Friends go kayaking

This past weekend I went kayaking in Victoria’s Inner Harbour (to the Gorge) with a friend and we had a lovely time! We only went for two hours, but that was plenty of time (hello bathroom breaks…) and it was much easier than when I first attempted to go kayking in Brazil, in the ocean at Paraty.

36199757_10100976283258546_5403452957293281280_o

That time we were rented these totally insane surf kayaks (??) that we had to basically jump into in the waves, fight the waves and my balance to paddle out to a few islands (one of which apparently had a dangerous guy living on it??). I couldn’t even reach the foot stop in the ridiculous kayak- it was too big for me. So I was floating in the middle of it, trying to paddle without falling out of the kayak or the kayak tipping over. In the waves. UGH!

14051766_10100602971932436_9125357188631726808_n

Pretty tippy!

Ian switched with me and I used his, which was MUCH easier. Ha. It was still quite the adventure! I have to say that the kayaks at Ocean River Sports are very slick. They are not cheap to rent (2 hours is $44.00) ouch. But really good kayaks and it’s a very relaxing way to spend a morning with a friend! I loved it. 🙂

14047291_10100602972416466_2749277353738904719_o

Peru final stage: Cusco

By the time we left Ollantaytambo, I was ready to feel better! I wanted to eat and drink well again. I liked Ollantaytambo, but I didn’t like how cars/buses went ripping around the very narrow cobbled streets- it felt too narrow and busy.

Off to Cusco we went, for the final 3 days of our trip. The ride back to Cusco was ok except I felt horribly carsick heading into Cusco- so twisty, winding, slamming on the brakes and oh, the car we hired didn’t have any seatbelts? Joy!

31958896_10100956751375596_6793370362156417024_n

We made it and wow, I felt like shit.

Cusco was very cool- lots of big older buildings, museums, hotels and tons and tons of pretty good restaurants and bars. Our hotel was super neat, an old monastery that was attached to a church! The church still held services, and the hotel itself functioned as a non-profit to support orphaned girls.

31906924_10100956751655036_1441258091004821504_n

I loved the hotel, and the town was very neat. The unfortunate thing about Cusco is that it is SWARMING with hawkers of nearly every description. It does get tiring to swat away vendors and tour guides and you name it. Every.single.time. you leave the hotel, without fail. Kind of exhausting.

We walked around exploring Cusco, and did a chocolate-making workshop that was SUPER fun. Highly recommend! It is pricey but worth it. So fun.

31914176_10100956751560226_4123517084921495552_n

We enjoyed a beer from the best viewpoint in town, for a very reasonable price.

31945712_10100956751475396_3759721406351278080_n

We also went to one of the best restaurants in Cusco (according to a friend of mine) called Pachapapas – I had the whole roasted trout, and Ian had Alpaca skewers.  They were amazing!! The only thing that sucked was that we were both starting to feel the effects of altitude, and our metabolisms started slowing down. That meant that after 1 meal, we no longer wanted to eat or drink anything…And felt vaguely nauseous for the whole day/night. That meant I wasn’t even hungry for our amazing dinner-bummer! And the thought of alcohol made me feel sick. Man!

We also went to the shabby-chic Coca Museum (it was more shabby than chic hahaha) but a fun little foray.

31946510_10100956751415516_7032416778584064000_n

In the end, I was glad to wrap up our trip. It was chilly in Cusco at night, but fairly nice during the day. I was wishing I could eat/drink normally again, and quite glad to be back on the road home by the end of our three days.

31901854_10100956751610126_4208025746200854528_n

Visit Peru- it’s a crazy place and you’ll have a grand adventure!

Peru step 2: Iquitos and the Amazon jungle

Fresh off a Radiohead concert and the intensely dry heat of Lima, we hopped on a plane and flew to Iquitos. There, we would get picked up by our driver and escorted to a boat. The boat would then drive us 1.5 hours into the Amazon, to Muyuna Lodge, where we would spend the next 3 nights/4 days.

31120894_10100952520683936_3531334617715965952_n

The lodge

I was tired, so tired by this time. We got to Iquitos (it’s a real frontier town, ha) and it was surprisingly cool but muggy. The boat ride wasn’t bad actually, loud and quite long but went quickly. The Amazon goes on forever…It’s stunning to think of it.

