41. Preparing for the marathon

Vancouver, Canada, 26.04.2017.

Just nine more days and I will be running my first full marathon. I have to admit that I am already pretty excited about that. At the same time, I still have a few doubts about my current training condition because I have not done more than 20 kilometers per session lately. One the one hand, any distance up to 20 kilometers is absolutely doable for me in the moment, not a problem. On the other hand, however, I don’t know how my body will react if I keep pushing past these 20 kilometers. In any case, I will find out about that soon and I am not really scared to do so. One way or the other, it will be fine I guess. One of my strengths is to just take the pain and keep running. I have done it before and I will be able to do it again so I don’t really worry about it.

In the past weeks, I managed to intensify my marathon training. On average, I ran roughly 50 kilometers per week in three session. Also, I went hiking on Easter Sunday which possibly also trained my leg muscles. I wanted to hike up to Mount Seymour but I wasn’t properly prepared for that because there was still a lot of snow above the 900m- line and it was really cold and uncomfortable up there. So I decided to turn around and come back another day with warmer clothing. To me, these weather issues here in Canada are still really amazing. At the start of the hike, it was about 15 degrees warm and sunny whereas three hours later, I had to hike in knee-deep snow with temperatures below zero. Just amazing! Anyway, I will return and conquer Mount Seymour another day, probably some time in the summer when the snow is gone. In the meantime, I will focus on hiking less mountainous routes starting next Sunday. Already looking forward to that because I got to know someone who also likes hiking so we decided to go hiking together regularly in the future. Will be lots of fun I think!

Snow-Trail
Snowy trail on the way up to Mount Seymour.
Cove-Lookout
Deep Cove Lookout next to Mount Seymour Road.
Lookout-1
View from Deep Cove Lookout. Sadly, my camera could not capture the nice panorama adequately.

When it comes to sports, I am also still climbing really actively. After having done the belay course, I started doing belay routes with Gordon, another climber at the gym. He is a lot more experienced than me so I can learn many things from him. In any case, I still manage to make a lot of progress each time I go climbing which is really encouraging. However, I think I still need to work a lot on my technique before I can go climbing outdoors. But since the outdoor season has not begun yet, I guess I still have enough time on my hands to prepare myself for this next step.

Aside from all of these sport activities, I also spend a lot of time at work, getting to know my staff members and the organization of my store. As of now, I think I already gained a good overview of the current situation and the most pressing problems in the store. There are quite a few things that need my attention now and in the next months but I am confident that my team and I can make some significant improvements in the future. Work itself is really enjoyable so I am still very happy that I got this position.

Wild-Waterfall
Huge waterfall and large uprooted tree on the trail up to Mount Seymour.
Waterfall-1
Close-up of one part of the huge waterfall.

With all the time I am currently spending at work and doing sports, I had to cut down on playing board games and card games recently. Unfortunately, I was unable play at the MAGIC- Amonkhet prerelease last weekend because I had to work. In addition to that, I havn’t had the time yet to join the local board game group because I simply did not have the time. But I will do that after the marathon when it makes sense to cut down a bit on the running training. 🙂 It is always nice to meet new people and in my experience, local gamers are always very nice and fun people to be with.

Wrecked-Bridge
Wrecked bridge on a hiking trail.
Young-plant
New life grows in a puddle of mud. The bright green of the plant is NOT photoshoped.
BMO
6th of May, going the full distance. My aim is to stay under 5 hours.

Rather short update this time but there is not much more interesting stuff to talk about in the moment. So, as usual, I will conclude this blog entry with a music advice. Today’s song is a good piece of German rock and it always pushes me when I listen to it while running. Also, think this the artist’s best song overall. Check it out:

Stefan Weidner – Stille Tage im Klischee

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40. Exploring the neighborhood

Vancouver, Canada, 14.04.2017

Nearly another two weeks have gone by since I’ve written my last blog entry. So I guess it’s time to write a little about the newest developments here in Vancouver.

