58. Pursuing my 2018 goals

North Vancouver, Canada, 27.02.2018.

After I received my new work permit a few weeks ago, I felt really energized and determined to start tackling my 2018 goals and make this year as amazing as the past year. This will be a real challenge since 2017 was an awesome and exciting year, probably the best one so far in my life. So in order to make 2018 a great year as well, I started working on the goals I set for myself and there is actually already visible progress which makes me very happy. In this blog entry, I will write about two very important goals of mine for 2018: Getting Permanent Residency here in Canada and running the Canadian Death Race.

Let’s start with the Canadian Death Race. I already wrote about this race in earlier blog entries and the idea to run this beast has not escaped my mind since I first heard about the race in May 2016 when I visited Grand Cache to run the Mountain Madness Half Marathon. Now that I know that I will be allowed to stay in Canada this year, the circumstances seemed right to sign up for that race and to live one of my more recent dreams. So when the registration for the race opened on February 15th at 12:00 o’clock I sat right in front of my computer and registered as one of the first runners this year. In addition to that, I also booked a spot in the training camp in Grand Cache from June 22-24th and my accomodation for both events. So now I am fully committed to run this race and challenge my mental and physical strength as well as my ability to withstand pain. Probably a lot of pain.

DR-REG
Number 70 on the roster of the male Ultra- runners. This is it, no backing out!
Snow-Trail1
On one of my favourite running trails, leading up to Mount Seymour. Lots of snow there right now…
Mt-Seymour
Junction on the way up to Mount Seymour at roughly 600m. With the current snowy conditions, this is a good spot to turn around.

Needless to say, I am really excited to do that race. I don’t know if I will be able to finish it in time or at all but I will give my very best and push myself as hard as I can. As of now, I already intensified my training to get my body used to running longer distances. Then, in less than two weeks, I will run my first serious race this year, the Dirty Duo in North Vancouver. This 50 Kilometer trail race is practically in my neighborhood and a great opportunity for me to test myself this early in the year. Currently I feel that I am in better shape than usually at this time of year but feelings can always be deceiving. In any case, it is my goal to finish this race in under 8 hours. Although this race has some hills in it, it is probably still a lot less hilly and technical than the two difficult legs in the Death Race. So if I need more than 8 hours for relatively easy 50 Kilometers, I will need to improve a lot to be able to do 125 pretty difficult Kilometers in less than 24 hours. Then again, if I need more than 8 hours, I still have five months to improve and step up my training a few notches. In any case, I will write about the race and any new insights it may provide in my next blog so you will know how it went for me. Hopefully, the snow will be gone by race day so that we don’t have to slide around on the trail. But even if there is still snow on the trail on race day, this won’t deter me from running. I will most certainly face difficult conditions during the Death Race in August as well so it may even be a good thing to train running on tricky surfaces in advance.

Snow-NorthVan
View from a junction close to my appartment onto Mount Seymour. I love the white winter scenery.
Sea-to-Sky
BC Family Day: Rachel and I took the Sea to Sky Gondola up the mountain and enjoyed it a lot.
Mt Habrich
View on Mount Habrich. On a sunny day, we had a lovely hike up to a view point on the slope of the mountain.

Although there is a lot more to say about the Death Race, I feel like I don’t want to overextend on that topic now. Instead, I would rather like to write a little about my goal to get Permanent Residency in Canada this year.

Shortly after I got my new work permit, the BC Provincial Nomination Program also re-attached its nomination to my new PR application and I received my 600 points for that again. As a result, I was picked out of the pool of PR applicants in the next draw and I again received an invitation by IRCC to submit my documents. Since then I managed to gather most of the needed documents so my application has already made a lot of progress. However, I am still waiting for the last important document from one of my German banks which really takes its time, unfortunately. A little bit frustrating for me right now but there is not really a way to speed that up significantly. Once I get my hands on this last document, I will get it translated so that it can be uploaded shortly after that. And then I will be able to submit my application again and hopefully get a positive response within the next 2-4 months. If this all happens like I have it planned right now, I could start to further developing my life and presence here in Canada in late summer/ early fall which would be absolutely awesome. Although it seems like there are no more major obstacles in my way, I still have my fingers crossed that nothing unforeseen happens and my PR application won’t be rejected a second time. To prevent that, I already double-checked all of my documents once more to make sure that they are all good and compliant with the IRCC rules…

Suspension
The suspension bridge at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola.
Chief
View on the Stawamus Chief and Squamish in the background.
howe-Sound
View on Howe Sound and the beautiful snowy mountains surrounding it.

As you can see in the pictures above, I still like to travel when there is time to do that. During the most recent trip, Rachel and I took the Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish and we spent a beautiful day up in the mountains. It was really sunny and hiking up halfway to Mount Habrich was great fun and exciting at the same time. We were rewarded with amazing panoramic views and mesmerizing nature scenery in snow. Also, it was a great opportunity for us to do that trip as there was a 50% rebate on the gondola tickets during the whole BC family day weekend. Overall, a really nice trip that I can recommend to everyone who has not been up there yet.

As usual, I want to conclude this blog entry with a song I like. Also, the refrain of this song happens to summarize quite well what many people think about me and my plan when I tell them that I intend to run the Death Race:

Cypress Hill – Insane in the Brain

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56. Current status PR & 2017 in a nutshell

North Vancouver, Canada, 30.12.2017.

When I wrote my last blog entry three weeks ago, I was in a great mood because it seemed to me that I had a good chance of getting my Canadian Permanent Residency at some point in the future. Then, I received an E-Mail from IRCC that struck a serious blow to my dreams of staying longer in Canada. See for yourself:

PR- Rejection
Rejection of my application by IRCC.

