We haven’t seen each other in a while. I’m finally excited to be writing again. I’ve been building up to this for a few days by revamping my entire blog and thinking about what I want to write and why I want to write it.
If you’re joining me for the first time let me give you some background. Almost exactly two years ago I started a blog called pudgy princess running to write about my life and my goal to lose 100 pounds and run the Disney princess half marathon in February 2017. I achieved one of those goals. This past February with my husband Cameron, my friends Jess, Jon and Jenna and Quinn and Alison at my side I finished that half marathon. Although it was not the glorious triumph I had imagined, I finished it. Because it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be (through only my own fault) I was disappointed and embarrassed when it was all over and therefore I didn’t want to write about it.
That was stupid.
I came a long way to be able to finish that race. My friends supported me steadfastly and journeyed long and far to be with me for it. I can never repay them for that support and I couldn’t have done it without them. It took me a long time to put my feelings of failure behind me and I hope that is now done. It’s time to move forward.
I stopped writing pudgy princess because it started to feel like a chore and something I had to force myself to do rather than something I liked to do. I stared writing for me; to have a personal journal of my life. I published it for support and accountability and at first it was amazing and I got both of those things from it. Then it started to become about writing for others. I was too focused on clicks and likes and views and writing became something I did for the views. When I realized that I just stopped. I thought about writing occasionally but it seemed like so much work and I just didn’t want to do it. So I didn’t. To be clear, writing for others is not a bad thing and I do not criticize anyone who writes for that purpose, it just wasn’t why I wanted to write.
Reading back through my posts though I’m so glad I have a record of a period of time in my life and no matter who I was writing for I love that it’s there to look back on.
So now I sit on my deck in the sun once again, just as I did on the day that I wrote my first post and I’m starting again. This time I’m not tying myself to one subject or reason for writing, which is why I have renamed the blog “Just Kirst”. I’m going to write about whatever the fuck I want, whenever the fuck I feel like it. After all, as I told James once… there’s only so much a person can write about running.
Where I’m At
Am I running? Nope. But I’d like to, a little. I was talking to a girl at the start of the half marathon about how this was my first and probably last half and she told me when I finished I’d be addicted and want to do another. At the finish line Jenna asked me how I felt about running now and I said “FUCK RUNNING”. She laughed and high fived me. She is a true kindred spirit.
But now I’m ready (I think) to start some running again. The thing is, you can run anywhere. You just need some running shoes, a pair of tights and a good sports bra. Easy to pack, relatively cheap to get and you don’t need other people or equipment to get a good workout in. So I still want to be a runner, but definitely a short distance runner. 10k or less is good for me. I see zero half marathons in my future. A couple weeks ago I set a goal of a mile a day, walking or running. That went well for about two weeks then I injured my foot (excuse!) and stopped. It was fine in like 4 days but I still haven’t gone back to a mile a day. Tomorrow (always tomorrow amIright?) I’m gonna recommit to that again.
New Blog Direction
When I decided to start writing again I decided that I want to write about life, all of it. I know many of my followers (if you’re still around) followed me because I wrote about health and fitness, and that’s super cool. I’m sure it will still be part of my writing. But my blog topic is now going to be “this funny life”. I’m going to write about whatever I feel like because life is funny and I love to laugh. So if my evil cat does something ridiculous like facing off with a golden eagle yesterday
or I go on a sweet motorcycle ride, or the lake is particularly beautiful as it is right now I may write about it. I want to write shorter posts and write them more often.
Lately I’ve just been existing and enjoying that, which is ok. But I’m feeling the desire to move forward. Last week I decided I want to decrease my mindless screen time, so I bought a cheap sketchbook, some pencils and a learn to draw book and embarked on my latest endeavor. Learn to draw. I’ve been practicing the shading and perspective exercises and enjoying it so far. I will either be terrible and stop in two weeks or start getting better and stick with it. Who knows, but it’s good be trying something new.
I also want to de-clutter my life. For context, we live in a pretty small house and don’t really have a lot of clutter, but I was reading that if you take a month and get rid of one thing from your house each day you can simplify substantially and with minimal effort. I like minimal effort. So tomorrow I’m going to start removing one thing from the house that I don’t want or need each day for a month (always tomorrow amIright?). We’ll see how that goes.
Life at the lake is good. I’m very happy and excited to be back to blogging. The sun has been shining for a few days and we’ve had glorious weather here in the Yukon. I love the sun.
I look forward to writing more about this funny life and hope you stick with me, but if not that’s ok too. I hope you’re happy and healthy and also enjoying the sun wherever you may be reading this from. I’ll see you again soon!
