Monday, December 10, 2012

Board Member recuitment

Its been a while since I have posted.  It has also been a great month, with lots on the plate of things to do.

I have finally started getting back to exercising on a pretty regular basis and anticipating the next year of training for Challenge Penticton in August.  It has included talking and seeing and loving puppies, in the anticipating of our family growing in the new year with a new little munchkin.  It has included going walking in the woods for a lovely spruce tree in anticipation of our first christmas as a family.  It has included the initiation of a small group in our home every 2 weeks, in anticipation of growing community among the "Gen X's and Y's" at St James Anglican church.  It has included a christmas party or two.

It also includes a contest...  Our fabulous wedding photographers have an "I like it the most" contest;  we aren't in first place, but on a good go for second... maybe we can do a last push to first!!!  Please go and comment on THIS BLOG POST  saying "I like #7, Sean and Amelia, the best!"  Then, go to THIS PHOTO  on facebook, and hit "like."  And, yes, you can vote 2x!!!!  The more the better.

But... it has also included times of thinking about Warm Heart Initiatives.    We have started to move full force ahead.  Please like our facebook page to keep updated on what is happening, right here in Canada, to invest in sustainable projects in Malawi.  Meanwhile, we are also in the process of recruiting board members.  I have attached a letter that gives you an idea what is needed... if this is something that you, or someone you know, might be interested in... PLEASE get in touch :) 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Moving through the "check list"

Well!  it finally seems like life, with all of its ups and downs is going to settle down a bit.  The last couple months have really been on "full go."  I have really realised though, how you think that like might be "slower..."  and it never really gets that way.  Sometimes, we have to make a concerted effort to do that.  but, these past couple months/weeks have NOT been slow, and that. is. okay.  However, I am looking forward to being able to say that I have a realm of routine again.

sometimes I feel like having a routine can also be translated to  "boring."  I know that there might be some of my friends out there that ask what is the next big adventure that is planned for me... what am i training for, where am I travelling too?  

well, lets just say... marriage and the adventure of growing roots somewhere.  That is the adventure I am on for the next little while.   and, it is official:  here is the paper that says so.  Next step: get hubby and I to have the legal name change that allows you to add a new middle name.  so, i will be the huge name of "Amelia Patterson Payne Birch." 

Last week, I went back to Edmonton to have the funeral for my sister, Shaunnie Rebecca.  It really was an excellent time with family, and I really also was able to sit back and remember how much love there is from both sides of my family... the Payne's and the Patterson's.  There were so many people there, even having driven up during a ridiculous snow storm.  My brother was not able to make it, and I wish he was there.

My mum did an excellent job of putting the service together, with 3 candles at the beginning lit (A memory candle, community, and Thanksgiving), and choosing appropriate hymns (Morning has broken, all things bright and beautiful, How great thou art, and Abide with me.)  It was beautiful, and to have memories of rebecca throughout her life read and  highlighted was oh so appropriate.  

The tapworks were turned on for me many times.   Lighting the Candle of Memory was almost too much for me.  My neice Makayla was there, beside me, and I was just so touched with her compassion and love.  The jokes to make me smile, the understanding, her ability to hold my hand and put her arm around me.  she brings me such joy, and I have been so blessed to see her so many times this year.  

I miss Rebecca.  it is a depth of sadness that I have never experienced before.  To know that i will never see her again, or hear her voice, or get frustrated with her, or laugh with her.  but, I know that her mind is at ease.  if you would like to donate to a great cause, in her memory, please click HERE FOR SUIT YOURSELF.  So, to take the reading from the service: 

We do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
                
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling-- if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
                
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord-- for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.



after being in edmonton, I arrived home to have an exciting certificate having arrived in the mail.  It's official, folks:  I am an RN.  despite being sure that I could've failed, i did not.  I am smrt enough to stick needles in your arm, accompany you in decisions about health and illness, and just be an all round nurse!  I'm really excited that this went well, admist all the craziness of that time (Becca's passing & the wedding...)
things are good.  I am happy.  I am exercising regularly again, and it feels awesome.

life.  it's quite the ride, isn't it?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back as a MRS!

It has obviously been quite quiet in the blog-o-sphere around here recently.  And, I'm ok with that.  But, I do love blogging.  I just think that the blog has become a little different for me in the past 6 months.  I think that in school, my blog tends to be a time that I can get away from the stress, vent a bit, reflect a bit, and keep people updated.  Now that i am not in school, the stress of academia has decreased, and I find that blogging about things like... my triathlon training... can be a bit bland.  so, let's talk about the major amazing lovely love fest that happened a few weeks ago.

getting married is awesome.

what a week of crazy emotions.   I felt the saddest that I have maybe ever experienced, with the loss of my sister.  I'm still very sad about that, and I know that I will never stop missing her.  here are some photos of her and i together, then some shots of her a few years ago, while working at Pioneer camps.




