Wednesday, December 31, 2014

100 awesome things about 2014

  1. Giving kindergarten students immunizations
  2. Speaking French at work
  3. Kayaking at cape Maclear
  4. Eating baobab fruit
  5. Sorting bottle caps with Malawian kids
  6. Being inspired by teammates at Calgary 70.3
  7. Jamjar food sponsorship
  8. Dave watt's magic fingers
  9. Boardgames in tofino
  10. Selling my rowing shell
  11. Chambar anniversary dinner
  12. Pic's of Nicole's baby girl
  13. The water hose while climbing up the hill in penticton GranFondo
  14. Watching my dog trying to lift her feet off of the hot concrete in penticton
  15. The generosity of stu and Marianne
  16. Salmon buying in Richmond
  17. Floor neighbours
  18. Community coming together to help an injured dog
  19. Meeting nurses in Malawi
  20. "Marmalade! Marmalade" I forgot marmalade!
  21. Sasamat canada day swim followed by berry picking with Celine
  22. Watching Sean rock the triple crown on a hybrid
  23. Tash and Antony's tree trimming
  24. 2nd line parade in NOLA
  25. Whole food discounts with Donna
  26. Dancing with Ed at k&m's wedding
  27. Sunrise Surfing with makayla
  28. The strength of a koala butt
  29. Madison's purple hair disaster 
  30. Success of IM 70.3 WC in Mt tremblant 
  31. Kits pool
  32. Being on LETC board
  33. New pornographers concert
  34. Ira glass late show at the vogue
  35. The lake behind see ya later winery
  36. Warm heart initiatives fundraiser
  37. Bubbly with Phil in brissy
  38. Julie Rogers sleepover
  39. Sunsets in Malawi
  40. Cycling in the hunter valley
  41. Leaving about the book of common prayer.
  42. 33 acres of ocean
  43. Thursday mornings with tight club
  44. Lunch under a walnut tree with terry and Selena
  45. Walks up to earnest ice cream
  46. Ice cream cones
  47. Ilala starting to swim
  48. Free upgrade on KLM
  49. Mum getting her first full time job in 30 years
  50. More days snowboarding than in the past few years
  51. Trail running with Ilala
  52. Ticket to ride 
  53. Be the hammer, not the nail
  54. A new couch
  55. Getting closets installed at home
  56. Road tripping to Boise with mum-in-law
  57. Successful craft fair shopping
  58. Sean's wooden bow-tie
  59. New tattoo!
  60. Dessert on the Sunshine Coast at Easter
  61. Zero ave ride with a little crash
  62. Ride to lynden pie shop with SAA
  63. New rain boots
  64. My dog's ears
  65. Getting Esther lee her birthday present
  66. Women's whistler training weekend
  67. Running with kim and Ali
  68. Reading Sonja w's kona race report
  69. Discovering gin
  70. Watching Olympic curling and women's bobsled
  71. A breakthrough run at the first half marathon 
  72. Completing 10 before 10
  73. New fountain shelter
  74. Anna and Andrew's wedding
  75. Open water swimming with Kristina at Manley beach
  76. Boogie boarding at freshwater 
  77. Getting a surprise 250$ check from bcnu
  78. Post race meals
  79. Dock lunch off main
  80. Mec summer century ride
  81. Crepes in Quebec
  82. Learning how to identify emotions
  83. Taking Facebook off my phone
  84. Ladies clothing swap
  85. Fall colours in our neighbourhood
  86. Ilala accomplishing challenges in agility class, especially the tunnel sock
  87. Learning to sew, sort of
  88. Being reminded "it's NOT ok."
  89. Being commended for my nursing skills
  90. Learning new skills in nursing
  91. Using lowly worm as a prop at work
  92. Saving a life 
  93. Hugs on the street Christmas Eve
  94. Bike tour in NOLA
  95. Generosity and forgiveness of friends
  96. Watching Madison find wings
  97. Master chef and amazing race
  98. Finally having a public inquiry date for Rebecca
  99. Meeting my nephews and niece in Duncan
  100. My awesome loving, supportive, understanding partner in life and love.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Its now Boxing Day, an Christmas has come and gone, just like that.  I have had a lovely couple days with Sean's family, a great Christmas Eve mass, and fun Christmas party with our neighbours last night.  All the things thy Christmas should have: family, god, food, friends, love, walking and relaxing.  Not necessarily in that order.

I have sent our Christmas cards and newsletter early this year (shocking) and now it is time to have a solid six days of off work time. 

I present to you our Christmas card and newsletter, for all of you out there in blogger land.  I appreciate you all, and please keep in touch!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Its a busy time of year!

Oh boy, this time of year is a bit of a struggle... I have been wishing and waiting for holidays (err.... 5 more work days until a week off?!), and everyday seems a little bit behind.

Today, I was to pick up a package from FedEx.  Because they only deliver during the day, I had to get it from the depot.  I also needed to drop something off to be shipped (My wedding band lost a stone.  Boo...).  I was super disapointed to find out that I was going to pay another 20$ on the package to pick up: the GST/PST (fine, ok, I forgot about those) and an unknown 10$ processing type fee.  Isn't that what I paid shipping for?  ARGH!  but, is the time and mental strain of arguing with customer service worth the 10$ potential refund?  I dunno.

Last week was my first "all green week" in training peaks.  Essentially, what that means is that I did every workout, when I should be doing it, and for the right amount of time.  This is the first time this year that I have done that, and I felt PSYCHED about it.  But, I definitely felt the fatigue, and I felt my knee get sore.  Its a gentle time of year, one when you want to be "on it" but also not pushing it too much.  It's not the time to get stressed about missing workouts, or exceptionally pushing through pain.  There is time... it's getting faster, but there is still time between now and the big dance.

Christmas is such a lovely time of year, but, it is busy... we have had many gatherings (A tree trimming, 2x office christmas parties, an ugly sweater party, a hannukah party we had to skip), craft fairs, and christmas concerts.  All of that, plus gift shopping, working a full time job, walking a dog, and training.  I love christmas, but, boy, its a busy time of year.  I can't wait to relax for a bit.

Meanwhile, here is a photo of me and my love, in ugly, ugly sweaters...

Finally, I want to direct you to the right hand side of my blog, where there is a fantastic pink skull and butterfly.  I get a benefit if you click there, and purchase BETTY DESIGN clothing.  I am getting a little more "into" the #beabetty thing, which is actually quite neat.  There is a sense of community, and support.  For someone like me, who is not much into retail (Much less online retail), it is a bit of a push to get exited about buying things... but, its super nice stuff.  I can't wait to get a few new triathlon things for the year, and look "badass and beautiful."  If you want stuff, click HERE.  Or there, up on that logo...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Grey Day at home

Today, Vancouver is grey grey grey.  You might think "isn't Vancouver always grey?" Nope, my friends, it is not.  This past fall has been beautiful~ many cold, sunny, crisp fall days.  It has been beautiful.  This is a photo that Sean took today.  See: grey.

With a the change in weather yesterday, unfortunately came a headache.  This is quite common for me, having suffering from migraines since I was a kid.  This wasn't a "doosy" but, enough for me to fall into a drug induced sleep, early last night.  I woke up not feeling awesome today, included a crappy gut for some reason.  So, I called in sick.  It often feels unnatural for me to do nothing.

Today, I am doing nothing.  It's kinda great. I walked the dog at trout lake, and I have... err... bought myself a new ipad mini!  eeeeeeee :) early christmas gift from me, to me!  Unfortunately, I already screwed up with the password, and have had to reset it to factory settings.  Oh well. I hadn't really set it up much, anyway.