A few weeks ago I decided it was finally time to start writing again. Since that decision I have been procrastinating like a professional. It has been six months since we last saw each other and so many things have happened in my life that I knew this entry would be long and overwhelming. I didn’t know how to tackle it and so I didn’t. The other day I said to Cameron that I had a lot of regrets about the last six months because I haven’t made any progress. He told me to forget about the last six months because they’re gone and focus on the next six months. That is good advice. I’m taking it.
My regrets are only fitness and weight loss related… otherwise life has been pretty awesome. When I was talking to Alison the other day about my feeling of overwhelmation (not a word, I know) regarding writing the blog again she suggesting making a list of “10 things that have happened to me since my last post”. GREAT idea!
Here are 10 things that have happened to me since my last post:
1. We got new motorcycles!!
The conclusion of the motorcycle diaries: We got new bikes while we were in BC and rode them home. They are amazing. My bike’s name is Lara and I love her with my whole heart. Cameron’s bike is called Forge.
2. I met my motorcycle hero. We are now friends. For reals. No big deal.
Last winter I was finally persuaded to try riding a motorcycle after Cameron got me hooked on a YouTube show called Races to Places. Lyndon Poskitt decided to quit his job and sell all his stuff and ride his motorcycle around the world. He competes in rally races and films it all for his show. I loved it and it made me really want to ride. I likely would not be riding (at least last year) without watching Races to Places. This summer Lyndon was coming through the Yukon and I sent him a facebook message saying thanks for making the show and hoping to be able to meet him and go for a drink or something. He ended up staying with us for a week and we did a lot of fun stuff. We’re still in touch. He’s just finished the Dakar Rally… I’ll talk about that later. Here’s some stuff we did last summer.
3. My little brother got married!
He picked a pretty great bride. Jess is awesome.
It was a beautiful wedding.
It was cool to see some old friends.
It made me feel old.
4. We bought a house and moved!
Kind of out of the blue we bought a house. We’ve had one eye on property available for a couple of years although we have been trying to pay down debt and get in a better position for home ownership for a while now before seriously looking. Cameron found something he really wanted to look at and we went for a viewing but it wasn’t right for us. The realtor had another property she was just about to list in the same area so we went to look at that one and BAM! Bought a house. It’s even more in the middle of nowhere than we already were but hey, look at that view!
5. I had to get glasses 😦
Even though I had laser eye surgery nine years ago and therefore have (or had) laser eyes, it seems my right eye is giving up like a jerk. I realized I couldn’t see properly when we moved to the new house and the couch was farther from the tv than it was before. Got glasses thinking I’d just wear them at work and watching tv and stuff… I now wear them pretty much all the time except when running. Luckily my laser eyes are guaranteed for life… so I just have to get myself to Vancouver for a week to re-zap them. Who knows when I’ll get around to that. Until then I’m glassified.
6. I ran the Klondike Road Relay.
I ran from the Skagway summit to the Canadian border. This leg was not nearly as downhill as I expected it to be and I was pretty slow but I did it! It was freezing cold and pouring rain. I wore a pink tutu. It was awful (except for the tutu, that was awesome). I just told Alison today that I’d do it again next year. I do not know why I would say that, but I did.
7. We got a cat!
I have wanted a cat for seven years, but as renters it’s hard enough to find a place to live with dogs… so no cat for Kirsti. Now that we FINALLY have a house that we own, in the country, where mice live… I got my cat! We got an orange one because my first pet as a kid was an orange cat named Tigger and I wanted an orange cat again. Turns out my new kitten is a massive asshole and my hands are scratched to shit! He also likes to bite you in the face when you’re sleeping. That is awful and more awful. But he’s adorable when he’s sleeping. He likes to cuddle with Switch. Chinook wanted to eat him on the first day. She had foam drool and could not stop licking her lips and biting the air and definitely tried to put cat in mouth. A couple of weeks later she now defends him from Switch when he gets a little to intense at play time and doesn’t realize his tank paws will crush the 11 week old kitten when playing chase. She will not accept cuddles, but she doesn’t want to eat him anymore… or she hides it really well and will eat him when we’re out of the house one day. Time will tell. We named him Hobbes.
8. I got really sick.
Just after New Years I got a cold/flu that kicked me right in the ass. Hard. For two weeks I did not leave my house. I stayed in bed for a couple of days and sweated and snotted. Eventually I was able to make it to the living room for a few hours each day. It was really awful. There are no photos of this.
