54. Recap 1 – Whistler 80K & Permanent Residency

North Vancouver, Canada, 04.11.2017.

It is more than a month ago since I last wrote something for this blog. A long time, I know, but I will not apologize for this anymore. Life keeps me busy and I like that and not being able to write blog entries that frequently anymore is the price I need to pay for this I guess. A lot of things happened during the last weeks and in this blog entry, I will focus on writing about the events from Friday October 13th onwards. I will probably cover my hiking trip in Portugal and Spain from October 1st to October 13th in the next blog entry if I have the time to write about it anytime soon…

On October 13th, I first took a connecting flight from Porto, Portugal to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Then, I took the continental flight to Vancouver and landed there at about 2:00 PM on Friday afternoon, thanks to the time change and on-time flights. At the airport, I picked up my car, drove home, grabbed my running gear and got in my car again to drive to Whistler. After I arrived at my Air-BnB apartment in Whistler, I picked up my race package at the Brewhouse and prepared for the upcoming race. Due to Jet Lag, I did not get much sleep during that night although I was really tired after having been awake for almost 24 hours. So after a pretty sleepless night, I checked in with the race organizers after 5AM and started running at 6AM on Saturday, October 14th. This was the first 80 Kilometer race I have ever signed up for, so my primary goal was to complete the race in time. However, I am also ambitious so my secondary goal was to finish the race in under 9 hours which I though was a realistic goal given the fact that I had done 12 days of hiking prior to this race.

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Nelly with me after the race. She finished first in the women’s competition and we ran together for quite a part of the course until she was too quick for me and I fell back.

After the first 25Km, I began to notice that my legs were not so very well rested and it was not so very “easy- going” anymore after that. However, I only experienced some pain and no crucial bodypart failures (severe cramps,…) so I kept running at a slower pace and I also started walking the short uphill stretches to relax my muscles a little bit. In hindsight, I should have also walked the uphill stretches during the first 25Km and I also probably ran too fast during the first 25Km. In any case, the second part of the race was more like a “test of will” for me and it was not so very enjoyable anymore. However, we were lucky that it stayed mostly dry during the day so at least the weather did not make the race even more difficult for me. In the end, I finished at 8 hours and 44 minutes in 11th place out of 36 finishers and 53 starters. Given the circumstances, I am very satisfied with this result and I don’t regret having done this race. Overall, it was a great race and I made lots of valuable running experiences that will probably help me a lot in my future endeavours.

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Start and finish- line next to the food- and chillout area.
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View on the main aid station with our drop bags and start of the two different loops (13Km and 7Km).

Since I participated in the Mountain Madness Run (half marathon) in Grand Cache, Alberta in May 2016 (read about it again here), I dreamt about coming back to Grand Cache one day to do the Canadian Death Race. 125 Kilometers of trail, rough and difficult terrain, a total elevation climb of 5180m and three mountain summits to conquer during the 24 hours available to finish the course. Yes, that is quite the crazy stunt. But after my races this year I feel that it will be doable for me next year. This year, I did not focus a lot on training and I just did what I felt was fun and enjoyable for me. And still, I had acceptable to good results in the races I did, even without optimal preparation. Now I feel that if I start to focus a little more on traninig and nutrition, the Death Race will be doable for me. Of course, it will still be a tough tough race and it is not at all guaranteed that I will be able to finish it but I will try to do exactly that next year. So this is my next big project and probably the longest and toughest race I will ever do in my running career. At least I won’t start planning for anything else even crazier than that until I know how that race went and if I can actually take even more or not.

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Food- and chillout- area next to the race course.
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A nice hot bowl of Goulash. It was soooooo good after the race and it really lifted my spirits.

