45. Current state of affairs and running thoughts

Between Tsawwassen and Long Harbour (Salt Spring Island), Canada, 08.06.2017.

It is Thursday evening and my long weekend has just begun. Since I have five days off now, I decided to make a trip to Salt Spring Island to relax a little. That’s why I am currently on my way from Tsawwassen to Long Harbour (Salt Spring Island) on board of the “Queen of Nanaimo”, a rather old ferry. As this trip will take roughly three hours, I have ample to write another blog entry and share some thoughts about running and my current situation in Canada.

Let’s start with my current state of affairs in Canada. As of now, I have spent a little over 5 months in Canada already and I have enjoyed every day of it. I managed to get a decent and enjoyable job, I met family members and found new friends, I did quite a bit of sightseeing and travelling and I started to climb and run marathons. Certainly, I am currently experiencing one of the best parts of my life so far. That said, I would not be me if I had no plans for the future. Now what’s my main plan for the future? Well, as I have already laid out in one of my previous blog entries, I will apply for permanent residency so that I can stay in Canada indefinitely. As of last week, I was not yet able to apply because my university degrees had not been certified yet. Luckily, I got a letter from the certification agency last week saying that they recognize one of my degrees as a Master degree and the other one as a combination of an undergraduate degree and a diploma. I disagree with their latter assessment (that degree is also the equivalent of a master degree!!!) but that does not really matter. All that matters is that they certified the other degree as a Master degree so that I will now get the higher amount of points for the Master degree when applying for permanent residency. However, I will still wait with the application until I have my company’s final decision on my request to do a “Labor Market Impact Assessment” (LMIA) for me & my job. If they do this LMIA for me, I will score additional points in my application and that would significantly raise my chances to be considered for permanent residency. However, if my company does not support me with a LMIA, I will still be able to apply for permanent residency but I will score significantly lower and thus it will be less likely for me to get that permanent residency. In a first decision, the head of the HR department told my line manager that the company generally does not support employees with LMIA’s. So far, so good. At first glance, it looks like I won’t be supported by my company in this regard. However, I can be very persistent if I really want something so I will talk to the head of HR first before actually giving up on this endeavor. I feel that he needs to know that they will have to look for a new Store Manager in January if I don’t manage to get that permanent residency. This may entice them to overthink their decision and maybe support me after all. But if not, I will definitely try to get the permanent residency even without their support. Generally, I almost never give up until the very last card is played. You never know how things may turn out in the end. Now you may ask yourself: And what will you do if you don’t get that permanent residency? Is there a plan B? Good question and yes, there is a Plan B. If I don’t get that permanent residency, I will briefly fly back to Germany in January after my visa runs out and then I will return to Canada to do some travelling. Probably, I will also go to the U.S. and see some places over there. Now why would I do that? Simple thing: Without a valid visa, “normal” visitors are only allowed to stay in Canada for up to 3 months in one piece. However, if I cross the border to the U.S. once in a while, this 3-months period is reset and I won’t be considered an illegal visitor anymore when I will be travelling through Canada from January to August. It is my plan to drive through Canada from west to east and back again on another route. In August 2018, Grand Cache in Alberta (click here for my first visit to this place in 2016) will be my final destination. Since I won’t be working in between January and August, I will have a lot of time to train for the Canadian Death Race and this will be my final endeavor on my trip. So no matter how the Canadian government decides on my application for permanent residency, I have good plans in place for the future and I will definitely make the best out of it!

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Tsawwassen seaport and commercial terminal(s) in the background.
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Tsawwassen coastline in the background. I used to run there when I was living at Dawn’s place.

You may have noticed already that this blog entry does not contain many pictures. I am sorry about that but I did not have many opportunities in between the last blog entry and this one to take interesting pictures. However, I promise to share many nice pictures with you in my next blog entry which will be about my trip to Salt Spring Island.

