Sunday, September 28, 2008
The overwhelming majority of my weekend was spent in a classroom... It has been some time since I flexed my scholastic muscles and I won't lie that it was quite grueling to sit there for a day-and-a-half. The final result is that I am an accredited Triathlon Community Coach.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Sometimes they drive us crazy.... but when you see your 3 year old daughter teetering around the kitchen trying to carry a stool and a book, setting up in front of her brother, and reading Good Night Moon to him it makes it all worthwhile.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It's been a hectic few days since I returned from Ottawa.
I was explaining to a friend from I.F. the other day how losing my leg was like a gift. Odd, I know. Admittedly, not the kind of gift you ask for at Christmas... but let me explain.
Last weekend I was given the opportunity to address injured soldiers from the Canadian and U.S. Armed Forces. The occasion was the first annual Army Run in Ottawa, and my mission was to provide some motivation and inspiration for a group of men (and a few women too) who have seen what hell looks like and want to book a seat on the next Air Force transport back there.
The story of how an individual winds up missing a limb, or blind, or otherwise "disabled" is usually not a pretty one, I have heard many different tragic tales and I have my own, which I have told a thousand times.... but this was a room filled with some stories that made me feel like a rookie on the first day of training camp. In my preparation for the talk I sometimes wondered how the victim of a suicide bomber, insurgent attack or roadside bomb would relate to a guy who lost his leg touring San Francisco with his college sweetheart. Would we be speaking the same language?
Perhaps in response to this concern, the Armed Forces had provided an interpreter for the event. I couldn't help but imagine her interpreting my words like this:
ME: "Hi there, my name is Meyrick"
ME: "I lost my leg bla bla bla, cable car crash, San Francisco, bla bla bla."
INT: "He is barely a man and you could all eat him for breakfast."
ME: "Let's talk about goals."
INT: "The pretty boy wants to talk to you men about goals"
I am still not sure she didn't say those exact words to the francophone soldiers from Quebec.
It is difficult to assess and appraise the effectiveness and entertainment quality of one's own speech... I was encouraged when I noticed several heads nodding in agreement as I spoke. One such head was attached to the sturdy neck of a General. He seemed to be digging my message, and his approval, assumed as it was, buoyed my confidence. I successfully coaxed a few laughs out of the audience, usually at my own expense. Everyone enjoys a tale of utter disaster on the racecourse and I have no problem indulging them and sharing the lessons.
In the end nobody fell asleep and I got many fine compliments on my words. There is no doubt that I will need to spend a lot more time with these guys before I will understand all of the challenges they face - mental and physical - if I ever will. Fortunately, it seems as though they may have me back sometime in the not to distant future.
AFTER THE TALK
We adjourned to the Officer's Mess where beer is cheap and tales of distant battle fields (real and figurative) are told. It was a perfect way to wind down from a speaking engagement and I partook in the beverages along with everyone else. There was minimal talk of the next day's run - nobody seemed overly concerned. As the beers went down I received a crash course in all things military. Feeling a bit like a tourist amongst locals, I nevertheless felt privileged to get a view into a world not many civilians see. Dinner on the town was to follow and more beer was consumed.
The clock beside my bed at the Sheraton read 8:24 when my eyes opened.
The race organizers had arranged for a ceremonial start for injured soldiers and athletes with a disability - 15 minutes ahead of the main pack. We took off and settled into an easy stride. As the first few kilometers ticked by we wound our way along the Rideau Canal - which is beautiful. I felt pretty good but was certainly harbouring a bit of trepidation for the latter stages of the race... excess beer, minimal sleep and no breakfast are not my usual pre-race routines. Aid stations were critical to my success and I guzzled gatorade as if it were beer at an Officer's Mess. Around the 9 or 10 km mark I procured a couple of energy gels from a gent who had a fully packed fuel belt. I was in good shape.
Our platoon of three stuck together and gutted out a victory as Jesse completed his first half marathon (and first real race) since being wounded in Afghanistan; Frank, his classmate at the RMC in Kingston, who had come to run with him as a guide/buddy, put in a training day for his upcoming marathon; and I managed to avoid embarrassing myself (barely) and survived the run with nary a hangover at the end. I actually felt fresh as a daisy by the end of the run - it gave me some pacing ideas for the next time I tackle a half or a full marathon. A little bit of effort saved over the first half can really help in the latter half.
The overall experience is one that is tough to sum up for me. I feel proud, I feel humbled, I feel excited about helping the armed forces and the injured soldiers in the future, as it seems I will. The strongest feeling of all is that I am doing something important, something that helps people directly. It is incredibly rewarding and I would likely not be in this place in my life if I had two legs. Losing my leg wasn't an event I would have chosen at the time, but it sometimes feels like a gift now. There is a proverb that says "calm seas never make skillful sailors", and I feel like it is no coincidence that my roughest moments in life have contributed so much to the development of my strongest attributes.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I got back from Ottawa this evening.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
For about a week now the certificates from the Terry Fox Run have been sitting beside the computer. Every time I sit down I read the quote... Eventally I realized that I actually knew very little about Terry and the Marathon of Hope. With my trip coming up (and 53 injured soldiers to motivate) I did a little brushing up on Terry this week - I got really into it.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Yesterday Rob and I hit the trails at the Capilano River Park.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
About 20 of us tackled the West Vancouver Terry Fox Run this morning under sunny skies. It was a lot of fun to mix different groups of our friends together out there.
People chose their own distance - 2 or 5 km - and we went for it. Mattias dug deep and turned in an excellent performance in the 5km event (his longest official event thus far.)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The West Vancouver Soccer Club started up today with action at the Hugo Ray field at 9:30am... The Red Dragons, Mattias' team, were ready to rock as evidenced by the fact that I barely had time to park the car before Mattias had slotted his first goal of the season with a shot just inside the near post of the green team's net.
Friday, September 12, 2008
We all know the Paralympics are full of athletes with amazing stories of perseverance and determination yada yada yada.... Often the athletes' "stories" become the story that gets reported - not their performance.
Last night Tony, Andrea and I rollerskied around Stanley Park.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
P.S. The photo at the top of the post is by Annie Liebovitz and was the cover of Vanity Fair in December 1999. It is the first (and almost certainly the last) photo of a naked male to grace my blog. Tweet this!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
At the best of times compromising is somewhat irritating... In most cases I would rather just get what I want.
Monday, September 8, 2008
OK. I have finally finished uploading all the photos from the weekend. It is kind of laborious work but far better than how it would have played out only a few short years ago....
Cast your mind back 10 years....
1998 = Start up the car. Drive to London Drugs with 8 rolls of film. Drop off. Drive home. Wait a day or two. Drive back. Realize you forgot the damn keychain discount thing so fork over $50 and pick up an 8lb bag of photos. Eagerly flip through the results of your efforts and realize that 90% of them suck. Go back and order doubles of the 20 decent shots. Throw the rest in the garbage to await transfer to the nearest landfill where they will reside for the next 3000 years. Drive home. Put photos in a drawer and forget them forever (unless married in which case there is a 10% chance they will be album-ified.)
2008 = sit at your computer for a few hours organizing, uploading, editing, arranging etc. Only had to swear a few times when the uploads to Flickr mysteriously got interrupted. Distrubute to all friends with a few clicks of the mouse. Post on blog and show the world. Nice.
So the next time you are about to complain about gas prices escalating remember: you're saving on photo finishing. It helps. A bit.
Without further ado.... HERE is the link to my IFCP Adventure Challenge Flickr page with 178 photos for your perusal.
A couple of favourites: