Saturday, 20 September 2014

Running. A Lot.

I've been very inspired recently. My professional life has been a real struggle to me over the last month, and I am finding great comfort in exercise. At this tough time, exercise feels like the only activity which I can do to feel good physically and also mentally. And by good I don't mean happy. I just mean a basic level of self-care which allows me to function properly for all the other hours of the day and night that I am not exercising.

A couple of weekends ago, Matthew and I met our good friend Steph at the Vancouver Airport. We only had a few precious hours with her between her flights, so we whisked her over to Steveston for some fish and chips and a walk in the park. Luckily, it was one of the top ten most lovely days of summer.

Steph lives in Alaska (although we know her from Melbourne) and she found herself on a layover at the Vancouver Airport because of her amazing running adventures! She had just finished an ultra marathon relay from Alaska to Yukon, and her leg of the relay was in the middle of the night, when she could see the Northern Lights as she ran.

So inspiring!

Anyway, we had a lovely (though brief) afternoon together, and then drove her back to the airport. But I continue to be inspired by the story of her run.

Last weekend our friend Martina (who has featured occasionally on this blog) invited me out for a "virtual half marathon" on a course of her choosing. It was the best way to run a half marathon, because there was no standing around at the crack of dawn waiting for a bus or anything. I met her at her house on the other side of Oak Street, and we jogged a beautiful course down to the sea wall and along to Locarno Beach, and back again. I had never run with Martina before, but I think we were pretty evenly matched in pace, because we were able to jog and chat quite happily the whole time.

Locarno Beach last Sunday morning.

Kits Beach last Sunday morning

Finally,  there's a lovely Aussie lady at my gym who has recently befriended me at the gym, April. I actually met her at the finish line of the Scotia Half, and I have seen her several times a week since then. She is a much keener runner than I am, however she kindly put me through a speed interval work out on the treadmill last night (much needed, as we were both madder than a nest of bees after our long and difficult work weeks). We then met another friendly Aussie at the gym, Nicole, and the three of us went out for a hard earned Japanese feast on Broadway in Kitsilano.

So this morning when I woke up (without the alarm! luxury!) I laced up and hit the sea wall solo. I usually fear running alone, but it is a route I know well, and the sun was shining. I stopped several times to take pictures, because it was so achingly beautiful.

On the Sea Wall, the blinding sunlight. I did not have sunglasses, so this is really how I experienced it.

Cambie Bridge

Industrial bit.

Science World! (half way done!) I was so proud at this point, I sent Matthew a picture message.

More loveliness. Look how still the water is!

Some keen yogis.

And the mountains. Sigh.

There were loads of boats out by 10am. Good day for boating. Excuse my finger.
At the end, I ran all the way up Hemlock hill. Usually I wuss out and walk up, but this morning the conditions were great and I was so well rested, I must have had more energy than usual. It was a good run. I am so in love with the long summer, and so grateful for all the great runs and people I have run them with.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Bring Your Own Device

I was reading something on a business website about the new trend in workplaces is bringing your own device. I'm sure this isn't actually new (because I do not work in the private sector), but it is new to me. At first I was not sure how to feel about this concept. What do you mean you expect me to work for you, but you're not giving me any computer, phone, or telecommunication package to work with? A desk? That's all? Matthew's been buying his own tools for years. "Good luck fixing any cars here", says his industry, "If you don't BYO tools." I guess I should be grateful that I have worked for so much of my career in places which have provided devices for me. All I really have had to do is show up.

But in my new role, I need to be a bit more On. A bit more Connected. A bit more Ready For Action after hours. I am provided with an office space, a computer and a phone for which I am grateful. There's even a photocopier and (luxury of all luxuries) a microwave where I can heat my lunch. But I need to upgrade my mobile phone to really be On when I am moving between campuses and after hours.

I am not even superficially interested in devices. I have a laptop for home (low spec, much to Matthew's chagrin. At the time, I wanted the lightest computer which wasn't an apple), and a blackberry phone that I got when we first moved to Canada, over three years ago. And it wasn't a new blackberry model then. It's time to upgrade.

But I'm not really drawn to any device. I'm not impressed by the features. I want a full keyboard, but I want an awesome web browser. And I don't want a lot of apps, but I do want a fitness tracker. And a slightly better camera, so even though I'm a likewise unenthusiastic photographer, hopefully my photos won't always be blurry. For work, I want an awesome calendar-syncing feature so that I can always be sure whether I'm Here or There.

iPhones don't go with any other things I have (I once downloaded iTunes, and I haven't listened to any of the songs, and it keeps prompting me to update all the time and reboot... boo). Matthew had such horrific luck with an HTC last year that I am scared off them forever. And the fanciest Samsung is too big for my small hands (a factor for consideration) and also about $700. I could spend a week at a resort in Mexico for $700.

I don't want a phone that I'm in love with, but since I'm going to be spending upwards of three hours a day staring at it, I want to at least like it. Is this too much to ask? Do you have any recommendations, or can you share any love stories about the time you discovered your device o' choice?

The Start of Term

I have disappeared from the internet recently, and actually retreated a bit from the social IRL. It's thesis crunch time (when is it not?*weep*) and also it is the beginning of the academic year.

Since I got my new job, work has been a more-than-full-time commitment. I am regularly putting in 11-hour days, and my team is too. It's just a busy time for everyone. I had a great balance worked out a couple of weeks ago where I was managing work and fitness and cooking and thesis-editing. But these past two days I have been a bit under the weather so it has all just fallen apart a bit. So it has been work and nothing else.

Matthew was in Toronto last week for electric vehicle training. I think it's fantastic that he gets these opportunities, and I'm proud of him for being selected. However I did miss him terribly, and I was my worst spinster self all week he was gone. Mostly out of envy that I still haven't been to Toronto, and he's been twice in one year!

On the Labour Day long weekend I was ambitious about my thesis goals, but they proved out of my reach. I was trying to complete edits for all four chapters at once. I'm nearly there, but it will definitely take me all of the coming weekend to polish off. Don't know what I was thinking trying to do it all in one weekend.

Matthew and I finally went to Vij's (fancy local restaurant) with Martina and Stu on Sunday evening. We had been meaning to go for a very long time, but there were a couple of factors holding us back:

1. You have to line up for the food. Um, I'm a busy woman. And anyway, ain't nobody got time for that.

2. It's Indian food. I love Indian food, but I can get it at about a million other restaurants in Vancouver. Vancouver in fact has a massive Indian immigrant population, so there is no lack of variety of Indian food, music, culture, etc here.

3. It's a bit pricey.

We thought, what the heck, it's a long weekend. And we hadn't seen Martina and Stu in a while. So we put our names on the list, and camped out at West (another fancy restaurant, around the corner) with a cocktail for an hour and a half. We should have stayed at West. It's lovely there.

But it was a great night anyway, with good friends.

I'm just checking in with this poor old blog. My work/life balance is not just unremarkable, but actually unmanageable and a bit unpleasant at the moment, so I've been keeping my distance from the social media because I don't have anything good to report.

Things I'm looking forward to:

1. Finishing my god damned thesis. Obvs.

2. Mum coming to visit. I literally cannot wait. I have at least 5 lovely Fall-in-Vancouver activities I have been saving to do with her.

3. Dad coming to visit. Dad is quite the jet-setter in his(semi)retirement, and I am so excited to hear about his idyllic trip to Italy. He and Mum will be here around Thanksgiving, and so I'm envisaging lots of big family gatherings and some enthusiastic pie-making.

You know when you just want to fast-forward through the boring bits of your life? That's me right now.