Now there is a lot I could say about this but I will reduce it to just these few comments:

  1. When I applied for my current visa last year, I did not submit a translation of my German Police certificate and it was accepted by IRCC.
  2. My German police certificate symply said “Keine Eintragung” which means “No trace”. Even without a translation, I think that this expression should be known at IRCC because there are thousands of Germans who send in their Police Certificates each year when applying for a work & travel visa, PR or a young professional visa.
  3. Simply cancelling the whole application now and not even giving me the opportunity to obtain and submit that translation seems really harsh and also inefficient. By doing this, they actually produce more work than they save. In a previous blog entry, I was full of praise for the Canadian bureaucracy. Seems like I was a little too rash with that judgment…
  4. In the end, it is my own fault that this happened because I did not provide this specific translation which I was supposed to according to their regulations. So I did not read all of their regulations in detail and that was probably a mistake. Or I should have maybe invested a few hundred dollars and have an Immigration Consultant have a look at my application. That would have been another option…

Anyway, there is nothing I can do about this anymore now. As of now, I can still continue working and staying in Canada after January 2nd since I also applied for a work permit extension so that I will be in “implied status” from January 3rd onwards. However, since my PR application has been cancelled, there is a high probability that my work permit extension will also be cancelled once they start looking into it. Now I would still have a chance to get approval for the work permit extension if my current employer AND the government of BC (they already noinated me to become one of their citizens) supported me. Both of them have to provide me with a specific letter/offer that I already requested more than 2 weeks ago. And guess what? I did not receive anything from either one yet. So time is ticking for me now and there is nothing I can really do about it. Not the greatest of all feelings, that’s for sure…

Stanley-Park
A heron sitting in a colourful autumn- tree in Stanley Park.

Now people keep asking me if I can’t simply reapply for Permanent Residency. Yes, I can and I already have but the whole process takes a lot of time and I fear that I don’t have that time. First of all, my BC provincial nomination has to be tied to my new PR application again. That will take a few weeks probably. After that, I will score enough points again to be invited by IRCC. However, I will first have to wait for the next round of invitations. That can take up to another three weeks. After that, I will be allowed to submit all of my documents again and wait for the application to be processed. Now it is very likely that my application for the work permit extension will be rejected a lot earlier than me being able to finalize my new PR application. And in that case, I would have to notify IRCC and BC PNP that I am not working anymore. This again will probably lead to BC PNP withdrawing my provincial nomination and thus IRCC voiding my new PR application on the basis of me not having enough points anymore. Sounds like a vicious circle to you? Not quite but close I would say.

Backyard
A family of racoons visiting “my” backyard in late October. And they were pretty curious.
Vancouver-fog
Vancouver in fog. View from West Vancouver. Note how the Lions Gate Bridge and parts of Stanley Park are above the clouds.

 

Anyway, this is my current situation now and so I can’t even start planning anything for 2018 yet because it is totally unclear what will happen when and how. Just a few years ago, so much uncertainty would have driven me crazy and left me fearful und helpless. Today, I am a lot stronger and experienced so that I know that every change also offers opportunities and that life goes on, no matter what. Still, I am incredibly sad that I potentially have to leave Canada again soon and that this is mainly my own fault because I was not diligent enough with that first PR application. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in life. And definitely one of those mistakes that have a huge huge impact on one’s future.

1000Stories
My personal drink discovery of 2017: An amazing red wine from the Bonterra winemaker, California. Resonably prized!

Alright, enough of the whining about the PR. Let’s do a little review of this beautiful year 2017 instead. And let’s talk about the pictures in this blog first. I intentionally chose not to show any pictures that I already used in previous blog entrys. Why? Because there are way too many meaningful and great things that I would want to show again here. So instead I went with a much smaller set of pictures that I haven’t shown in my blog yet. Some are already a few months old, others only a few days, but all are worth showing. Finally, I chose the title picture because it mirrors exactly how I feel right now about my future. Arrows pointing in all kinds of direction and I have no idea yet which way to take. I took that picture on the Camino in Spain (October) and despite this irritating situation, Rachel and I found the right way then and did not get lost. I have faith in myself to do the same for my future once I have clarity about my application- situation.

Titel
Left, right or straight ahead? Which way is the right one? Who knows?

There were so many highlights in 2017 that it is hard for me to remember them all. Looking at my travel highlights, there was my hiking trip to Portugal and Spain in October, my trip to Vancouver Island in September, my trips to Saskatchewan and Texada Island in August, my trip to Germany in June/ July, my trip to Salt Spring Island in June and my trip to Olds/ Red Deer in May. All of them amazing trips and I am truly priviledged that I was able to do every single one of them.
My running highlights include the halfmarathon in Langley in January, the marathons in Vancouver and Red Deer in May, the 30K race in Whisler in June, the marathon in Texada in August, the 50K Trail race on Vancouver Island in September and finally the awesome 80K race in Whistler in October. A lot of running for the year and hopefully also a good preparation for future endeavours in 2018.
Aside from the running, I also did quite a bit of rock climbing in 2017. Actually, I just started climbing in 2017, that’s probably why it is worth mentioning here. 🙂 So far I have only climbed indoors but if the opportunity arises, I am definitely open to climbing outdoors as well in 2018.

Mt Seymour
Great view on Mount Seymouor. Snow begins at roughly 900 meters elevation.
Blue-Gentian-Lake
Gentian Lake at the Brothers-Creek-Loop, West Vancouver.

In 2017, I also managed to do a lot of hiking. I hiked the Camino with Rachel, I hiked quite a few routes together with Emilia, with my Mum, with Martin or simply alone. During those hikes, I got to see Spain, Portugal, Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour, Cypress Mountain, the Chief, Lynn Canyon, Bunzten Lake, Lighthouse Park, the Brothers- Creek- Loop, Quarry Rock and the interiors of Texada Island, Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island. And probably, I even forgot some of my hikes in this enumeration….

