International Summer Tour 2017: Ontario, Canada!

International Summer Tour 2017

Next Stop: Home Part #1 (Canada)

Destination: Find Darah and Dave

Good afternoon readers, I hope you are enjoying a fall afternoon as relaxing as an athlete in the off-season.

The next stop on the International Summer Tour flew me over the Atlantic and back to my home country, Canada! After a day and half (give or take) of travel, I finally landed on Canadian soil! The saying, “There’s no place like home” is 100% true. The first taste of being home was landing in Toronto, Ontario seeing Canadian currency, staff speaking English, and nearly everyone on their phones with a Tim’s coffee cup in hand. As much as I had hoped to enjoy the moment of being home, I was more focused on arriving at my final stop for the day, because nothing was more important than getting there. Why? you might ask, because I was about to spend three and a half days with my best friend Darah, and her fiancé Dave in either Barrie, Collingwood, or Wasaga Beach. I have never travelled Ontario and these three places seemed interchangeable to me. When I landed I knew I had to get to Barrie and was being picked up by Darah. Anything beyond that did not matter, because we would finally be reunited! I could barely contain my excitement because after five years of living provinces apart we were finally about to spend more than a few hours in passing through to catch up.

The problem is, this was the first time I was about to experience Toronto beyond the Pearson airport. The three cities were all just names on a map and I was about to navigate them all without any preparation. The extra hitch that gave me a sick feeling to my stomach was reading a text from Darah when I got off the plane, I just got in a car accident. Immediately my reaction was Oh my God, I hope she’s okay! But she sent me a text so she can’t be too bad! What happened! What’s the fastest way I can get to her!? Chill out. Breathe. From then on, my  focus was be calm, rushing won’t help, get to Barrie, and from Barrie figure it out. Keep breathing. Once I navigated the Pearson terminals and found my way out on the UP Train I received new information, the accident was a fender bender where one-year-old-Wilson Ford had his back end smashed in pretty good. Darah was okay, and she was still coming to get me! Phew! Crisis averted.


Toronto, Canada


Union Station, Toronto


CN Tower, Toronto

Once the relief of the accident had sunk in, I will admit I felt pretty cool taking the UP train through Toronto. So this is Big-City life? I found myself pretending I was from the area, and what wondering what my life might have been like growing up in a Big City. Once I arrived at the Union Station I managed to board the correct GoTrain to Barrie and realized how much time the public spends commuting in transit. Everyone seemed to know they were going without even lifting an eye from their screen. Even on the train, there was no talking, just dead focus on the screens ahead- I opted for a nap because I still didn’t know what day or time it really was. When I reached the end of the line I also didn’t know which stop I was supposed to get off at once I arrived in Barrie. I was lucky the Travel Gods were in a good mood because by default I got off at the last stop (or the end of the line) and it was the one Darah was waiting at. I felt like a child receiving a puppy for Christmas, I was giddy to finally see my best friend!


Darah and Adrea


Adrea and Dave


Between sorting out how to move forward with the accident, learning how life was as soon-to be Optometrists, beach days, ice cream dates (Thanks Paul!!), jogs along the water, wedding planning, and endless other ventures, I am so proud of the life Darah and Dave have built for themselves. In high school Darah told me she was going to be an optometrist and now she is doing exactly what she set out to do. I felt so happy to catch a glimpse at the life they have built for themselves! In lieu of wedding plans one of the best conclusions I came to was seeing first hand (in their natural habitat of Ontario) that the Darah & Dave combo is real, genuine, and full of so much love. I couldn’t wish for a better guy to sweep my bestie off her feet and I can’t wait to say the Kwolek’s are my best friends and know it includes both of them. July 2018, don’t worry I’ve saved the date!

I’d love to share all the awesome things I did while I visited, but the most important part of my visit was appreciating the idea of coming home. Yes, I was in my home country, and they had a new condo which was Darah and Dave’s home, but the moment I first felt truly at home was when I hugged Darah at the train station and knew she was okay. The second time was when Dave returned from work and I could give him a big hug too. It happened to be the three of us were in their house, but what made it a home was having us together. Darah has put this idea to much more beautiful words than I can, but the quote, “Home becomes a person instead of a place” was truly encompassed throughout my visit. The warmth, love, and genuine happiness I felt visiting their home, made any and all of the travel hiccups or getting caught biking in a torrential downpour worth it.

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For future reference for either myself or you the readers, I also learned to differentiate Wasaga, Barrie, and Collingwood. I learned Barrie is the town at the end of the train station. Collingwood is a touristy Harbour town, with some amazing, cozy coffee shops. Finally, Wasaga Beach is a laid back beach town (with occasional school-kid parties) along Lake Huron with beautiful sand, water, and sunsets. When I have more time there are a ton of trails in Collingwood that I can’t wait to go explore, both by bike and running! Don’t worry Dave and Darah, you’ve set the bait! I will back soon!



Darah – Collingwood 2017

With my heart warm and my toes dipped in freshwater lakes again, it is time to carry on the nostalgia of home. Stay tuned for the ultimate homecoming, Destination: YQR.