After having written so much about my latest race, it is now time to switch to a totally different but even more important topic: My application for permanent residency. When I was hiking in Portugal, I received the very good news that the Province of BC nominated me to be one of its residents in the future. This nomination generated a whopping additional 600 points for me towards my application for permanent residency. Thus, in the next round of invitations to apply for permanent residency, I was also selected and invited to apply. Since then, I have started gathering all the additional paperwork that I need to finish this application. In this regard, I am a little under time pressure since I will only be allowed to stay in Canada until January 2nd with my old visa. However, if I manage to finalize my application by January 2nd, I will get the so-called “implied status”. Having this status means that I can stay in Canada under the conditions of my old visa for as long as it takes the government to decide upon my PR application. And judging from the current processing times, it may take up to three months for the government to make a decision on an application once they received all the documents. So I will probably only know by the end of March next year if I will be allowed to stay in Canada permanently or not. Exciting times for me, that’s for sure. 🙂

Hot Tub
Chilling in the Hot Tub in the evening after the race was a blessing for my strained legs.

Alright, over 1100 words already again in this blog entry. Time to stop writing. Today’s music advice is from a band that I only got to know recently but they have already gained a top spot on my Youtube- playlist order. This one is about pain, a good theme song for the Whistler 80K race.

Jimmy eat World – Pain

29. First steps Vancouver

Vancouver, Canada, 06.01.2017 and 07.01.2017.

After the first few days in Vancouver I feel like writing a new blog entry to keep you a bit up to date. Currently, it is Friday afternoon and I am sitting in a Laundromat south of Vancouver, doing my Laundry and listening to some strange German Rap music. No better opportunity to write something.

The last days were pretty exciting but also really productive. But let’s start at the beginning. After I landed at Vancouver airport, I had to wait quite a while until I passed the Customs office. No problems here. After that, I went to the Immigration office and got my working permit just after a few minutes of waiting. Really efficient, I was truly amazed. I then picked up my rental car and went to the nearest shopping mall with a TELUS- shop in it. Interestingly, there was also a branch of the HSBC bank in there. So I went in there first to ask what documents they need to open an account for me. It turned out that banks always need 2 documents of personal proof and 1 item to proof one’s address. So nothing I could do there yet. Anyway, I then went to the TELUS- shop to reactivate my Canadian SIM- card from last year. Unfortunately, that was not possible since they already deleted my number. Oh well, I then decided to get a new SIM with a new contract including sufficient data volume. This worked out well and by doing this, I got a confirmation sheet from them with my current address south of Vancouver. That was quite good since I was able to use this sheet as my proof of address one day later to open my bank account. After having done all this, it was already relatively late and I found out that the “Service Canada”- office had already closed. So there was not much more to do for me. I sat down, changed my SIM- card and started reading all the mails and messages that my friends and family had sent me while my smartphone was turned off. Later on, I met Dawn in the food court of the mall and we talked a lot while she drank a tasty protein shake. I was really glad to see her again after 7 months. Finally, we went shopping (groceries) and drove back to her apartment to settle in.

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Aberdeen- mall next to the airport. Reminds me of my Scottish holidays last year…

On Wednesday I wanted to box off the rest of the bureaucratic issues. But the day started with me waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning. Bad Jetlag I guess. Unfortunately, I also woke up very early on Thursday and Friday. Anyway, that will go away soon I guess. After breakfast I drove to Richmond and I managed to get literally everything I wanted: I got a Social Insurance number (took me 5 minutes), successfully applied for a BC driving license (took me roughly 60 minutes) and I also opened a bank account (took me roughly 80 minutes). Then, I bought a double- burner plate to cook and also got a stainless steel Wok for a really good price. Finally, I had to do some shopping again to be able to cook my favorite Chinese meals. Overall, that was a very good day for me and I was really satisfied with how it went. At this point I really have to compliment the Canadians on their bureaucracy. It is working, it is efficient and the waiting times are really okay. If I had to judge the three bureaucratic systems I know so far, I would rate them in this order: CANADA > GERMANY > … nothing for a long time … > ENGLAND. Sorry, my English fellows but that’s the way it is. Just a side note: A few days ago, I got a letter from the Gravesham Council Office in England prompting me to pay my council tax. Well, I had already told them a few months ago that I would leave my apartment there at the end of October. And then they had sent me a final bill which I paid promptly. Well, they must have forgotten about that. But knowing the English bureaucracy, I was not surprised about it.

