Sunday, February 28, 2010

O Canada

Final day of the games. And what a finish! 68 incredibly stressful minutes of hockey, I don't think I've ever been that tense watching sports before.

A whole lot of flag waving this afternoon. It was an incredibly fun ride home from Joanne and Torbins' - I was high-fived, honked at, yelled at, cheered at. All in good spirits and good fun as the city, or rather cities (I road through Richmond & Vancouver), were ecstatic over the win.

Now we have to adjust to going back to normality, say goodbye to all the visitors, and get used to the mundane.

This is going to be a rough week!
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Dim Sum

Hiroki at Dim Sum. He was amazingly skilled with the chop sticks, he hit someone square on every time he threw one.
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Cat's Meow

My neighbourhood is overrun by birds, mostly starlings ripping up everyone's lawns, but also a good dozen robins, lots of itty-bitty songbirds and, of course, the inevitable crows.

I assume that's why my neighbour's cat is 1) licking his lips and 2) so fat.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rainy Days on the Bike Route

The Central Valley Greenway has already featured in my photos but here are a few more shots:

The mosaic stairs (Tuesday). I'll have to try to get these on a sunny morning when they're covered in dew. Stay tuned for more shots!

Hole in the wall (today).

Monday's Photo

And after all the Olympic picture taking, this is my favourite shot:

I laughed when I saw Amy's picture for the 19th as the building reflected here is the one doing the reflection in her shot. Great minds think (almost) alike.

Day at the Olympics - Highlight Real

Executive summary of my day with Mum:

  • Early start at the cauldron (lots of pics from the fence)
  • Checked out lots of long lines (Cdn Mint, zip line) for things we opted to miss
  • Checked out Robson Square sans crowds
  • Picked up curling tix
  • Lined up to view the cauldron from the viewing area. Took about 20 pics, none as good as the ones I took from the fence!
  • Found more long lines (200 ppl at Russia House two hours before it opened, no thanks) and discovered, at 10am, that most of the houses open at noon.
  • Right to Play House was open and full of kids - fun.
  • Introduced Mum to babka buns at Solleys. I couldn't get her to commit to whether she liked them more than their cinnamon buns.
  • Went to curling and watched the Canada women beat Sweden 6-2.
  • Checked out Robson Square with crowds.
  • Watched "Mascots on Ice" solely to get a picture of Sumi for Oscar. One-year old crying for Miga, sort of cute but mostly creepy ("Meeeeeeeega")
  • Saw the line for Irish House. Didn't go in.
  • Visited Live City, saw more lines for houses we didn't go into. Watched a bit of Canada vs. Finland womens' hockey on the big screen.
  • Took the ferry to Granville Island - saw the ridiculously long line for Atlantic House. Got lots of second hand smoke in the process, good thing we don't have to go through doping control!
  • Dinner at Noodle Box

Photos (more to come when Mum sends me hers):

My best cauldron shot. Not taken from the viewing platform!
Apocalypse Now moment (very happy not to hear Ride of the Valkeries).

Maison du Quebec - didn't open for another two hours.

The Sochi Teletubbie.


Sumi & Fans

Langley Half Marathon

It was a stunningly beautiful morning on Sunday. It was also very cold - Shannon thought I was nuts because I wanted to take pictures when clearly the intelligent thing to do was to go inside the visitor centre and stay warm. I think the pictures below were worth a little bit of chill.

The run wasn't my best half marathon, but I knew going in that I wasn't in peak shape. The course is also the hardest half marathon course I've ever done, one very steep hill and one that was less steep but kept going up without let up for three km.

I was confident I could break two hours and hoped I could get close to 1:50 (my PR).

I felt comfortable in the first 10km, enough so that I had visions of a PR dancing in my head. Some logical part of my brain realized that this meant I was actually going out too fast, but of course I didn't slow down. About halfway the two hour pace bunny passed me. I knew I was on pace to break two hours with time to spare but it bugged me to be behind the bunny! Especially as I was slogging up the long hill and not feeling overly spectacular.

After about 11km I started to tire and at 13km, the start of the long hill, my legs felt like they were made of cement. I got a bit upset and my breathing was slightly out of whack but I talked myself out of a bad head space and just kept going.

I desperately wanted to beat the race bunny (not sure which definition of "beat" applied at this point) but sadly I wasn't even close. I did, however, finish in 1:55:12. Not bad.

Unfortunately the course was one of those hard ones, like the Peach (where I still feel I have something to prove), that's probably going to draw me back next year.

My pre-race shots:

Golden Ears out of the mist. My picture of the day.

Yes, I'm an arboriphile.