Much love,



Travel Reading – Borrowing Darah’s Book


International Summer Tour 2017: Liège, Belgium

Next Stop: Liège, Belgium – Meeting International d’Athlétisme de la Province de Liège

Meet Results Link:

Good day to you, and I hope you have been enjoying the last few summer days as much as I have! The next stop on this tour leads into my second European race in Liège, Belgium.

To follow suit with my earlier advice in a foreign circuit: Expect things to go wrong and embrace them. In this circuit I was a rookie, and as a result made some rookie mistakes to learn from.

First, attending this meet was a typical ~60 minute train away from Leuven. Earlier in the week, I learned I was eligible for a GoPass which meant I could travel unlimited train rides within Belgium at a very reduced price. Naturally I assumed it would be a good idea to save time by going to the station early and purchasing my pass the day of. After standing in line, and watching all of my teammates purchase either their GoPass or one-day ticket, I began to consider the idea I had maybe chosen the wrong line up. When it was finally my turn, I was informed the required computer wasn’t working and I would have to go line up again in a different row. So much for arriving early. At this point I was concerned of having enough time to purchase a regular ticket and still be on time for the scheduled departure. Needless to say I managed to create an extreme time constraint. In the end I received my GoPass, ran to my platform and boarded the train with less than a minute to spare. Crisis averted, but with a lot of stress and nerves! On the flip side, I had an early verification I would have adrenaline that night. The panic of likely missing the train to arrive at the meet triggered my adrenal glands.


Liège Train Station – 2017

Second mistake, with time to spare, we rationalized a 2km walk to the track was a good idea. The last meet we did it in Ninove as a big group, and that worked out, so why fix an idea that isn’t broken? In our case, the 2km turned out to be steep, cobblestone, and all uphill. My question is who put a track at the top of a hill? Without shame, I’ll admit I was sweating and took a break half way up. Evidently we made it on time to the meet, but in hindsight, diverting that hill with a quick taxi ride would certainly be worth it for future reference. I must mention the real hero of this lesson: Brad Curry, our Physiotherapist. Not only did he climb the hill with us, but he also carried his practitioner’s table with him all the way up! Very impressive Brad!

The next mistake I made was misjudging how humid it would be when the sun came out after the thunderstorm. I’ll admit, I am a person who sweats a lot on a normal day. On a day this warm and humid I found myself trying to quiet the voice in my mind asking, How are you going to stay hydrated?  Answer: Keep drinking fluids, add some electrolytes to my water to replenish what I am losing in sweat, and find the shade! It was commented on that I looked like I had showered at this meet, and I know it is not because I looked fresh. I did wear deodorant so at the very least I didn’t smell bad.

When I heard the announcement of final call to check-in at the call-tent it finally hit me, 400m race time! Just one all out effort of one lap. The music was turned up and the vibe was exciting at the track. The unexpected surprise was how many people were in attendance and the amount of fun this atmosphere was. I was nervous knowing I was about to race some fast girls in a race I had not been specifically training for, but the energy was so fun I couldn’t wait to be a part of it! I finally understood, This is what a European race is! There was some fear, but I had never felt so proud to be introduced as a Canadian athlete at the start line. In hindsight there are lots of technical things I would like to have and know I could have run better in this race, but I did end up with a new 400m PB so there were no complaints on my end.


Bib #99 for this race!

The final mistake I made on this trip was evident upon return to Leuven after the meet. I was still on an energy high from an evening race, but more notably I was really hot and sweaty from the most recent cycle back to the flat. When we walked inside, it felt like a sauna because the window had been closed and the blinds were open. This meant the late afternoon sun blazed in all day with zero air circulation. After eating some food with sustenance and dropping our gear off, both my roommate Casey and I realized how sticky and hot our flat was. There was no way either of us were going to be able to go to sleep in that kind of heat. Plus she had a PB in the 400m that night too, so we were both still feeding off one another’s energy. Solution: go on the slowest, most relaxing, enjoyable bike ride one could imagine. It was 11:00PM on a Wednesday, there was no traffic, limited pedestrians, a safe neighbourhood, and an open road with a cool breeze. I was so relaxed after our bicycle ride that when we returned, I couldn’t comprehend the joking comment suggesting a drink on the town being better than that bike ride. Plus it had been hot on some previous days as well. As a quick fix solution I may have purchased a kids pool for ice tubs because our bathroom was only a shower stall without a bathtub. During our bike ride we stopped at a couple night shops that might sell ice to make an ice bath. We managed to fit the pool in the flat, but unfortunately were unable to find ice for it that night!


Make-shift Ice Tub Pool

After an icy cold shower, and significantly lowered body temperature, I had no troubles falling asleep that night. In conclusion, I learned the importance of embracing the hype of an international race and more importantly the roller coaster of emotions and situations I found myself in. I have heard of way worse things going wrong before a race, but I am still happy to know when it was time to run, I was able to do just that!

Stay tuned for the third race of the circuit in Heusden-Zolder!