We pulled up to Muyuna Lodge and got settled. It’s a good lodge, nothing fancy but everything you need and nothing you don’t. Safe, clean and accessible. We even started our excursions that day, at 3pm after lunch. It started pouring rain, but we suited up and went into the jungle for our first jungle walk (I would later kind of dislike jungle walks. Too many mosquitoes, like clouds of them, you never saw any animals, and it was so muddy and wet it was a struggle to slog anywhere.)

31138104_10100952631227406_5420846934891954176_o

It was kind of eh. We returned to our cabin, and passed out until dinner, which startled the heck out of us. WTF why is it dark out now?? After dinner we went on a caiman hunting excursion! I loved this, and we got to hold a baby caiman and then let it go. They were SO CUTE and strangely dry.

31120688_10100952520733836_8422951099664695296_n

The next morning (and every morning is an early one, breakfast at 6:30 am and excursions at 7:15am) we zipped out to visit river dolphins in the Amazon, and go for a swim. It was so neat! We also saw a few monkeys and a ton of sloths. Wow!!

31265386_10100952631247366_1501127955131138048_o

Lunch back at the lodge – and I have to say, the food at the lodge was great! Tons of variety, as much as you want to eat and I was never unhappy with it. The only issue I ad was that a lot of it was very egg-heavy, or if not eggs, mayonnaise? Neither of which I eat, ha. Oh well, there was ceviche, lomo saltado, beef, pork, stuffed peppers, stir frys, salads, potatoes, all the fresh Amazonian fruit you could eat on tap, good breakfast options (yogurt being my chief demand, ha) and much more. There was even desserts!

31250635_10100953302681806_2023361545571926016_n

We had so many excursions and outings- three a day, actually. Morning, after lunch and after dinner. We even went fishing for piranhas and we each caught one! I was exhausted!! We’d just crash after the lunch one, after a vigorous game of ping-pong, ahha. No TV, no internet, no cellphones, no news and no problems.

31166813_10100952631217426_5610619004008792064_o

Loved it. Though by the end, I was tired of the jungle (it was quite rainy haha) and mosquitoes, I do highly recommend checking out Mayuna Lodge. Three nights and four days is just perfect. 🙂

31180153_10100952795188826_7159988809197682688_n

31250440_10100952795138926_2077447703658233856_o

Peru- the adventure of a lifetime! Step one: Lima & Radiohead

I actually put this off for a day since I’ve been back chiefly because I don’t even know where to begin! I will start by recapping my adventure from where we first landed- Lima, Peru.

30705432_10100950311805546_1354362965507178496_n

In Lima, we stayed in the Miraflores district. It’s a very safe, quite rich and fancy area in Lima. There are a lot of poorer areas, and one that is outright unsafe (at the airport, Callao, the port area). Lots of robberies, muggings, etc. But it’s easy to bypass by buying a safe bus ticket that leaves directly from the airport and it’s not an area you ‘wander in to’ by any chance.

We spent a few days in Miraflores in a very nice Air BnB that had a rooftop infinity pool, a ground floor pool and lots of sundecks. Really awesome. It was quite warm in Lima, as the sun really lazer beams down on people.

For our time in Lima, we visited the Pucllana Temple, which is right in the heart of Miraflores. It was very neat, and a cool way to learn about pre-Inca civilizations (there were so many, over 35?!).

30705452_10100950314929286_1203711206573998080_n

We then went to the historical old city part of Lima, and that was okay…It was kind of a bust tourist-wise because they just didn’t seem to be really set up for lounging at cafes or having cocktails, if you know what I mean? Just, nothing there to sit and enjoy. We did visit the San Francisco monastery, where they have very creepy catacombs. A reasonable price and a super interesting visit/tour through the catacombs. I highly recommend!

In the evening, we went to Barranco. Aside from Miraflores, people stay there. It’s really awesome- beautiful, quirky, funky, lots of people and restaurants and very safe. I loved it! There is also a brewery there, the Barranco Brewery.

30725619_10100950314839466_7181158054459604992_n

The next few days, we ran along the gorgeous Miraflores sea walk. They are very close to the South Pacific but it’s not a very friendly beachfront. There is no sand, just rocks and the highway runs right along next to it! The waves are also killer… And in the evening, we went to the Soundhearts Radiohead concert!!! WHOOP! The bus to the soccer arena was a flaming nigtmare, and I seriously wondered if I was going to get crushed to death. Yikes. I do NOT recommend taking the bus in Lima. It is a horrible experience.