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Lansdowne Mall in Richmond. View of Skytrain tracks.
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View of the mall itself.

On Thursday, I decided to chill a bit and screen the job offers in Vancouver and Canada. Also, I contacted my German bank because I want to wire some money to Canada to buy my own car. And when the sun came out in the afternoon, I decided to take a walk along the beach and also to the U.S./ Canadian border. There were no fences or walls or guards but I found one sign, see below. Maybe Mr. Trump will change this situation soon and build one of his famous walls here if the amount of Americans seeking refuge in Canada rises. Or, on the other hand, he could just leave everything as it is. The outflow of Americans going to Canada could equal the inflow of Mexicans going to America so that the net change of the population in the U.S. would be zero. Or something like that, who knows?

In the evening, Dawn’s boyfriend dropped by, brought her cat Whippcream back and picked her up for the weekend. We had a good chat and I was happy to meet him. That pretty much concluded the day and I went to bed relatively early.

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U.S. / Canadian border south of Vancouver.

This morning, little fuzzy Whippcream woke me up and parked on my bed, see below. I cuddled her for quite a long time until she fell asleep and I then played a bit with my smartphone. Later in the morning, I decided to set up a Facebook account and to update my profile on Indeed to maybe get some job offers. Then, I found out that BC Parks will soon start recruiting Park Rangers. As of now, they have only posted this intention on Facebook but as soon as the official job advertisement will be released, I am definitely going to apply for one of these positions. We’ll see how it goes. After having done lots of things at the computer, I decided to do three more things today: 1. Laundry, 2. Hairdresser, 3. Game Night at a local comic shop. As of now, number 1 on the list is nearly complete so I will be moving on to number 2 soon. Looks like I will have to finish this blog entry tomorrow morning. See you then!

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Whippcream occupying a part of my bed. 🙂

Saturday morning, time to finish the blog entry I began writing yesterday. After I had my hair cut yesterday, I went to a local Game shop to relax and play one of my favorite games: Magic. I managed to draft a really solid deck and win all three of my matches. It was really good fun and the people there were all open and friendly. As they were all still relatively young and/or unexperienced, I could give them a few hints how to improve their drafting-, deck building- and playing skills. Sometimes I feel really old when doing these things… Anyway, I will definitely return to the store and play some more in the next weeks. They also seem to have a board game evening on Wednesdays so I will take a look at that as well.

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My deck. Solid and flexible W/B mid range with a few ways to mess things up.
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Next time I can draft for free. Yeah!

As promised in the last blog entry, I finally want to share my thoughts about participating in future Marathon events with you. As of now, I have not yet decided if I want to register for the Canadian Death Race in August or not. Fortunately, I don’t have to hurry with that decision as the registration for solo runners opens no earlier than February 22nd. So I still have some time to let events unfold and then decide accordingly. In case I get a job as a Park Ranger, it is highly unlikely that I will do the Death Race. Probably too many organisational- and training-related problems to do that. However, there are two things that I definitely want to do in the next weeks: Firstly, there are several Hypothermic Half Marathons near Vancouver in the next weeks and I definitely want to run one of those. And secondly, there is this famous Grouse Grind Hike just north of Vancouver. It is said to be a challenge so I have to try it. As I don’t know where fate takes me after February, I will plan for future Marathons rather spontaneously as I go. But I am pretty sure about one thing: Although I did a very small triathlon last year, I don’t think I will continue doing these kinds of events. I think it does not make any sense to buy a proper bike for triathlons here and to be very honest: cycling has never been one of my favourite sports. So I’ll just stick with running and be fine with it.

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View from Dawn’s terrace. Just amazing!
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Clear water during low tide. Sea port Tsawwassen in the background.

Wow, I just realized this blog entry is already 1450 words long. Time to stop writing. Today I will spend some time in downtown Vancouver and visit a few locations that I missed last June. Like the CatFe.

Now, what’s today’s music advice? The song comes from Kollegah’s newest and heavily praised album “Imperator”. I think this is the best song in an otherwise rather mediocre album. His earlier albums were a lot better but that is just my opinion.

Kollegah – Assassine