Aside from the bad weather (rain, rain and even more rain), I really enjoyed the first weeks here in North Vancouver. It turned out that I moved to a quiet and friendly neighborhood which is quite close to the start of several hiking routes in the Canadian rainforest. And of course, I already tried two of these routes on my days off. They are really nice to run, well maintained and offer some spectacular views. It is also quite nice that one of the hiking routes goes up to the nearby Mount Seymour because I really like mountain hiking. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to do that hike but on Easter Sunday, I will probably try it. If the weather forecast is right, there will be at least some sun on that day and since I won’t have to work, it sounds like a good plan to do that hike then. Now let’s have a look at a few of the pictures I took on my previous runs/ hikes:

Bridge
A small, makeshift bridge that did not seem too trustworthy. Thankfully, it did not collapse when I walked over it.
Stream2
Narrow stream of rushing mountain water, crossing the hike’s path.
Stream
A bigger stream, carrying crystal- clear water.

Aside from the running and hiking, I also spent some time in the climbing gym in the last weeks. And due to some classes that I took and a lot of training, I can already feel how I am slowly getting better and better each time I am there. However, there are a lot of techniques that I still need to train and master before I can possibly start climbing outdoors. But I am confident that I will be able to do that and that I can do some outdoor climbing this summer. There are quite a few popular routes around Vancouver and Squamish and I am already exited to see the difference between climbing indoor and outdoor. Although I have only started climbing a little more than 2 months ago, I already feel that this sport has become an important part of my life and I don’t want to miss that again. To me, climbing is a lot of fun and I also really enjoy meeting people at the gym and talking about the routes, techniques and general issues. If you haven’t tried climbing yet, maybe you should give it a try and see for yourself if you like it or not…

Stream3
View from a bridge that crosses a mountain stream.
Stairs-Hike
The beginning of the “Quarry Rock” hike, starting at Deep Cove.

This Monday, I started working at my own store in North Vancouver. It was really exciting to meet all of the members of my store team and to get a first impression of the current situation in the store. We already started reorganizing a few things and I think that a few months down the road, we will have a great looking store with an efficient, “german”, organization. 🙂 In any case, I really enjoyed my first days at the store and I am truly happy to be there at the moment. It is also quite nice that it only takes me roughly 15 minutes of walking to get to work in the morning. No traffic jams, no long drives to work, no trouble finding a parking place. What more can you possibly ask for?

Quarry-Rock2
View from Quarry Rock. Notice Downtown Vancouver (high- rises) in the distance, right side of the picture, above the tree line.
Quarry-Rock1
Quarry Rock: Another angle. Must be nice when the sun is shining…
Panorama Park
Panorama Park in Deep Cove.

This week’s featured song is one of the more popular songs of a great German Heavy Metal band called Gravedigger. I have only seen them live once but although the members of the band have already aged a little, they were full of power and the concert was a blast. Check out this nice song from their great album “Heavy Metal Breackdown”:

Gravedigger – We wanna rock you

38. Starting to work

Vancouver, Canada, 24.03.2017.

As announced in the last blog entry, it will not make a lot of sense for me to continue writing this blog as frequently as I used to. The main reason for this? Well, I won’t be doing that many extraordinary things in the future anymore. Starting this Tuesday, I actually started working for the BC Liquor Stores and it looks like some kind of everyday life routine has returned to my life. Which is a good thing because I wanted it that way and it may be a good foundation for the next chapter in my life.

So how were my first days at work? Well, honestly? It was great and I enjoyed every day so far. I met a lot of interesting and nice people and I already learned a lot about the BC liquor market and the company’s procedures and policies. Quite a few things are very similar or even identical to the working environment I got to know in Germany and England so not everything is completely new for me. Today, my line manager, who was also one of the managers in my job interview, visited the store I’m currently training in and we had a good chat about a few things. I think I will get along with him quite well in the future so I am happy that he is my line manager. He told me that I will start working in my own store on April 10th and that surprised me a little. On average, a store manager at Lidl Germany will receive roughly 6 months of training until they get their own store. At Lidl UK, the training of a new store manager takes less than these 6 months but is very rare that someone gets a store with less than 4 months of training. Now as a former Area Manager who has trained store managers in the past, I feel that I don’t need that amount of time to be able to do the job properly but only having 3 weeks to learn everything is a challenge. However, I’m not afraid of this and I think I’m be okay with this time frame. Of course I will not be as knowledgeable and experienced as my fellow colleagues after 3 weeks of training but if I have any questions or problems I can always pick up the phone and ask my current trainers for advice. Still, it feels a little bit strange to be be given this amount of responsibility so quickly right away….