30714580_10100950628001886_6855851630823211008_n

But anyways, we made it and the concert was SO GOOD. Radiohead played well to their audience, it wasn’t too crammed, and they had three encores. We left after the second, as I did not want to repeat the ‘crushed in a bus’ experience…But we still had time to listen to ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ which made it allll worthwhile….

30715478_10100950314999146_3589966783936724992_n

Corvina ceviche

And then it was up at 4am to catch a flight to our next adventure- Iquitos and the Amazon jungle. Stay tuned…

 

Good/Bad/Bummed

So no Oats recaps this week. He is SICK! 😦

I thought he was coughing a lot during my lesson last Thursday. Little did I know…

Saturday I got to the barn and he was full-blown snotty, snot spraying everywhere! On the ground, on my jacket, on his face, chest, legs all accompanied by a lovely cough. So, yeah my horse show (Wild ‘N Wooly Dressage Series) was supposed to be on Sunday. Can’t take a sick horse, Oats now having to have a bunch of days off to recover, as per my vet.

Show’s off.

Or is it?

My friends who were coming with me to the show were so bummed too! What to do? They suggested I borrow my trainer’s schoolmaster Blaze! I pondered that for a hot minute. I wanted to to do the show (on Oats) but I just plain wanted to try it out. I wasn’t going to be able to defer my entries b/c I am racing the next time and in Peru for the time after that!

28277085_10100926269087346_326147338020003822_n

The talented photographer Sue Ferguson took this photo of us!

So…I asked to borrow Blaze and got a yes!

Now, to ride a dressage show on a horse I have ridden once, in a jump lesson, three years ago. = Success??

HA, sort of!

28337786_10100926269172176_5019392465480368812_o

Horse treats, gummy candies (from the horse show!) AND Reese’s (from Lindsay). They know me so well! 

It was a success in that the day went really well, Blaze was a really good girl and not spooky at all, and we tried our best! We even did the Prix Caprilli (pictured above)! The green-eyed jealousy monster in me wished I had Oats so we could strut our stuff, but I also knew that Blaze and I would be trying our best, and that was good enough for us 🙂

The show was run really well, super smoothly. My friends came and I had a great time chatting and catching up!! My friend on her horse was able to really pull it together after a bit of a shaky first test. I also kind of went off course twice… Apparently the third time is the try, hahahah. I am going to pin that on catch-ride nerves, haha. Or something?

It was a lovely way to experience the show and I am grateful I was able to borrow a horse to go. Now, please get better Oats. I miss riding you and having a purpose to my day!!

Family Day long weekend: Doing ALL the things!

We had a long-anticipated long (ha) weekend and boy, did we cram it full of things to do!

37320089444_5f255b9b17_o

The day was PHENOMENAL! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I even got up early-ish both Sat/Sun to be able to get stuff done. So what did we enjoy this weekend?

Saturday:

  • Got up, had a great breakfast (pancakes!) courtesy of my husband, and then up and off to ride Oats. Great ride, someone left a bunch of jumps up to a reasonable height (small verticals) so we schooled those.
  • Trimmed up his mane and then rushed home, to run my long run. It took forever.
  • Got home, took Gidget for a walk, showered and rushed downtown to do a happy hour crawl with husband. It was GREAT!
  • We started at Table 21 for $5 prosecco, (their food isn’t really great, and not a good deal), and then went to Perro Negro for their awesome $6 charcuterie platter and $4 glasses of wine, and then to Famous Original pizza for their fantastic pizza deal- can of PBR and a slice for $6. We got another slice each after that!!

Sunday:

  • Get up early for my riding lesson with Karen Brain. It was tough to get up that early, but my friend was at the barn and brought me coffee!! Sweet!
  • The lesson was awesome- I was really happy with Oats’ efforts, and minimal drama from him too. A focused and good lesson.
  • Got dressed at the barn and ran hills on my way home. PHew. My legs were fried!
  • Got home, and collected husband and Gidget and we went to check out Oak Bay for a change of pace. Grabbed some candy, bought raspberry hot chocolate and cruised around. We saw three otters swimming in a pack! So cute.
  • Husband made a great shepherd’s pie for dinner. Yumm.