Above everything else, I feel that I was very fortunate to spend so much quality time with so many wonderful people in 2017. My Mum and Martin from the Captain’s Mafia came to see me in Canada in July (Martin) and August (Mum) and we spent some really nice days together. An unbelievable feeling to receive visitors here, several thousand kilometers away from my former home. In the first months of the year, Verena was still in Vancouver and I remember doing a lot of different things together with her and having a lot of fun. During our trip in Portugal and Spain, I spent two great weeks together with Rachel on the longest hike I have done so far in my life. Even after that hike we kept in touch and I really enjoy the time we spend together. In August, I was invited to a family reunion in Saskatchewan and that weekend was a real blast. It was great to meet so many wonderful people (again), to be at that beautiful lake and to be introduced to a family’s tradition, the strudel- making. Big hugs for Dawn, Jo Anne and Doug for also inviting me to their places from January to March (Dawn) and May (Jo Anne and Doug). I really enjoyed spending time together with you! In July, I flew back to Germany and I met Glenn, Martin from Lidl and two of my buddies from the Captain’s Mafia. It was great to see you all again and I am looking forward to meeting you all again in April. We will have a great time together, I know it! During that week in Germany, I also met my Mum, of course, because I mainly stayed at her place. 🙂 Hugs and kisses for you, Mum, for being my Mum and for continuously supporting me while I am away in Canada!
Now I will stop mentioning people right here because otherwise this blog entry will become way too long. Sorry for not mentioning everyone explicitly who helped to make my year 2017 as great as it was. I haven’t forgotten you!

Waterfall
Majestic waterfall on the Brothers- Creek- Loop, West Vancouver.
Cypress-Mountain
My Mum and I at Cypress Mountain, after a hike. Looks like I have quite the belly on the picture. 🙂

Overall, 2017 was probably the best year of my life so far. No close friends or family members got really sick or died and I myself also stayed pretty healthy. In addition to that, I had an awesome year in Canada with lots of highlights and only very few things that did not go my way. Even though the above outlined PR issue is a looming dark shadow in the otherwise really light and shiny appearance of 2017, I do not let this single and tragic mistake make me feel bad about the whole year. I am grateful for every experience in this year and I am still full of hope that the new year 2018 can be as amazing and exciting as the current fading year. 🙂

Time to close this blog entry with a crazy song (Russian/ German- lyrics) that will supply us with all the energy we possibly need for a good start to 2018. Cheers!

Russkaja – Energia

55. Recap 2 – Camino Portugal & Spain

North Vancouver, Canada, 11.12.2017.

After a few more busy weeks, I finally find some time to write about my trip to Portugal and Spain in October. It is pretty crazy that this is already over 8 weeks ago now. How time flies, unbelievable!

This trip was suggested to me by Rachel, my hiking partner from Vancouver who had already done the traditional French Camino and wanted to do the Portuguese Coastal Camino then. And since I like hiking and I am always up for challenges, I agreed to do this long hike with her despite me having already signed up for the 80K- Race in Whistler on October 14th. So we were running a rather tight time schedule to do this hike because I had to be back in Porto, Portugal by October 13th to catch my flight back to Vancouver. So this really only left us with 12 days to complete the whole hike of approximately 280 Kilometers. I landed a few hours earlier than Rachel and picked her up at the airport early in the morning on September 30th. We then rested a little before we headed to the inner city of Porto to look for a hostel to stay overnight. After we found one, we got our pilgrim passes for the hike at the cathedral and finally did some sightseeing as well. In hindsight I am a bit sad that I was unable to spend more time in Porto because it is a really beautiful city with lots of interesting sights and a great flair. After this trip, I am definitely considering to spend more time in Portugal one day and then I may be able to return to Porto after all, who knows?

02-Coast Portugal
Portuguese Atlantic coast. Beautiful views and the best possible weather for us, amazing!
03-Church Portugal
Church in Castelo do Neiva, Portugal. After a longer uphill stretch, a little rest was very welcome.
04-Eucalyptus Forest
Majestic eucalyptus forests: The eucalyptus smell was noticeable but not at all intense.

On October 1st, we started our hike from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela in Spain on a sunny and cloudless day. We decided to do the coastal route instead of the inland route because it was described as more scenic and beautiful. Now since I have not done the inland route, I can’t judge that but I can definitely tell that there was a lot to admire and enjoy along the coastal route: Picturesque villages and churches, all kinds of beautiful nature settings (vineyards, rivers, beaches, coast stretches, forests, animals…), amazing food and tapas (yum yum) and last but not least: open and friendly people along our way. Along our route to Santiago de Compostela, we made the following overnight stops: Porto – Vila do Conde – Esposende – Viana do Castelo – Vila Praia de Ancora – BORDER CROSSING TO SPAIN – Oia – Ramallosa (near Nigran) – Vigo – Cesantes – Barro (Portela) – Valga – Milladoiro (near Santiago).

05-Hiking
One of the few pictures of the trip with me in it and I actually like it. That’s pretty unusual.
06-Fairytale-House
This was a very fairy- tale like scenery we discovered in Spain. Beautiful in every aspect.
07-Foggy Coast Spain
Spanish Atlantic coast. On two of our hiking days, we had a lot of fog but luckily no rain.

On quite a few of our legs, we deviated from the “usual” overnight stops because we just kept on walking for as long as we still felt good. So some of our legs were rather short whereas others (especially the first two and the last two) were quite long. Since we hiked in the off-season, we did not book any hostels or hotels along our way in advance. This turned out to be a good strategy since we only really struggled once during our trip to find a place to stay. But even on that day, it was rather fortunate that we kept walking because the hostel we finally stayed in was really nice and affordable and so close to Santiago that we managed to cover the last stretch in no time. And again, this turned out to be fortunate for us because although we arrived very early in Santiago, we still had to wait for more than two hours to get our pilgrim certificates. In the end, this left us hurrying to the bus station to catch our booked bus back to Porto in time. Thus, we were not able to explore Santiago and/or its cathedral at all. Unfortunate, yes, but it is also possible to do another Camino one day and then stay a little longer in Santiago…

08-Tower Spain
An absolutely remarkable little tower. Notice how the flat pieces of stone were crafted and put together to form its body.
09-Street Art- Vigo
Great street art in the city of Vigo: My favourite character from Futurama: Bender. 🙂
10-Vineyard
Vineyards with ripe, juicy and sweet grapes, waiting to be harvested. They will make a great wine.

