Category Archives: Canada

Rocking bubble gum pink

Today’s activities: laundry, cleaning my tent and sleeping bag, manicure, pedicure, movie.

Last year, I slept in my sleeping bag a consecutive 60 days (bike trip), 20 days (Yosemite), 14 days in a warmer bag sleeping bag (Everest) totaling 94 days in 2012. This year, I slept a consecutive 69 days in a sleeping bag (bike trip), followed by 8 more days (Banff/Jasper) totaling thus far 77 days in 2013. I still have 3 months left in the year to surpass last year’s total, but I am very much looking forward to sleeping in MY BED and sleeping within 4 walls.

I have been in the woods or the road too long when the color I want to paint my nails is hot bubble gum pink. This is the color that says I definitely do not care what you think of me and yes, I don’t do anything remotely serious. This is the color that matches tutu’s and tiara’s, a girls’ color.

I had a dream the other day of being reunited with my stuff (a.k.a my storage). My dream was me walking into the closet and everything was labeled in a tub – hike, run, swim, snow, climb, camp. It was awesome. I don’t need a house. I need a gear closet.

The movie we saw was Grandmaster’s by Wong Kar Wai. I have wanted to see his latest film since it’s Asia release in March. Unfortunately I was always in the wrong country when it was released, so I missed it. I was so excited to see it today. Wong Kar Wai is one of my favorite directors. His cinematography is stunning and the soundtrack is flawless, matched to the emotion of the characters. This movie, like most of his, is an all Asian cast, spoken in Mandarin and Cantonese. My Mandarin was a little rusty as I had to read the subtitles for the translation. My Cantonese was good. I was able to grasp most of it. If you can understand emotion in another language than you’ve succeeded in understanding the translation. I love WKW films for his emotion. Most scenes make you feel heartbroken. His films are intense with longing and love.

Pictures: drive to Vancouver, passing Castle Mountain and Roger’s Pass.




Road tripping – Banff

If there is only one road trip you drive in life – it should be the Ice Fields Parkway between Banff and Jasper National Parks. We passed emerald lakes, majestic mountains and the largest continuous unbroken ice glacier in North America. I very much wanted to walk onto the ice but the 3 hour guided hike tours were sold out for days. Noted, book ahead. We’ve camped the last few days in camp grounds that are full facility car camping sites. At full occupancy they could host 800-1000 people. It’s like a camping village.

Today we had what I call a rest day, at the Banff Hot Springs. It was $8 per person and $2 rental for a 1920’s historic bathing suit. The bathing suit was a one piece blue jumper that both men and women wore at the time. I thought it actually wasn’t that modest with the leg hem line being quite high.

It’s been a great vacation, but then I remember my life is a vacation. I’ve been in Canada nearly a month, and it’s almost time to go home.

Photos: from the drive/car. Hiking around Lake Minnewaka







Lakes and Glaciers

Ignorant people deserve to be eaten by black bears. We are not in a zoo. Driving today, we saw two baby black bears by the side of the road, no more than 30 feet away. If and when you see a black bear, you are supposed to stay 10 bus lengths away. Stupid people got out of their cars to take pictures. They got out of their cars! Mama bear must be close by and I definitely do not want to cross paths with her. Later in the day we also passed a caribou with great big antlers. People did the same thing.

Photos: lake maligne, medicine lake, Columbia icefield (glacier), Bow Lake, jumping at Lake Louise

Race recap

I woke at 3:30 a.m. and ate a bagel, donut peaches and a glass of O.J. We left the house at 4:30 a.m. My brother dropped me off at T1 (Transition 1) by 5 a.m. for body marking and special needs bag drop. I boarded a school bus to T2 (Transition 2), for the swim start. Arrived at T2, 15 minutes later, used the bathroom, pumped air into my bike tires, put water bottles on my bike cages, and ate my second breakfast – bagel with peanut butter. I walked to my bike transition bags and untied the knot, fixed my bike gear and put on my wetsuit for the swim start. At 6:30 a.m. we were allowed into the water to warm up, and 7:00 a.m. the gun went off. I stayed a little behind the main crowd of swimmers and waited until they swam first. It was kind of beautiful, to swim with so many other people surrounding you. I didn’t feel too stressed. I unintentionally hugged the buoys. They were so bright and it was reassuring to be close to them. Everyone seemed to take it easy for the first 7 buoys, which was the first stretch before the turn. I didn’t even feel like I was using much energy, trying to find my groove in the mass of people. When we went around the first turn, people started picking up the pace, but I just kept on thinking, like Dory, says in the movie “Finding Nemo,” just keep swimming, just keep swimming. After the second and third turn (a triangle course), we made it to the second lap. I was pretty happy to make it to the second lap because I didn’t feel like I was struggling and I was keeping up with others. My worst fear was to have everyone leave me and be alone in the water. I was grateful to have others around me, even though sometimes it felt like bumper cars. Only twice, did I stop my stroke, because I felt someone grab my ankle. Not a simple, sorry, I bumped into you, but a full grab, pulling me down. It was definitely intentional because no one swims accidentally grabbing a foot. It happened twice and I couldn’t see the other swimmer, so it wasn’t a big deal but definitely not nice.