9. I quit smoking!
January third was my last cigarette. I had planned to quit anyway but it was also the first day of my flu so as awful as that was I have to say it really helped. Living in the middle of nowhere with a 30 minute drive to the closest store helps too. But mostly the flu. Now that I’m back in society and at work and near stores and such I’m still doing well. No patch required. I went through withdrawals when I was sick anyway so I didn’t even notice. The snot overpowered them. Yes I’m still craving at times. Yes two and a half weeks isn’t that long. Yes I’m certainly still in danger of failing, but I’m optimistic. I really like breathing into these clear, clear lungs, especially when running.
10. I’m on track again. I’m eating better than I have since I started. I’ve just put together a string of seven days in a row of eating clean and within my points (weight watchers) and exercising. It’s probably my best week since I started this a year and a half ago.
So what got me back on track? Two things.
One. When I was sick in bed for two weeks I thought a lot about the last six months and the time I wasted. When Cameron said to forget it and look forward that was a big mental shift I had to make. Being sick is the WORST, but I thought a lot about the fact that I was going to get better from the flu and a lot of people have injuries or illness that mean they are not going to get better enough to run again or do other things they want to do. I’m lucky to have this body that is capable of running or dancing or riding a motorcycle and it can be capable of so much more than it is now. My friend was saying the other day that her goal is not to have a perfect body but to have a body capable of doing all the things she wants to do. Whether that is to climb a mountain or cross country ski or canoe for six days… that is her goal. I thought that was pretty awesome and rather than focus on a number right now I’m going to pick a couple of things I want my body to be capable of and go for that. Maybe a pull-up, just in case I’m ever hanging from a helicopter skid or the edge of a mountain. I feel like that would be a useful skill. That’s a longer term goal. In the short term lets go with running a half marathon. I’ll find out if I can do that or not in 39 days.
Thirty. Nine. Damn. Days.
I have no time goal, I just want to finish the thing without the sweeper bus hauling me off the course. I am 80% sure at this time that I can. I guess we’ll find out.
Two. While I was sick Cameron and I watched from afar as our friend Lyndon completed the Dakar Rally Malle Moto (unsupported). Of course he has a lot of support and sponsors with gear and such but Malle Moto riders have no support crew, mechanics, RV to sleep in, etc. during the Rally. They are their own mechanic and they set up and sleep in a tent every night. It’s an incredible test of endurance, skill and mental fitness to keep going in extreme circumstances. Lyndon completed the race and place second in his category. He took lots of video and was featured in the Dakar Heroes. On the second last day he posted an emotional video about how tired he was and how difficult the race was but how he needed to stay positive and push on to achieve his goal. Watching Lyndon do this made me realize more than ever before that it is possible for ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. He set a huge goal for himself and worked at it systematically to achieve it. When he stayed with us last summer he was already working on the massive logistics required to even get him to the start line. It was inspirational and it made me refocus on my goals and realize that what I want to do is possible.
The majority of people who try to lose weight fail. I’ve known that for a while and over the past six months I’ve thought many times (as I have done over the last many years) that I will just always be big. I’ve been defeated and tried to accept what I am. But I was wrong. It is unacceptable for me. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying it is unacceptable for anyone to be overweight. I am saying that for ME, I no longer choose to accept this body that can’t do all the things I want it to do.
I have a closet that is half clothes I can’t wear. I don’t accept that anymore.
If I had to pull myself up on a ledge to get away from zombies chasing after me I would instead be a tasty brain snack. I don’t accept that anymore.
If I ever broke my leg and needed to be lifted into an ambulance I’d probably need four of my coworkers to do that instead of the standard two. Horror of horrors. I don’t accept that anymore.
I will SO not be perfect. I will have off days. And I make no promises about writing regularly, I’ll probably just break them. However my head feels clearer than it has since I started. My lungs feel clearer than they have in years. I ran a personal best 5k yesterday and I lost two pounds this week (on top of the 6 I lost because of the flu).
Disney is all booked and in 39 days I’ll be in Florida running my first half marathon. I’ve been pretty sad I won’t be there in triumph 100 pounds less than starting. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t do what I said I’d do, but since I can’t lose 80 pounds in 39 days there’s nothing I can do about it other than eat well and train as hard as possible in the days I have left. This I can do.
This I will do.
Thanks friends and followers that have been encouraging me to come back. It felt good to write again!
One year has gone by since I started this blog. That seems crazy. How can it have been that long?? I had a birthday last week and I’ve spent my thinking time since then evaluating where I’m at and where I’m going. I’m also celebrating a year of blogging with a fresh new look for Pudgy Princess!! I hope you like it!