Overall, I am very happy I made this trip. It was very enjoyable to get out of my daily routine for a longer time and to finally visit some parts of Portugal and Spain. Also, it was really great to spend so much time with Rachel and to do such a beautiful and picturesque hike with her. And we were really blessed with the weather during our hike: Temperatures around 25-30 degrees, mainly sunshine, no rain at all and only two foggy days with limited sight. During our trip, it also turned out that our timing had been pretty good: While it is still pleasant and enjoyable to hike in October, there are significantly less pilgrims on the road than during the summer months. Thus, it is easier to find a decent place to stay overnight without having to book everything in advance. The downside of this is that you don’t get to meet that many fellow pilgrims. However, we did meet quite a few very nice fellow pilgrims on our way to Santiago. One of them, Linda from Victoria (Vancouver Island), was a particularly likeable and cheerful lady who me met several times on our way to Santiago. In the end, meeting her again was like meeting a good friend and it was always great to chat with her in a break or after a long day’s walk.

15-Kitten
No words. Just cute.
11-River
Very scenic river (Rio Umia) panorama in Caldas de Reis, Spain.

After our return to Porto in the afternoon of October 12th, Rachel and I had to book a quite expensive hotel because unexpectedly, all other accomodations in the city and the outskirts were totally booked on that day. This was a little surprising to us but the luxury of a 4star- hotel was also very welcome after the trip. After having checked-in, we then decided to do some wine shopping in Porto before we had our last (and very tasty) dinner of the trip. Then, in the morning hours of October 13th, I took one of the first flights out of Porto to Vancouver via Amsterdam. Now I don’t know when I will find time to do another Camino or to visit Portugal again but I definitely want to do both in the future at some point.

13-Church Spain palm trees
Not a common sight for someone who grew up in the colder regions of Europe: Church with palm trees in front of it.
14-Santiago
Rather anti-climatic at the end of the hike: The cathedral in Santiago, obviously in need of repair.

After having written over 1200 words again, I think it is time to conclude this blog entry now. I would love to continue writing about the trip and the many nice encounters and little adventures we had along our way but that would definitely be too much for now.

Instead, let’s finish this blog entry with the usual music advice. Just a few days ago, I had my first contact with Canadian rock music and I was not disappointed: This band has quite a few nice songs and I especially like this one. Check them out, it’s worth it:

Striker – City of Gold

52. Texada Island and Run the Rock

From Texada Island to Horseshoe Bay, Canada, 29.08.2017.

After five beautiful days on this amazing island, I am now on my way back to Vancouver’s north shore, back to normality. What a great experience it was to explore Texada Island and to meet its friendly people.

It all started when I luckily got the last ferry to the island on Thursday evening so that I could still drive to my final destination in the night: The Shelter Point Regional Park with its campground. Of course, the campground was already closed when I arrived significantly after 10pm but that did not bug me. I just simply parked in front of the campground and slept there overnight just to wake up at a beautiful scenery in the morning. Then, I decided to get a camping space for 3 days, pay for it and take a shower. Since my marathon was still 2 days away, I decided to climb the highest “mountain” on the isle: Mount Pocahontas. The hike was pretty short and the ascent was not a big challenge but the view up at that “mountain” was really beautiful. Also, I did not encounter a single other person during that hike and that happened to me more than once during my whole trip. In the afternoon, I decided to mainly relax so I drove to Bob’s Lake, swam a little and enjoyed the solitude there while taking a longer nap.

Mount Pocahontas
View from Mount Pocahontas to the north. The white spots are the quarries.
Bobs Lake
Bob’s Lake. Quiet and remote place to enjoy some solitude.

On Saturday, I decided to do the “nature walk” that starts close to the campground and I got to see some really old growth trees there. Also, I took the opportunity to take a walk on the beach and collect some beautiful shells for my apartment. Again, it was all but crowded and I merely met a handful of other tourists during the walk. In the afternoon, I figured it was time to explore the island’s main village, “Van Anda”, to get a coffee and to see the local Heritage Museum. Normally, I am not a fan of visiting a museum if the weather is that good (we had pure sunshine all 5 days, just gorgeous) but in this case it was well worth it. The museum was very informative, had some very nice pieces in it and you could feel that the people who built and maintain it put a lot of love into its exhibitions. Also, I met Peter over there and he guided us through the whole museum and gave us a very informative tour. I have never had a personal guide in a museum and it was so nice to have him with us and bring Texada’s history to live for us. When I say “we”, I mean myself and an American couple (Keith and Becky) who also visited Texada Island and who were also great people to talk to. I later met them again at the “Run the Rock” event when Keith actually ran the half marathon. After the visit to the museum, I spent the rest of the afternoon reading a good book at an abandoned limestone quarry filled with water where a few other people actually took a swim. When I became hungry again in the evening, I went for a good tasty dinner at the island’s only real restaurant, the “Ravenous Raven”. And no, I did not have pasta although it is always advised to eat that prior to a marathon. Back at the campground, I was a bit surprised to see a tent in the middle of my camping space. It turned out to be Rob and Kerry’s tent and they put it up there because they thought this camping space was not yet taken. As there was no empty spot left on the campground (a lot of marathoners there!), I offered them to stay the night in my spot since there was enough room for all of us there. Later it turned out that they were also from Vancouver and that they would also do the marathon. So we had a lot to talk about and it was good to have them around. 🙂

Nature Trail
The nature trail near Shelter Point Regional Park.
Texada Museum
Heritage museum at Van Anda.
Old-quarry
View on an abandoned limestone quarry. Today: A great place to relax and swim.