Now that I have done quite a bit of running in the last weeks, I want to take this opportunity and share some of my thoughts about running with you. First of all, I realized that I really like running and pushing myself and that I can take quite a bit of pain while doing so. From my time in the German Army, I already know that I am able to take a lot of pain and endure bad situations but as of now I was unsure if I was willing to expose myself to these situations voluntarily. As it turns out, I am increasingly willing to do that and to test my personal limits. Although my first marathons were a challenge to me, I still feel that I can more than 42.2 kilometers. So I will continue to push myself and train hard for the 80 K- race in Whistler in October. And if that race goes well, my next goal will be to run the Death Race in 2018. Now I don’t know if I will be able to do that but I strongly believe in pursuing your dreams in life and also in trying as hard as you can to achieve them. And if I fail to complete that race, I can at least say that I tried and that it was not for me. In addition to that, I will never look back later and ask myself “…what would have been had I actually tried to run that race…”. I have not yet made up my mind how exactly I will train for the longer races but I am almost sure that I don’t want to stick to any rigid training- or nutrition plan. Now I know that there are numerous training plans and diets on the internet and each one tells you what to eat, when and how much to train and how to structure your weeks before the running event. Let’s put it this way: I am sure that you can optimize your running performance by following these plans and diets but that is just not my style. I don’t want to overcomplicate things and I am not prepared to slavishly do what others tell me. Sticking to training plans and diets does not sound like fun to me and in the end, I want to enjoy what I am doing and I don’t want to be forced how to spend my leisure time. Thus, if I feel like eating chips, drinking beer and watching a movie, I will always do that and I don’t want to have a training/diet plan telling me that I am supposed to eat pasta now and at least run 10-15 Kilometers that day. Won’t happen if I don’t feel like it, sorry. To me, it is all about feeling good and comfortable with spending my leisure time for something. Bottom line: I only want to go running when I feel like running. I know that I will have to “pay the price” for this attitude and kind of training in the end but that is okay with me since I am not a full-time athlete and running is a passion and hobby to me and not a job. However, when it comes to the race day itself, I think that I will be forced to follow the more scientific approach of running. Probably, you need a certain nutrition (electrolytes, energy,…) for your muscles to be able to run for an extended period of time without getting bad cramps or collapsing. So I guess I will be forced to explore this topic a little more in the future and to try some of the prevalent nutrition advices during the next races.  Let’s see what results I can achieve with my way of training…

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Sturdies Bay at Galiano Island. Our first stop on the way to Long Harbour, Salt Spring Island.
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Bald Eagle near our ferry at Sturdies Bay.

Wow, another very long blog entry with over 1600 words! I guess it is time to stop writing now and to finally post my music advice for today. Let’s listen to some alternative and crazy German music with hip-hop and electronic elements. In all of my arrogance, it is a tribute to all the training plans and marathon diets out there:

Deichkind – Like mich am Arsch

21. Goodbye Canada!

Vancouver Airport, Canada, 10.06.2016.

As expected, I arrived at Vancouver airport really early and now I still need to wait 3 hours until the check in for my flight to Frankfurt will begin. So I still have plenty of time to think about my time here at Canada and to maybe already make some plans for the future.

Thus far, all my blog entries have been in German but I feel now it is time to publish one in English so all the Canadian readers can also follow my thoughts. For you German folks: Take it as an opportunity to train your English language skills. 🙂