Other than that, nothing... It feels good. (but, i really ought to go out and get my 40 min dreadmill run in...)

This week, in terms of my nursing career, and my job in Public Health, has been the one in which I have learnt the most. I'm not going to get into details.  The long story short, is that I was given a good reminder about the most basic of nursing skills, and how, no matter what skills we have as a professional, we must still be vigilant about the basics.

Professional learning is an interesting thing.  It is very different from learning as a student, as you have a professional practice that you are responsible for. As a student, there is someone else who is responsible for your learning, and someone else who serves as a back-up to make sure all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted.  Not that you aren't responsible, but, you have backup.

As a professional, I have started to think  that you learn in three ways:

  1. by your own practice, the good and the bad.
  2. by talking and discussing with your colleagues, and observing their practice.
  3. by looking things up and researching from reliable sources.

When you do well, you can reflect and know that you did well.  When you have a question about something, you can discuss with mentors and colleagues.  When you make a error, you have to claim responsibility, and take a solution and systems based outlook, in order to not make that mistake again. Some of those ways of learning are easier for people.

This week, it has been a challenging week of learning for me.  Despite the difficulties that come with challenging learning, I believe that I will be a better nurse out of it.  I breath, I focus on solutions and growth, and I move forward. Move forward, perhaps by first having moved back a bit.  And, that's ok.  That is OK.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The team around me!

Every once and a while, something happens that gets me really stoked up for the coming season.  That recently happened.  But first, let me back up a bit...

This coming season is going to be hard & challenging, and I expect it to push my limits.  Not only my limits, but the limits of everyone around me as well:  we often forget about all the people “on the periphery” who help support people’s dreams.  They are the ones that allow crazies like me (someone who holds a full time job, and too many volunteer positions) to succeed.

Recently I received a great notification that I had been chosen as part of the Betty Designs 2015 team! So far, what I like is that as a “silent feminist” I get to be on a virtual team of strong, inspirational women, who are able to come together, network, and encourage each other.  It’s like a free group of new friends! I truly believe that the way women encourage each other is exceptionally empowering.  I also get sweet discounts on sweet training gear, which I will also be able to SHARE WITH YOU!  Keep an eye on this space for discount codes.

Getting this notification got me thinking about all the people who support me in this endeavour for Kona 2015... SO, I present to you, my support team: 

LE_Logo_LimeMy triathlon teamLeading Edge Triathlon Club.  I am going into my third season with this team of incredibles.  I love being able to be with like minded people, who I can see regularly & build deeper friendships with.  The coaching staff is fab, and the workouts are amazing. There are novice racers, elite racers, veteran racers and newbies. This comes together for a fun and fantastic atmosphere. I love working on the board, and love my teammates.

My Triathlon Shop: Pacific Multisport.  John, over at the shop, got me my first wetsuit, and my first cheap-o Garmin.  Ever since then, he has supported me, encouraged me, and kept my equipment working. In reality, he is my #1 sponsor.

My coach:  Doug Giles! I really enjoyed working with him last year & I got a wackload of personal bests.  He is laid back, he is learning to be a great coach, he has great outlook, connections and mentors.  He’s a good fit again this year, and I think he has what it takes to get me to sub-11hrs.

TIGHT CLUB ATHLETICSMy Strength trainer: Keighty at Tight Club is great!  So much fun, and hard work.  When I give her information on things I need to work on, she gets on it.  She keeps me strong, when I loathe making a program for myself.  Perfect.  I pretty sure she is also the hippest person on earth.

My massage therapist: Dave Watt.  This man has magic fingers, and exceptional degrees of knowledge.  Every session I have with him, I leave feeling pumped up and psyched for my year ahead.

Finally, I’d be amiss to forget to say that my biggest support is my husband.  Sean believes in me so so so much, he walks the dog more than he should have to, he will be sacrificing holiday time with me, and missing movies and dinners out.  He says “do it!” when I have silly ideas that aren’t going to harm me, and “think about if you actually have the time and/or money” when I want to do something that isn’t the ideal.  He is my race manager and best friend.  I couldn't do this with out him.

WE are going to have a great year! Everybody get stoked up!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Off season initiatives!

It is Mid-November!  Already!  People are already thinking about Christmas!!! To me, that is crazy.

Time flies when life is busy, and boy, has it every been.  With the "off season," done, it is a time to not think about sports, re-connect with loved ones and the couch, and get vamped for the next year.  This year, however, I realize that I have taken too much on during this time.   I know this, because I constantly feel like there is something else to do, and I am not binge watching any television shows.  I simply don't have time!

I have been filling my time with Board work for Leading Edge Triathlon Club.  2015 is going to be a big season, with possibly some large exciting differences to come!!!  However, this takes a lot of work.  Especially with the upcoming AGM~ I am thankful for the awesome people on the board, who take the work seriously & are fun to work with.  I trust them implicitly.

I have been heading up The {Response}Project at my church, St James Anglican.  Although this doesn't take ridiculous amounts of time, it is something that is always on my mind.  Fundraising, and encouraging people to give regularly to their faith community, is not easy.  It is particularly not easy for people who loathe asking for things (ahem.  me.)  But, it is important!  We give as a response to the amazing things that are being done in our community, by our community and for our community.

I have been doing the final touches for Warm Heart Initiatives fall Silent Auction. It will be held on November 30th at Room for Cream Coffee shop, on Kingsway.  At this point, we have some great donations, such as exercise classes at Tight Club, a 60 minute massage, haircuts, crafts from Malawi, photography, bike jersey... The works :)  I'm pretty excited for the first event of this kind, to raise awareness of the initiatives that are going on.  Come out, and learn.  The money raised will go towards the pre-school feeding program, funds for 3 secondary students in Malawi, and staff salary. You will also be able to see videos and photos from our June trip to Malawi.

Finally, Sean and I got the chance to head off to Tofino last weekend, with some dear friends, Mark and Kim Julien.  It was beautiful fall, crisp, weather.  Not a cloud in sight for most of the days, and wind to make the water powerful and amazing.  The dog was brought along, and we just had a blast!  I was able to catch up with my cousin a bit, we played lots of boardgames, many walks on the beaches were had, a bit of water and yoga time, and lots of hot tubbing!  Sean got some amazing photos, and i have posted my favs below!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Torn and troubled

If you are Canadian, this has been big week in Media.  Perhaps a HUGE week in media.

First, we had the tragic events in the Capital.  Where a man, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, armed with a shot gun that held a maximum of 8 rounds, ran to the war memorial & gunned down an unarmed solider.  He then proceeded to walk into the parliament building, towards the conservative and NDP caucus meetings.  He was then shot down by Sargent-at-Arms, who emptied his semi-automatic side arm, into the chest of the man.

Second, late last week, we have had (argueably) the most beloved radio-host in Canada, fired from the national broadcasting corporation, CBC.  He was fired, apparently, because of his fetishes and sexual acts.  As you know, there are reports that at least 3 women state that it was non-consensual acts of violence and domination.

Let me be clear:

  1. I do not condone acts of violence.  Not towards individuals, groups, or nations.  I grieve with our nation over the violence that has occurred this week in our Nation's capital.  
  2. I agree that the private sexual acts of men and women, are not for employers (or anyone other than the people engaged in said behaviours) to be privvy to.  That is, however, as long as someone is not being hurt or abused.

But... i am torn. Both of these things hurt my heart. Both of these stories are incredibly troubling to me.

