Monday, September 22, 2008

First steps...

Been thinking about this for awhile - a personal blog that would permit occasional shared reflections from our Island home. When a good friend of mine got his blog operational, that was just the impetus I needed! I'd envisioned this first "oceanpax" entry, however, as something more akin to "tales from the kayak cockpit" but given the event of this past weekend - it's going to be more of a "terra-based" sharing! So, here it is, the first tentative step into the "blogosphere" - and a brief account of thousands more "steps" around Lake Cowichan!

We registered for the Great Lake Walk and Ultramarathon a month or so ago - just seemed time to do something that would challenge the mind and body. Hey, how tough could it be to walk 56 km? We've run for years and even ran a 42.2 km once - OK, so that was nine years ago and it didn't set any records! I digress. Picking up the race kits on the day before was certainly part of the "adventure" - smiling broadly, the volunteer assured us that the "waiver" sheets were simply to relieve the organizers of responsibility in the event of any possible incidents with "bears, cougars, or potholes"! Hmm - now this is sounding very cool!

At "zero dark hours" (0100), last Saturday morning, after a couple hours of "sleep" (OK, a couple of hours of tossing and turning), the alarm went off. Coffee was ready and lots of time for a leisurely breakfast of bagels and peanut butter (protein seemed like a good idea!) before heading out for the shuttle bus from Lake Cowichan to Youbou, the starting point of the event.

There was a palpable air of excitement as the crowd loosened, stretched, and waited for the traditional singing of "O Canada" and the 0500 start - then we were off! The first hour and a half required our Petzl headlamps and the 400+ pairs of feet raised considerable dust along the rough logging road. As daylight came, the field had spread out considerably. A total of 12 rest stops along the way were staffed by simply wonderful volunteers from various local businesses and community groups offering drinks, snacks (everything from cheese sandwiches to chocolate), and first aid, if necessary. They were all awesome! 10 hours and 31 minutes after the last notes of "O Canada" faded into the early morning darkness and the dust, Joan and I crossed the finish line - all in all, a pretty good time. No aches or pains to report but tomorrow is "the day after the day after" so we'll keep our fingers crossed!

It truly was a great event thanks to the all the dedicated organizers and volunteers in the yellow t-shirts. Equal to the sheer enjoyment and physical challenges of the event, however, was the warm welcome and enthusiastic cheers folks shared along the way with participants. It made us all go a little faster and took our minds off tiring feet and legs. The "spirit of community" is alive and well around Lake Cowichan, British Columbia. It's a good reminder to us all - enthusiasm is contagious. It empowers us, strengthens us, and enables us to reach higher than we might think possible. Enthusiasm makes a great gift - and it grows when you give it away!

Stay tuned, I feel a kayak reflection coming soon. Peace.


  1. Excellent work on every count. You kept up a good pace on the walk, that's for sure. That certainly is a long way to walk in a day. I'm always impressed when I go on runs at the number of people who are willing to volunteer their time so we can follow our exercise passions.

    Your blog will be a good place for us to work out the logistics of our kayaking circumnavigation. I'll also have to start working on long-duration paddling -- just like running for which I find it difficult to get out for "practice" runs of more than an hour and then I suffer when I run for 2 hours. I get so stiff after sitting in a kayak for 3 hours or so.

  2. Appreciate the comments! Challenges relative to endurance events are understood, so hard to get the time in - but worth it when you can. I believe that finding the time (arranging priorities) make for a sound long-term investment.