It was an amazing year for Cameron and me. I did so many things and learned a lot and got out and enjoyed life. Last year one of my vague goals was to start feeling like I was living instead of just existing. If that was the only criteria I judged this year on then I’d say it was a resounding success. But there’s more to it than that. I wanted to be so much further ahead of where I am right now and this week feelings of failure, (along with an – overly enthusiastic dancing – related minor back injury) have kept me in a tired rut of defeat. I’m trying to haul myself out of it now by laying out exactly where I wanted to be vs. where I am, and why that is.
I was running with James the other day for the first time in a while and he told me to look as this new year as a fresh start. I told him that I can not look at it as starting again. That’s so discouraging. I’ve started again so many times in my life. But this time I haven’t quit, so there’s no need to start again. There’s nothing wrong with starting over when that is what’s required… but that’s not where I’m at. I’ve decided to think of this month instead as a reset. Basically the device is still running but things are getting slow and crashing often and maybe just turning it off and turning it on again will fix it up. No need to chuck it and get a new one. An old fashioned reset should do the trick.
Yes… I basically just called myself a PC.
For the last month and a half I’ve been a little checked out and fitness has definitely come second, or third or fourth in my life. I’m putting it back on top starting now. My one year blogiversary. I used to think of it as my job and my number one priority, and it will now be put back in that place. It has to be that way for me. Jump in with both feet and give it everything I have.
I got 20% of the way to my goal last year. I want to lose 100 pounds, I lost 20. I put no timeline on that goal so that I wouldn’t feel awful if I didn’t meet it. It’s important to me to keep going no matter how long it takes. I still feel great about my loss and I’m so much more comfortable just doing normal life things being more strong and fit with those pounds gone, however at that rate it will take me five years to get to my goal. That’s too long. I’m not insisting on a deadline for myself to lose the 100, but I will not give up until it is done and I’d certainly rather it was faster than slower. So after this birthday/one year of blogging reset I’m going to stop hanging on to my old crappy attitude towards my nutrition and tackle that next. I know how to work hard, now I have to eat right.
With that in mind going forward, let’s take a look back.
I really have had one of the best years of my life. It started out with a visit from Princess America just over one year ago and her challenge to run. I took it and kicked off August of 2015 with walks around my neighborhood that evolved into running slowly for barely one minute at a time. There were many minutes of walking in between those painful run minutes and it was very hard but I kept at it. One month later Alison took me to the stairs for the first time. I met James there and then things really kicked up a notch. A friendship began that has taught me what hard work look likes like and how to do it. Although I don’t believe I’ll ever achieve his level of discipline and work ethic his example makes me want to be better, and I am better because I know him.
My most stalwart supporter is Alison without question. She regularly kicks my ass and endures my whinging to make me do things I don’t want to do. This year she has kept me going to the stairs, running, and even took up the challenge of teaching me to cross country ski. I suspect she may have kept teaching me after the first session mostly because of my sound effects (of terror) and apparently hilarious facial expressions, but that’s ok. We had a pretty good time and I’m looking forward to doing it again this year when the horror of winter descends upon us once again.
I recently hiked up hills with Jenna which one year ago would have been incomprehensible to me. That reminded me of how far I’ve come even if I was feeling discouraged about my progress. I hauled the hose around at the fire hall and climbed their tower countless times. I had an awesome trip to South Carolina where I got to hang out with the awesomest of friends and also managed to run almost every day. I shot guns at the range and kickboxed with James wherever we had space and time to do it. My family came to celebrate Christmas in the Yukon and we rang in the New Year together.
I ran in the sun and the rain and the snow. On warm days and frigid days. On roads and trails and around the animal preserve. I went to the Policeman’s Ball in Watson Lake with Cameron and danced the night away with Jon and Jenna. My friends and I carried sand up the stairs twice to celebrate the loss of each ten pounds.
This summer I learned to ride motorcycles which now, to me is freedom. Cameron taught me with the patience of a Saint. In fact in everything this year Cameron has been my number one fan and encourager. One month after getting my license we went on a bike trip from the Yukon to Vancouver Island and back again. We visited family and friends and I learned a lot about what I’m capable of, even when terrified a lot of the time. Halfway through we both got new bikes and had an amazing time riding them home. A few weeks later Lyndon Poskitt came to stay at our house for short a break during his round the world trip and my motorcycle hero became my friend. The three of us went on a glacier flight and did the black street stairs and rode bikes together. He worked really hard at his administrative and media stuff while he stayed with us and inspired me in another way, to work harder on my blog.