Early on Sunday, I got up, prepared a little breakfast for me and made my gear race- ready. In this Marathon, I was determined to try out two different things: Firstly, I would carry my own running pack during the whole race to see if I would be able to comfortably run with something on my back the whole time. And secondly, it was my goal to constantly feed on my drink, consisting of 1.5l of water and 5 gel-packs. I just poured the content of the gel-packs into the water prior to the race and made it dissolve by furiously shaking the water bottle. In theory, I thought that constantly consuming this drink during the race would help keep my muscles work and feed them properly so I would suffer less pain in the last quarter of the race. It turned out that this was not the case as my muscles responded exactly as they did in the last races. No problems in the first 20 kilometers, some notable changes in the next 10 kilometers, considerable pain in the last 10 kilometers. So drinking all these gel- packs did not make a notable difference for me. Maybe I will try a different brand for the next race and hope for the best. In any case, I found out that I don’t have an issue with running with a running pack on my back so at least one of my two experiments was successful. The course of the marathon was a lot more demanding than the courses of the previous races I had done. No severe and long elevation changes in the course but a lot of small hills and up- and downs. Also, it was quite the challenge to run one half of the course on packed and loose gravel and one half of the course on tarmac. Overall, I managed to come in second overall at a time of 3:40 (that’s what the official timekeeping says…) which I am totally fine with. On that day with that course and my current training state, I feel that this was as fast as I was able to go. The winner was quite a bit older than me and finished in 3:29. I lost contact to him after roughly 10 kilometers when I decided to not chase him anymore but started running my own race instead. Now do I feel prepared for the 50K Finlayson trail race on September 9th? Honestly: no. That race has a much more demanding elevation profile and it will also be a lot more technical than the “Run the Rock” marathon on Texada Island. But I don’t shy away from challenges so I will just do it and see what happens. It is my great strength to just take the pain and go on. And if that’s what I need to do in the last 20 kilometers of that race, so be it. In any case, it will be a lot of fun and I want to see where my limits are. I also don’t worry too much about the outcome of the race since I will have a lot of time to complete it so that I can run slower overall and maybe even walk the stepper hills…

Marathon1
Start and Finish of the “Run the Rock” marathon, right next to the campground.
Marathon2
After the race: Chatting with fellow runners. This is Keith from America, a relly nice guy.
Chilling
Just chilling…. well deserved. 🙂

 

From Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, Canada, 07.09.2017.

Yes, I was unable to finish this blog entry during my way home on the 29th of August. I was quite fortunate to actually catch every ferry I was waiting for and I did not have to wait too long for boarding each time. So I did not have the time to continue writing. Then, I wanted to finish writing this blog entry after work last week but never got the chance to do it because I happened to be pleasantly distracted a lot in the last days. However, now I am back at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, waiting for the ferry to take me to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Thus, I now have the time to finish writing this blog entry.

After the marathon, I decided to chill for the rest of the day and to read a little in a “new” Peter May- book which I had borrowed from my local library. On Monday, I decided to look for the caves near Davie Bay so I got in my car and tried to find a road leading to Davie Bay. This was more difficult than I thought since there was no real road at all leading to that bay. Now that did not really deter me. I just parked my car at the side of closest road passing Davie Bay and started hiking through a forest to get to that bay. When I finally reached Davie Bay, I was generously rewarded for my effort with a breathtaking panorama and a really unique experience. Although I looked for the caves all along the rocky and rough coast (great opportunity to do a little scrambling and climbing), I was unable to find them. But then, on my way back, I suddenly heard a loud “Splash” and I wondered who was jumping in the water here since there was no other human being around anywhere. So I went in the direction of the sound and discovered… about 15 sea lions, some swimming in the water, some lying on the rocks. It seemed like they were as curious as I was because they all kept looking at me, swimming around a little but always keeping a distance of roughly 20 meters or more. It was a beautiful experience to actually be so close to them and see them in the wild and not in a zoo. After a while, I figured that I had disturbed them enough so I left and made my way back to the car. Since I had heard lots of good things about Shingle Beach, I decided to camp there for the last day of my stay on Texada Island. The beach itself was as beautiful as promised and I could not resist to take a swim in the clear water. Finally, I spend the rest of the day relaxing at an elevated spot above the beach, enjoying a great conversation with a very sweet and interesting lady.

Davie-Bay
Rough and rocky coast at Davie Bay.
Sea Lions2
Sea lions in the water, looking at me.
Sea lions1
Curious sea lion, diving near the place where I sat.

On Tuesday morning, I decided to visit Turtle Lake before trying to get on the ferry at noon. The lake itself was beautiful but I did not see any turtles and the hike around the lake was less exciting than promised by the reviews I had read about it. In my mind, Turtle Lake is not necessarily a “must- go” on Texada Island. Later, I still had the time to take a brief look at one of Texada’s active quarries when I waited to get on my first ferry at Blubber Bay. And that’s about all there is to write about my little adventure on this beautiful island. In case the Canadian Government allows me to stay here, I will definitely consider returning to Texada next year, not only for the marathon but also to finally find the caves I was looking for…

Shingle Beach
Coast of Shingle beach. Mostly very fine gravel but very scenic.
Crab-water
Small crab trying to attack my feet. 🙂 I left the little guy alone…
Turtle Lake
Start of the hike around Turtle Lake near Van Anda.
Quarry
Active quarry at Blubber Bay.

So right now I am on a ferry again (the “Queen of Oak Bay”) but this time my destination is Nanaimo. Then, in approximately 36 hours, I will start running my first Ultra Marathon, the 50K Finlayson Arm trail race. I am excited to do it but there is also a fairly big amount of doubt about my state of training and the wisdom of choosing to do this race so soon after the last marathon. Anyway, there is no turning back now, just anxious anticipation and an unbroken will to overcome any obstacles thrown in my way. I will write about it when it’s done… Until then, have a little bit of relaxing music, a lovely piece that Glenn made me aware of today. Thanks! 🙂

Yiruma –River flows in you

51. Busy times

From Horseshoe Bay to Texada Island, Canada, 24.08.2017.

I have been lazy with my blog lately, I agree. There has not been much time for me to sit down and recapitulate what I experienced in the last weeks. But now there is a little time because I am on a ferry again and on my way to Texada Island. This trip will include three ferry crossings and quite a bit of driving and I hope that I will make it to the island by this evening so I don’t have to stay somewhere on the Sunshine Coast overnight. But even if I have to do that, it won’t be the end of the world. As usual, I will be fine in the end. 🙂

sunshine-c1
Another ferry crossing our way from Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons.
sunshine-c2
Sunshine Coast: view from the ferry.