In the weeks gathering up to the wedding, it was quite busy/stressful.  Pretty much in the way that all of a sudden, it became real.  we were getting married.  the avalanche was about to begin, and there was no way of stopping it!  we got a fun chance to do some "engagement shots," some of which I shared a little while ago.  it was a lot of fun, and we were able to learn how to be in front of the camera.

As my dad and I were driving back from Edmonton, I could feel the emotions changing in me.  It was kinda amazing, as some people may have questioned my decision to keep going forward, despite our loss.  but, as we were driving over the mountains, it felt like going from one spot to another.  I arrived in the wee hours of wednesdaynight/thursday morning, and the next day, things were on.  People were in town, decorations were all made, and appts were booked.

at that point, it actually felt quite like limited stress.  it actually felt like things were going to roll forward just fine.  And, thanks to the amazing people around us... to many to list as of right now, but we will send them out.

our wedding day was one of very very few that it actually rained in vancouver over the summer/fall.  it didn't pour, but it was enough to be a little annoyed.  I can't cover it all, but these are some of the amazing things that I loved about our wedding. in no particular order.


  • how in our Anglo-catholic tradition, when you put a ring on the other person, you start on the thumb, and say "with this ring, I thee wed, and with my body, I thee honour" then you move the ring to the index finger and say "in the name of the father," move to the middle "and of the son" move to the ring "and of the holy spirit." 
  • waiting for our post-lude/recessional march to be done (it took a good 7 minutes), while we were waiting to ring the bell, and just looking at all our guests.
  • drinking coffee, and eating snacks at matchstick during our reveal.  and, the creative, beautiful chaos that ensued in the shop.
  • my dad reading the new-testament.  also that my dad wore some "toms," along with the rest of us.
  • the fun of taking photos, and knowing that Shari and Mike are artists and incredible people. 
  • being beautiful.  and surprizing sean with how I looked.
  • the energy that my friend, Jessie, brought to getting ready.  and, the organization that terry brought.
  • quality time with my niece.
  • having friends from near and far be there.
  • the music at our ceremony, and the beautiful voice of Ruth.  
  • my uncle don, and his amazing, ridiculous dancing. 
  • our first dance going fantastically.
  • the way that sean would hold my hand to lead me around. 
I think that is enough for now, but I know I want to come back to this, because there is SO much.  and, I just want to thank all of you that were able to make this possible, and for coming and visiting with us. Sorry we didn't get to have a good conversation with everyone, but it was amazing to see you, and feel your love. 

to all of you who were not able to come to the wedding.  we missed you, but know that you were there in heart and mind!

for now, one photo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Remembering rebecca

My dear friends and family,

As you know Tom and I have been looking forward to being parents of the bride for our youngest daughter, Amelia, 29, as she weds her chosen Sean this coming Friday night in Vancouver.

With this joyous news, we also must share some very sad news with the sudden passing of our oldest daughter, Shaunnie Rebecca, 31, on Sunday morning in her sleep. Amelia's note below says it very well.

Only 25 months apart, Amelia and Rebecca were as younger siblings, each others constant companions, sometimes best buds and other times not. Both pursued sports ( one year between bingos and driving for soccer, swimming and downhill ski racing we were very busy!!) and university. Rebecca was very talented in fashion design, in Human Ecology, & on her own, putting on a  modelling show several years ago at the Edmonton Armoury and when about 8  made Amelia lie down on brown paper to trace an outline for sewing a princess dress. Pioneer Ranch Camps has also played an important part with both young women from Amelia's involvement with Senior Girls to Rebecca time as staff at Sundre, life guarding for junior camps. In this, we also remember our eldest son and his young family.

Contact information for Tom and i can be found below but I hope with understanding it may be a while before we get back to you, as both on the road to Vancouver when you get this, but we both appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

With love,

Bonnie

-----------------------------

Dear friends and family,

Sean and I are thoroughly looking forward to seeing everyone on Friday for our upcoming nuptials.  We are in high anticipation of the joy and celebration to come!  We wish you safe travels, as you come to Vancouver from near and far.  

This email is difficult for me to write, as it also bears some sad news.  I wish to let you know, so that any initial shock and reaction will be gone by Friday.  Yesterday my family got the news that my beloved sister, Shaunnie Rebecca, passed away during her sleep.  If you have ever met Rebecca, she is a vibrant, strong willed, and creative personality.  She has also lived with mental illness for at least 10 years, and this past summer was particularly difficult.  Her death was unexpected, and brings grieving to our family.  Sean and I will be celebrating and remembering her life, as we celebrate our new life together as a family. 

If you wish to send cards or condolences to my parents, please contact me for their details.

with love,
Amelia (& Sean)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Engagement Photos

I know that it has been WAY to quiet around this blog for too long.  I have no excuse, other than doing my planning for the wedding.  It's coming up, and in 9 days, I'm going to be a Mrs.

