangerous?". Hmm, perhaps all this is making my getting tattoos not look so bad in there eyes??

Anyways, I guess the point of this post is that the finding of this quote was perfect. It reminded me why I do what I do. Because taking a risk is living life rather than sitting on the couch and watching it go by.

Enjoy and peace out my lovelies!

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing setnimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams, before a crowd is to risk loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure.

But risk we must.

Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they can't learn, feel, change, grow or love.
Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave. They have forfeited their freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Trail Mix...

"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." - Robert Frost

I now live in a rain forest. Perhaps not a super warm tropical one, but a wonderful one indeed! Since moving back home I've wanted to explore the trails around me either using two wheels or two feet. There is a little trail right by my place that I often walk to go up to the library, or run to get a strong 30 minute run in.

I also learned that if I went down the street a bit I'd come to the entrance of another trail, which would lead me to a bridge, which would lead me to a walking path, which would then lead me to a trailhead! It sounds like a long trek, but actually it's a nice 15 minute walk. This trailhead is one starting point to get into Lynn Canyon. Follow it and there is peace and beauty to be found!

As I've been blessed enough to have some of my Alberta friends come out and visit me, I've decided that I must share with them this treasure trove of trails that I've learned of! Dave and I walked part of this trail when he came to visit, but this time, when Joz came out to visit, we would run it!

I was so glad that Joz was up for the adventure. First off she's training for the Arizona Ironman and this was supposed to be a bit of a rest weekend for her. This run would definitely not be a rest run because it's mainly up, with stairs, bridges, roots, mud puddles, rocks and cliffs thrown in. Secondly, there are some people who when in training (and I'm speaking about me here when I actually trained for something) who sometimes find it hard to stray from their program. Thankfully Joz was ready and will to break from the normal routine! It helped that, just like me, this was her old stomping ground and she loved the area.

So we started off with a warmup walk to the trailhead then started on our way. The first thing you notice when you run through here is the sounds. I could hear Lynn Creek rushing by, the birds chirping happily in the trees, the trickle of water running down the side of the hill, my footsteps as I leaped merrily along, and not too long into the start of our climb, my breathe as my breathing got heavier and deeper!

The other thing I always notice when I'm running in the trails around here is the smell. Everything smells sweet from the pines, and sometimes you get a little whiff of cedar mixed in. Plus there is the honest smell of the dirt. Aaaah. There is nothing like it!

I'd only been through part of this trail so wasn't sure what to expect, but knew that there would be some challenging bits. We stopped now and then to enjoy the view as well as to catch our breathe...of course I used this time as an excuse to take some photos of the Garden of Eden we were in.

I'm not sure how long the actual trail is, but eventually you get to the Twin Falls. At this point there were more and more people on the trail. Not a big deal, except when you can't get through. This is when I had to remind myself I was doing this for fun and if I had to stop and wait before passing, it was not going to matter. Funny how some mind habits are hard to break?

It took us about 55 mintues to get to the deep pool. My mom used to take me here as a kid when it was hot out. The pool is glacier fed, ergo it's darn cold! However, in the heat of the summer it can be brilliantly refreshing. I've always loved it because it was so clear. Hard to tell how deep it is. People, yes Joz included, used to cliff jump into the pool. I never did because I was afraid of heights. Not to mention there's been more than one death in this canyon and a few were from doing just that! Yup, I'm a chicken and proud of it!

We sat at the pool for a little while and enjoyed a snack before heading back down the trail. This part was definitely easier than the up, but there was still a super steep section to contend with. We had to walk down it earlier because it was so steep and there was quite the drop on the one side, not to mention lots of roots to trip you up. My attempt to run up it was feeble at best. My lungs were burning within a few minutes. Definitely something to work on!

Although the way back had more down bits, it still took us about 45-50 minutes. The thing I love most about trail running is not just the fact that I'm surrounded by nature, but it's also because I have to be in the moment at all times. One distraction from thought and I could be kissing the ground quickly and unexpectedly. I love that I run on the balls of my feet as I tap dance through the roots and rocks. I joke that I'm a long haired leaping gnome now...but that's truly how I feel!

The Buddhists believe that everything on earth is interconnected. Plants, animals, and minerals. If there was any doubt of this before, the doubt is now gone. When I'm in the trails, whether it's walking or running, I can feel the energy that nature presents me and know that I give that energy back. It's an amazing feeling and I'm so glad that I can experience it every day!

