February 23, 2008

The Week In Review

After almost a full week without a proper blog posting, I feel like I should write three or four right now...where to begin?

Quick cap on the week: We have had over a full week of simply incredible spring like weather.

Saturday: It was the party of the year in Squamish, the 'James Bondage Casino Night'. I attended this party in 07 and after seeing people in as little as a leaf, I realized that truly anything goes! My roomie, her boyfriend and our neighbours did some pre drinking and by the time we grabbed a taxi, ten beers in, I was almost comfortable with the fact that I was hitting the bar in a pair of cowboy boots, a pair of boxers, a boa, a firefighters hat and some aviator shades. This is the only picture that will be posted on here!

Sunday: I was pretty hung over and still unable to run (as if I really would have attempted it on this day anyways). Thankfully my good buddy Chad Fox called at exactly the right moment, as I was staring out at a perfect day and trying to convince myself that it was worth getting out of my p.j.'s for. We grabbed our dogs, headed out for a 2hr hike and felt like we should have been wearing sun block! It was so nice that I immediately grabbed my mtn bike and put in 1hr15m of riding. I hit the couch and passed out immediately afterwards!

Monday: I was working in North Vancouver and still trying to adjust to commuting over an hour each way.

Tuesday: It was our normal weekly 6am ski tour. Three of us headed out, Ron Enns, Heather Lamson and myself...oh yeah and maybe two dogs.

The sun crested the ridge line in unison with us and we had a wonderfully long run down some surprisingly nice powder, considering it had not snowed in days. As always, the dogs were more than done after three hours of jumping through the snow!

A few hours later, a friend from Australia, Amanda Austin, who I had not seen since I was travelling Australia and New Zealand in 1999-2000, stopped by. She spent a night in Whistler and then hopped off the bus in Squamish on her return trip to Vancouver. From here she is off to Central and South America for four months! Our original plan was to meet in Squamish and for me to drive her to Van where we would grab lunch together...but as mentioned we were in the middle of a high pressure system that was spoiling us with day after day of nothing but sunshine. I convinced her to go for a hike up 'The Chief' instead. I told her it was a flat(ish) hike, which is how I tend to describe most hikes in the mountains to my friends.

She's only seen snow a few times in her life and the hike up The Chief gains almost a thousand feet of elevation in about 3-4 kilometers. The final few hundred meters was snow covered and she cursed me a few times, but we made the top in a very respectable time and were rewarded with panoramic views. I told her that in two days time, when she would be in L.A. and I knew her legs would be at their peak in terms of pain, that she had to pull out her camera and look at the pics before e-mailing me any hate mail! We enjoyed a great dinner and some beers before she was off again. I miss the life of a traveller sometimes. It's pretty amazing the people you meet out there and the fact that you know that six, seven, ten years down the road you can still catch up with them and thoroughly enjoy their company. (In the pic she's not asking "Is this it?", she's not a fan of the camera and was asking me why I was taking another picture, lol!)

I feel like I should also through in here that we forged our bond as friends while working at the same restaurant in Port Douglas, and then solidified that bond for life after I put out her 'tenter's village' fire at 3am one night. I awoke to sounds of panic and flashes of light across my tent. When I peered out there were four or five people running around in circles and trying to find something to control the fire with. The flames were a good six feet high! I ripped open my tent, ran into the public laundry room, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and sprinted to their site. The fire was out within seconds and I think she managed to salvage a few pairs of socks out of it!

Wednesday: Was lame. It was another beautiful day but I spent the entire afternoon taking care of errands. All of those little things that you can push aside for only so long all caught up with me at the exact same time. It was like a day of work without getting paid, and I actually found myself to be quite stressed. I went for a walk and it took me some time to figure it all out. There were numerous factors, loss of recently mentioned job being one, but it all started and ended with me not being able to run. Stress seems to snowball so quickly. One thing can get to you and then you start picking up on stuff that would normally not affect you at all. You basically become a big piece of Velcro that keeps sucking up on all of the negative things around you, no matter how small.

I was able to break it all down and see that the starting point for my stress lay completely with my inability to currently run. I am sitting on the verge of another big year, with a mainly running slant to it verses the adventure racing focus of 07, and I had not run a single km in over two weeks. I have been diligent with my self massage and recovery, but decided it was time to seek professional help. I called to book in for a physio appointment and was told that the earliest they could see me was March 29th...March 29th!!! Over a full month, and three potentially lost races away! I know there are plenty of physios in Squamish, but I felt dejected and went into a tail spin of thoughts about how my big season was on the verge of collapse due to an injury that I should have dealt with in December. It sucked. I felt like I was the most unfit person in the entire world and that even if I could somehow recover in time to race I'd still be too far gone to seriously compete at anything this year.