Much love,


PS: I have shared the few photos of I had taken of this meet



Pre-Race 1500m with teammate Mariah Kelly


1500m Startline


On your marks! Women’s 1500m

Liege- Sarah

Pre-Race 1500m with teammate Sarah MacPherson

International Summer Tour 2017: Next Stop: Ninove, Belgium

International Summer Tour: 2017

Memorial Geert Rasschaert 2017 Meet

Meet Results link:

Welcome back,

After a few travel days, I am officially off to begin my running debut in Belgium, Europe! I’ll admit I needed a few days to settle into the new time zone and home base Leuven, before feeling race-ready. Race #1 of the European circuit was in Ninove, Belgium, less than two hours away. Going into this meet I had the usual nerves, but was anxiously anticipating how this was going to be different from a North American meet. Before I knew it, I had packed my racing kit, a cooler of recovery food, then was following my Vic City Elite crew to the train station. A few delays and hustling across platforms led us to meet up with fellow Vancouver athletes. Together, we walked two kilometres through the city from train to the stadium. To put this in perspective there were roughly twenty athletes lined single file walking through the town center all in athletic clothes and backpacks. Most locals stopped and stared at us as we passed through. Up to this point, I had been a sheep following the pack of athletes. Someone at the front must know where we were going, right?


Train Station Shenanigans – Photo Credit- Casey Atkin 2017

Upon arrival, I did not know what to expect for my first Europe race. Within our group I was scheduled to race first which meant I had the least amount of time to observe any differences of how the meet may be hosted. The main advice I was given was to expect chaos, and know nothing is definite until you are lined up on the start line. In my mind this meant expect chaos. To compensate the forewarned chaos I forced myself to be surprisingly calm all day and throughout the travel leading to the evening race. With only 15 minutes to buffer arrival and my warm-up I settled in to the meet atmosphere quite quickly.

As I wrapped up the warm-up jog I started scouting out a place to do some dynamic drills and joined the 800m ladies along a gravel/pavement strip outside the stadium. As I was scanning the pathway for smooth surfaces one girl was aimed straight for me running out her stride. As general courtesy I stepped to the side to stay out of her way onto what I thought was grass. Surprise! None of it was grass. It was all stinging nettle and I had an instant reaction with shooting hot pains going across my exposed skin. On the plus side I was wearing long running tights but the nettle wrapped through my ankle and was inside the tongue of my shoe causing it to brush against my foot with every step I took. My first thoughts were denial and this isn’t that bad. As my skin turned from red and stinging to white bumps and insanely itchy I knew I had to accept this was my reality.


Stinging Nettle

In hindsight looking back, I was so calm this day, that I did not freak out or feel startled by this. This was the unexpected chaos I had been expecting; besides it was runnable, more irritating than anything. After finding out my race was 10 minutes delayed I told Geoff my situation and he escorted me to the medical tent. I still do not know if they spoke Dutch or Flemish, but the translation I interpreted was the medical’s laughing and saying the best way to handle it was to urinate or spit on the sting, similar to a jellyfish reaction. I think as I processed the thought of them spitting on my ankle my face reflected this, which only made them laugh harder. Eventually they sprayed some cooling mist on it, and said I was good to go. It was time to marshal in at the start line.

I watched the 3000m steeplechase and then the first section of the women’s 800m from the start line. They were all fast and it was my turn to go next. The gun went off and I hopped onto the front of the pack in my race with the pacer and behind teammate Laurence. Without a doubt they are the reason we pulled through a 600m PB pace and ultimately an 800m PB and win! After I crossed the finish line I saw my time on the screen and went to smile at the realization of the time I had finished with! It was here I knew how scrunched my face was because of the amount of effort it took to shift into a smile. I knew I had a first class “pain face” because I’d forgotten to relax. This was further verified by photos posted after the race. (See photos below) Not only had I run a heat winning PB, but I also had set the Saskatchewan 800m record! I’ve never looked so forward to sending in my results.

Ninove. Adrea:Laurence

The Homestretch to Finish Line – Ninove, Belgium 2017

Ninove- Adrea - deathface

First Class “Pain Face”


So what was the factor? What finally pulled me through to a PB time. I wish I had a simple answer! The best way I can explain that race was having focused acceptance. Zero hesitation. After the stinging nettle (Which I initially thought was poison ivy) I was asked my race plan. In my head, all I wanted to say was run. Before I had a chance to answer – Geoff told me there was a rabbit going in 59.0 for Laurence. Laurence is going for it. You should too. Whatever you have left for the last 100m or 200m who knows, just go for it. Because Why not? I accepted this plan in full. This is exactly what I executed.  I see no point in pondering what-if scenario’s, but I do know I had a lot of help in this race from a pacer, and my teammate Laurence. She definitely helped me through 700m and I owe her a huge thank-you for taking me through that pace. The lactic headache and post-race nausea were all worth it.

Rereading this, I can appreciate that running is a weird sport. Nowhere else would I be happy to have a lactic headache and throw up especially if it is self-induced. Overall, Ninove was an evening trip that I won’t forget. My brief exposure between train and track was beautiful landscapes, church architecture, and fields of stinging nettle. The meet was friendly, and a fun atmosphere with non-athlete spectators! I am looking forward to racing this meet in the future, but for now it’s time for recovery, next race is only four days away!

Stay Tuned for a Day trip and Kayaks!

Much love,