Last weekend, two of the folks at St James Anglican Church were kind enough to offer us an "Engagement session."  Chris and Elisha are in the process of "rebranding" and think that it is great to be able to give back to our faith community by taking some photos of some of the people in the church.  It was quick and dirty (about 45 mins) but tons of fun.  Their website has more of their work, and of course, facebook.








We are really thankful that they were able to give us this gift!  and, man oh man... do we look good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

oh man.

I haven't blogged, like Sean hasn't taken photos.

sorry about that.  and, I am not going to write a long blog tonight.  but... what has happened in the last month?

the dog days of summer.  It has been HOT HOT HOT, and that has been enjoyable!  though, Im not going to lie.  a few days of rain might not be a bad idea.

wellll.... I got a job.  and, I have already been working there for a month.  I love it, it is challenging, and rewarding.  And, I get to work with great people like these ladies, who are other nurses, at the baseball game we went to today, for a teambuilding day (hello, run on sentence.)

I also mailed out wedding invites.  On that website, there is a link to this page... our wedding page.  It also shows that the big day will be in 42 short days!!!  I love getting the RSVPs back, and I can't wait to see who is going to make it!  if you already know your answer, please email asap to sean.amelia.birch@gmail.com  other fun things are being planned, like getting our wedding shoes!




We also... moved into our new condo!  yes folks, we are home owners.  We live on Fraser and 20th, and we are excited, because neither of us have ever lived in a "cool" neighbourhood.  but, now we do. our apartment is a 2 bed, 2 bath, just over 900 sq ft, which is just about perfect for us.  enough room to have what we need, but small enough to not over clutter.  With our help from our good friends, Terry and Rhonda, as well as Erik and his great big truck, we were able to move in a single day.  A week later, we were able to have a house warming.  here we are on possession day.

and, finally, I raced!  It was a slow race (bikewise), mostly because you were either going 10km/hr going up steep hills, or 60km/hr racing down hills.  But, that combines to an overall slow bike.  I ran fast, and swam medium (non-wetsuit swim!!).  I forgot my garmin, I was late for the stop, and I only drank 1 bottle on the bike (Eeep!!! for 40km!??! not good!).  but, I still got 2nd in my agegroup, and 6th woman overall (behind the pro's).  so, no complaints there.  A definite high point was being able to see the mighty maggs rip it up, and hold off the guys for a big win in the pro chase!!! Here I am heading in and out of T2!


subaru sooke international triathlonsubaru sooke international triathlon

that's it for now, folks!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Subaru Vancouver 1/2 Ironman Race Report

No photos yet!  But, good day.  GOOD DAY!

although, there were definitely moments of wondering if I was going to die.  I said to the boy that I like, post-race, it's kinda hard to determine which race is the hardest that you have ever done.  But, this one was up there.  It was hard.  I can't quite put my finger on as to why, but, the course wasn't easy, and it was hot as balls out there (well... for Vancouver).  HA!  I just looked at what the temperature was during the race:  a "blazing" 19/20 degrees C/68F...  but, i swear... it felt hotter.  


It was pretty fun to race in my hometown.  sleep in my own bed, know where to park, enjoy time with friends on the day before the race.  I also got to volunteer for the race set-up on friday.  It was a lot of fun to not only be a racer, but also give back to the community as a volunteer.  Still didn't get a super great sleep... I think part of it was that I was nervous, because I knew that I had the chance to do a PB.

 i've been feeling like I have been getting some good training in recently... not as much running as I think is reasonable (because, for some reason, just getting out and running has been a bit of a struggle recently), but I have been getting great rides, good hours, and FANTASTIC swims (both open water, and pool).  The funny thing, is that I am a) not being coached, b) have a somewhat sporadic schedule, and c) have NOT been tightly watching what I am eating/drinking (um, hello vancouver area craft beers, and yummy pastries).

other than that, I got to the race site, and discovered that I had forgotten my nutrition (energy drink) in the fridge at home.  If you remember, this is not the first time this has happened... but, that time, I had a PB.

The swim: 
 The swim was a two loop mass start of all men and women in the 1/2 ironman, into the ocean.  Off of a different beach from the one I have been training at, but the water was as calm as a pond, the sun was not yet blinding, and a blue-bird day, allowing for easy sighting.  The thing that I did the different, was place my Garmin around my pony-tail, under my cap, to get an accurate trace.  Other than being paranoid about loosing it, it works great!

I started off to the L of the pack (despite it being a counter-clockwise swim), because I thought it would give me a better line.  And, it did!  I got out of the pack fairly quickly.  The first turn was a little messy, I got a bit of water in my mouth, but was able to regain a good rhythm.  I felt like I wanted to push it at the start, and at the end, and just go steady with good sighting for the swim.  And... BANG... my fastest swim ever!  An accurate 1.9km at 29:20, for a split of 1:33/100m (2nd AG, 8th female, including elite).  The last2/3 of the swim, I had one other girl who was pacing with me.  we were beside each other consistently, and that was lot of fun!!!   