I am torn about the fact that Micheal Z-B does not seem mentally well: its difficult for me to know that he lived in the very shelter that I do outreach nursing too. I have said many times, "one does not become homeless because they have everything going for them in life." One who is mentally well does not end up sleeping in homeless shelters.  "Everything is awesome" generally doesn't apply to the homeless.  There is more going on there.  This man tried to rob a McDonalds with a pointy stick... comon', now.  It is obvious that there was more going on in this man's life than the attack on Parliament.

I am torn that Micheal Z-B was gunned down in a repetitive and violent manner. The manner in which he died appears to be quite drastic and over-the-top.  Yes, I understand that he was in parliament, had a loaded shotgun, and was close to our MP's and PM.  He was shot more than a dozen times. To me, that is scary.

I am worried that Stephen Harper will use this as an excuse to back war & pry into the privacy of Canadians: there is no evidence to show that Micheal Z-B was a "terrorist" (in the way that the world defines it today).

I am troubled because violence against women exists.  The Toronto Star had to even say that the women who are alleging these acts are "Educated and employed," as an argument for their legitimacy.  If women are not educated and employed, does that make it OK to have sexual violence directed at them? I think not.   It is NOT OK to endorse that myth.

I am torn about the fact that I love Jian as a radio-host.  I find him compelling, engaging & excellent in his role. I am torn about the way the CBC has handled this, because I don't believe that one should be fired for consensual-sexual acts. I want to believe Jian, because the public image that he gives is a pretty good one.  It's troubling, because Jian did do something wrong if he used that strong public persona to dominate choices in sexual relationships.

I am troubled, because I know the stats about violence against women in middle-eastern and south asian cultures. If this unveils that truth further, it sucks.  It sucks that there is the possibility that a well-loved Canadian-radio-media star may fit into that stat.  It sucks for Persian-Canadians that want to fight that statistic.
It is time, my friends, to stand up for those who cannot help themselves.  

It is time to stand beside the mentally ill and those who struggle with addiction, when they are asking for help. 

It is time to stand against violence.  Violence against strangers who do not deserve it, like the two soldiers who passed away this week.  Violence against women, both the educated and the uneducated. Yes, it is even time to stand up against violence towards criminals. 

Lord, have mercy upon us.  
Forgive us all that is past, that we may ever here-after serve and please thee, in newness of life. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting back on the bandwagon with the Juice Truck cleanse

Boy, has it already been 6 weeks since I have raced in Mt Tremblant?!  It sure has folks.  It has quickly becoming time to focus on next season.  I'm saying it now, 2015 is going to be big year for me, and it starts now. And, I am excited!!! SO EXCITED!  I think that I can do big things if i become obsessed enough.

(sorry, I kinda think it's true... sometimes its not about natural ability, but the amount of obsession that you put into a sport.)

We all know that it is tough to get back on the bandwagon at the end of off season.  Especially when next year seems so.far.away. Ironman Whistler is less than 10 months a year, and I need to learn how to run a sub 4 hour marathon. I don't know about you, but, that can be challenging. I needed something to be a "clear start." Something that would provide the discipline and structure that is easy to follow, and not easy to back out of.  Something that I can look back on and say "that is when my season started."  One week into exercising again, I decided to do a juice cleanse.  A three day juice cleanse.  It was in my brain, and it wouldn't leave... if I wanted it to or not.

Now, let's be clear... I do have a hard time with a concept of "cleansing." I am a nurse.  I have a good understanding that we have kidneys and a liver and a colon and sweating and snot to clear out our systems of toxins. I get that. I also get that when vegetables are put into juice form, some of the benefits of vegetables are taken away.

But I needed something to be clear. A clear start for my year ahead.

I started my cleanse the morning after thanksgiving dinner.  I was game.  I was ready.  I thought that the branding that Juice Truck has on the juices was cleaver and cute. and I had would. be.

The first half day was OK. Sure, it was strange not to have food in my stomach, or coffee in my cup. the afternoon was also ok.  Energy was not awesome, and I had a lingering headache, but, I was planning on going running that night.  Then... I went home for the evening, lay down for a 20 min nap.  The dog barked and BAM... a splitting headache that caused me to be in the fetal position in my bed, crying, and even a small vomit. it was awful.  I carried on. I slept for 12 hours.

The second day was... normal-ish. I went for a swim in the AM, drank the juices, and went to work. in the afternoon, I was worried about another awful headache.  there was a twinge, but I was able to fight it off. I sat down with Sean in the evening and had some food... for thought.  We chatted about this whole thing, and agreed that there could be a different manner of being just as disciplined.  For instance, a no-sugar, no-caffeine, no-grains, no-dairy, no-alcohol diet for a week would pretty much do the same thing.  Its about being clean.  Very Clean. Before sleeping, I had a nice cup of herbal tea. I didn't feel awesome, but, I didn't feel terrible going to sleep. I also think I ate an apple at some point in the afternoon.

The third day, today, was MUCH better.  I enjoyed the juices more than day two, I have not had a headache, and I had a pretty great workout this AM with Keighty.  My stomach was sure sloshy during some of the exercises, and I couldn't make it all the way through the hour.  However, it felt good to sweat.  Work was fine (a little stressful), and I loved the change in the flavours of the juices today.  I have felt good today; a few times of hunger, quite alert, and the day flew by.  I had a salad for dinner with my juice, and now I am sipping my last "sleep tonic." I have a tounge that feels like it had licked a lot of pineapple~ a little raw.

So: what do I think?

I'm glad I have tried this.  I think it has opened a window that I (or sean) have ever really had a serious conversation/thought about.  My nutrition.  Its not that I eat poorly... frankly, I have a pretty solid diet.  However: my diet is more of not eating things that are "bad for me" and not so much "eating what is best for me."  Despite thinking I know a good amount about nutrition, I realise I know so little.  The biggest blaring question: WHY oh WHY did I have such an splitting headache?

The second question: how do I optimize what I am eating to be able to optimize my athletics?  Is it possible to maintain a diet that helps me sleep better, and be more alert when I need to be, and be strong when I need to be?  How do I optimize my food, in order to help myself reach my goals?

Will I do a juice cleanse again?  I'm not so sure.  However, I'm glad I did it.  I'm also ready for clean eating, and to kick into gear.  Thats for sure. I think that there is a good chance that this cleanse has helped me get to that point faster than I would've alone.

Thanks, Juice Truck!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Public Inquiry schedule: standing up for Mental Health

September, for the rest of my life, will always bring joy and sorrow.

 At the most joy, it is my wedding anniversary  (wowza!  we were just saying that with the approach of two years, we are no longer "newly weds.  Where did the time fly!?)

In addition, it brings melancholy, and grief, as I remember the life of my sister Shaunnie Rebecca, who passed away on the 23rd of Sept, 2012.

As you may know, Rebecca passed away at the Alberta Hospital, while under care for her schizo-affective disorder.  She passed away in the early morning, after not fully awakening for breakfast.  It was found that she had a toxic level of an anti-psychotic medication, Clozapine, in her blood serum.  From there, it is unknown as to what caused her death.   Our family called for a public inquiry by the province of Alberta.  Public Inquiries are not to find fault, but rather to make recommendations so that things like this don't happen again.  Public inquiries are to look into the death of people who are "wards of the state" or who pass away as the result of an interaction with a public servant. 