I made it out of the water, 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 36 minutes, which is not bad at all, considering I only swam maybe 10 times the whole summer. I also didn’t site too bad, the buoys were fairly clear and easy to see. I did not veer off the course much. I tried to draft a few times but I wasn’t very good at maintaining the close distance, so that’s something to practice for another time. All in all, I was happy with my time. I know I could have been quicker, possible coming out of the water at 1:15 if I trained properly/consistently.

Into transition, it was a strange feeling, walking out of the water, moving from horizontal to vertical. I followed the path to the strippers/peelers, and followed their directions. They helped unzip my wetsuit and told me to lie down so they could peel off the wetsuit. I said, thanks walked to my bike bag, and changed my clothes in the transition tent. I was very grateful for the volunteer in the tent who helped me change out of my wet clothes. Surprisingly, it was very difficult to change out of my swimsuit into my bike kit. Next time, I will definitely just wear a tri-kit so I won’t have to struggle with changing out of wet gear.

Out of the tent, a quick stop to the porta-potty and then I got my bike. It was heartwarming to see my fan club: brother, his wife, and my friends at the transition area. They were cheering for me and were all smiles. I also loved all the volunteers and fans at the swim exit. They said words of encouragement, like “you look great!”

Onto the bike course, the first 5 miles were difficult. I had a hard time getting my heart rate and breathing to be normal. We started climbing very soon into Callaghan Valley. Home to the Winter Olympic 2012 Nordic Ski course. It was 8 miles of climbing at a 10% grade. Very difficult, but not overwhelming. At the turn around, it was 8 miles downhill, passing thru Whistler (where I saw my friends and family again), then onto Pemberton. It was at mile 60 that my back started to hurt. I remembered all the friends who supported me getting here, and remembered I must persevere. By mile 80, I was having a difficult time and peddled almost every other stroke to stand and stretch my back while on my bike. I stopped into a med tent and the most they could give me was Ibuprofen. I kept pedaling but knew I would have trouble making the cut off time. I biked thru more climbs, making my way back to Whistler, but 8 minutes too late. I was not allowed to continue onto the run.

I tried my best and would not have done anything differently on race day. It was a great course (scenic, beautiful and the temperature was excellent.) There was so much love everywhere. Maybe, I might try for an IM finish one day, but not any time soon.


Jasper National Park

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” John Muir

We drove to Jasper National Park and hiked the Valley of Five Lakes trail today. It is so refreshing to be out amongst the lush valley. The lakes were all emerald colored and the trails were good. We slept in my North Face Road Runner tent and I missed it so much this summer. It is more than ten years old but I still love it. It is the best designed tent I have ever used. I had to buy new hiking boots, because in my packing 6 months ago, I neglected or intentionally did not pack them. Not too bad since that was all I was missing.

Tomorrow we drive along the icefields and walk amongst the glaciers on our way south to Banff National Park.

Photos: hiking with Cheryl and Kesia.








The day after

If I go back and read my blog posts, the race started for me when I was sitting in Bali, Indonesia in February and signed up for a charity spot for Ironman Canada. I agreed then and there I would be an Ironman Finisher. It is disappointing to put so much effort into a single day after months of preparation to have the outcome not be what you want. In retrospect, we all could have trained more but I know I put in every effort yesterday. I arrived at the start line intact but not at full strength. Someone said, an ironman is just a race about managing injuries. Two and a half weeks ago, I sprained/strained my back, not doing anything out of the ordinary and it was not well enough to carry me thru the day. (I’ll write about the race recap soon.)

Meredith Kessler, a professional triathlete, quoted in an article in regards to two crashes, “I was meant to experience it, to learn from it and make the most of it, in order to prevail.”

Maybe, that’s what I am meant to do. Learn from the experience and overcome. I am spending the next week with my IM support crew/cheer squad – friends and family who flew in for the race. We will explore Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Thank you all for your outpour of support and love. A few less tears today, and hopefully a few less tomorrow.

DNF (did not finish)

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you do not succeed.

I will write about the race recap tomorrow but for now I am safe, fine and will just shed tears over my disappointment and heartbreak.