T1: 
Having my garmin in my cap caused a bit of a confusion when trying to figure out what order I should strip down in...  but, it eventually worked.  It was a long swim out of the triathlon, and not the cleanest transistion for me ever... but, whatever.  I got on my bike.  2:32 (3rd AG, 12th F)


The Bike:
Being in the hometown, this is a course that I know well.  I also knew that it was going to be challenging.  a 4-loop course, with 660m worth of climbing (2,165 ft), mostly over a single hill that you do 4x.  The rest is rolling, with some long steady climbs/downhills.  You don't want to grind it, but you can definitely put the pedal to the metal on the downhills.  My Garmin did NOT accurately pick up my HR, so it was all on feel.  I wanted to do a PB on the bike section, but, I also knew that I had to keep it reasonable to avoid the fly-and-die.  I keep on reading race-reports of athletes that I admire, who talk about raising the bar on the bike, and still being able to do a good run... I'm trying to find where that it for me.  It was definitely hard to try to keep my effort at a level that kept my heart rate in check, and legs feeling good.

The bike, as always, was a blast.  I had some of the elite women pass me asap off the bike, but hey.  their elite.  They are allowed to do that.  Otherwise, I think I only had one or two women pass me...  That being said, it was hard to tell...  When the olympic distance athletes got onto the course, it was a GONG SHOW!  there were cyclists everywhere, and most of them were not what i would call "fast."  lots and lots of calling out ON YOUR LEFT, and one point of encouraging the gaggle of guys surrounding me to "comon' guys, keep it moving." was able to throw out some smiles, some encouragements, and some good bits of talking with my competitors.  I always like that.  not too much wind, good attitudes, and solid personal best on the bike. 2:48.33, 32km/hr split (1st!!! AG, 11th F with elite)

sadly, i do think I could've taking in more liquid... with the gatorade being offered on course, I was afraid that i was going to have stomach problems with the sugar.  I probably could've drank more... since I didn't even have to pee on the bike. By the end of the ride, i was feeling ready to get onto the run, as my glutes were starting to feel pretty tight. 

T2:
nothing special here, either.  other than running out of the zone without starting my run split.  oh.  and my hat.  i couldn't put my hat on, and I was wishing I had a visor.  it was annoying. (1:07, 2nd AG, 8th F)

Run: 
Now, the run is short for a 1/2 iron (20km, rather than 21...), which made a big difference.  The run consisted of a 2x10km loop.  The first 5 km is a loop through Jericho Beach park & forest, the 2nd 5k is an out and back along spanish banks beaches.  Pretty much of it is along running trails.  Beautiful course along the ocean and through the trees. 

I started off... well, like I always do.  too fast.  So, I slowed down to a level that just felt good... not really worrying what my splits were, but something that felt like it could be maintained.  By 3km in, I knew it was going to be a tough run. I knew my nutrition had not been great, as I was feeling sluggish, and had a bit of a headache! I didn't even pee until about 14km in... and when I did, there was not much that came out.  Not a good sign.  

Despite the fact that the bit through the park was tougher in terms of terrain (lots of ups and downs, around lots of corners, and leaping past mud pits), I found the out and back on the beach harder.  it was hot, it was flat, and it just seemed to go on forever.  Not to mention all the people recreating.  I can't blame them (its was a beautiful day & its the beach!), but... I would've rather not had to bowl a few people over, or weave in and out of them.  This is probably the biggest thing I would change about the race planning... I wish the trail could be closed to non-racers.

The second loop was a bit hellish... lots of negative thoughts went through my head, like "I can never do Ironman if i run like this!  I feel like I am going to die.  My splits are slowing WAY down! Its hot!  I want to stop..."  But, there were also positive thoughts: "you are going to get a PB, even if your splits aren't great.  Look at how many people you are beating! you have friends here cheering you on!  just keep moving forward, and you will be more pleased than if you start."

the one mistake I made was that at about 2km to go, I could hear a woman behind me.  She was struggling, but, moving on me.  I thought one of two things: a) I could try to stay ahead of her, listening to her grunting and sighing, and push her (and myself) that way, or b) I could slow a bit, get her up to me, and we can finish strong together.  I went for #2... and we started running harder.  and... well... I couldn't keep up with her.  

I was not happy how my splits dropped from 5:15-5:30/km to 5:45-6ish mins between the beginning and the end. I can see after 10km how I hit a bit of a wall... that is where the splits significantly took a turn for the worse.  I only took one gel during the run, which might have been a mistake, and wasn't very good about having reasonable cups of gatorade.  I don't know if it was that, or the heat (i definitely felt it), or the pushing the bike, or what.  I just know it was HARD!  and, I was happy to be done.  (1:49:40, 5:29/km split; 4th AG, 24th F with elites)

Total: 5:11.10 (9 min PB!  despite it being 1km short on the run, I still would've had at least a 3-4min PB) putting me in 2/9 age group, and 11/65 F (with Elite), 7/59F (without elite).

