east vs. west

Not one but several people warned me that if I go West, I will never come back. I am sure this comes from my love for all things California but I am here to say, I went West and I did come back.

Did I love it? Yes! Was it beautiful? Yes! Is it the best coast? Not sure.

Don’t get me wrong… every place we visited, we imagined ourselves living there (Oak Bay, Victoria… I’m talking about you). So active. So green. So many mountains! They have it all and the people were really friendly. We had a great time but as much as I loved the West Coast, I still think there are some amazing things about living over here, next to the Atlantic. All of Canada is beautiful and I am certain, as long as I am near a coast, I will be happy.

Here are some pictures of the trip: 6 Days. 5 Ferries. 4 great runs. 3 awesome hikes. 2 countries. 1 wedding and 0 whale sightings…

Day 1: We flew in and out of Seattle mostly because airfare was muuuch cheaper and partly because we really wanted to see Seattle. It’s lovely – like a mini San Francisco or a big Halifax (although Halifax has a better waterfront (just saying)). Our flight left Halifax at 5:20 am (that’s 1:20 am Seattle time) so when we arrived at 10:30 am Seattle time it was feeling like 2:30 pm Halifax time. We were sleepy, not sleepless, but made the most of the 24 hours and took full advantage of their caffeine supply. We didn’t crash until 10:00 pm Seattle time (which felt like 2:00 am Halifax time)! dsc_0295Seattle has a monorail which takes you from the Space Needle to downtown. Totally touristy, totally worth the $2.50.img_6305We had lunch downtown in Westlake Park at The People’s Burger food truck – my portobello mushroom burger was amazing. We then walked down the Pike Street to Pike Place Market and found the Pike Street Starbucks and the original Starbucks. There was fish throwing and salt water taffy but I was most impressed with the price of flowers.img_6308img_6310dsc_0297img_6313img_6314img_6315img_6316After an afternoon downtown, I dragged Mike to University Village… which is in a kind of attached to the University of Washington but actually just a big outdoor mall full of really nice stores. The drive around the campus was beautiful and I was so excited to go to Oiselle. When I arrived, I was surprised to see Kate Grace was in the store doing a talk about her Olympic experience (she’s sponsored by Oiselle and I had cheered for both her and our Melissa Bishop in the 800m final). I happily listened to her but I’m not going to lie… I was more interested in trying on the running clothes! As soon as the autographs started, I weaved in and out and all around the fans, trying to decided how many tanks and shorts I was allowed to smuggle across the border! (“kidding” D.T.)img_6320Day 2: The next morning, fully on Seattle time, I went for a run around the city and then we left via ferry #1 (Bainbridge Island) North to Port Angeles. I am really glad we chose this route because it was a chance to see more of Washington – it’s a beautiful state. We arrived in Victoria at 7:20 pm – just in time for Mike to hook up with his friend. dsc_0305img_6328img_6332dsc_0306dsc_0307dsc_0309Before hopping on ferry #2 which took us across the border to Victoria, we spent some time in the Port Angeles area including Olympic National Park. Sorry, I forgot to photograph my fish taco.dsc_0315dsc_0316dsc_0320Hey Mike, stop so I can take your picture next to the tall trees…dsc_0321Hey Mike, pretend you’re excited! dsc_0322dsc_0324G’bye America, hello beautiful British Columbia – I can’t believe it has taken me this long to see you!img_6334Day 3: While Mike was recovering from the night out with his friend, I went for a beautiful run all around Victoria. It’s the best way to see a city because I was up before all the tourists (how else to you get pictures without people in your way?)… Victoria is unbelievable – there is a waterfront trail that wraps around the city that I ran along which was so fantastic – along the way I found MILE 0 of the Trans Canada and the Terry Fox memorial, and then a castle!?!img_6341img_6352img_6353img_6354img_6358We then spent a few hours roaming around the city and had lunch at Rebar. (I bought the cookbook and made the carrot cake but would love to test out some more recipes on friends). On our way out of the city, I took Mike on a drive of my morning running route so he could see all the beautiful highlights.dsc_0341dsc_0342dsc_0344img_6362That afternoon we drove up to Bear Mountain and hiked to the top of Mount Finlayson before having a lovely 10-year anniversary dinner. img_6365img_6370img_6371Day 4: Although Bear Mountain is meant for golfing, there are great trails and I took Mike on his first trail run the next day. Holy hills!img_6374img_6375img_6376After our run, we packed up and set off for ferry #3 – Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay. On our way, we stopped for lunch at this lovely coffee shop in Cobble Hill and ate a Nanaimo bar (and Nanaimo bar ice cream) while waiting to board the ferry in Nanaimo (as they say, when in Rome…).dsc_0375img_6382img_6384From Horseshoe Bay, we u-turned and got on ferry #4 to Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast. We went straight to a cottage for a rehearsal dinner. It was dark and stormy (but wine for me) and you could hear the ocean.