I totally copied a shot my Dad took earlier this month. Not on purpose though, it just looked pretty!

The Fraser with Golden Ears lost in the mist.

Four Days Behind

Oh geez, I have some catching up to do It's been a busy four days (half marathon, Olympics, tiredness) and I have over a hundred phtots to sort through.

Updates coming soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


The weather is annoyingly nice right now - there's no good excuse to stay inside and watch TV all when it's spectacularly warm and sunny. I want to watch the Olympics darn it!

Today's workout was a short ride. As Louis is in need of new brakes, rather than do bike repair I rode Ruby and did errands. I may have ridden for more than an hour but it was nice to be outside.

The short ride is because of tomorrow's endeavour - the Langley Historic Half Marathon. I'm not feeling overly prepared, I haven't put in the distance in my long runs and running has felt difficult in the past few weeks, but this isn't supposed to be a world record pace for me. I'm hoping for 1:50, less would be nice but unrealistic, especially as the course is quite hilly. 5min/km pace is the goal.

I just figured out this evening that one of the race charities is Mountain View Farms, run by my employer from my last job. Hopefully I'll get a chance to say hi to Gordon.

I now have to try to get myself away from the TV so I can get to bed!
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Good Day (just not where training is concerned)

Yesterday I woke up tired and cranky so skipped my swim. I'm never sure if I'm being smart by listening to my body or wimping out by not doing the workout in these situations!

The evening was great. Met up with friends at Granville Island to eat at Swiss House. I had perfect timing and arrived just before the crew that had been waiting two hours got in to be seated. The cheese fondu "for two" was more than the five of us could eat but very good. The strudel, which people were waxing poetic about, was nice but didn't hold a candle to the strudel I had when travelling through Texas with Helen and Jane (and the name of the town was ...?).

We went downtown after, into the total craziness that is Granville Street on a Friday during the Olympics immediately after Canada had won a gold medal. We'd missed seeing the medal and had to rely on ebulient, hive-fiving drunks for details. According to them the medal was for "doubles" skeleton. I think this is how new sports are born - alcohol and misunderstandings. After watching all the macho guys being so excited about the skeleton gold I now really want Virtue & Moir to win, love to see them hi-fiving each other and singing O Canada because we won a gold in ice dance!

We got half a block away from Robson Square before the crush of people made it impossible to move. Again my timing was perfect as the fire and light show started just as we got there.

When it ended we tried to head West on Robson but it was impossible to get through the crowd so we head down to see the flame. Tons of people and lots of couples - apparent it is the official "canoodling couples" area for the Olympics.

I wimped out and headed home after that while the rest of crew headed back to Robson.
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Track Workout

Thursday's run was at the track at UBC. I arrived on campus as the very happy US womens' hockey fans, and subdued Finish ones, were making their way home. I didn't need to ask the result!

I also didn't have to who was playing the next game - the flags (Canadian & Chinese) told the story. In front of the arena, many excited Chinese fans were taking their pictures holding their flags up high. I was neat to see, especially as China and hockey isn't exactly a combination most of us are used to thinking about.

The workout was a tough one for me. I was still tired from Tuesday, my brain wasn't functioning and my body wasn't doing too well either. The workout was 5 x 200m at slightly faster than 1/2 marathon pace (for those of us doing Langley), 5 x 1km at marathon pace and 5 x 200m at slightly faster. Through the warm up and up until the 3rd 1km piece I was dying and miserable. Somehow everything clicked and I got into form and had a good finish to the practice. No idea if it was mental or if I just need 30 minutes longer than everyone else to warm up.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A good day

Short of time/ideas today so this is it. I like how the hologram on the ticket turned out.

New Friends

Through work (and an invitation from a very generous supplier) I got to join the "A List" and take the Alberta Train to Whistler yesterday. It's a leisurely way to get there at three hours one way but very pretty at least it is once the sun actually rises and you can see the view. The rest of my photos are here.

Whistler was crazy busy but with a very different energy to Vancouver. Getting to Whistler is so restricted and so difficult that almost the only people there are involved with the games: watching, competing, volunteering, media. And the cranked up prices for everything felt par for the course for the village.

