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.

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Toronto, Canada

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Union Station, Toronto

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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!

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Darah and Adrea

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Adrea and Dave

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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!

 

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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,

Adrea

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Travel Reading – Borrowing Darah’s Book

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International Summer Tour: 2017 Next Stop: Ottawa, Ontario

Next Stop: Athletics Canada Senior Nationals- Ottawa, ON

Meet Results Link: http://liveresults.athletics.ca/Live_Results/2017/Championships/

Meet hashtag: #ACTF2017

With a brief return to my home training base Victoria, BC, I successfully moved out of my place (in lieu of accepting my new place), celebrated Canada Day, and packed for my next destination: Ottawa, Ontario! A huge thank-you goes out to Scott, Sophie, and Casey; there is no way I could have finished all of these things in Victoria without your help!

In case anyone was wondering, it is a full day of travel to leave from Victoria, BC to arrive in Ottawa, ON. I arrived at the YYJ airport for 6:00AM, and arrived around 9:30PM in YOW. I’ll admit, I opted for the most cost efficient flight, but I do believe I lost a few hours with time change as well. Needless to say, three planes, and one rental car later, I was happy to meet my fellow Vic City ladies Casey and Laurence at the airport. Finally we were in Ottawa and navigated the empty midnight streets to our accommodations

 

As most amateur athletes know, financial burdens of travel can add up fast. When friends and family help out with a place to stay for the weekend it helps tremendously! We were lucky to stay very comfortably with family of fellow Canadian athlete Tommy Des Brisay. I first met Tommy at AC’s warm weather training camp in San Diego, and again in Flagstaff, Arizona. I cannot say enough good things about him and his family! I was happy to be able to catch his race in Ottawa, because Tommy is a busy guy! This weekend he was busy with earlier races, packing, and preparing for travel to London to represent Canada at Para-Worlds this summer. For more on Tommy’s story with running and the awareness and inspiration he brings to autism, I highly encourage watching the stories below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLI-UHHP6as

and

http://www.runnersworld.com/special-report/for-many-with-autism-running-is-a-sport-that-fits

I want to reiterate again, thank-you to Tommy, MaryAnn, Peter, and May, the hospitality was above and beyond what I could have hoped for! I speak on all of our behalf when I say we thoroughly appreciated and are grateful for having a home to stay at during our time in Ottawa!

After Tommy’s race, it was time for me to focus on my quickly approaching 800m semi-final. Until the night before, this race seemed like any other. Arrive, settle in, pick up a few groceries, race prep, relax, and optimize recovery. In general I consider myself laid back, but after I said good night to my roommates and closed the bedroom door, my nerves kicked in like never before. At first, I tried telling myself, this is a good thing, it means there will be some adrenaline stimulated and that is a benefit to your running. Usually I would roll over, and go to sleep without a problem. As the clock struck 2:00AM, I realized this was false hope. I needed to relax in order to get some sleep so the next day I wouldn’t look like a zombie running from The Walking Dead. Instead of ignoring it any longer, at 2:00AM I decided to think about why I was feeling this nervousness.

After rolling through a series of superficial reasons, I finally arrived at some truths. The ultimate reason I was losing sleep was the realization of fear. Not the typical fear of being scared or inadequate. This was the realization that there are at least twenty girls who are all well and beyond capable to take one of the eight spots available in the 800m final. Mathematically that meant there would be twelve, talented, fast, capable, 800m ladies, who would not be racing in the final. The even more terrifying thought was I was a part of that top twenty. This race wasn’t about to be a revelation of who is and who is not fast. It is clear the girls in all three heats of this semi-final are fast, and this was the exciting head to head competition where we all come together and take our shot at tactical racing. Regardless of results, the guarantee was that there would be extreme triumph and extreme heartbreak, with very little in between. Any predictions for the top 8 in this race were as likely as the final eight predictions in NCAA March Madness drafts. It was anybody’s game/ race.

By 2:45am I managed to work out the probabilities of my race. Physically I looked like I was shivering because my nerves had me shaking instead of letting me go to sleep. I think I eventually shivered enough that I tired out and that is what drifted me into sleep that night. This unpredictability was unsettling, but humbling to accept and believe in the high level of athleticism I was a part of.

The next day my only objective was to be and feel calm. When I was finally at the track my coach Heather asked me what my race plan was and how I was feeling. Seeing my fellow competitors buzzing around with their warm ups I was brutally honest and told her I was terrified. Mostly because anything could happen, I was a part of this greatness, which meant it was my chance to stand out amongst the best! An opportunity to go for it. I couldn’t tell you what she said in return, but I felt the same sense of energy reciprocated back to me, that she too was excited and believed I was ready to have a good race. Somewhere during the day my fear switched over into excitement and I couldn’t tell you when that was. I know I finished my warm-up, call tent procedures, then raced. The rest becomes a blur with words that only seem to make sense to me.

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Reality of the results: I ran my second fastest 800m to date, and knew I ran that race to the best of my ability given the circumstances of my section. I didn’t make top two, therefore, I knew I wasn’t going to make the final. But I was still so proud that I was able to leave that race without regrets. My legs didn’t have as much speed as I would have liked in the final 80m and the other girls were smart in their tactics when I tried to make an earlier move. The aforementioned adrenaline kept the lactic somewhat at bay as I watched the remaining two heats.

I was so excited to see training partner Laurence Côté win her heat with a huge smile as she crossed the finish line. As she came around to the athlete exit I gave her the biggest hug and I was (and am) genuinely so happy for her!

In my case, there were no flowers, media, interviews or cameras. Instead I left unnoticed by most which I believe contributed to the ability to leave with a peaceful feeling knowing I had ran a good race amongst a full heat of professional runners. I gained the confidence to know I was capable of more. Yes, it was bittersweet I missed the final eight by placing ninth, but it just gave me more time to prepare for my next set of races in Europe. Besides, I was expected to place significantly less than ninth place. Instead, I went for a beautiful, long cool down jog along the Canal that runs alongside the track and appreciated the beautiful sunset that only comes after a storm. Although I left this championship with one race less than I was planning, the one race I was guaranteed rekindled confidence, and catalyzed focus to move forward to the next race with my head held high. A huge thank-you goes out to my fellow 800m ladies, your fierceness holds me accountable to be better- and I appreciate that!

Stay Tuned: Time to pack for the next stop of this tour!

Much Love,
Adrea