Some photos of our adventure are below. Enjoy, then go out and find a piece of forest heaven near you and go hug a tree!

Peace out my lovely leaping gnomes!

Photo 1: Joz running up just a few of the many many stairs on this trail!

Photo 2: Wee bridge through a garden of skunk cabbage...yum!

Photo 3: Lynn Creek - a small portion of it.

Photo 4: Twin Falls

Photo 5: More of Twin Falls

Photo 6: Me and Joz on the bridge at Twin Falls - you can always find a tourist will to take your photo!

Photo 7: Joz using her Wonder Woman super powers to hold up a tree so I could go under!

Photo 8: The pool at the top...told you it is crystal clear! And cold....brrrr.

Photo 9: Stairs that start the super steep bit.

Photo 10: After the stairs on the steep bit, mind your footing!

Photo 11: Be one with the roots...still steep!

Photo 12: Teeny weeny flowers along the path.

Photo 13: Super mini waterfall along the edge of the trail.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Dirty Dirty Dirty!!!

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather, to skid in broadside thoroughly used-up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW! WHAT A RIDE!!" ~ Unknown

I LOVE the above quote and every now and then I get the chance to do something that contributes to that goal. This weekend was no exception.

I spent the weekend, with my cousin Lisa, attending Dirt Series, a mountain bike clinic for women (they have co-ed clinics too). The goal: to have as much fun as possible while learning some new biking skills to get me down the North Shore mountains in one piece, bumps and bruises not withstanding!

Was the goal achieved? You betcha! I had a brilliant time! It was an amazing weekend filled with tons of learning (I can hop over things now!), pushing fear boundaries (I rode some wicked downhill with drops that had me shaking on my pedals!), and building new friendships. Not to mention the coaches were fantastic and it was so empowering to be with 59 other women as we took over the mountain trails.

On Fromme Mountain, this guy was riding up beside me and Megan and said 'I have never seen so many women riding!' He promptly then rode into the ditch. Guess we were a bit of a distraction?! I told him he might want to be careful on the trails because there were 60 of us out there on various trails! Too funny.

I have some wonderful bruises to show for my efforst this weekend, one about 2 inches in diameter on my upper thigh - the result of my first endo! The girls were mightly impressed when I leaped up after the fall, hands in the air like a champion, proclaiming 'Yeah! My first endo!!!' And of course a myriad of other bruises here and there. Oh, and there was my squished ankle...which happened when I put a little too much pressure on the very touchy disc breaks. Oops. This one definitely hurt, but it's starting to feel better. My theory - if you are going to participate in this sport, you are going to have some boo-boos. (Refer to quote at top of page...)

OH! And I almost forgot the cherry on the top of this whole weekend! I got to demo a Trek Remedy 9.8 carbon fibre dual suspension bike! It only retails for $4900!!! I have never in my life gotten to ride such a fine fine piece of machinery. It was heaven!

I am so stoked to be getting back into mountain biking. Espeically now that I have two new trails to practice my new skills on and new friends to go with! The North Shore mountains rock!

Below are some photos of the weekend...the trail ones do not do the drops justice!

Peace out my fellow adventurers!

Figure 1: Starting to gather for the skills session

Figure 2: Can you feel the excitement??

Figure 3: Lisa....can you feel the excitement??

Figure 4: Some of the skills equipment

Figure 5: The gals of Group C heading out for their first ride (Griffin Trail, Fromme Mtn)

Figure 6: Turn at the tree, mind the first drop!

Figure 7: Turn right 90 degrees, avoid the ditch, then ride down this rock ramp and drop off the rock at the end. Easy.

Figure 8: This drop looked much higher from the viewpoint of the bike!

Figure 9: Droool...Trek Remedy 9.8C

Figure 10: The Women of Dirt Series!

Figure 10: Day two skills - one of the ladies learning to do jumps at the bike park

Figure 11: Practicing front wheel lifts

Figure 12: Lisa practicing front wheel lifts!

Figure 13: Getting some instruction on the Bottle Top Trail, Seymour Mtn.

Figure 13: Bit of a left turn at the tree, 3 drops over roots and go across the bridge...this was late in the day and none of us mastered the drops. To be conquered next time!

Figure 14: Bit of downhill.