Im feeling good now, after alot of lying around this afternoon, eating some ice cream, beer, and other goodies. Im a bit stiff, but that is obvious.  I also have hurt my 5th metatarsal... which is causing me to limp.  Not happy about that (it hurts pretty bad), but, I figure with a bit of time off & some icing, it will be OK!  I really enjoyed today:  there is something to be said about racing locally... i feel like I am going to get to know the triathlon community better, and I am already excited about racing the same race next year, and seeing how I can improve... (Sub-5hrs, anyone?!).

and of course the thanks:  to the boy i like (Sean) for liking me back & supporting me in these crazy endeavours, Celine and Kevin for watching and cheering, to the West Coast Subaru Triathlon organizers & race volunteers, Cervelo for making fast bikes, and Nineteen Wetsuits for making fast, comfortable wetsuits!  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nursing: Graduation and Jobs!

It is pretty amazing to think about the last few years of my life... in many ways.  I remember the day that I wrote the MCAT in the Fall of 2008, and knew on that day that my life would not be aimed towards becoming a physician.  I was a bit lost, because that is what I had thought I wanted to do for many many years.  I knew that, but, I also knew what I was passionate about:  the physical body and health care, helping people, community, and (well... africa).  The thing that I thought about being doctor, was the extreme amount of "influence" that they can have on people.... Life changing.  But, I also forgot about all the other professions that can be equally influential.

through a journey that I don't necessarily need to outline again, I found nursing. And, boy, am I ever glad that I did.  Nursing has changed by life, my perspective, and makes me exceptionally excited about the career that I have ahead of me.  The last three years at McGill, in the direct-entry program, has been the most challenging and humbling, yet the most rewarding educational experience of my life.  I think that the perspective that the general public has of nurses is so diverse... and, when I say I am a Master's trained nurse, there is the inevitable question:  why not medicine?  well... because I want to be a nurse.  I never knew it before, but, I know it now.  I am a nurse!  I am not "just" a nurse.

 I have realized more and more that I am not interested in the diagnosing...  probably the reason why I wouldn't pursue my Nurse Practitioner.  I am interested in policy, and education, and working to figure out the complex ways of overcoming barriers to care, and working side by side with patients and families.

The direct entry program is so unique.  And, one of the really unique things is that you have a small class.  We started with about 17 people.  After the first "qualifying' year, we lost Beth, Annie, Will, Carmen.  All my close friends.  It kinda sucked.  but, the friendships that  you gain with the people in your class continue to grow and grow.  First year (i'm not going to lie), I wasn't all that impressed with my initial impressions.  by graduation... WOW.  I love these girls.  They are amazing, and I will miss them terribly!  Especially the girls in Global Health Stream, of which there is a special degree of torture, stress, anxiety, and reward to which we mutually experience.  The girls that I have met over the past 3 years are smart, beautiful, funny, and oh so talented nurses.



The professors that I have had are so inspirational as well.  Not only do they "scare" me into being a good academic, they are caring, professional nurses.  They take the time to talk to you (at least they try!), and tell you when you are going off track.  They are not easy.  but, in order to be a good nurse, you need to be educated with high standards.
we gotta do something about recruiting more tall women into the profession...

When I was in Montreal in late-may/Early june with my mum for graduation, it was a perfect end.  to enjoy a city that has been my off-and-on city.  To see my friends that I will not see for a long time.  To run in the eastern townships, and engage in relaxing spa experience with my mum.  To have a party or two with the girls.  And then... to walk across the stage with them, and remember our accomplishments.




Finally, immediately after my return from Montreal, I had a job interview the next morning.  I had a little freak out, because I didn't feel prepared for it... I didn't know *how* to prepare for it.  But, all I knew was that it was my dream job.  A position at Vancouver Coastal Health, on their clinical outreach housing team.  It is located in the Downtown East Side, and you work autonomously in the shelters and hotels in the community.   As a nurse, you go out to meet people who would not otherwise access healthcare, offering primary care.  It involves a lot of mental illness, addiction, and harm reduction.  I don't know much about the details of the position.  But, I went into the interview, and knew that I would love it.  The first indication was that my interviewers had sleeve tattoos, and facial piercing.  The second indication was that there were dogs present in the office.  These are things I love.

I felt good with the interview, and was happy that they gave me the questions, 10-minutes prior to going into the interview.  Of course, following the interview, I felt like I could've had "better" answers, but, I felt like I gave a good presentation of myself, my knowledge, and my beliefs.

It took them forever.... Like 3 weeks... to get back to me (despite them sending me emails every once and a while saying... "we'll let you know soon!").  and, it was killing me.  I was pulling out my "how am I going to find a job?  who can I network with?"  ideas.  And then, finally.  When I was riding last monday with my Uncle Don  (who is riding his bike across canada for YMCA Strongkids Campaign) and Cousin Rob to Harrison Hot Springs, I got the call.  Since I was on my bike, I was unable to talk at that point.  But, later in the afternoon, I was told "If you still want it (um, of course!), the job is yours!"