In the past 4 and a half weeks, I have had the best time of my life. No exaggeration here. I have met wonderful people, seen beautiful places and sights and enjoyed the rich and diverse Canadian nature. This was an experience that I will always be very very grateful for and it has captured a big and permanent spot in my heart. In hindsight, I think that I should have made this trip already much earlier. In 2005 I put feet on Canadian soil for the first time and this is already 11 years ago. Way too long. As of today, I promised myself not only to return to Canada but also that it will definitely not take me another 11 years to do so. There is still much to see in Canada and I am a lot more excited about doing that than I am to spend time in Africa, Asia or Europe. The good thing is: No matter which part of Canada I will visit next, there will still be a lot of things to see. Even in the places I just visited, I have not nearly seen everything. I could have easily spent another week in Banff, Jasper, Vancouver etc. and still I would possibly not have seen everything there. But then again, it would also be nice to visit those provinces the next time that I have not seen yet at all. Quebec, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Yukon or Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Or maybe return to Ontario and do a little trip over there. Or take the train from east to west through Canada and explore the country like that. Or prepare and take part in the Canadian Death Race at Grand Cache. There are so many possibilities but I have not yet made up my mind what I will do in the future. But one thing is for sure: I will return one day. Maybe alone, maybe I will bring a friend and we will do a road trip together and maybe it is even going to be for a longer period of time and not just for vacation. Maybe even immigration, who knows? I don’t know yet but I will make up my mind and figure out something in the next months. Lucky me, I can take my time with that and I don’t need to hurry and make a decision right now or in the next weeks.

While in Canada, I was frequently asked what my single nicest experience or favorite place was thus far. In the beginning, I still tried to answer that question to the best of my abilities but in the end it became impossible for me to do that. I have had many really great experiences, visited lots of beautiful places and each one was good in another way. There were human experiences, animal experiences, nature experiences, educational experiences, sight- seeing experiences and so on. Even drawing up different categories and trying to find out which were the best related experiences would not be fair or make sense in my mind. But one thing I can say for sure: Meeting you Canadians, talking to you and doing things together with you was the best overall experience of my whole trip. I am very much looking forward to meeting you again and I hope you get into contact with me if you plan to visit Europe in the future. Thank you again for all your support, advise and your company. I am very very grateful for everything that you have done for me!

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Jade Statue, First Nations Art, in Vancouver Airport.

In a proper summary, not only the good aspects but also the bad ones must be mentioned. Now, there is not much to write about here. I could start with the price level of accommodation or food being relatively high in some areas (e.g.: Tofino, Vancouver, Jasper) but this is always the case if there are many tourists around. I guess that just needs to be accepted and there is nothing you can really do about it. Then again, it has not at all prohibited me to do the things I wanted to do. Overall, on my trip, time was a great limiting constraint and money wasn’t at all. The second negative thing that needs to be mentioned is the behavior of many tourists here in Canada. I have frequently written about it in the blog and it has irritated me more than once. This again is a thing that can probably not be changed. And I guess that this is also quite normal since tourists will behave similar everywhere they go. So this is definitely not an exclusive Canadian problem. The last thing that struck my attention was the totally different atmosphere and city feeling that I got in Vancouver. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I was a bit irritated after all because Edmonton and Calgary were so different. At least that is how I experienced it. Not that Vancouver was “bad” in any case but some of its aspects, like the traffic or the business-like and detached behavior of some of the Asian people, reminded me a bit of a European city. Now I do like some European cities but I like the Canadian ones more I guess. And I probably have a very incomplete picture of Vancouver so it isn’t really fair to judge the city like this. Also, it may just be a matter of time until one adapts to the different circumstances there and then the city probably feels ”normal”, too. In any case, I do like the Vancouver airport (see title picture) and I would definitely spend some days in Vancouver again if possible. Apart from the aspects mentioned above, which are just very minor points that everyone has to accept when travelling abroad, I have nothing to complain about. Maybe next time I visit Canada, I will try to avoid the very popular tourist spots and focus even more on staying in more remote areas. But I am not sure about that yet…

Now this is it, the last blog entry for this trip. I am already sitting in the boarding area and in 10 minutes, the boarding will start. The flight is a little bit late but we will be alright. Did I mention that I don’t like flying? Oh well, there is no more going back now.

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Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 from Vancouver to Frankfurt, 10.06.2016.

Ah, I almost forgot: Today’s music advice. The song is also on Youtube so you can check it out now. I think I don’t need an in-depth explanation why I chose it:

 Skylar Grey – I will return

Thank you all for following my blog and commenting. Hope we stay in contact.

Cheers, take care and GOODBYE CANADA,

Ralf