Beer
Even at work, I find a lot of traces of my German heritage…. “Home sweet Home”…. 🙂

Before I started working last Tuesday, I moved out of Dawn’s apartement and into my temporary AirBnB suite here in North Vancouver. The transition was smooth and it didn’t take me long to pack and move my stuff. However, I also noted that I have already accumulated quite a few new things since I started living in Canada in January. On April 1st, I will finally move into my own apartment in the very east of North Vancouver and then I hope that I don’t have to move again anytime soon. Dawn’s cat Whippcream seemed to be a bit sad about me leaving the apartment when she sat right next to the last load of my stuff. Also, Dawn phoned me and told me that Whippcream seems to be looking for me in the apartment. I really miss her too because she is a lovely and low maintenance cat and she was a great companion to me during my stay at Dawn’s apartment. That is one of the harder things in life: To say goodbye…

Whippcream1
Whippcream sitting next to my stuff when I was moving out of the apartment.
Whippcream2
The fuzzy little girl sleeping on my lap.

Aside from me moving out of Dawn’s apartment and starting to work, nothing overly exciting happened since my last blog entry. With regard to my application for permanent residency, I got my university degrees translated and I also already sent copies of it to a Canadian certification agency. Once I have their assessment of my degrees, I will be able to apply for permanent residency but I think that will probably take another 2 or 3 weeks. But that is okay since I have enough time left here in Canada and there is no need to hurry. And what else did I do in the past days? Well, just the usual stuff that I love doing here in Canada: Playing Board Games, climbing, jogging, you name it. I’m really looking forward to go hiking again but I think I will not start with that until I moved into my new apartment. This weekend, Verena and I will be at the YukYuk’s one more time and we’ll also go and visit the carnival at BC Place (the big stadium in Vancouver). That’s gonna be a whole lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to doing that!

The Networks
Nice little game: The Networks.
Rainforest
Preparing for the Vancouver Marathon in the nearby rainforest.
BG
Is this the place the Trump administration referred to??? It’s right in my Neighborhood…

As there is not much else to report in the moment, this blog entry is a lot shorter than usual but that is okay. Let’s finish with another music advice. The following song is a truly great metal balad, performed by one of Germany’s best Rock bands. Absolutely worth listening to again and again:

Scorpions – Send Me an Angel

35. GP Vancouver and Job Interview

Vancouver, Canada, 21.02.2017.

I have to apologize. Bad habits keep returning. I can’t believe the last blog entry is already nine days old. Anyway, now it’s time to recall what happened in these nine days and there is a lot to write about. Undoubtedly, there were two highlights in the last nine days: Firstly, I played at the Magic GP Vancouver. Not the main event but great Sealed Deck side events. And secondly, I had a job interview at the BC Liquor stores for a position as a Senior Store Manager yesterday.

The Magic GP Vancouver began on Friday 18th, ended on Sunday 20th and I guess that there were probably around 2000 visitors at peak times. As there were no good events on Friday, I decided to only go there on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a complete disaster for me although the pool I got in my Sealed Event was fairly okay. Nevertheless, I went 0-2 in both of the first matches and this meant that I could not win any great prizes anymore. So I dropped from the event, drove home and used the rest of the day to prepare for my upcoming job interview. Then, on Sunday, I went back to the GP in the morning and began playing in another Sealed Deck event (Pro Tour Qualifier). The pool was fairly bad and I expected to lose my matches again but the opposite happened. I won all of my first four matches and I was only one win away from making the Top8 and the subsequent draft. That would have been really huge, what a turn of events!!! Then, in my last match, I had bad draws, had to mulligan in both of my two games and lost them without any real chance. Sad, really. Total loser as Mr. Trump would say. 🙂 So I expected to be placed 2nd in my pod but then there was an unpleasant surprise. Because they determine the placings based on some freaky tiebreaker rules, I was placed 3rd instead of second. Too bad, because in third place, I got less than half of the prizes than the guy who placed second. What a frustration, really. I somehow felt I got betrayed and cheated and my mood dropped considerably. After having left the event, I began thinking about the situation again. In the end, I made my peace with the situation fairly quickly because it had not been a deliberate decision by someone to treat me unfairly but it was just a result of a rather strange tiebreaker system. Next time, this system may be working in my favor, who knows? Also, had somebody told me at the start of the event that I would place third in the pod with the pile of cards I opened, I would have laughed hard. So I guess I should be grateful for what I achieved because it was unexpected and more than I could have hoped for. In any case, it is always hard to accept such results if you’re an ambitious player and you want to win. And in Magic, I like it when my decks perform and I win. 🙂 Anyway. After the event, I got my play mat signed by all the artist and I bought a great Goblin- Token card from the artist “rk post”. Unfortunately, the Donald Trump token was already sold out. Bummer!

deck
My BG midrange- deck without any great synnergy whatsoever. The deck’s allstar: Herald of Anguish. Won me at least 4 games. Notice the lack of good 4drops while playing 2 druids of the Cowl.
goblin
Got to start playing Red Aggro again and use this token. 🙂 Great humor in this card.

