Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Sloth Beth Strikes Again

And while I’m re-purposing old photos here on ye ole blog, I think it’s time to bring back this one:

Sloth Beth

Sloth Beth!

I have been such a sloth of late. I started the year off well – I went from the running study right into training for the Hollywood Half Marathon right into the BMO 8 km right into training for the Scotibank half marathon. And then I stopped running. Entirely. If it weren’t for a couple of bike rides to work recently and the fact that I’ve been playing hockey once a week this summer, I think I’d just be a giant puddle of formlessness due to my slothitude.

I can point to a lot of reasons for my lack of running, including my many vacations and the fact that I was spending time on real estate wheeling and dealing and packing and moving and unpacking and getting a new job and the extreme heat wave sucking up any scrape of energy one might have and, quite honestly, being a little bit bored of just running. But that’s not what’s important now. What’s important now is what I’m going to do to get rid of Sloth Beth. Because being Sloth Beth doesn’t feel as good as being Athletic Beth.

Step #1 was that I went out for a run this morning. And OMG, did it feel amazing. It was just a short run – a mere 5.27 km along the Quay – and it wasn’t fast. But it felt so good!

Next up, I need to sign up for a race. Because I know that if I’m not training for a race, I just don’t hit the pavement. I noticed that my friend Julie tweeted about signing up for the Night Race – where you get to run around Stanley Park (either 5 km or 10 km) in the dark and you get a free headlamp. And you know how I feel about free stuff. I’ve wanted to do that race for a while, but the past two years it has fallen on a night when I had MBA class, so I wasn’t able to do it. Seeing that I don’t have MBA classes any more – well, there’s no reason not to! I’m going to check in with my work running buddies1 on Monday to see if they’d be up for doing this race with me!

As well, I’ve been thinking really seriously lately about doing a triathlon. Doing so much running over the first half of the year has caused me to crave a little variety and I think a triathlon is just what the doctor ordered. My friend Candace is a triathlon veteran, so I have plans to meet up with her to get some advice on what triathlon I should do and how to start training!

I also took a look at my physical activity tracking spreadsheet – because you know how much I love a good spreadsheet – and discovered that though we are 63% of the way through the year, I’m only 57% of the way to my goal of running 800 km this year2. So I’m behind, but not so very behind that I can’t catch up. This makes me feel a bit better about my ability to recover from this slothiness – I’m not too far gone!

I’ve now got it in my calendar that I’m going to bike to work two days next week and I have at least one hockey game – two if we win our game on Wednesday3. I’m going out dancing with Kalev tonight4 and tomorrow I’m going salsa dancing, so I think I’m doing all the right things in terms of getting rid of that pesky Sloth Beth!

  1. Though I guess they will be my former work running buddies by the time this race happens. :'( []
  2. But let’s not talk about my progress towards my goal of biking 800 km this year! I’m currently at only 8.77% of that goal! Yikes! []
  3. It’s the playoffs and we are in a best of two series to see if we move on. We won last Wednesday’s game 8-2 (and I got 2 assists!), so if we win this Wednesday, we move on to the next round and play on Friday night. If we lose, it will go to goal differential, so that 6 goal lead we have on that front puts us in a nice position. But the plan is to just win again on Wednesday so there’s no need to worry about anything else. []
  4. Yay New West Pride! []

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A Familiar Face

Hey, remember that time I played hockey for 10 days to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis? Well, yesterday when I picked up a copy of the Royal City Record (my local paper), I saw a familiar face from that game: Bill Markvoort. Mr. Markvoort was a great supporter of our game. His daughter, Eva, was an amazing young woman who died four years ago from Cystic Fibrosis, but her legacy lives on through her work to raise awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and organ donation, and through the ongoing work of her family to carry on her legacy. The family generously allowed us to use Eva’s striking image for promotional material for our hockey game:

IMGP3212

According to the article, Mr. Markvoort turns 65 this year and he’s taking part in the GearUp4CF 1,200 km bike ride from Vancouver to Banff, with a goal of raising $65,000 for Cystic Fibrosis! I don’t know Mr. Markvoort, aside from having met him at the hockey game, but I feel like I have a sense of what he’s putting himself through – a nine-day bike ride sounds comparable in its level of gruelingness to 10 straight days of playing hockey! And I know that it really helped me out to be supported in my efforts, by both friends and strangers alike, so I figured I should pay forward all the support I got by contributing to his fundraiser.