Thursday: I think I had something to prove to myself on Thursday, namely that I was still an athlete. I borrowed some skate ski gear from a friend and headed up to The Callahan Valley again. I had not skate skied since my friend Munny tried to show me a thing or two on Feb 8th. I figured he'd shared enough of the basics with me to at least allow me to get out there and push myself. I hit up the Dog Loop first. I've been up there twice with Roxy on my classic gear and had knocked down a few sub 20min laps. My first lap on this day was around 16min and by my fourth lap I had managed as quick as a 12.5 min 3.5km loop. Roxy was starting to cheat and short the course so I knew it was time to head off on my own. She slept in the car and I hit up the main Olympic trails for another 1h15min. I tackled the biggest climbs I could find and watched my heart rate (on my heart rate monitor) climb higher then it had in over four months.

After a solid 2hr and approx 30km of skiing, I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I felt fit, I felt strong, I felt fast. I knew that I just had to get over my calf injury and I would be fine for racing this year. I have certainly missed out on quite a few long runs, as this has been bothering me for pretty much all of 08, but my fitness is better than ever. I headed home and went to work on stretching and 'rolling' out my legs. My 2hr skate ski was about as close to a 25km Trail Running Race Pace as it could get. I felt great! It's amazing the psychology behind racing and I've seen this before with friends. One day they are in the dumps and a few days later they are on top of the world. I guess it's all a part of the game when you are trying to push your body to its limits and constantly competing against people who are trying to do the exact same. I still could not run, but I was okay with that...for the time being at least!

Friday: After two nightmarish commutes to North Van for work I realized that I had to change something about this routine. I decided first and foremost that to get some training in before the drive would start my day off on a high note, so I called up my friend Jen Segger and asked if she'd be interested in a 6am road ride. I think Jen gets up at 3am for the hell of it and she had no issue with a 6am start to the day. We covered about 25-30km and after a 1hr15min ride I was feeling ready to tackle the day.

Two other things I decided to change were,
1) I wasn't going to speed...well not too much at least. I know that road like the back of my hand and am always trying to make time on it. After two commutes in traffic I could see how absolutely pointless this was. I was getting nowhere with it, and creating stress for myself in the process as I was in that pack of aggressive drivers who all seem to be competing against each other. I put on some chilled out music, slowed down a bit, and I must admit it was indeed a more enjoyable drive!
2) I discovered a Gluten Free bakery just across the street from North Shore Athletics on Lonsdale!!! The Mountain Top Cafe and Bakery. There are only a few of these in all of North Van/Vancouver and as I walked through the doors it was like I was dreaming...five flavors of bread, muffins, pastries, brownies, sandwiches, pizza, PIZZA, a breakfast and lunch menu, and all at very respectable prices!! (For anyone not aware I am indeed allergic to wheat) I departed Squamish early and went for breakfast at the bakery. For just five bucks I had a huge bowl of G.F. granola and two slices of sourdough bread. I hadn't had sourdough in over 1.5 years!
By the time I walked through the doors of NSA at 9:30am I could see that I was gonna have a great day! I had also gotten over the shock of my first attempted physio apointment in Squamish and after checking around I thankfully managed to get myself scheduled into another clinic for Monday!

Immediately following work I headed to a job interview. I'm not saying where until I know what's gonna happen with it. What I will say is that I pretty much had the best interview of my entire life. How is this for surreal and similtaniously incredible. Out of the dozen or so staff who were conducting interviews I ended up with a very nice lady by the name of Sherry. Sherry looked over my resume and said,

"Oh, I see you're a P.A.D.I. certified Dive Master. I've been diving for years and absolutely love it!"

I responded with, "Yeah, I completed my dive courses in Honduras in 2003 and really love it as well!"

Sherry went kinda silent for a second, then smiled and said, "What island were you on"


Well, as it turns out, Sherry spent a few years going to Roatan and Utila to dive during our Canadian winters. It took us all of twenty seconds to realize that we had the EXACT same best friends on Roatan!! We spent ten minutes talking about everyone we knew and she actually filled me in on some people who I had wondered about since I departed the island in late 03. I eventually asked her if we should maybe conduct an interview, she laughed and launching into what I would describe as a somewhat typical customer service oriented business interview. It went amazingly well and I've got high hopes to say the least!

All that blogging and I didn't even get to today, which was by far the best training day of the entire week! I need to get some stretching in and call it a night. Apparently we are going to be blessed with one, maybe two more days of sunshine before the rains find us again, and I want to make sure that I am out there early to soak it all up before it's too late!



Anonymous said...

so... Mr. Skate Skier - down to a 12.5 on pooched... guess I'll see you at the Whistler loppet sun. am ??

Gary Robbins said...

HAHA, I'm sleeping in tomorrow, Dwayne nearly killed me on that ride today!
Good luck Munny and good seeing ya today...maybe I'll make the next one? I'll have to hit up the website and check out the schedule.