Well, that was the GP. Then, on Monday, I had my first job interview here in Canada at the headquarters of the BC Liquor stores in Vancouver. Before beeing interviewed by two Regional managers and one HR manager, I had 30 minutes to analyze a Profit & Loss statement. Good thing I have already done that more than once in my life. So I felt it wasn’t a big deal, really. Then, the following panel interview went fairly well and I talked a lot about my past job experience. Of course I didn’t get an immediate feedback and it may take up to three weeks until they tell me if they want me as a Senior Store Manager or not. Also, I will not have a choice of store but they will tell me in which store they need me based on my skillset and the manager’s skillset needed in the stores that currently don’t have a manager. In any case, I will probably stay in the Greater Vancouver Area somewhere as they are currently only looking for managers over here. But hey, why not? It’s pretty nice here, I won’t complain about staying…

Talk about staying. Today I received the results of the English- test I took 11 days ago. On a scale of 1-12 I scored like this: Reading 12, Listening 11, Speaking 10 and Writing 8. Yep, I am mostly happy but the Writing mark puzzles me a bit. I had lots of time left when I wrote my answers and I felt they were fairly okay. So I don’t really understand why I only scored an 8 here. Well, that should not be my downfall I guess. In any case, I will enter these results in the immigration’s office questionnaire later today and see if it’s sufficient to apply for permanent residency or not. I’ll write about that in my next blog entry I guess.

And what else happened in the last 9 days? Verena and I spent a great Thursday together. We visited the Maritime Museum, enjoyed the sunny weather at Kitsilano Beach and went climbing again. Climbing was really great, I felt how I was already getting better at it and we had a lot of fun there. Verena was doing even better than me and climbed increadibly well. After the training, my muscles did not hurt nearly as bad as they did when we went climbing for the first time. In case I get the job at the BC Liquor stores, I will definitely look for a good nearby climbing hall and start doing that sport regularly. I really like it and if you haven’t tried it yet, just do it once. It’s a great experience. Also, you meet interesting people. Like the guy in the men’s dressing room. He stood next to me and yawned really loud. I:”Hey, someone’s really tired, huh?” He:”Oh yeah, and stoned”. I: “Uhh, okay. And climbing works when you’re stoned?”. He:”Hell yeah, I can only recommend it.”. I:”Right, go for it man.”. That’s Vancouver for you, great stuff. 🙂 Of course, Verena and I also went to the YukYuk Comedy club on Thursday evening to enjoy some more great stand- up comedy. Yep, I keep going there regularly, it’s great fun. 🙂

marmu
Vancouver’s Maritime Museum.
totem
The huge totem pole near Vancouver’s Maritime Museum.
kitsilano-beach
Sunny Kitsilano Beach. Clouds and Vancouver Downtown in the background.

Apart from all the sight- seeing, I also kept running regularly and, of course, I also played at the board game night at the local store again. Not much to write about this but a few interesting pictures to look at. See below.

alien-invasion
Some Alien- looking thing with tentacles at Tsawwassen Beach. No idea what it is but the plastic tentacles were hollow and had some hooks attached. Looked strange.
bald-eagle
Bald Eagle at Centennial Beach. German: Weisskopfseeadler.
concordia
Great board game I played for the first time: Concordia. I (black meeples) beat Dave (red meeples) by 4 points, lucky me! 🙂

Well, that’s all for now I guess. When writing the next blog entry, I hope I’ll be able to report that I got the job and that I also started my application for the permanent residency. But we’ll see about that. 🙂

Since the last music advices were all Rock/Punk titles, it is now time to showcase a Rap song again. This one is from Sido, a pretty popular German Rapper who has moved from Gangsta- Rap to a more Mainstream- Rap during the last 15+ years. Still, even today’s songs are pretty nice if you like Rap music.

Sido – Massafaka