Trip highlights:
- Train to Whistler.
- Breakfast with pro bull rider and pro chuck wagon driver (promoting the Stampede). The bull rider lives in Turner Valley so I'm sure my Aunt knows who he is. I'm used to being able to impress people by talking about my hobby. Not so much yesterday.
- Free tickets to biathlon ($25.00 standing area tickets so not quite A list anymore, but more fun!)
- Watching biathlon with all the crazy Europeans. I need a significantly weirder hat to be a true fan.
- Cheering for the Canadian in the mens' 12.5km pursuit.
- Hanging out with Clayton, who is up there volunteering but had the day off .
- Being in the village when Canada scored its second gold (of course we were watching a different sport at the time, but we were there!).
- Getting interviewed. Amazing how I normally just blather on about nothing in particular but put a camera in my face and Voila! I blather on about nothing in particular. I haven't checked yahoo sports to see if they actually used the clip.
- Trainride back (would have been awkward if this didn't happen)

It was a long day, up at 4am and back home at 10:30pm, and I was pretty wrecked at work today as I'm a totally wimp when I don't have enough sleep but it was an amazing day.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Crepuscular (thanks Amy)

I live under one of the great crow commuting paths in the Lower Mainland. This is my best attempt so far at catching the crepuscual rush hour, sadly it's not that great.

My fallback shot is my new mittens. My mother very kindly picked up a pair for me and shipped them out (seems almost coals to Newcastle, but I won't criticize as I like them very much). I will proudly, and warmly, wear them for the rest of the games.

On the topic of evenings, they're getting lighter later, enough so that I could fit in a ride outside after work today.
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On Sunday afternoon I set up my perfect Olympics viewing environment. Then promtply fell asleep.

In my defence, that morning I'd had a solid swim workout immediately followed by a thoroughly evil hill running session. Furthermore, naps are written into my schedule by my coach. ("Nap" and "eat" are two instructions I have no problems following.)
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Craziness in a pan

On Saturday I took a second crack at cinnamon bun french toast. Cook at a low temperature to avoid burning , and be tortured by the scent of slowly carmelizing cinnamon bun.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

We Are More

"We Are More" by Shane Koyczan
When defining Canada
you might list some statistics
you might mention our tallest building
or biggest lake
you might shake a tree in the fall
and call a red leaf Canada
you might rattle off some celebrities
might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie
might even mention the fact that we've got a few
Barenaked Ladies
or that we made these crazy things
like zippers
electric cars
and washing machines
when defining Canada
it seems the world's anthem has been
" been there done that"
and maybe that's where we used to be at
it's true
we've done and we've been
we've seen
all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine
and turned into theme parks
but when defining Canada
don't forget to mention that we have set sparks

we are not just fishing stories
about the one that got away
we do more than sit around and say "eh?"
and yes

we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One
who inspired little number nines
and little number ninety-nines
but we're more than just hockey and fishing lines
off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes
and some say what defines us
is something as simple as please and thank you
and as for you're welcome
well we say that too
but we are more
than genteel or civilized
we are an idea in the process
of being realized
we are young
we are cultures strung together
then woven into a tapestry
and the design
is what makes us more
than the sum total of our history
we are an experiment going right for a change
with influences that range from a to zed
and yes we say zed instead of zee
we are the colours of Chinatown and the coffee of Little Italy
we dream so big that there are those
who would call our ambition an industry
because we are more than sticky maple syrup and clean snow
we do more than grow wheat and brew beer
we are vineyards of good year after good year
we reforest what we clear
because we believe in generations beyond our own
knowing now that so many of us
have grown past what used to be
we can stand here today

filled with all the hope people have
when they say things like "someday"

someday we'll be great
someday we'll be this
or that
someday we'll be at a point
when someday was yesterday
and all of our aspirations will pay the way
for those who on that day
look towards tomorrow
and still they say someday

we will reach the goals we set
and we will get interest on our inspiration
because we are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks
more than backpacks and hiking trails
we are hammers and nails building bridges
towards those who are willing to walk across
we are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss
we are not the see-through gloss or glamour
of those who clamour for the failings of others
we are fathers brothers sisters and mothers
uncles and nephews aunts and nieces
we are cousins
we are found missing puzzle pieces
we are families with room at the table for newcomers
we are more than summers and winters
more than on and off seasons
we are the reasons people have for wanting to stay
because we are more than what we say or do
we live to get past what we go through

and learn who we are
we are students
students who study the studiousness of studying
so we know what as well as why
we don't have all the answers
but we try
and the effort is what makes us more
we don't all know what it is in life we're looking for
so keep exploring
go far and wide
or go inside but go deep
go deep
as if James Cameron was filming a sequel to The Abyss
and suddenly there was this location scout
trying to figure some way out
to get inside you
because you've been through hell and high water
and you went deep
keep exploring
because we are more
than a laundry list of things to do and places to see
we are more than hills to ski
or countryside ponds to skate
we are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can't wait
we are first-rate greasy-spoon diners and healthy-living cafes
a country that is all the ways you choose to live
a land that can give you variety
because we are choices
we are millions upon millions of voices shouting
" keep exploring... we are more"
we are the surprise the world has in store for you
it's true