Since her death, I have kept an eye on the scheduling for the public inquiries.  Last week, her name finally passed from the "waiting to be scheduled" to the "scheduled dates."  She will have her inquiry at the Courts in Edmonton, in June 2015.  Of course, this raises emotions:  
  • it reminds me of what a shitty situation she died in.  
  • It reminds me of all the vulnerable people and their families, who are living with mental illness & depending on health care to promote wellness, and how often that fails.  
  • It reminds me that professionals can screw up & medicine can fail. 
  • it reminds me that I will not see Rebecca again.
  • It makes me worry that nothing will change, despite the public inquiry happening.
  • It makes me happy that we will learn more.
  • It makes me happy that simply by running this inquiry & being present for it, my family can be an advocate for those living with mental health conditions.
So, there is it.  On the anniversary of her death, may light perpetual shine upon her & may she rest in peace.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mont-Tremblant 70.3 Race Report

Boy, there is a lot to talk about these days.  I finally have time to be able to do something about that, as it is smack dab in the middle of "off season." I have a few weeks to catch up on things, and im excited to do nothing for a bit.  I have scheduled a few social items, but, in reality... I am really trying to not do much on the weekends, in particular.

Last week, I was in Quebec, for the first time since I was at McGill.  It was a bit nostalgic, because in many ways, there are so many good memories about Quebec.  And, lets be honest: if there is a place that does "quaint" the best in Canada, it is rural Quebec.  Quaint towns and delicious food.  Perfect.

I was there to race the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.  This is the second year that I have gotten a roll down slot for the race & the first time that it was outside of the USA (previously, it has been held in Clearwater, FL, and Las Vegas, NV... where I participated, last year).  Last year was a hard race.  2 weeks after Challenge Penticton (My first iron distance) and challenging weather.  I struggled a lot during that race, and was alone on the trip. This year was totally different. I had friends, teammates, my love, and the race was in beautiful temperate Canada!

This race was the perhaps the most challenging course that I have done in a while.  The run included somewhere between 290- 350m worth of elevation gain, which is actually quite substantial. After Calgary (and especially Boise) 70.3's this year, I was frustrated with my running, and wanting it to be a good race.  Going into the race, my mantra was "this is MY race."  It doesn't matter what other competitors are doing, its about what I am doing.

Everything went quite well during pre-race.  It was a chilly morning & fog was abound.  Pretty much 10 mins prior to the pros starting, the fog lifted, a Canadian fighter yet flew over the race venue, and everything got underway!

I had gotten in for a practice swim the day prior, and knew that the water was clear, with the perfect temperature. Somehow, our age group did not look like there were 100+ women starting, but, boy... when the cannon went off, it was hectic.  arms and legs everywhere, splashing, bumping, and fast movement.   Within the first 250m's, i got a really really good WACK on the head, and instantly had a splitting headache.  That headache plagued me all the way through the swim & right into the bike.  The swim was smooth;  as always, I tried to find a pair of feet to draft, and then got stressed out about it.  I did, however, find a girl to swim beside for the last 2/3, and we worked well together.  It was a solid swim.
Time: 30:11 (31/117 division)

T1: nothing much here, other than a long long long run up to transition with lots of lovely spectators!

I got onto the bike & was still struggling with that headache.  I was hoping that the blow wasn't enough to have given me a concussion, and had to do a check-in with the pain & conciousness factor a few times.  Knowing that there would be a ton of drafting & people on the course, that the last 10km were going to be challenging with the climbs, & really having a goal to do well on my run, I focused on "MY race."  I ignored the pelotons of people going my (its not my race... its not my race...), tried to maintain a steady cadence without any grinding & taking in more solid food nutrition, drinking when i was thirsty.  The bike felt good.  Not easy, but solid.  I was happy with my time, the race course was BEAUTIFUL, with good pavement (but not super spectator friendly), and I was happy to see a few people that I know out there.
 Time: 2:41.27 (33.5km/hr, 46/117 Division)

T2 was quick, and i was out onto the most challenging part for me.  Having had spent the last 4 weeks focusing on pacing, with no hill training sessions, I was curious to see how everything was going to play out.  My goal: run the whole race. Employ strategies to get up the hills & let it loose on the downhills.  Run sub-2 hours.  I didn't achieve all of these... I did end up walking up hills.  But, I did not walk up all of them, and I certainly employed strategies to run as much of them as possible.  I also got my 3rd fastest 1/2 ironman run time ever, and I didn't have any nutrition problems. I felt good: it was hard, but it was enjoyable. That hill through the village, with all the spectators up and down the sides: I mean, what an atmosphere... I couldn't run up it, but, you know... comon'... its amazing!  you are racing against the fastest people in the world! You are in a beautiful place! doing something you love!
Time: 1:54.57 (5.26/km, 74/117).

what sucks about this race...
1) I would like to learn better mental techniques for the hills.  I feel like I am 1/2 way there, but, I know that I can be better.  I don't like walking, and I need to learn to pace better.

2) what sucks is that despite feeling good and excited about my race, is that i got fricken 74st in my AG.  that sucks.  I want so much to be in the top 50% of my age group in the WC's.  but...  not there yet.  And you know, its ok.  But, it still sucks.  There were 40+ women in my AG who were sub-5hrs.  And, no matter who you are:! and, that is a lot of women who are fast. 

what is next:
well.  Running.  I hope to do an early season marathon (in February), and then it will be eyes on IM WHISTLER.  i hope to kill it, but it is a long road towards the race.  so, for now, during this off season, I drink some beer, i eat ice cream, I sleep-in in the mornings, and I spend time with family, friends, and dog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Modesty in North-American Christian Culture

Warning: potentially controversial topic ahead…

Today, on Facebook, a friend of mine posted a link to THIS ARTICLE.  Its about a year old, and there is much discourse on the internet about it.  So, i'm late to the bandwagon.   However, it really got me thinking today outside of my “west coast-Canadian world view” & I am thankful for that.  I actually was quite surprised as to how much my emotions reacted to reading the article & found it difficult not to reply; even though I know that Facebook is not the best forum for complicated conversations.  I am thankful that I have friends who are not within the same socio-cultural standpoint that I am, who have different convictions than I do.  ‘Cause I need to be reminded of other perspectives, sometimes.  I would also like to hear yours, in my comment space! (though, if it gets rude, i will moderate comments!)

I think that modesty and purity is a topic that frequently comes up in Christian communities, and that it *should* be discussed, and *should* be controversial, because I think that it is important that women (and men) are able to express their views and opinions.  I believe that Christian men and women should think about how our actions, words, and choices, affect other people (Christian or not).  I also acknowledge that I definitely come from a more liberal-social-anglo-catholic world-view, so, I probably speak from that influence.

I struggle with is the idea of modesty and purity as Christian women, being a cover for the complicated social phenomenon of "slut shaming" and "rape culture." If you don’t know what rape-culture includes, at its most basic, it is the same idea that when a woman gets assaulted, and she happens to be showing cleavage or wearing a skirt, she was molested/assaulted because of the clothes she was wearing. That concept is absolutely.not.true.

Humans (men, women, Christian or not) are autonomous beings: I found that the article implies that it is our responsibility to control other peoples thought (in this article, through the choice of our athletic attire).  As a tall, fit, athletic, extroverted, good-looking woman, i gain attention NO MATTER what I am wearing.  I have heard from Christian communities that if I wear baggy clothes and ball caps, I am not engaging my god-given femininity. However, on the other hand, if I wear spandex or tank tops (err: rowing, triathlon, running, cycling, hiking, etc.), I (as in this article) could cause men to have impure thoughts. I found myself thinking, like others have written in other blogs, that articles like this removes dignity from both men and women: it denies women their identity, defining them as risky & tempting objects, and frames men as sex-driven fiends who have no control over their thoughts. It forgets that both men and women bearers of the image of Christ. If a man chooses to even look (um… look?  To open your eyes in the morning is “to look”) at a woman in “curve conforming attire,” the woman is "Asking for it."