Monday:

  • No early mornings here! Waffles thanks to my husband, and we packed lunch to go hiking up Mt. Wells, near Goldstream.
  • It was a good trail- I am not a skilled hiker, so I find it tough but it was quite fair. Lots of steep climbs though and great views to round out the experience. Gidget loved it! The weather was soooooo good. Cold, but sunny and so bright 🙂
  • Ate sandwiches on our way to the barn after the hike, and a quiki ride on Oats. Some minor lateral work.
  • Home, and the climbing gym for husband, and the couch and Baileys for me 🙂 Chores to round out the evening and some TV.

I LOVE long weekends!!

 

Guest post: Finlayson Arm 28k 2017 Race Recap!

Courtesy of my husband who bravely undertook this insane race last weekend! Without further ado:

The good memories of the 28k Finlayson Arm race are overshadowed by my evolution through intensifying stages of discomfort. This constant pain was punctuated by bursts of sunlight piercing magically down between treetops, a stunning vista or two and little reminders that this amazing network of trails is in my own backyard. There was also the reminder that I had volunteered for this little jaunt through the woods and that no one would sympathize with my agony.

A few weeks before the race, I had decided that four hours was the longest it would take me – the rough number to beat. I figured that was setting expectations so low that I was sure to finish with a smile. There was even some pre-race training for me, complete with my brand new water-bladder on my back and getting lost for an hour or two in the trails behind Thetis Lake. I felt sure-footed and strong. This was a race I could do. All I needed to do was power through some tough hills and keep moving. In a sense, that’s exactly how things turned out.

It was a chilly morning when we set out – cool and clear over night – but the forecast was sunny. The 50k and (suicidal) 100k racers had finished the day before in the rain. As if their punishment was not enough. I went quick off the start as I anticipated getting bottlenecked later on the narrow single-track. After a kilometer I was established near the top 10. Then we hit the creek. Anyone who has been to Goldstream Park will notice how a four-lane highway rips through the middle with no safe way to get from one side to the other. You either need to dodge cars or get your feet wet (and maybe your legs and maybe your ass depending on how nimble you are). A rope strung across helped the crossing not be complete madness, but it was a gritty way to start a race.

With wet feet I carried up through the rolling side hill on the west side of the highway. This is a really nice section of trail that I will have to remember to check out when I’m not racing. It was a time to flex out your legs, find your pace and your seeding, a bit of a free pass before you hit the real hills. Looking back I wonder if I went too fast in this section, maybe blowing too much gas.

About five kilometers in, we were back under the highway (luckily through a dry stream bed this time) and through the main park, eerily deserted in the still early morning. I already had a pain in my leg, a nagging injury that I’m learning to live with, so I started to run a bit more cautiously.

Next it was on to the main event of the first half of the race, up the face of Mt Finlayson. There’s a slow build to remind you that this is a serious climb, to check your pace and your ambition. Then it gets steeper. Then the trail kinda takes a break and you start scrambling over rock, open to the sky. I should mention at this point all the volunteers and signage to keep you on track. There is plenty of both and I always felt like I knew where I needed to go. They seemed to anticipate in these early sections where you might go astray and had people there to point. On the mountain there were more guides. It’s the kind of climb where there is the very real possibility of running off a cliff into thin air so I’m glad they were there to point the best way.

At the top of the hill I felt pretty good. Well, not good. My legs were burning. But there was a lift in getting over what I knew was the hardest section of trail and I had kept my pace and not been passed. It was this feeling that propelled me down the backside, not too steep (which was nice) and into trail that I had never seen before. Just before we popped out on asphalt (a surprise) I was passed by someone with a bit more lift than me, but I stayed on his heels as we ran along the short section of road towards the first aid station.

The station could not come soon enough. Almost two hours into the run, I suddenly felt depleted. I wanted to stop and sit and eat some cookies, but my new nemesis just cruised on through. I grabbed a cookie and a banana piece anyway and set off on the next leg, back into trail. This is where my memory of the route got a bit hazy. What kilometre were we at? How far to the turnaround? Basically, the race had moved solidly into ‘not-fun-anymore’ territory and I was doing some mental math on how much longer I would have to move. At two hours the footsteps behind me turned into people passing me. I tried my best to make sure they weren’t increasing their lead on me, but I found myself slowing on every little hill, my flow completely evaporating.