So why am I making this trip to Texada Island? Well, it is time to start running again and on Sunday the 27th of August, there will be the “Run the Rock” marathon and I am happy to do it. Also, it is always nice to explore new places so I decided to stay a little longer on the island and travel around a little. Right now, I feel I am in a fairly good training state but I have to admit that I haven’t done much running in the last two weeks. I was really busy with working long hours or exploring the Vancouver area together with my mum.

The next big event after my last blog entry was the Stefan/Henderson reunion near Saskatoon on the weekend of August 4th. It was an amazing weekend full of good conversations, great sport activities and exciting new experiences. I got to meet many interesting and very friendly members of the Stefan/Henderson family, I learned how to prepare the famous family- Schtroodel (Jo Anne, did I spell that correctly?) and I got a very interesting insight into the Canadian past when we watched the old family pictures on the slide projector. Overall, I had an awesome time and I feel really grateful that I was allowed to be there and meet everyone. Now since I don’t know if everyone is okay with me posting family pictures or going into details about our activities on the internet, I will not do that here but instead I will only post a few pictures of the cabin and the nearby lake.

cabin
The cabin at the lake.
lake
View on the lake from a nearby hill.
sunset
Sunset at the lake.

After returning from Saskatoon, a lot of work awaited me at my store. Due to our then upcoming transition to a new computer system, there was still a lot to prepare and to take care of. I had to work pretty long hours because one of my managers was attending the training course for the new computer system while the other manager was on vacation. So I pretty much had to do all by myself. But I won’t complain ab out that because it was still manageable, I like being busy and it is my job to do that, right? In the end, all the extra work paid off and we had a really smooth transition to the new computer system on August 15th.

R1
Chilling at the lake in the morning.
R2
Beautiful lake to swim in. Especially early in the morning when everybody else is still sleeping.

Then, my mum arrived in Vancouver to visit me. I took some days off to do some hiking with her and to show her some of the sights in Vancouver city. First, we hiked up to Mount Seymour and I finally made it to peak 3, the “real” Mount Seymour, together with my mum. The hike itself was really nice and I was so proud to see that my mum was really fit and strong so she had no trouble to hike all the way with me. However, there were two things about the hike that were pretty annoying. First of all, we encountered a lot of hungry flies and mosquitos on our way up. And secondly, we partly had to hike in clouds which also covered the entire mountain during the whole day. So we did not have the great 360- degree view that Mount Seymour usually offers. I felt really sorry for my mum because it would have been really great for her to see that nice panorama live. Not much you can do about that I guess. In the end, it would not have made a difference had we done the hike one day later because on that Friday, the sky was covered by clouds again. Instead, we spent that Friday downtown and I guided my mum through the city. She went on the Vancouver lookout, tried the Fly Over Canada simulator, visited the CatFé to meet some cats and went to a comedy show at YukYuks with me in the evening. In between this full day, we ate at 2 different restaurants where we got some very delicious food. On Sunday, I took my mum hiking again and we conquered the St. Marks summit together with a few friends of mine. Fortunately, the weather was good on that day and we could enjoy the great view on the Howe Sound and the many mountains around the area. It was a wonderful and sunny day that really compensated us for the rather bad weather on Thursday. On Saturday and Monday, my mum went out to discover other places in Vancouver on her own. After these few but really intensive days, my mum had to fly back to Germany on Tuesday. It was really great to have her here in Vancouver and show her the beauty of this country. I guess that she now understands why I love it here and why I will definitely stay here if the Canadian government allows me to do that.

Mum
My mum at Mount Seymour taking a picture of me and vice versa. 🙂 Later on I noticed that she is actually quite well camouflaged in that picture. 🙂
cypress
Skilift at Cypress Mountain. We hiked to St. Marks from there.
Howe1
View on Howe Sound from the St. Marks summit.

This week, I had to work from Monday to Thursday (today) and now I have a few days off again to spend some time on Texada Island. So far, I have made it to Earls Cove and I am currently waiting for my second ferry. I guess I need to be very lucky to actually make it to Texada Island today. Maybe I will be able to catch the last ferry to Blubber Bay but that depends on the length of the second ferry trip and the amount of time that I need to drive to the third harbor. Well, we will see about that I guess…

Last update: It is 9:20 PM and I just made it onto the last ferry to Texada Island in time after 6 hours of travel. Yay!!! 🙂

Today’s music advice is as straightforward as possible but it also contains a good amount of irony. Please find out for yourself, see link below. Thanks for being here in Canada, Mum, it was great to have you here. See you again in Germany next January!

257ers – Mama

50. Visit from Germany & Grouse shenanigans

North Vancouver, Canada, 29.07.2017.

Much has happened in the last two weeks. I have seen great new places, revisited old places, tried out new things and enjoyed the company of a good old friend. And before I lose track of what has happened when and with whom, it is now time to write another blog entry about the recent events.

About two weeks ago, Emilia and I decided to do some more hiking together. This time, we went up to Squamish and hiked up to peak one and two of the Stawamus Chief. The weather was beautiful and the hike with its roughly 600m of elevation change is absolutely worth doing. At both of the peaks we were rewarded with great views of the stunning landscape and the city below us. We hiked the Chief on a Saturday which was probably not the brightest of all ideas since it was really crowded. Anyway, we still found a parking spot and it was not as bad as hiking Quarry Rock on a sunny weekend so I guess I should not complain too much about that.

Howe Sound
View from peak one onto Howe Sound.
Peak2
View from peak one onto peak two.