Won’t you join me in supporting this worthy cause?  You can donate at his blog: http://65for65roses.blogspot.ca/

 

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Themes for 2014: Reflection, Mindfulness, and Biking to Work

In addition to my 2014 goals, I decided to have some themes for this year. Themes are the new black.

Reflection

During the past two years while I’ve been in school (in addition to working full-time at a job that requires lots of brain work), something I’ve had precious little of has been time. I’ve worked deadline to deadline at breakneck speed and when I had a break from classes (like Christmas or this past August), the last thing I wanted to be thinking about was, well, anything. But the thing is, stopping to reflect on the stuff you learn helps you retain it. At least I think I learned that somewhere, but I didn’t stop to reflect on it, so I might be retaining it wrong. At any rate, in 2014 I want to spend more time in reflection.

Mindfulness

"Mindful meditation has been discovered to..." [@dailyshoot #ds673]My sister has recently been immersing herself in the research surrounding mindfulness, which is about being aware and attentive to the present moment, noticing your thoughts and experiences in a non-judgemental way1. Since my sister and I talk all the time, this means that *I* am becoming versed in the science of mindfulness. I’m already a proponent of mindful eating and I’d like to spend time in 2014 being more mindful in other aspects of my life2.

Riding My Bike to Work

Ever since I moved to my new office, I’ve had grand plans  to start biking to work. It’s a good biking distance from my home – 7.5 km – and my office building has a locked room in the parkade in which to lock your bike and there are showers at the office gym. I have a sweet bike that I really like. I did a test run on a weekend day back in the summer and the bike paths to get from my place to work are reasonable, though would be a bit dark in places if you went before sun up or after sundown, and it doesn’t take that much longer than when I drive or Skytrain3. So a lot of the pieces are in place, but I still haven’t quite managed to actually bike to work yet. Excuses include: I don’t have a rack and pannier to carry my stuff4, I don’t have proper rain gear, and it’s too dark in the morning when I go to work and in the evening when I go home. Well, it’s time for me to do something about the first two excuses – and the last excuse is fixing itself day by day. For Christmas, my mom gave me money for a pannier and Sarah & Dave gave me money for sports-related paraphernalia as well, so I need only get off my butt and head to the store to purchase the gear I need to make biking to work a reality! It’s still a little too dark out in the morning when I go to work, but the days are getting longer now, so I’m confident that I can get going on this one soon.

So, there you have it folks, three themes for the new year. I’ll be sure to report back on how I do with these!

Image Credits:

Footnotes:

  1. Please correct me if I’m wrong on that. []
  2. And, yes, I do realize that my first theme is about looking back and the second one is about being in the moment. And, now that I think about it, setting goals is all about looking forward. But I don’t think that’s a problem – it’s all about finding balance. []
  3. Driving/Skytraining is about 20 minutes door to door, whereas biking is about 35 mins. But if I think of it as getting 35 mins of exercise for only 15 minutes of extra time beyond my less active forms of commuting, it’s a pretty good deal. []
  4. And when I started looking at them I got overwhelmed by trying to decide what to buy (thanks, decision fatigue!) and ended up not buying anything! []

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Biking Fail

To every yin there is a yang and the yin to my successful running year is the yang of my epic failure biking. I had grand plans of biking 500 km this year and I managed to fail that in spectacular fashion. I’d figured that between some fun bike rides and spending some time on the stationary bike in the exercise room in my building while reading textbooks, it would be easy-peasy. How wrong I was. As it turned out, I did most of my reading of textbooks on the Skytrain to and from work, so at home I was mostly writing stuff on my laptop, which isn’t conducive to stationary biking. And I really didn’t do very many bike rides just for fun. So my grand total of biking for the year ended up being a measly 83.5 km!! So unless I miraculously bike 416.5 km in the next three days, this one gets chalked up as the failingest fail that ever failed.