Day 5: Ironically, the only time we had rain was while on the Sunshine Coast however it was so beautiful! At the rehearsal dinner the night before, the brother of the bride offered to take me on a 17 km run. Even in the pouring rain, it was such a great route and we ended right in front of Molly’s Reach just in time for breakfast! (As a CBC Canadian kid who didn’t have cable until the age of 12, The Beachcombers is a big deal). The sun came out just in time for a lovely wedding!img_6387img_6392img_6393img_6396Hello sunshine! Hello Sunshine Coast!img_6399Day 6: After a wild wedding night and brunch, we jumped on ferry #5 back to Horseshoe Bay. Despite the shenanigans of last night, we managed to haul our butts up The Grouse Grind which was a fun way to sweat all of the tequila out of the system. The view from the top was totally worth it. Once we descended, via the skyline, we headed back to Seattle. Since we are coming back to B.C. in February, we drove straight through Vancouver (got a little sneak peek) and waited for the longest time ever at the border. Our flight was at 6:00 am the next morning. img_6406img_6407img_6408img_6411I know, I wrote beautiful eight times!!! Sorry, not sorry. The West Coast is stunning and I took way more photos of the ocean and mountains than I am showing here. I can not wait to go back and see more but until then, I will enjoy the East! dsc_0386

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team player

For the last few weeks (especially the last few days) I have been thinking about solo vs. group sports.

As a kid, I played soccer and ringette and participated in war canoe and kayaking which were all team sports and a great experience but as I got older (and I’d like to blame back surgery mixed with adolescence), I pretty much whet on a sports hiatus until post-university. At that time, I had just moved back to Halifax and my best friend Sarah started running. She joined Team Diabetes and completed a full marathon in memory of her dad.* This was enough to motivate me to learn how to run and although I have taken a few Running Room classes, it has mostly been a solo pursuit. Don’t get me wrong, if someone wants to run with me, I am more than thrilled to have a buddy (call me!) but most days, it’s just me and my dog at 5:45 am. Running is great but it can get lonely… so what else do I do?

  1. Join A Group: Four years ago my cousin convinced me to go to a trail run with The Halifax Trail Runners Club. We had no idea what we were getting into but it was a blast. Sadly, we showed up to their last run of the season but, even though Kathleen moved away that winter, I went back for their first night the following Spring. I have continued running with the club for three years and enjoy the group aspect. Even though there are crazy-fast/crazy-good trail runners in the club, the “Happy To Be Here” group was a great pace and not terribly intimidating. Basically we’d all take off together, stick together, and run trails through the woods. It’s such a treat to be off the roads and despite a few falls, a few scars and a few stitches, it led me to sign up for great events like the Sonofa Gunofa Run and the Cuddly Coyote trail races. This season however, I haven’t been out. Why? With the growing size of the club and the popularity in trail running, they had to change their format and now you need to be more familiar with the trails and find a buddy before the weekly run rather than then relying on a larger leader-led group. This (kind of) makes sense but for someone who’s always been a follower in the woods, it makes me uneasy to be out there in a smaller group. What if I show up and there’s no one to run with? I am such a social-chicken but I am determined to go to at least one run this season – I need to get my courage back and allow myself to remember how awesome the woods can be.
  2. Join A Group Fitness Class: I am not much of a gym girl but I have become a big fan of Cyclone Studio. They’re all about group fitness and this method works for me. Rather than doing your own thing at the gym, Cyclone offers classes, including spin, barre, TRX, circuit training, kickboxing and my personal favourites – the combo classes (mix spin with TRX or spin with yoga)! There is something about being in a class that pushes you harder and it’s a bonus when you have friends in the class too. Don’t get me wrong, I will alway love sweating with Shaun T, but getting out of the house it much more fun.
  3. Join A Team: As mentioned, running is a solo sport… but it doesn’t have to be. I learnt this a few weeks ago when I joined a relay team. Running in a relay is so much fun and an added challenge. You go faster because your result is not just for you. Having a support crew cheering you on and being a support person for others is awesome.
  4. It’s not all serious: There are now a billion running races (may be a slight exaggeration) in Nova Scotia each year and it is hard to decide which ones to do. Last year I talked Sarah into joining me on the Run Or Dye colour run. I am a professional fan of colour and figured I needed to experience what running through powdered dye was all about. It was a total gimmick and very unorganized but it was still fun. And being that it felt like a “did it, done it, got the t-shirt, not doing it again” experience, I decided to sign up for the Mud Hero run this year. Doing stupid silly stuff with friends is what summer is all about. Right?

So why is this on my mind.. solo vs. group? Last week, a massive search was conducted for a missing mountain biker. He was apparently riding alone on one of the local mountain bike trails we run and he didn’t return home. This has been heavy in my heart – knowing how easy it can be to get lost in a place you thought you knew. I know people (including my mom!) who were a part of the search** and it is hard to accept that he hasn’t been found.

I hope everyone takes the time to have fun but be safe this summer.


*To learn more about Sarah, the running, her husband and family check out this podcast – so great!
** As mentioned here, Search and Rescue is a valuable organization to our communities. Support their efforts if you can.

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg