Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Fine Grind

A Fine Grind is another self portrait in pen and ink, scaling the steps of the Grouse Grind. This is part of my series of drawings depicting my favourite sports. I'm not making them self portraits to be narcissistic, but rather as a reminder to myself of how far I've come in turning my lifestyle around 180 degrees to that of a healthy and active woman.

Prior to this year, I had only ever done the Grind once, I believe when I was about 24. It had been a while, and I was challenged by a colleague and friend Maryse to do the Grind as a part of a group of colleagues (we called ourselves the G5) once a week. At first I thought the idea was insane but I decided I was up for the challenge. The first attempt was a torturous climb that took about 95 minutes. I managed to forget how awful climbing up was, as the feeling of reaching the top and the adrenaline rush that came with it, was unforgettable.

While every member of the group didn't go once a week, we more or less did over the course of the summer. When I couldn't go with colleagues, I challenged myself to go on my own, given that I live 10 minutes drive from the base of the mountain. Over the summer I went 7 times, and improved my time to a mere 68 minutes. I'm sure that next summer, I'll be able to finish well under an hour.

What I can't believe is how the idea of the Grind seemed so undesirable, and it's now turned into a bit of an addiction for the adrenaline junkie that resides in me. And the benefits were huge for both self esteem and training. Hiking the Grind regularly over the course of the summer improved both my running and swimming speed and endurance. Thanks Maryse for the initial push! Now I am sure I'll be a regular Grinder for many years to come, and once my legs heal up, I hope to hike it up at least one more time before the end of 2010.

Photo taken on my cell phone of my colleague AJ and me after a summer hike up Grouse Mountain.

Monday, October 25, 2010

3 Years

3 years ago, we said goodbye
How can that moment seem so recent
So raw at times, as I recall with absolute clarity
How deeply it cut when I received the news
While comforted by your son’s presence
Two children together unable to believe the loss
A young leaf falling from its tree

Yet it also seems so very far away
Life has continued and I wish everyday you were here to see
Do you know you have now two beautiful grandchildren?
Do you know that your daughters found love?
Do you know that even now, my actions are to make you proud?
A father’s legacy for his children’s success

They say that we live on
For as long as we are remembered
Perhaps that’s why I can imagine you
Sitting on the couch beside me
A pot of tea to share
Talking about all kinds of things
Two best friends

Every year it’s a little easier
Every year the day seems further away
The regrets lessen
The lessons deepen
The memories widen
And as I learn more about me
I see more and more of you
As you once said:
A ‘carbon copy’ of her dad

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The First Half

It's been an awesome two years of hard work that's certainly paid off. In the last 24 months, slowly but surely, I've lost 105 lbs due to my own motivation to be healthy and confident in myself. It's taken lots of will power, a new attitude for and knowledge about nutrition, the encouragement from loved ones, and my own personal drive to take on physical challenges. I've regained the body I once had as a 23 year old, and in so feel like I am indeed 7 years younger, wearing the clothes I did back then and saved hoping I'd fit into them again, and taking on the physical challenges I did back then too by regularly swimming, running, hiking, and rock climbing.

I've been off from work this last week, in recovery from surgery I had on Oct 1st to correct problematic circulation due to the years of being overweight and due to a scary blood clot I had earlier this year. While my "new legs" heal, I decided starting a new series of drawings that relates to my favourite sports was a good idea: sports that I take on personally and push myself to new limits. This way I'd maintain focused on the bigger picture while I've been mostly at home and slow-moving when I do venture outside. Every sunny day I look up at Grouse Mountain and wish I could be hiking to the top, rather than being at home with my feet up, an ice pack on my sutures and bruises, and having the few steps outside my building be my big daily physical challenge. But I do know full well that the pain in the legs is simply a temporary feeling while I recover from surgery. In a few weeks, I'll be out there again, running around like a machine as usual, and I'll be better at it with circulation running a bit more efficiently this time around.

The first of my drawing series you'll see below. It is a self-portrait, based on a photo that was taken of me when I was 23, running my very first Half Marathon, hence the title: The First Half. It's me running the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon toward the end of the race as I'm rounding the Stanley Park seawall toward the finish line at Lumbermans's Arch. Since this first big race, I've run two more halfs and my goal is to run my next one in 2011 (haven't decided which race yet). I'm positive that my 4th half will be just as or even more special than my first. Completing my first one does however, give me the confidence in knowing I'm capable. I have no doubt I'll succeed in completing one next year. Who knows, but a full marathon may be in my near future too. :-)