It is never true that women are "asking for it," and always true that men have the responsibility to control how they express their desires.  Every human, including the sex-worker on my street, or the super-cut attractive guy on the beach, or the senior in my church, is made in the image of Christ, each deserving of equal dignity and respect. Therefore, even if I chose to dress less-modestly, I would still expect that I would be treated with dignity and respect.  As a woman who is strong, powerful, athletic, tall, christian, married, faithful and seeking of God and my husband, I am given the free-will to wear what I am comfortable in & I acknowledge that my choices do not control other peoples thoughts.

Based on that,
1)      I think it is important to note that women should be able to make choices based on what they feel comfortable with.  Therefore, if a woman feels empowered, strong, confident (and, dare I say strengthened in faith) in the clothing they choose to wear (conservative, "curve bearing" or, whatever), then they absolutely should wear that clothing. But… women should not be dictated in what they wear, out of guilt or shame for what they perceive men might think. 
2)      I can’t help but wonder how much of this article is culturally based:  Might we ask “what is the difference in “Christian” modesty v.s. “Southern-USA-Style Christian” modesty?”  i.e.: modesty is a socio-cultural concept.  In my personal experience, that I have learnt by living in many places over the past few years, the clothing-choices of Christians in Vancouver is very different from the choices of Christians in Malawi, and very different from Christians in West Virginia, etc. Even outside of Christian circles, if that is relevant… e.g. Yoga pants are frequently an acceptable office attire in Vancouver (probably because, or why, Lulu Lemon was founded in Vancouver).
3)      I do realize that the point of this article is not about violence against women, but, I see it as a quick skip and a jump away.  On a global basis, violence against women exists at the highest rates in conservative, religious countries. Despite the fact that those countries are not predominately Christian, this trend may shed light upon the fact that clothing choices do not correlate with such violence.

When looking up different thoughts on women and Christianity, I found a neat quote from the Archbishop of Canterbury: 
In God’s grace our very humanity is the material through which God’s divinity is revealed. Male or female, it matters not, so long as in our beings, through our clay, in a willingness to risk everything and stop at nothing, we offer ourselves to Christ and for Christ. Then we may in his grace and love be made like Christ, who emptied himself and took the form of a servant, for the sake of the world. In our very weakness, we may be the instruments of God’s transforming power for the world.

so, on a lighter and moderately more satirical note J I enjoyed this article:

Friday, August 1, 2014

Calgary 70.3 Race Report

So, race reports.  Wow Wow Wow!

Last weekend, I got to travel to Calgary, to participate in the 70.3.   This race has been on my bucket list for a while, as when I was living over the summers in Edmonton, it was close and convenient.  It just never quite lined up with my schedule, and I didn’t get the chance.  This year, it lined up perfectly.  I was nervous, I was excited, I felt fit and ready.

 Having had planned to get to Calgary in the car with Sean, Esther, and Dante, work schedule changed and I flew into Calgary on Friday night.  After a few “unplanned” barriers in our accommodation, Saturday ended up being a bit more hectic than planned.  3 athletes staying in 3 different places, with one car to get around was a logistical nightmare.  I forgot my transition bag for check in, I felt like I needed to make sure everyone around me had the best pre-race day possible, I made assumptions that I shouldn’t have, and It. Was. Hectic.  I certainly did not feel “calm” and “focused.”  But, thus was life. Race expo felt more like a local race than a large Ironman Event, and I liked that.  The best part of the day was the excitement that we all felt, and the beautiful, pre-race (Albeit expensive) dinner at Avec Bistro with Sean, and my mum.

Race morning came quickly, and I had a great sleep.  The morning was cool, clear, and perfect.

Well.  Let’s just say that the race start came faster than planned.  I think I presumed I was off the line at 7:15, but really it was 7.  And, why the heck did I have a white cap, and all the other women had a pink cap?  Am I sure that I am in the same swim group as all the other women?  I positioned myself to the front, and a little to the left.  I did dolphin dives to start, and away we went. 

The start was fast.  I found myself wishing I had a better warm up, and I instantly had two people on my feet.  It makes me anxious when that happens, and I don’t quite know how to mentally “not care.” It was especially annoying since the girl on my feet was pretty much pawing them, not just a tap every once and a while.  I know this is kosher in triathlon, but it is also nice if when you draft, you draft where you don’t have to hit the feet every 5 strokes.  So, I stopped for 5 seconds.  I let them pass, and it was better.

Other than the sun creating it hard to see the course, I felt steady.  Not particularly FAST, but, steady.  Turns out that I had the fastest swim ever.  I ran out of the swim with a sub-30 minute swim. This made me happy! 29:40 swim, 9th AG, 36th Female.

Quick strip of the wetsuit, quick transition, and onto the bike.

I anticipated the bike to be challenging out to Bragg creek (where I would have to be conservative), and fast on the way back into Calgary.  This was about right.  The roads in the city were not particularly clean, and not closed to traffic.  This was OK for the most part, but the shoulder was night & people are the most bunched at the first part of the race. As the hills came and went, the field spread out, and I found myself feeling great.  I was passing quite a few people, and having very few women pass… I only noticed one 30-34 year old pass me.  I knew I was in good shape.

The scenary was amazing, and a deer almost jumped out onto the road in front of me.  Gotta love the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

I was ready to start heading downhill & was excited about my time.  Today would be my first sub-5 hour 70.3.  We went north, then East, and the descent & slight tail wind were in my favour.  I felt AWESOME, loved seeing Dante looking so strong on his ride, caught the other girl in my AG in the past 10km, and loved passing folks.  I was smiling the whole time.  After stretching out my legs a big, massaging my quad, getting out of the saddle, the run was waiting.  2:31 time, 2nd AG, 17th Female.

Ran off the bike with the girl from my AG, and was out of transistion faster than her.

I started off too fast. Instantly, I knew I had to slow down, and at this point I was feeling good. I had a nice little chat with Lindsay, the girl in my AG on the bike, and wished her a good run.  I knew that she would out run me, but, that’s ok.  It is up to me to be consistant.

 I think, mentally, I paniced a bit (even though I wasn’t aware of it).  When you have the desire to go fast, and to PR, you put yourself on the line… BUT, sometimes you forget the necessary things. And, I also (retrospectively) think that mentally, I doubted myself.  I was scared that what happened in Boise would happen here as well. I was worried that I would not achieve my goals. If psychologically, you do not 100% believe in yourself, when it gets hard, you are going to struggle. 

The run for this race is and out and back, right around the reservoir, in and out of a valley, with 50% shade, 50% open & a few VERY good  hard climbs.  It wasn’t easy, but it certainly was also not a killer.
First 5 km: great! Good chance at getting a sub 5hr race!!! 
2nd 5km: steady. 5hrs will be a push, but, PR is a certainty.
3rd 5km: Tough, with walking starting to set in.  HOT.  Uncertain, psychologically. 
KM 15-16… oh boy, its going mentally downhill. I hurt, this is hard, im not sure what is going to happen here.
 Last 4-6km: big struggle.  I just couldn’t get it going.  Mentally, I knew that I would be in a fine spot to qualify for Mt Tremblant, but my feet were dragging, and I was hot.  I was not happy, but I also was not sad.  I knew I had put my best on the line during the race up to this far.

The last two KM were a struggle, on the concrete & on a slight uphill. I went over the line, with a PR, and having lost my first podium spot in a 70.3.  I slipped from 2nd to 7th, in what seemed like was the last 6 km of the race. That was frustrating.
Finshed my run with a 2:20, 7th AG, 37th woman.

5:09:14 (PR by 2mins, 15 seconds), 7th AG, 37th woman.