A few days after the Chief hike, Martin from Germany visited me in Vancouver. Yes, he is the one who missed our army get-together when I was back in Germany briefly at the end of June. We spent a few days together in and around Vancouver and had a great time hiking Mount Seymour again and checking out stuff in the city. When we hiked Mount Seymour, there was far less snow than when I had been there for the first time. However, less snow means more water ponds and more breading grounds for flies and mosquitos next to the trail. Let’s put it this way: At some spots along the way, it was quite annoying to constantly fend off the bugs while trying to stay on trail. When we made it to peak one, we met another hiker, Paul, and rested a little together. While chatting along, a plane made a really close fly-by to greet us. Nice gesture and kudos to the brave pilot! After a while, Martin and I made our way up to peak two to see if it would be possible to actually conquer Mount Seymour that day. It already looked a lot better than last time I was there but there was still too much snow around and the slope also still looked a bit treacherous and sketchy so we decided to not take the gamble that day. But be warned, Mount Seymour, I will be coming back for you!!!! 🙂

Brockton-point
Half way up: At Brockton Point!
Plane1
Plane approaching us at peak one. In the background: Skyline Vancouver.
Plane2
A close fly-by to greet us! 🙂
Mount-Seymour
Way up to Mount Seymour: Probably doable but still a little bit too sketchy.

Of course, Martin and I also spent some time in the city and I wanted to introduce him to one of the typical Canadian drinks: the Cesars. So we decided to go for the Cesar’s Checkmate in the “Score on Davie” and have a great drink/food experience in Vancouver’s West End. However, before we got the food/drink, the apparently very young looking waitress asked us for our IDs to make sure we were 19 or older. Funny thing which hasn’t happened to me in quite a long time. 🙂 I was about to jokingly ask her for her ID first to make sure she was old enough to actually serve alcohol but then I refrained from doing so because I did not want to embarrass her. 🙂

Cesars-Checkmate
Martin checking out our “drink”. 🙂

Last Friday, Martin returned to Germany and from what he told me, he was also impressed by this great country. I have not yet met anyone who left Canada without great impressions and a good feeling. This country is just amazing!!! 🙂

You may have realized that in many of my previous running- pictures I wore that branded yellow “Lidl”- Shirt which was provided by my previous employer. Although this shirt is a great running shirt, I felt that it was time to get a new shirt which more accurately reflects my current situation here in Canada. Unfortunately, my current employer, the BC Liquor Stores, does not sponsor sport events so they don’t have any T-Shirts to give away to runners in the company. Thus, I chose to design my own Shirt and get it printed so I have something new and unique to wear during the next marathons. It’s not a real “running shirt” because it is plain cotton but there were no other shirts/fabrics I could have chosen from so I had to go with this. Here it is:

T-Shirt1
Front.
T-Shirt2
Back.

Talking about marathons. Last weekend, I was supposed to run in the Kamloops marathon but it was cancelled due to poor air quality and smoke caused by the wildfires nearby. Really sad because I am always up for a good run and I would have loved to go back to Kamloops for that race.  So instead of doing the marathon, I decided to continue working on my mountain running skills and went to the Grouse Grind to wreck myself. Last monday, I did the Grind again and finished in 45 minutes which was not considerably faster than the first two times I had done that hike/run. However, I know that I need to focus on endurance rather than speed so I decided to just do the Grind a second time and see how much slower I would be in comparison to the first time. With 48 minutes, I was only roughly 3 minutes slower than the first time. After the second Grind, I wondered if I would be able to do it a third time in a row without experiencing any cramps. Now the third time wasn’t so much fun anymore but I still managed to finish in 50 minutes without any cramps. Which is a good sign because the “hike” (it’s actually more of a constant stair-climbing) is quite straining for the legs. Now I could have probably done the Grind a forth time on that day but I began to get hungry and it just did not feel right so I decided to call it a day and drive home.

Grouse- Log
Official timing stats of my Grinds. My very first Grind (46 minutes) is missing.

In a nutshell, this is what happened on that day:

Overall time of the training session: 3 hours, 05 minutes, 05 seconds.
Time on the trail: 2 hours, 23 minutes, 39 seconds.
Breaks in between (mostly gondola- rides): 41 minutes, 26 seconds.
Elevation gain: 2559 meters
Number of stairs: 8490
Hiking distance: 8.7 kilometers

I really liked this experience and I think I will do this kind of training again in the future to prepare myself for the upcoming races. The Finlayson Arm 50K race in September has quite the interesting elevation profile with a gain of roughly 3070 meters overall. So if I keep running up the Grouse Grind and Mount Seymour some more, that should help me to actually master this Ultra race as well. But we’ll see about that in a few weeks….

Time to conclude this blog entry with yet another piece of music you will probably not know. It is a raw beat (instrumental) that was used by two battle- rappers to “front” each other some years ago. Very relaxing “song” to listen to while relaxing at the beach. Try it!

Beatjunkie Rato – Antarktika

49. Germany- Trip and Grouse Mountain

North Vancouver, Canada, 13.07.2017.

After two strenuous but exciting weeks, I finally managed to calm down a little today. So why not sit down and write another blog entry? Alright, here we go.

Roughly two weeks ago, on the 27th of June, I first flew from Vancouver to Calgary and then from Calgary to Frankfurt. Both flights were okay but I still don’t love flying so I felt a little bit stressed anyway. Back in Germany, I had much to do in the few days that I were there. First of all, I met Jana, a former colleague of mine in Herford on Wednesday afternoon. We sat outside and drank some coffee while it rained badly outside. We had a great time but unforunately, we forgot to make a selfie or picture. Next time, Jana. 🙂 After that, I drove to my mum’s place and decided to run a little. It felt good to run “my” old trails again and to see the village in which I spent so many years of my youth. On Thursday, I spent the whole day working on my english and german tax returns for 2016. Very annoying and time- consuming but necessary. In the evening, my mum and I decided to go out and have dinner at a mongol restaurant in a nearby town. The food was really great (I like fresh veggies cooked on hot plates!!!) and I guess that my mum will probably go there again. I think I will definitely go there again in January 2018 when I will make my next trip to Germany. Unbelievable, that I have already spent over 6 months in Canada and that my current visa is only valid for another 5 months and 3 weeks. It is really crazy how time flies…

German-Wine
Shopping at Lidl’s. Some really cheap wines. Would be great to have them here in my store 🙂
Running Trail
Running trail near the village I grew up in. Brought back great memories.