But I have grand plans about biking for the new year, so I have a feeling that I will vindicate myself in 2014!

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Yet Another Thing I Hate About Surrey

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Surrey. I hate suburbs and Surrey exemplifies pretty much everything I hate about suburbs1. Case in point: Surrey is NOT bike friendly2.

I decided to take my new bike3 for a spin last night. But where to go? I decided to check out Google Maps, which has a feature that indicates where there are bike lanes (in green). For example, check out this section of Surrey:

Surrey bike Routes

Immediately this raises the question:

Surrey Bike Routes 2

How is anyone who lives in that big gap along 152nd Street supposed to get from 72nd Ave, where the 152 St bike lane ends to 64th Ave, where the next east-west bike line is? 152nd Street is a *very* busy street, not one you’d want to ride down without a bike lane.

I actually looked on the City of Surrey’s website to see what I could find about bike lanes and found that they have a Cycling Plan that aims “to create a seamless bicycle network.” I have to say that this is clearly in the “planning” stage, as the bike lanes appear to be pretty haphazard this point. Take this for another example:

Surrey Bike Routes 3

Anyway, I decided to take some convoluted side streets to get to 64th Ave to try out the bike lane there. I wanted to see what it was like given that it is a potential way that I might want to bike to work. Well, 64th Avenue does have a bike lane, but I felt anything but safe while biking it in. It’s a very busy street and has an *extremely* narrow bike lane. The lane is, in fact, barely wider than a manhole cover. I can say this confidentially because there are manhole covers in the bike lane – not really something you want to have to bike over, let me tell you! And you can’t avoid them, because they take up virtually the whole bike lane – it’s that narrow. And the car lanes seem like they are pretty narrow too, as many of the vehicles that drove by me were very close to – or even driving right on – the line between the car lane and the bike lane. Having an 18-wheeler truck whip down the street about 6 inches from your person does not make for a relaxing ride! To make things even worse, the bike line was full of rocks and various other debris, which made it a bit like an obstacle course. A very narrow obstacle course where, if you hit any of the obstacles, you will fall into traffic and be run over by an 18-wheeler truck doing 80 km/hr.

I was planning to ride to King George Boulevard (of Broken Dreams) and then try out its bike lane, but given that K.G.B.(of B.D.) is even busier than 64th Avenue, I decided that I’d stared death in the face enough for one day and just turned around and biked back down 64th Ave to go home4.

Along the way, I met another bicyclist, and when we were stopped at a red light, I asked her if she commuted on this street regularly (She had on a backpack and look like a commuter). “This is my first time ever!” she said. “Oh,” I said, ” I was going to ask you if if it gets less terrifying once you get used to it.” She had a bit of a panicked look in her eye as she said, “Yeah, it’s pretty scary, eh?” I have a very strong suspicion that this first time might just be her last.

Given how scary 64th Avenue was, I really can’t imagine what would possess anyone to try the 56th Avenue (a.k.a. Highway 10) bike lane:

Surrey Bike Routes 4

And while I’m ranting, what’s the deal with all the kids not wearing bike helmets in my neighbourhood? Both yesterday and the day before when I went for my bike rides, there were *tonnes* of kids out riding around on their bikes – and I’m very much in favour of kids being active! – but not a single one of them was wearing a bike helmet! Bike helmets protect your *brains* people. Your brains! Also, if the zombie apocalypse happens while you are on your bike, it’s an added layer for protection from a hungry zombie. Thus, bike helmets are win-win.