It was a good race.  It is 80% AWESOME and 20% meh.  Looking back at my 70.3 results over the past few years, I have really struggled on my runs. And, I want that to change. I know in the next few weeks, up to Mount Tremblant, that I have a focus and a drive.  We have a plan (it includes focused pace running, frequency, and hills). It just needs to be executed.

Now, I want to open it up to you:

What are your thoughts on this race?  What could’ve I changed?

-         Rarely do we hear people say “I had a crappy bike and an AWESOME RUN!”  We often hear the opposite.  Why is this so common in triathlon?
-         How do we mentally train for the toughness on the run?

-         We know that when you are conservative on the bike, there is a better chance for a successful run.  However, how do you find a balance in that?  If you go 10 minutes slower on the bike, are you going to go 15 minutes faster on the run?  Unlikely. Is there a secret to succeeding in this balance?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer weekends

The last hour of work on a Friday afternoon is generally the toughest, right?  That’s what they say? I certainly am finding that true today. I also guess that the summer hold that much more anticipation!

This weekend, Sean and I are off for a short two day trip to Penticton.  We would leave tonight, but, the heat is going to be sweltering, and we have to make accommodations for the dog. We are heading up there to Participate in the GranFondo: 180Km of cycling in 37 Degree heat.  YIKES!!!  I’m very excited though, and it seems like it is going to be a great event.  I just hope we can finish.

Three weekends ago, I had just gotten back from Malawi.  I saw super sick.  That was not fun. 

Two weekends ago, I spent it up in Whistler, with 5 other triathlon girls, doing a training weekend.  IT was amazing, and it really reminded me about how much joy it is to have “nothing but training” to do for a few days in a row.  Especially with other girls who are doing that same thing as me, and eat food in the same style and quantity that I do, and don’t mind going to sleep at 10pm on a Saturday night. It really was a lot of fun, and I was thrown back to the days of rowing training camps.  It is in situations like that, where you really build fitness & friendship.  Here are some photos, mostly stolen from Facebook.

Last weekend... was my birthday celebration!!!  And, it was lovely.  Despite the rain coming in during the “park part,” it was so so so lovely to have people just dropping in throughout the course of the late afternoon & evening.  Can I just say that it is really easy to plan a gathering?  I always worry about it.  Things like people being bored, or other people not wanting to socialize with strangers, or not having enough food, or too few people showing up, or too many at the same time. To tell you the truth, it always tends to workout, and always tends to be lovely.

I am thankful for summer weekends.  I am thankful for friends that come to my birthday celebration, and the small tokens of love that they gave me.  I am thankful for days of cycling, sunny swims, and sweaty runs. For ice cream affogatos & Gin and Tonics.  I am thankful for the fan blowing air through my room and beautiful flowers in gardens. I am thankful for slower days at work to spend some time not being stressed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A nursing post!

Since America and Canada are two different countries, with very different lived experiences for citizens, I thought I would make a "public health announcement," since this topic (and others) seems to be high in the American media right now.  I know that in posting this, I risk raising a controversial topic; however, all I am doing is presenting evidence and knowledge. The information provided is also similar to a progestin-only IUD (Mirena).

Medical Abortion is NOT the same as ECP (Emergency Contraceptive Pill)

There are numerous misconceptions regarding ECP and medical abortions among health professionals and clients alike. The most significant difference to note is that medical abortions terminate an already existing pregnancy, whereas ECP preventsa pregnancy from happening. While both methods are safe and effective, there are differences in usage and mechanisms of action. Medical abortion uses a medication regimen to induce a miscarriage by either blocking the hormones responsible for continuing pregnancy, stopping the implantation process from continuing, or causing the uterus to contract and empty. ECP is not RU486 (the "abortion pill"). RU486 is currently not available in Canada (but other medical abortions are).

ECP prevents pregnancy by inhibiting or delaying ovulation, inhibiting tubal transport of the egg and or sperm, or altering the lining of the uterus, depending on the time during the menstrual cycle (Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, 2008).
Progestin-only ECP will not interrupt an established pregnancy (defined as beginning when a pre-embryo becomes implanted within the uterine lining) (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 1998). Therefore, it is not an abortifacient. ECP will not harm a developing fetus or cause an abortion (Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, 2008).

That's it for now.

Learn the science and the reasoning behind it: "...From a public health perspective, the provision of Emergency contraceptive pill is an essential, cost-effective service that empowers the public to take control of their health needs and outcomes by preventing unintended pregnancies." 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Boise 70.3 race report

Normally, I don't write a race report on the day of a race.  Today, I will.  For two reasons: first, because I go to Malawi on Monday, and I won't otherwise have time.  Second, because I feel like I have to explain.

Honestly, sometimes I like to think that I have "fans" that follow my times while I'm racing, or look up my results... And, when I have a race like today's, I feel... Well... Embarrassed.  I'm better than today's results.  You know it. My coach and my teammates know it. Even I know it.

But here I am.  Saddened, because I had a beautiful opportunity in a beautiful location, and the world was my oyster.  Had I done a personal best time, I may have even qualified for Mt tremblant.  If I di what I have the potential to do, I certainly would've.  But today was not my day for that.  And, I'm sad. 

I will be better. And I'm optimistic.  Calgary's race is far enough after my trip to Malawi for some awesome training, with the Penticton grand Fondo in there as well! They also have a boatload of qualifying spots!

A superb athlete that I know, Sonja told me after the race today, that her coach had said: sometimes your the hammer, and sometimes your the nail.   Today, i was the nail, Let Calgary  be my day to be the hammer.

Pics to come.

Soooooooo.  First time I have ever sat on the side of a course and cried.  That was lovely. Today is also the slowest half iron that I have raced since 2010.  My third slowest EVER.

Good things of the day:
Strong swim in cold, choppy water.  This actually went way better than anticipated, with no moments of feeling breathless.  That was nice, never got a good set of feet, but I tend to swim better with out, I think.

Bike: this actually felt awesome for 80% of the ride.  Honestly, very little I would change in terms of output and effort. I (obviously, with the results from later), should have consumed for salt and solid nutrition. It was dry and dusty, but a great course with good diversity!

Run: I improved throughout the course. I finished, when I wanted to quit. Great great spectator friendly course, with lovely shaded trees, and awesome support from fans and volunteers.

Bad/terrible things of the day:

Slower and messier transitions. Its the first race of the year, I think I could of done a bit better.  I even forgot my race bib in my run bag.  Ran without a number (no photos will be available... Maybe that is a great thing."

I got a flat at about mile 15.  Luckily, it was a)the front wheel and b) close to an aid station, so I could use a hand pump, rather than co2, & someone was there to help me.  It still sucked as I watched my competitors ride by.

The wind was a bitch.  80% of the ride was into a head, or a scary cross wind.  But that, everyone had to deal with. 

I must not have done nutrition well, because I did not pee at any point. And that scared me. I felt like I was drinking enough, but, not enough salt... As we will see in the run.

I transition to the run, and legs feel the "norm." I think, boy they are a little worse than normal, but it will remedy itself by 3km. 

Boy, I was wrong... Within the first mile, I got a jabbing stabbing cramp in my right quad.  I tried to run it out... More cramping.  Stretched, and my hamstring would cease up.  More attempts at running, no go.  Sat on the side of the course, massaged my leg, and cried.  I knew that the run was going to be terrible.  Honestly, after a few more tries at running, I thought I was going to have my first dnf. 

I also got gastric cramps. 

My attitude was crap at this point and I was feeling very defeated.

