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.