  1. In my defence, I only reside in Surrey because I have the BEST. JOB. EVER. here. My plan is to stay here, with my affordable rent, until such time as my student loans are paid off, at which point I’ll have *a lot* more money to rent a place and then I’ll move back to Vancouver. You can call this my “exit strategy.” []
  2. Coincidentally, I was meeting with a colleague at her office the other day and she had a giant sign on her office door that said, “Surrey needs more bike lanes NOW!” (Apparently it had been part of some guerilla Public Health advocacy at a recent meeting she’d been at. I told her I completely agreed – and now that I’ve tried out the bike lanes, I have to say I agree doubly so! []
  3. I’m sure I’ll stop blogging about my new bike soon, if you’ll just bear with me. I have the attention span of a carrot, so I’m sure something else shiny will capture my imagine soon enough []
  4. Otherwise, I might have to start calling it King George Boulevard of Broken Bones []

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I Hate Being Incompetent At Things

So I managed to screw something up on my new bike after just one ride! But – DON’T PANIC! – because it was just a little screw up that was easily repaired (by someone who actually knew what they were doing).

The screw up happened when I tried to figure out how to use my new pump. After my first little ride yesterday, I decided that my front tire felt like it wasn’t inflated enough, so I tried to check out what the tire pressure was with the fancy tire pressure gauge on my new pump. But no matter what I did, I could not get the pump to give me a pressure reading. I Googled, I watched YouTube videos on tire inflation, but nothing seemed to help. Instead, through all my fiddling, I managed to *completely* deflate my tire. Gah! I hate being incompetent at things!

At this point, I admitted defeat and decided to take it in for some professional help. Google Maps informed me that there is a bike shop located very close to my office1, so I brought my tire in on my lunch break. Now, I’m totally going to give a plug to this store – Rocky Cycle – because the guys there were super friendly and helpful, fixing my tire and sorting out what was wrong with my bicycle pump, all without making me feel like I was an idiot. As it turns out, the bicycle pump has various little components inside that need to flipped around different ways depending on the type of valve you have. I *thought* I had it right, but I didn’t, and that’s why the pump wouldn’t lock onto the valve, meaning that I couldn’t get a pressure reading. In my defence, these are the “instructions” that came with my pump:

worst instructions ever

That’s it. No words, just that ridiculous drawing. Use your words, bicycle pump manufacturer, use your words!!

Anyway, my pump is now assembled correctly, my tire is inflated, and my bike rides like a dream!

  1. Given that I bought my bike in Vancouver, I didn’t really want to have to take it all the way there for a fix []

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My Shiny New Bike! It’s Shiny!

I finally found a hybrid bike that fits in the trunk of my Smart car! And it’s shiny and new and fun to ride and it’s sitting in my apartment right now because I bought it on Saturday! Item #73 on my list of 101 of things to do in 1001 days, consider yourself crossed off that list!

The bike that I ended up buying is the Cannondale Quick 3. It’s a sweet little hybrid with a carbon fibre fork, two quick release wheels, and a whole lot of awesome.

My new bike (Cannondale Quick 3)

Look how pretty it is!

The best part, of course, is that I can fit it in the trunk of my Smart car!

Cannondale Quick 3 - It fits in the trunk of my Smart Car

Thankfully, I’m very short, so my bike is the “petite” model (which is what Cannondale apparently calls their “extra small” bikes.), which means its small enough to fit into my trunk. The quick release wheels take just seconds to remove and it’s really light, so it’s super-easy to get it in and out of my car.

Of course, once you buy a bike, you have to buy a few accessories to go with it! Fortunately, I happened to have a gift card to Mountain Equipment Co-op, so I went there to buy the things I needed. Things like:

Bike lock

A bike lock

Bicycle pump

A bicycle tire pump

Water bottle cage for my new bike

A water bottle holder

Coffee Thermos

A thermos that seals tight and fits into the water bottle holder, in order to bring my coffee to work on days when I bike!

I probably should get a few other things, like some lights and such, but I figure that we are still having fairly long days, it allegedly being summer1 and all, so I have some time before I need to figure that out. Because I have to say that this shopping for bikes and bike accessories has really made me feel like there are too. many. choices. The options for types of bikes2 and features on those bikes3 and what those bikes are made of, etc. – were rather overwhelming. And then I went to MEC and there were eleventy billion options for locks and pumps and really I just wanted someone to tell me what to buy! Anyway, I’m pretty happy with what I got, so it’s all good.