There is a long hill in this section that, mentally, nearly did me in. Where was the bloody turnaround? The trail was also quite technical, with loose rocks and big steps up in places. Then I saw the front runners coming back down and couldn’t decide if I was elated or destroyed. It meant the end must be near but also put the necessary route back home into perspective. At least they were giving shout outs to keep me going: “Almost there!” I hoped they were right. Finally there were more people coming back down towards me – people I recognized! Hey, you’re only a bit ahead of me! And there were the volunteers, a photographer snapping a picture of my grimaced face, and the end of the ‘out’ – it was time for the ‘back.’ (Side note: one of the volunteers or spectators or whatever was announcing ‘halfway there’ and I thought that was a bit cruel. Maybe most didn’t hear or didn’t care, but I was a believer for a moment. Could this truly be only halfway?)

I was so happy to be heading home (and downhill to boot) that I even passed who I would later find out was my trail buddy. I swung my bag around and took out my gel pack. Time to take in some energy and get going. Things were looking good. Now it was my turn to dish out enthusiasm to those still on the grind to the top – “keep going,” and “almost there” I kept saying even as it became less true the further I went. And there were so many people behind me. I was doing well! Then all of a sudden I wasn’t.

I was coming undone, step by step.

After three hours of “running” I did not have the strength to keep my pace, or any pace. I was passed, then passed again. I knew the aid station would be coming back up again but I needed it now. As I popped out of the woods back into the daylight I was passed by another three. But I had to take a moment. I grabbed another gel pack, a banana and squashed a cookie in my mouth. The volunteers were asking if I needed to fill my pack, something to drink. I shook my head and imagined the madness in my eyes. I muttered something about wanting to use up what I had. Maybe I had filled my pack too full as well. Then I was off for the final few kilometers and my once measured race became an unhinged stumble to the end.

The return route did not go back over Mt Finlayson, but skirted along one side. It was a rolling bit of trail that took a lot of focus. Right in front of me was the aforementioned Trail Buddy – temporary companions in suffering. It felt reassuring to keep pace with someone. Those who had passed us seemed to have extra energy to tap and were pulling away, but we were hanging in there, moving forward. I knew the end could not be too far off, but looking at my watch I began to wonder if I would get in under four hours. More importantly, would I be able to stand on my feet for that long? We rounded the mountain and rejoined the steep trail up from before – this time heading down. My legs – knees, shins – could not handle the steep downhill. I grimaced with every step. Up or down would not do; I needed flat, please.

Down and down we went and we were passed again. My world got smaller as I narrowed my focus on foot placement without collapsing or catapulting downhill.

Next was a split off to the left, in the direction of end/start. I could hear the highway again. I was picturing a mental map of the park and where we were in relation to salvation. The end could be around any bend, I told myself after every bend. Out of nowhere this guy in his sixties came up on us, hooting and and maniacally urging us along. “C’mon boys, let’s give ‘em hell” he shouted as if we were heading over the top of the trenches or storming Normandy. I put on a face and groaned some more. The crazy old man disappeared whooping and skipping along. Maybe I imagined the whole thing.

Then at about the same time that I decided my legs were finished, I spotted spectators ahead. There was a volunteer with a clipboard, calling ahead with my number, the sound of fans and a PA system blurting out names and congratulations. And then I heard my name, a mix-up, before I shot out onto the grass and over the finish, some prize pack thrust into my hands, the buzz of activity all around. There was my run buddy (he beat me in the end) with a high five and then food, glorious food.

For the next 45 minutes or so, I paced around in agony in between vigorous stuffing of burgers and beer. I could not decide whether to sit, stand, walk, or crawl into the bushes for a little nap. It was agony, but I had done it. And I never had to do it again.

I stayed on to cheer some others as they came across. A seventy year old, a guy who had finished the 100k yesterday was doing the ‘double-double,’ some others who I recognized from races past. Were they fast, was I slow? Did we all do “alright?” I cared a little. As much as this race was an experiment, you want to do well. Or well enough for your expectations.

I got in at 3 hours and 51 minutes, somehow just inside my (soft) target. I might as well have run a marathon. It’s the slowest 28 kilometers I’ll likely ever run yet certainly one to remember.