So, as soon as some paperwork bureaucracy is over and done... I can start!  I was supposed to start tomorrow (um, best birthday ever?!?!), but, it will probably be Tuesday.

so that's it for now, folks!

this week: new job, birthday, and 1/2 ironman on Sunday!  BIG WEEK!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cycling for strongkids

 I am about to do a shameless plug, for a GREAT cause.  Two years ago, I joined my uncle (and two cousins) on a day during his ride from Victoria to Thunder Bay to raise money for YMCA Strongkids Campaign.  here we are eating doughnut's at Tim Hortons. 
 Here we are, working the doughnuts off.
My uncle don is our family's athletic inspiration.  He did Ironman Canada in the 80's, and has been racing triathlon ever since.  He generally enters, sometimes doesn't run (as his knees are a bit worn out now...), and had fun the whole way.  He goes to the YMCA at least 2x a day, and Tim Hortons at least once.  He is a lawyer in Mississauga, ON.  His 3 kids have done triathlons, I do triathlon, my neice used to go out and visit him every summer, and he made her do triathlons, and he has inspired my cousin Rob (the younger fellow in these photos) to do Ironman Canada this year.

And he believes in the fight against childhood obesity.  SO, this year he is raising the bar from riding only 1/2 way, to riding the whole way across Canada.  He is starting in Horseshoe Bay on Monday, and will be averaging over 200km/day (WTF!??!  CRAZY!), to arrive in St John's, NL on July 22nd.

His website is here, at ykids.blog.com.  Please follow his blog (he is pretty funny!), and donate to the local YMCA!!!! (if you are not in Canada, feel free to donate to the Vancouver YMCA!) and re-share on your TWITTER, Facebook, and blog!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mt. Rainier Reunion

It seems as if this is a little "out of date" now, since SO MANY things have happened in the past few weeks.  That being so, the trip was so epic, and I loved it so much, and haven't talked about about it yet.  And, I tend to suspect that there are a few people who would appreciate a post on it!
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A couple months ago, when my friend Kevin Shon brought forward the idea of climbing Mt. Rainier, I was a little skeptical, and VERY excited.  Would there possibly be the chance that "fate" would work out that a number of my friends from West Virginia would have the same period of time off, that we could engage in an epic adventure?  I knew that there was a small chance.  but, small is better than no-chance.  And, to increase the chances, it would be for me to say "yes." I knew for sure it would be something I would love to do.

and, it came together.  5 Friends: myself from vancouver, Sam and Gretchen from Alaska, Kevin from.... everywhere, and Corey, from North Carolina.  As I was driving down to Washington state to meet them, it occured to me, that it was essentially a 10-year friend reunion.  I would have met S&G at WVU during my freshman year at WVU, through Intervarsity (and, Sam lived a floor down from me in the dorms).  The year later, I met Kev.  Corey is a Outward bound instructor with Kevin, who easily got along with the group.  We were happy to have him a long!


Day 1 Defeat: We had met in Tacoma, at my Papa's place on Tuesday, driving down towards Mt Rainier, shortly after lunch, and hunkering down in a small hotel, right outside the park gates.  It was raining, so we were happy to have a warm place to sleep the first night, and sort out our gear.  Early enough (at least we thought) we got up, to head to the ranger station at Paradise, and start our hike.  That being said, since we had 5 people, loads of gear, and only a honda fit, there was some shuttling to be done. A longer road than thought, with slushy conditions, led to the shuttling, and starting off on the mountian to be later than planned.  But, we were excited.  Here we are, at the ranger hut, about to head off.

The distance between paradise and Muir Camp is 5 miles (8Km) and elevation gain of 4600ft (1400m).  We are quite fit, thought this should be pretty manageable to do in an afternoon.  Boy, were we wrong.  The weather was TERRIBLE.  complete white out conditions;  our trails would be covered in hours & there was no way to see surrounding landmarks.  it was impossible to even see contour of the snow, which resulted in both sam and I (at different points), walking straight forward, only to walk straight over (very large) snow ridges.  Kinda scary, but at this point in the mountain, the terrain is pretty predictable.

Long story short of day one was bad weather, no visability, steep approaches (because we were hitting the wrong one!), and the decision to turn back, and head back to the hotel.

Points for day 1: Mountain 1, group 0.  but, another night in a cute little cabin, more beer drank, and another good sleep to be had.