Last night, I took it for its inaugural ride4 – a quick trip around the block and have to say it’s lots of fun to ride:

My first bike ride

I’m looking forward to taking her out for some longer rides – perhaps a seawall trip in the near future? As well, I’m planning to ride her to work when I can – the beginning of this week doesn’t look good for that, as I have meetings I have to get to and thus will need my car. But perhaps Thursday or Friday I will be able to!

Also, I need to think of a good name for my bike5. Any suggestions?

  1. I say “allegedly” because, although the amount of daylight we get and the date on the calendar suggests it is summer, our weather is decidedly autumnal. []
  2. road, mountain, hybrid, commuter, fitness, cyclocross, etc. []
  3. Do you want disc brakes or V brakes? Internal gear hubs or derailleurs? etc. []
  4. Well, its inaugural ride as *my* bike. I did take it for a test ride before I bought it and I’m sure others test road it as well. []
  5. My car, of course, is named Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car []

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Updates: Bootcamp & Bike

Two things:

  • Day 2 of Pre-Hockey Bootcamp was much easier than Day 1. That is to say, it still kicked my ass, but slightly less so than Day 1. Also, I discovered that I am super kickass at skipping. On Day 1 we did our skipping on the grass and I wasn’t very good at it. Yesterday, we skipped on pavement and I was super duper fast and barely tripped up at all when I was doing the skipping1. I may or may not have rewarded myself for surviving Day 2 with a nice, cold beer.
  • After deciding that I did, in fact, want to buy a hybrid bike2, I discovered that I can’t fit hybrid bikes in the trunk of my car. At least not the three that I tried at the shop yesterday3. The handlebars are just a bit too wide and it makes it so that I can’t fit the bike, even with both tires taken off, fully into my trunk. We even tried taking the seat off one of them, but it still wouldn’t fit. And I really don’t want to have to disassemble my entire bike every time I bring it somewhere. Two of the bike shop guys even suggested (independently of each other) that I could just leave the top part of my hatchback open with the bike sticking out a bit, but I live in freaking Vancouver, where it rains 13 months a year, so I nixed that idea immediately. I’m going to go out to a few other bike shops on Sunday to look at brands that they didn’t carry at Dunbar Cycle (e.g., Kona and Trek – as well as MEC has its own line of bikes), but I may, just may, have to go for a road bike instead. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, because I really did like the feel of the Giant Avail!
  1. I’m sure this will come as a major surprise to Sarah, who I’m sure remembers the pathetic display of uncoordination that was me trying to skip in grade 9 gym class! []
  2. For all the reasons mentioned by commenters on my previous post about buying a bike []
  3. The Norco Indie 2, the Devinci Stockholm, and the Giant Seek []

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I Like Bike

a bike that can only run on special roads. by vrogy.I want a new bike.

And thanks to getting a grant that will fund my job for the next six years,  I can actually afford to buy one. (An aside: I don’t usually talk about my job here on ye ole’ blog, but (a) this is just too good of news not to shout from the virtual rooftop, and (b) this is relevant to my bike purchasing desire – since I knew the grant that funded my job was ending soon and I knew that the competition was going to be very tough (despite the fact that I knew I’d written a kick ass grant application, about 2 of every 3 applications were going to be rejected), I’d been madly saving as much money as I could (hence the three jobs I’ve been working this term) in case I ended up with no job in this economic downturn/recession/depression/financial armageddon.  But now that that job is secured, I feel like I can use some of those savings for bike purchasing goodness. But I digress).

My current bike, which I haven’t ridden in I don’t know how long, is 18 years old.  It really, really needs to be retired.  And I really, really need a bike that I can actually ride.  With the weather actually becoming nice, I think that it’s high time I started to bike to work.  But the problem is: I don’t really know anything about bikes. I’ll probably head over to Dunbar Cycles and Cheapskates to see what they have, but I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions of what I should look for in a bike that I will use primarily to bike to work and the grocery store?

Image credit: vrogy on Flickr