It took my first 5 miles of basically walking & watching 15 of my age group competitors pass me by, before I felt capable of running again.  I cried a bit more, ate chips at the aid stations, and determined that I would finish one lap before I made a decision to quit or not. I'm glad I did, because I was able to pick it up, and maintain a moderate pace.  Except for the time I had to use the portapotties, because I thought I was going to shit my pants, but then when I tried to go, the were occupied, my intestines shut down, and I only had gas.  I still barely had to pee.

So there we have it.  The slowest 70.3 for me since 2010.  

And frankly, that sucks ass. I Definently was the nail today, and not the hammer. But, I'd be more sad/pissed if I dnf'd

Oh well.  Forward ho to Calgary.  Let's figure out nutrition, shall we?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Boise 70.3 rave eve!

So, its the eve of race day! A little copy and paste from an email I sent to my coach, earlier.  Mostly because I'm tired, and I don't want to type on my tablet more. But, let's just start this out with saying that Boise is beautiful!!! I'm so excited for this race tomorrow!!! I'm also so excited for my 12:40start time!

Generally, the things that could effect this race are done, including the mandatory pre race frozen yogurt. Now it is to get a good sleep, a morning "get the jitters out" run, and toe the line tomorrow.  No photos, as I forgot my phone at home.  I'll upload some when I get home.

Meanwhile, if you are at all interested in I am doing tomorrow, have a live feed at ironman tracker.  (That link might only open well in a mobile format... ).  I'm bib # 991!

Drive went really well yesterday, got a little nap in there, didn't feel to stiff.  Wasn't able to get a run in, because it was about 11-12hrs... By the time!e we got here, unpacked, we were needing to eat & sleep.

Today was fine too... They don't let you swim in the reservoir, for some reason, so tomorrow will be the first go.  I did get in up to my waist, and it is chilly!!!! Even on the cold side of chilly... I have to be ready for a slow start to the swim, and becoming a bit breathless.

Its also HOT and dry down here.  I think it will be about 28degrees while racing, and if the wind from today is any indication about how it's will be tomorrow, it will be gusty and heavy.  The bike will be challenging, that's for sure.  I got out today for about 30km, just over an hour, with 3 solid effort bits.

The run, will be awesome.  Flat course along the river, covered with trees, and cooled by the water. I'll be doing 30mins in the early am to get the jitters out. 

I don't anticipate this being easy tomorrow.  I'm nervous, because I want to do well.  I want to qualify.  There are 60 women entered in my category, so I anticipate needing to be to 5 to have a chance.  I don't feel great about my training in the past couple weeks (longest unintended taper ever!!!!), but I feel great with the races I have under my belt this year.  I feel uber nervous about the wind, because if it is gusty and stronger, I feel like I will be blown right over. 

But, I'm excited to race.  That's for sure.

That's where I'm at right now!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My mind is torn!

OH boy.  It's almost 11pm, and I am awake in my bed, with my mind running 1,000,000 miles a minute.  I may not be able to sleep this evening because I had a glorious afternoon nap today, but, I know that my mind is running with all the things that are happening in the next two weeks.

When I feel my tired legs lying in bed, I am reminded that my first big race of the season is right around the corner. In 9 days, I will be toe-ing the line at Boise 70.3.  There are only 40 qualifying spots for 70.3 WC Mt Tremblant, so I have to have my A game on.  I have high expectations, because I have only been faster this year, than any other year prior.  Can I do a sub 5hour race?  I hope so... last year, there were two women in my age-group who were that fast.  in 2012, apparently, Boise 70.3 had a 15mile bike ride due to ice.  In 2011, the times are all slower than 6 hours.  What the heck is going on here?!?! All it means, is that I have no idea what to expect.

All I can do is trust that my fitness is there.  This past weekend, I missed my workouts due to fatigue and general ugh-ness.  Key workouts that, I expect, are essential prior to a big race.  But, as coach Doug says: just because I missed my long workouts, it doesn't mean that my fitness magically disappears.  We'll just have to see, won't we?  Sure... I'm nervous. I'm excited.  I'll be ready. I'll doubt my abilities. I want it to go well.  Surely, I will toe the line, and show up ready to race.  

In addition, my mind races with thoughts of Malawi.  Of the glorious, wonderful country of Malawi.  I have much of the same sentiments towards my trip, as I do towards my race.  I am nervous, excited, wanting it to be successful, worried about my abilities to influence in going well, unsure about our preparations being complete. I think back about my time in Malawi in 2011, and it seems such a short time ago... could it really be almost 3 years?  How time flies.  I cannot wait to see what difference there is in the project that Warm Heart Initiatives is partnering with.  I cannot wait to meet new people, and see other projects.  I cannot wait to reconnect to Nurses that I know, and friends that I met while there.  I cannot wait for the fullness that comes with being in Malawi.

And, sure.. I also cannot wait to spend a day on the beaches of Lake Malawi.  

Finally, I have some BIG news.

As of tuesday, I accepted a 1 year full time Temp position at a different VCH community team.  I will be spending the next year at a Children and Youth Public Health team.  Im excited about the change... often, change gives you somewhat of a break.  Honestly, a break is what I need.  I love my current job at the Clinical Outreach Team in the DTES... I love the work we do, the colleagues I work with, the schedule, the clients.  It's just very stressful.  It's hard, hard work, and my being is feeling that a bit.  my being needs a bit of a break. 

In addition, looking forward in my career, I need public health experience.  If I ever want to work in Policy, in education, in global health... having public health experience, and work experience with people throughout the lifespan, is essential.  Working with children and youth (ages 5-19) at schools in Vancouver is particularly what I need. I'm excited to practice immunization,  STI screening/treatment, education...  I'm excited to work with youth!!!  How fun!

The position will start immediately after my return from Malawi.  Things are moving quickly.  Sometimes faster than I imagine.  There's lots of things to do, and what seems like very little time.  

And... that includes getting sleep.  its time to try again, now that i have the thoughts swirling around in my head, down on "paper."  

The views expressed in this blog are mine alone, and not those of my employer (Vancouver Coastal Health), or those of the organizations on boards that I sit (Warm Heart Initiatives, Leading Edge Triathlon Club). 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Here we go!

I really ought to start writing short, frequent blogs.  But, seriously... who has time!?!?

What has been going on in this little life of mine!?

Well, I have been hammering out personal best times:
In February, at the First Half Marathon, I ran a PB of 1:42:52.
In March, I didn't race.
In April, I ran a "almost" PB of 47:33, having done a 115km bike ride the day before with lots of climbing.
In May, I ran *another* Half Marathon PB of 1:40:46 at the Vancouver BMO race.

Of course, in order to do all that personal best racing, I also have to be training hard.  Training hard, but maintaining sanity is my motto these days.

I have been working working working hard.  It has been very busy at Primary Outreach Services, and I have been really enjoying the work with the clients & am excited about the "system" changes that are happening at work.  Its new and exciting.   Its also stressful at times.

I have also had the chance to take a great little get away to The sunshine coast over easter, where my love and I were able to explore coves and forests and delightful little cafes.  What a joy to get away from the city to such a close little paradise.

and, finally: #myroommatemadison has arrived!  So far, it has been a joy!  She is a great girl, easy to get along, loves her school, with and she loves to clean.  What more can you ask for in a roommate?!

what is coming up?