Day 2 Camp Muir:  Weather was *significantly* better, but not perfect.  We were able to get a good start on the day, see some of the mountain, and hike in long sleeve tops.  Our bags were *heavy.*  this was my first mountaineering trip, and the gear that you have to take is a bit ridiculous: snowshoes, tents, pickets, ropes, crampons, ice axes, etc. etc. etc.  it was the heaviest my bag has ever been, but, we used pretty much everything we brought!  This day was longer than expected, with an estimation of 4-8hrs, we liked to think that we would be able to make it in the shorter part of that range.  7.25 hrs later, we arrived at Camp Muir.  The hardest part was probably the last 2 miles, when you can see the camp, but there is a LONG (fairly steep) snowfield leading up to it.  There was no complaining though, as we were going to make it! point: MOUNTAIN, 0; GROUP: 1


when we got to camp, we got to setting up tents and cooking dinner.  This was the first time that I experienced extreme cold.  I wasn't expecting it, which was annoying.  I think the combination of being tired, having put snow (with bare hands) into the pot to melt for water, being hungry, led to me just shivering and shivering.  I wanted to help with set-up, but was.so.cold.  I ended up burrowing into my sleeping bag, eating my warm dinner in my tent, and just taking care of that. It took about an hour, but I finally warmed up, and was able to join the group again.  Eventually went to sleep, thinking that the next day we would have our first summit attempt. POINTS: MOUNTAIN: 1, GROUP 0

That night, a wind storm rolled in.  I have *never* been in wind so hard.  OK.... that's a lie. Maybe on this road trip, in Cape breton... but I wasn't trying to sleep in that wind.  This wind, I would think, was probably blowing at 80km/hr.  I felt like the tent was going to blow off the side of the mountain... I've described it as a disney ride, where you are put in a small pod, and shaken uncontrollably.  I probably slept an hour that night, and we knew... there was not going to be any summit attempt.  POINTS: MOUNTAIN 1, GROUP 0

Points for day 2: Mountain 2, group 1.  total: Mountain 3, group 1

day 3 Camp Muir:  After a sleep in, and wait for the wind to continue to blow through, we finally were able to stay out of the tents/hut in early afternoon, without extreme winds.  the sun came out (to a degree), though it was still pretty windy.  we were feeling a bit antsy, so, decided to practise "skills."  Since Kevin & Corey have some pretty solid mountaineering experience, we learnt things like self arrest (ha!  hurray for trowing yourself down snow slopes, armed with an axe!), walking while roped up, walking over glaciers with crampons, communication across distance.  despite being "stuck in camp,"  it was still kinda nice to be able to do some stuff, and nice to be able to have decent conversation with everyone who is around! points: mountain 1, group 1. 

we went to sleep early (7pm), as the next day, we were going to check weather at midnight, and at 1:30 to see if it seemed reasonable for a summit attempt.  The choice would be made then, for an "alpine start" at 4/4:30am.    At midnight, the wind was still blowing, but, at 1:30, things had settled down.  There were some stars out... So.  it was as good as it was going to get.  Time to GO! points: mountain 0, group 1


points for day: mountain 1, group 2.  total:  mountain 4, group 3

day 4 Summit attempt:  We were up, and gathered all our stuff, ate breakfast, and greeted one other group who was going to also attempt to summit.

and, it is hard to describe this day.  The weather was "good enough."  Light was starting to come up when we were off, so we didn't have to have the headlamps on for too long.  Hiking attached to a rope was not terribly challenging, but having 5 people really slows you down.  The terrain was not "challenging," but we also got stuck behind the other group, which also slowed us down.  At this point, no one had summitted in at least 10 days, which is rare for Rainier, but speaks to the uncertainty of the conditions.  No one was sure what would happen, as we continued to go higher.

it was at this point, when we saw tahoma peak, and the sunrise, and the clouds, where things were pretty amazing.  There is something about standing on mountains that takes your breath away.  this was one of those moments. Mountain, 0, group 1.

we continued up towards the top of ingraham flats, found out that our "planned route" (Disappointment cleaver) was not going to be possible, as you could see large chunks of ice had fallen recently.  Guided groups had been avoiding that route for a while, as the stability of the glacier above was unpredictable.  The other route (ingraham direct) was what seemed to be the possibility.  At this point, we had been caught by 2 groups of 2 skiers, and the other "on foot" group was close as well.  People were hesitant, and in the end, only the skiers when on to push for the top.  One group succeeded, the other group turned around early.

We dug a snowpit to assess conditions, listened in to the guides, and... once again, the mountain won.  There would have been a slim possibility that we would be able to continue, but the fact was that it was uncertain.  no one knew what the avalanche conditions would be like higher up, and the weather was starting to turn a little sour.  After some deliberation, the decision was to head back to camp.  mountain, 1, group 0.

We arrived back to Muir camp at about 9am.  At this point, I felt quite defeated, but knew it was a reasonable decision.  I am a baby at mountaineering, this was my first major trip.  But, I am also a "goal oriented individual."  I technically know that there is a lot to be said about the journey.  But, I also don't go into things, thinking that I am going to pull out 1/2 way.  If our stated goal was "lets make it to ingraham and reassess" from the start, I think i would be feeling better about our decision.  But, we left camp muir with a "summit attempt" goal~ despite the an unstated "Sense" that no-one thought we were going to summit.  Despite knowing it was the right decision, I was still very disappointed not to summit. mountain 1, group 0. 

rest of the day was spent hanging out in nice weather, and watching more and more people arrive at Camp muir.  In fact, one group of about 30 people arrived with a keg in "hand."  The camp got *super* busy this day, so it was a fun atmosphere!  I was sure glad, though, that many were day trippers, and would be heading down that day.  It can sure get crowded up there! mountain 0, group 1


points for day: mountain 2, group 2. totals: mountain 6, group 5.