Canada is the "what" in "what's new?"
so don't say "been there done that"
unless you've sat on the sidewalk
while chalk artists draw still lifes
on the concrete of a kid in the street
beatboxing to Neil Young for fun
don't say you've been there done that u
nless you've been here doing it
let this country be your first-aid kit
for all the times you get sick of the same old
same old let us be the story told to your friends
and when that story ends
leave chapters for the next time you'll come back
next time pack for all the things
you didn't pack for the first time
but don't let your luggage define your travels
each life unravels differently
and experiences are what make up
the colours of our tapestry
we are the true north
strong and free
and what's more
is that we didn't just say it
we made it be

Catching Up

A note from the coach this week:

"The final days of hard week should be mentally tough and have you spending some time thinking about throwing in the towel after the last few workouts. If you breezed through it with a smile, fully stocked fridge and neatly folded clean laundry you may need to work harder (or write a book about your secret!)."

My fridge is bare, the laundry pile is demanding the right to vote (if it allies with the dirty dishes I'm doomed) and my backlog of pictures to post is huge. Nice to know I'm doing things right!

I've been doing all sorts of Olympic things but I haven't mastered art of the quick shot, or even the non-shakey shot, so sadly no good Oly photos.

My fridge may be empty but that doesn't stop me from thinking about food:

On Tuesday I went to a event at Canada's Northern House put on by the Northwest Territories. The food was lovely, even when mispronounced (Arctic Char was offered to us as something sounding very close to "artichoke"). Above is a platter of house smoked muscovy duck breast, bison bresaola, muskoven mipkuzola, and venison salami. Apparently the North is not a good place for vegetarians.

Just before going to bed on Wednesday I realized I hadn't taken a picture so snapped a shot of the first colourful thing I could find.

When I said I had no good Olympic shots I lied, I have one good shot. But I didn't take it:
Helen caught the torch in motion out at UBC last night. She used my camera - does that count for anything??

I'm anticipating the answer is no so here is a list of all the things that can kill you in Helen's lab:

That brings us to today. I could see the torch procession from my office but couldn't get any decent shots through the glass. A stunning number of people were downtown. I was expecting the crowds but it was exceptionally strange to be on the skytrain first thing in the morning (6am, I swam before work) with people who were happy and excited to be heading downtown. Madness!

So instead of a torch relay photo I'm posting a picture of the second most amazing thing I saw today.

Monday, February 08, 2010


I was extremely tired and extremely cranky today, a result of my blow up on the run yesterday, so I'm treating myself with roast leek.

It's pretty and tasty but you have to rinse it very well as there tends to be lots of dirt in the crevices.

Despite being cranky I managed to have a decent swim this morning. I wasn't sure if swimming four days in a row would kill me but I seemed to have a good workout. We worked on pull, with lots of fist swimming. The last piece was supposed to be 400m with a 25m sprint every 4th length. I decided, however, it was going to be a time trial. I did the 25m sprints every 4th length except that when I hit 300m I went all out for the last 100. I didn't tell Mauro, who is usually the same speed as or faster than me, as I knew he'd stick to my feet regardless of what pace I held. I was trying to make him blow up (and to get a good 400m time), which is mean but I know he'd do the same for me.

Oh yeah, my 400m time was 7:10. I'm somewhat impressed with myself!

Sunday Trifecta

A perfect Sunday trifecta: - swim, run, EAT.

It was kick day in the LETC house of pain. 45 minutes of kicking: with fins, without fins, with kickboards, without kickboards, one fin only ... pretty much any combination the coaches could think of. I'm surprised we didn't have to balance them on our heads for 100m.

We then did half an hour of increasing intensity, finishing with 200m at all out pace (or some technical term that almost but didn't quite mean all out). I predicted 3:40 and did 3:32 so not bad.

I had 1:45 on the schedule and intended to go out easy but got caught up in an interesting discussion with some of the newer folks. The wheels came off 40 minutes in, not my smartest moment but I'll take it as a learning experience.

After the run I had to scoot home so that I could complete my prescribed post-workout nutrition (like I'd forget that!), ice bath and nap in time to get dessert and head to Amy & Brian's for their Superbowl bash.

While delaying getting into the ice bath, an activity I'm highly skilled at, I took pictures of the birds that have invaded the neighbourhood with the coming of spring. These suckers are LOUD! They're also tearing up everyone's lawn in their search for grubs.

My picture of the day, however, is of one of the East Van locals who can be found in the neighbourhood in any season of the year.

Don't mess with guys - they're smarter than most people and they hang out in gangs called murders.