On Friday morning, I finished my work on the tax returns. After that, I drove to Cologne to meet my buddies from the “Captain’s Mafia”, German Army. We used to work together in the same department back in 2012 and 2013 and we all decided to keep in contact when our ways parted. Back in 2013, we were all active soldiers and we all had the rank of “Captain”, expect for Martin. But we knew that he would be promoted to Captain soon so he already counted as a Captain. Today, one of us got promoted to Major and the rest of us have left the army, so we are mostly reserve Captains today. But technically, we are all still members of the “Captain’s mafia” and that will never change. Up to now, we used to meet once or twice per year. Last time, we met in London, England last summer when I was still working for Lidl UK. Now we met in Cologne but there were only three of us since Martin had already headed to Canada to spend his holidays there. I will meet him next Monday here in Vancouver and I am already looking forward to that.

photo
Captain’s Mafia in London, August 2016. God, I look so bad and silly on some pictures. 😦
German-Army-Crew
Only 3 members of the Captain’s Mafia at the meeting on 30th of June 2017.

On Saturday, I drove to Olpe in the morning to meet another former Lidl colleague of mine, another Martin. When I was still working for Lidl Germany, our management areas were close to each other and we used to meet for lunch (Döner /Donair) or to run together. When we met on Saturday morning, we ran our usual route around the Olpe Biggesee and chatted a lot while doing that. It was good to meet him again in person and to exchange some information. Guess what: We also forgot to take a picture so I can’t post anything here. After the little workout, I drove to Wesseling near Cologne to play in one of my boardgame groups. It was really nice to meet Stephan and Ralph again and to play “Dominant Species”, a very entertaining strategic game. I managed to place second out of five and we had a lot of fun playing and chatting together. When we finished playing, I headed off to Cologne to meet a good friend of mine, Glenn. We partied all night long and then finally drove to his place early on Sunday, around 5 am. What a night! On Sunday, Glenn and I chilled all day and watched some movies. Then, on Monday, I drove back to my mom and spent the rest of the day to prepare my lawsuit against my former German Landlord. He still owes me a lot of money and since he decided not to answer to my e-mails and letters anymore, I now need to take this action. I am excited to see how that turns out but I am quite confident that the judge will make a decision in my favor. And that was pretty much the last thing I did in Germany before I flew back from Frankfurt to Vancouver on Tuesday. Busy busy days in Germany and a lot to do. But I am glad that I was able to meet so many friends of mine. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet ALL of my friends and all of my family members. Oh well, there is always a next time, in this case: January 2018.

Boardgame
Playing “Dominant Species” with Stephan, Ralph, Torben and Matthias. I played the yellow birds. 🙂
Cologne
Partying with Glenn in Cologne, Saturday evening, in the “Schaafenstrasse”.

Since last Tuesday, I am finally back in Canada and very happy about it. There is still so much for me to discover in the greater Vancouver area and I was also excited to get back to work. Yes, you read that right, I love my work. Great people there, much to organize and to do in my store but still manageable and a good environment overall. But let’s not talk about work here but about a great place in North Vancouver: Grouse Mountain. After five days of work, I had a day off last Monday so I decided to finally visit Grouse Mountain. Without going into too much detail here (I feel this blog entry is already getting too long), I have to say that this is a great place and I would always recommend a visit to anyone. I did the famous Grouse Grind in 46 minutes which is not bad but also not an overly great time. That performance confirmed to me once more that I need to train more uphill- running and mountain trails if I want to succeed in the upcoming Ultra- races in September and October. That’s why I decided to buy an annual pass for Grouse Mountain so that I can come back anytime to run the Grouse Grind for training purposes. Let’s see if I will be able to improve my time a little in the future….

Grouse-Grind
The start of the Grouse Grind. Sooooo many stairs. 🙂
View-NV
View on North Vancouver and Deep Cove from Grouse Mountain.
Goat-Mountain
View from the top of Goat Mountain.
Trail-GM
The way back to Grouse Mountain: Sliding in the snow while trying to keep balance.

On top of Grouse Mountain, I was rewarded with a fantastic view of the whole Vancouver region. After a short rest, I decided to hike to the top of another nearby mountain, Goat Mountain, and I found myself scrambling through snow again. But it was still an enjoyable trail and I also managed to not get a sunburn this time. Some parts of the trail were pretty steep and occasionally, the “trail” was more like a snowsled on which you had difficulties to get up but much fun to ride down. So the way back from Goat Mountain to Grouse Mountain was not so much of a hike but more of a sliding- and skiing adventure. Since I still had another appointment on Monday afternoon, I decided against doing any of the other activities on top of Grouse mountain, like Zip- lining and Helicopter flying. However, I still managed to see most of a bird show that had already begun when I returned from Goat Mountain. They had a trained bald eagle, a great owl, a falcon and another bird whose species I can’t remember, sorry. It was great to see these great birds and their different flying- and hunting skills. Check out the pictures below!

Grouse
A “wild” grouse I saw on Grouse Mountain. Naming story of the mountain checks out. 🙂
Owl
Such a beautiful and talkative owl. It was about to loose one of its feathers.
Bald_Eagle
The bald eagle “Hercules” wandering around while her trainer explained his hunting habits.

After the bird show, I took the 4-minute skyride back to the bottom of the mountain. Although it was a Monday (and not the weekend), I still had to wait in line for about 30 minutes because there were quite a few people who wanted to take the skyride as well. Thus, I would not necessarily recommend to visit Grouse Mountain at the weekend when it will probably be even busier than it was last Monday. Anyway, it was a great day and I am happy that I got to know another of Vancouver’s attractions. 🙂

Hmmm, I just realized that I have written more than 1500 words again. So I guess it’s time to stop writing now. But before you quit this page, check out this great rock song from Linkin Park. Such a good song for your running playlist. Or your car playlist. Or your chill playlist for the beach. Or whatever, it’s just a great song, believe me. 🙂

Linkin Park – Easier to run