Day 5: Descent
We woke up nice and early, to blue-bird skies and no wind.  We were about 3000 ft about the tops of the clouds... it was sunny, warm, and beautiful.  There was a bit of a feeling of melancholy, as this would be the perfect weather to attempt to summit again... but, commitments are important.  we said to our loved ones that we would be down on sunday.  and, so we were heading down.

and, man did we have a blast!  we slid, we laughed, we talked to loads of people coming up, we enjoyed the day.  We saw many groups going for the summit (tiny little black dots, far far away on the mountain!)... and despite the fact that we were denied the experience, there is something to be happy about for them.  We can't control what the mountain gives us, or when.  Our day was to enjoy the descent, and the company that we were in... as it will be a while before we are able to experience this company again.

points: mountain 0, group 1. totals mountain 6, group 5.


there is something to be said about fun.  Ive read about 3 types of fun.   and, this trip consisted of all 3 types of fun.  overall, it was amazing to know that you have no control over what is going on in nature... there were 3 definitely points (day 1 whiteout, day 2 windstorm, not summiting), where the mountain kicked our asses.  we can't change that. and, it is hard to fail.  failing sucks.  

 but, the mountain will still be there in the future.  One thing is for sure... I gained confidence.  I have now learnt that I can push myself, and that I *would* be able to summit something like this, given the right conditions.  I would like to try again.

and, there was just plain old type 1 fun.  The type where you know that you are loving life, and life is good.  when you are in the company of good friends and god's creation. you look around and you think.... DAMN.  this life.  how could I wish for anything more?!?!?  



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

it's been busy!

with two very big events which have been amazing.
first there was time on a very big mountain, with some fantastic people.


Second, there was a time in montreal, that was the conclusion of my time here.  with some other fantastic people.

meanwhile... I'll catch up.  Im missing training, that is for sure, but, it will pick up again.  I gotta be "Serious" if I plan on executing a few decent races in the next few weeks!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Back in Vancouver for Good!

It's been a while since posting~  as I would say, because there is nothing going on.  But, truely, there have been great things happening.  Shortly after arriving back in Canada, from New Orleans,  I went right out to Tofino, for a short 3-day holiday with the Birch's.  The Birch Parent's were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, so everyone came together for a beautiful weekend!
Staying at Middle Beach Lodge, we had plenty of time to sit and relax, walk on beaches, and eat nice west coast food!  I've been to Tofino once before, with my beautiful niece.  This was definitely a different trip, but, it is really nice to just be able to get out and relax.  I do think, however, that the next time that I am out there, I want to engage in a bit more "water sports."  Either do some surfing, or some kayaking, or something... one of the great things about being on the coast, is that there is so much ocean to take advantage of!

As always, Sean took some great photos.  You can see them HERE. Two of my favourites, of myself, are the following.  This first photo, of my feet, was on the front page of Vancouver Independant New Source, The Tyee.  Therefore, my feet are Vancouver famous.  Sorta.   The weather was also as good as tofino can get.  Nice and fairly warm, and high clouds.  So, that is why the rain slicker photo is ironic.  Cause we didn't need rain gear that weekend.


Otherwise, I have been doing things like: CV writing, and job investigating, and, well... wedding planning... I have found a dress (HURRAY!)  after not much shopping.  A local Vancouver designer, who for a low amount (700$) is going to make and pin a dress onto me.  I won't say more than that, because, of course... it is a surprise!

we are also choosing caterers this week.  Hopefully we will make a decision before I head off to the states next wednesday!  we are also narrowing down where we are going to register.  nothing to special, but going to be giving people options!

and, of course... i have joined another social media site (sigh).  I am now on Pinetrest, mostly because it is really easy to put things you see on the internet, all in one place. And, it is nice to be visual with ideas.

FInally, next week.  LESS THAN A WEEK... I am going to be joining my good friends, Kevin, and Sam & Gretchen, to do an EPIC adventure.  We also will be having a friend of K-Shon's join us.  So, the 5 of us are going to be rende-vous-ing in Tacoma, WA, in order to then embark on a 4 night hiking trip up the beautiful Mount Rainier.  We will be staying at Camp Muir for the nights of the 22nd to 26th.  Then, Sam and Gretchen are going to join me back up to Vancouver, where we will be able to show them this great city!!!  
Mt. Rainier from above

I am pretty stoked about this adventure.  It will be my first time hiking on a glacier, and probably the biggest mountain that I have ever stood on.  To be able to do this with some of my best-life-long (well, since college) friends, is going to be amazing.  People I trust and love and are psyched to be with!