EAT (aka watching the Superbowl)
The game was good to watch but, as usual, took second place to the company. And the food.

Amy & Brian put on a fantastic spread, as usual, and the other guests brought great food too. I was too disorganized to cook something impressive so I just brought cookies (they were really good though!).

I may not have wowed 'em with my cookies but I stunned everyone with the tale of my culinary adventure of the previous evening. Apparently I'm the only one who'd heard of cinnamon bun french toast. I'd seen this delicacy in a Denny's type restaurant in the States years ago and filed it away in the "ridiculous but potentially yummy recipes" part of my brain.

This weekend I had cinnamon buns that had gone a bit stale and decided to slice them up, dip them in eggy milk with a splash of vanilla and fry them. I was a little leary of what they'd be like. Holy smokes they were good! Even better smothered in maple syrup.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I rode a bit later than usual today due to the swim clinic. I forget how crazy traffic can be as I generally do most of my rides early in the day.

I went past various Olympic venues (the Skating Oval, curling rink, Trout Lake training centre) but this was the scene that made me pull out my camera.

A park on the way to Teresa's house was overrun by snow geese. They normally head North in the spring, need anymore proof we're having a crazy winter??

I guessed there were at least 500 when got there.

And they just kept coming, giving me my shot of the day.

Dolphins Swim Clinic

"A goal is never fully defined by just one number. The number is always set in a context, and it's the overall context that endows the number with its true value."
Gregory Bassham

This morning I went to a clinic put on by the UBC Dolphins with coaches from the UBC varsity swim team.

There is so much involved in swim technique, much of which I'm not doing correctly, that it's hard to cover much in an hour but the session was very good. We worked on kick, (apparently if you want to have a good kick you should stop running!), recovery and pull. We didn't have time to get to breathing (we had to go for an hour with no air! okay, maybe not) but the notes they gave us have some useful tips.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the pool tomorrow to see how much I remember and if it has an effect. By Monday I'll have four days in a row of swimming, that should have some sort of positive effect!

On a different topic, I've been reading "Running & Philosophy." Not quite what I expected, I get the feeling the philosophers are trying to dumb things down for a general audience, but there are occasional gems and good quotes, such as the one above. I'll try to post any others I like, and maybe build my own database of inspiring quotes.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Banner day

Sorry for the pun but I'm tired and feeling unorginal. I'll also apologize for all the spelling and grammatical errors that I'm sure I'm about to make.

Today I got back to swimming on Fridays. I quite enjoy a swim with no coaching - I have three coached sessions a week so it's nice to get in the pool and just swim. I did 2,000m continuous, with 5 stroke accelerations off the wall and drills every 200m, a good way to keep it interesting. Add on 100m of back and breast at the end and I was out in well under an hour.

One thing with always swimming in a group is that I forget about all the crazy people who swim. When I showed up the lane was absolutely full with either slow swimmers or people with no real clue, plus one decent swimmer who had a look of resigned forebearance. Suffice it to say it was an interesting 20 minutes (after which the crowd thinned considerably). Even "angry fins and paddles" guy showed up, always a banner day when that happens.
Aside from the crazies it was a good swim.
I had dinner with friends who live just over the Cambie Street Bridge so I walked over so I could check out BC Place and the Athletes' Village.

I like the blue on blue on blue (on blue, if you also count my blog wallpaper). I need to figure out how to flip this photo, however, so I get the mirror image and you can read the writing. Sadly the lighting didn't work nearly as from the other side.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


My day started off with this view:The picture doesn't do it justice, it looked like the city was made of burnished gold.

Then at work I received a suspicious looking package. I opened it to find this:

My mother knit me a beautiful scarf and couriered it out so that I'd be able to wear it while it's still somewhat cold outside and so I'd have red to wave around during the Olympics. She's great!

A nice start to the day.

Then I went to the track workout.

The workout was 3 x 1 mile on 8:45 (as in you go every 8 minutes and 45 seconds, if you finish the mile in 7 minutes you get 1:45 rest, if you finish it in 8:30 you get 15 seconds rest). I could have gone in the 10 minute group but figured as last year I got close to breaking 7 minutes when I was at my fittest that I might survive.

The first mile was hard but okay - 7:35. The second mile was tough but I managed to descend (go faster) - 7:30. The third mile was a disaster. Two and a half laps in all I could think was "Kaboom!" as I blew up. 7:52. I really should be careful with explosives what with all the security in town for the Olympics!

I guess this is the price I pay for taking four months away from the run.

However, as I had butter chicken before the run (dairy + running fast = BAD) I'm a considering the workout a victory as my dinner stayed down.