The next 6 weeks are going to be a marathon!
1) I am going to New Orleans this weekend for Kirsten Melberg's Wedding!  WEeeeeeEEEE!  I am so so so excited to visit that city again, listen and dance to some jazz, see Kirsten and Donna, and just revel in love.
2) Anna and Andrew, friends from St James (and I also work with Andrew) are getting Married on June 1st!!!  love to be at a wedding in our dear city, with our dear friends!
3) I have my first BIG RACE coming up.  Boise 70.3, I am going to rock you.  I will also say it now: my goal is to break 5 hours at this distance.  I am pretty sure this is my year.  Besides, how can you not be stoked for a race that starts at noon?!
4)  I am getting ready for a TRIP TO MALAWI!!!  I am so excited about my 10 day trip in June, when I will be in Malawi to visit Warm Heart Initiative's Partner Project in Thukuta village.
5) I also have a weekend shift.  which is always a shift in planning...

BUT... IT's Spring Time!!!  and that means babies are born, and the weather is dramatic.  Love it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Inspiring young minds...supposedly!

Sean and I are currently on the ferry, making our way back home after a weekend on Vancouver island. Nice to get away from the regular bump and grind, and good to get a quick visit with the Birch side of the family.  We were taking the little trip to hopefully inspire young minds. That's the hope, anyway.

A lesser known fact about my young life is that I am a private school graduate;  not only a private school, but a boarding school. My parents sacrificed a lot to send me away to a place that I would wake up to the ocean air every day, wear knee high socks and a tartan skirt, and be reprimanded for sneaking a pet hedgehog into my room to live in the closet. I'm not going to lie... I honestly think that if I did not go to Brentwood, I would not be the person I am today.  I would not have gone to WVU, because I would not have rowed. I may not have seen the world, because I would have stayed living in Edmonton. I also would not have had the house parent, coaches, friends, and teachers who influenced and encouraged me only in the way that one can do when you not only work with, but live with them, can.

I know that one thing that I realised while I was at Brentwood, is that to people who much is given, much is expected. I am privileged to be a Brentwood grad, and thus, I want to give back to those who do not have opportunities such as that.

On Saturday, Sean and I got to give back to that community, in the form of "Careers Day."  Boy, the school has changed. It seems to me that I went to the "budget Brentwood." The campus is so beautiful! But, the feeling is the same. Staff who passionately care for students, students who would rather be doing something else on Saturday than going to school.

I, obviously, spoke about my work as an outreach nurse in Vancouver's inner city. I felt like my presentations went well, but it was a tough crowd! I certainly feel that my career is intruiging, compelling, and conversation invoking.  However, perhaps that is not true. The number of blank stares was a bit disappointing.  I know that I gave people something to think about, and I know that a number of kids said that they had no idea that my type of nursing work exists.

To me, nursing is one of the ultimate ways of giving back. I admit, that not every nurse should do what I do;  it just doesn't fit everyone. But I do sincerely hope that the message of the diversity of available careers in nursing was portrayed, as was the message that nursing is an amazing professional career choice.

Nursing is great.  Having the chance to "give back" at careers day was great.  I just hope that at least one student thought that what I was saying is great.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Commitment and dedication

When I was out for my long run yesterday, in the brisk winter evening, I was thinking a little bit about dedication and follow through.   I think that has been a bit of a theme recently, and it was at the front of my mind yesterday, following a bit of a "bust" with a yoga fundraiser.

I have always believed that once you commit to something, you should follow through with it.  I was once having a conversation, mid-way through my first M.Sc Degree (which I loathed), and the person asked me why I was continuing doing something I was not enjoying.  To me, it was because I started.  I couldn't just stop... maybe it would mean defeat, maybe it would feel like I was pulling out of a commitment. I just knew I had to finish.  This may not be the same for everyone, but it is for me.

In my life now, I see this theme repeating itself, over and over again.  It happens in Triathlon. for Malawi. for God.

Yesterday, after a few weeks of trying to get some information out to folks, I ran a yoga fundraiser for Warm Heart Initiatives.  I knew it would be tough to drum up interest. On my facebook event page, I had 3 "yes" and no maybes.  At work I had a few "i'll make it if I can."  Some folks gave me cash in advance, most didnt.  Day of: 1 person showed up, 1 person had a mis-communication with location.

Was I disappointed?  Of course.
Is it killing me?  Absolutely not.

I do things that fill my heart & things that I believe in. 

I feel that my commitment to seeing this project in Malawi progress, and learning more about Malawi, and letting folks in Canada know about situations in Malawi is important. I am dedicated to it, whether or not I have 1 or 12 people show up at a yoga fundraiser. That event was going to run, no matter what. Because I am committed to it.

I feel commitment to triathlon.  I feel that I want to dedicate myself to racing fast & racing smart. That's why I am getting Doug Giles to coach me this year.  I feel that I want to dedicate to giving back to the sport, because it gives so much to me.  That's why I sit on the board of Leading Edge Triathlon Club. It is hard work & tiring, and makes me oh. so. hungry.

I feel dedication to God, and to my church.  That is why we keep hosting a bi-weekly small group at our home.  It may only be 3-4 people any given week, but, it is still faith and community building.

A lot of christians might say that it is "being faithful to your calling."  To me, it is just follow through.  If you say you are going to do it, then do it right.  Put time & effort & heart into something, until you know that you should move on.   But, it does not mean that all of this is really hard work.  It comes with moments of disappointment, and moments of growth.  It takes a lot of time commitment.  I certainly get that.

One thing is for sure though, I believe it pays off.  Not only for myself, but for the people around me.   All I know, is that I can't wait to see what continues to happen in these three areas in my life.  It's pretty darn exciting.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Australia travel and day in Sydney!

Its quite amazing... No matter how often you travel, you still are at risk for "rookie mistakes."  In this trip's case, I think it means one of two things:  a) it has been far to long since I have done international travel, or b) I have been so busy at home, that I haven't been paying attention to details. 

This trip has so far had three mistakes:
1) when initially booking my trip, I was still debating if I would bring my niece with me.  Eventually i decided 'yes,' but I watched the flight prices go up and up at up.  At the end of the day, I had to cancel and rebook. 
2) after that rebooking, I re looked at my rental van situation.  I discovered the company only had poor reviews on travel sites, and also discovered that with the new flight times, I wouldn't be able to drop the van at the depot, as it would be open to close to my return flight time, they are closed the day prior to my departure (it's a public holiday), and they don't allow after hours drop off.  Rookie mistake: not reading fine print & reviews before booking. 
3) I booked a domestic flight to Brisbane, in order to see friends and see more of OZ.  The international date line is my excuse, and I booked a day later then intended.  Rookie mistake:  check check and recheck your bookings if you are on a tight schedule. 

It's super frustrating, but at least I am teaching makayla how not to travel, and the importance of keeping chill when faced with changing circumstances.  

Why is it that traveling In Malawi seems way easier than traveling in Australia!?!?

At any rate, yesterday was great. 

Got to Sydney after smooth flights through Tokyo, with Kirsten waiting for us after passing through customs.  Sydney airport is a madhouse.  Went back to her place, grabbed showers, breakfast at a super yum cafe. 

We then took the train into the ferry ad hopped on the harbour ferry to Manley beach.  Anytime ferries are part of public transit, it makes me happy!

Met up with a long time Payne-family friend, Kristina, who lives down here with her husband.  We went for more delicious food, then to the beach for some sand sitting, people watching, and open water swimming!  I loved that!  My first  open water swim of the year with baby sting rays and tropical fish, meters of visibility, and in a bikini!

It was, however, raining.  It caused us my to be able to walk through the Sydney botanical gardens, but otherwise, no big deal!  The rest of the day consisted of happy hour pale ales in Manley, yummy Thai dinner, gelato dessert and great company!

Back to Kirsten's place for a 10pm bedtime (I fell asleep in the car... But felt proud of making it through the first day without a nap), and up early "for our flight"

We are still in the airport, but only have another 1.5hrs before departure.  Then, Brisbane!  Wee :)