In the last week of reflection what I’ve realized most is that at the beginning my blog really fired me. Writing about my experiences running and otherwise was so motivational. I got lazy and I’m not only resetting my running and nutrition but my writing as well. I’m taking two blogging courses right now that will help me stay on top of my writing and explore new sources of inspiration and motivation to keep going…. I hope that this in turn will motivate my running. I’m beginning by setting more measurable, achievable goals in three categories. Running, nutrition and weight loss, and blogging. My project this week is to map out three goals in each area with measurable milestones and actual plans for achieving all of them (and also to put all my laundry away).
James asked me the other day what the biggest thing I’ve learned from him this year has been. I replied instantly “it doesn’t matter how you feel, just fucking do it.” James just does the things he sets out to do. The weather is insignificant, how much energy he has or does not have is insignificant, everything other than the work he has set out for himself is insignificant. Unless there is a legit injury or illness, feelings don’t matter. This I know in my head but lately I’ve been letting my lazy feelings rule the day. For August, it doesn’t matter how I feel, I’m just going to fucking do it. I commit to this now. Loud. August is reset month and I’m going to kill it. I have the Klondike Road Relay in September, my first actual race and I will be prepared for it. I will go into it knowing that I did everything possible to prepare for it in the few weeks I have remaining.
My counter for the Disney Princess half flipped over to 6 months yesterday. That gripped my heart with terror. “I can’t possibly be ready” I thought.
I will be ready. It’s doesn’t matter how I feel each day. My motto for year two, in a small twist from Nike’s version is: just fucking do it.
The time is passing anyway, I plan to make the most of it.
Part Three of The Motorcycle Diaries will take us from Jasper to Kamloops and then on to the lower mainland. If you’re just joining me you can find Part One here and Part Two here.
Jasper was beautiful! If you ever get a chance to drive (or even better, ride) through the Alberta National Parks – do it! We had taken a short walk around Jasper the night before but everything was already closed when we got there. We had a nice dinner at the fancy hotel restaurant but made a critical error in ordering an appetizer that was large and delicious and we ate all of it. I think both of us ate about half of our entrees due to the appetizer debacle. After a good sleep we set out for Kamloops in the morning. We stopped at the only souvenir store open in the morning for some Jasper stickers and fuelled up where we met a lady riding a Harley who was super hardcore. Long gray hair under a bandana and a leather wrap around her braid. She was obviously a very confident and competent rider because she passed several cars behind us before finally passing us and riding off alone into the beautiful day. I can only hope to be that cool when I grow up. We also saw a couple riding two up on a KLR650 with a significant amount of luggage and thanked the motorcycle gods that neither of us is interested in ever taking a trip together on one bike. The lady on the back waved at me wistfully and I could hear her thinking “oh gawd I wish I was riding my own bike on this trip.”
We stopped at Mt. Robson for some photos at the spectacular viewpoint. The weather was beautiful, there was no wind and I was listening to music and feeling really really good for the first time on the trip. We pulled in and I put my kickstand down to get off the bike. I wasn’t quite sure that it was down correctly so I looked down and made double sure it was secure. I stepped on my left peg to lift my right leg over my luggage and off the bike when I realized I was wrong and very wrong. My kickstand folded and my bike started falling to the left. I hop-hopped off while I let out a little squeal and the bike dropped on its side. I wasn’t injured and Cameron and I picked up the bike without a problem but discovered the lock had broken on my pelican luggage case on the left side. The case itself was fine (thanks to Pelican’s amazing ruggedness) , and the bike was fine (CRASH BARS!!!!) but the lock was done. Cameron spent some time in this beautiful place zap strapping my case onto the rack and it was more secure when he was done than it is with the lock on it.
We read so many tips on things to bring on a long motorcycle trip before we left and almost every one of them said to bring extra zap straps because you never know when you might need them. Thankfully we took that advice and he had zap straps in his tool bag. We would have been royally screwed without them. If you go on a bike trip, BRING ZAP STRAPS. Or alternatively, don’t drop your bike. But seriously, bring zap straps.
It was hot enough at Mt. Robson that I decided it was time to ditch my jacket and ride in my jersey and armour for the first time on the trip. I have some amazing Icon ladies armour that I wear under my jacket. There are approximately one hundred options for mens armour and three for ladies armour. I ordered the Icon ladies armour earlier this year and I really love it. It’s only chest and back armour but it fits great and is really comfortable. Also, like the rest of my gear, it’s black and pink. I wore it over my black and pink Fox jersey with my black and pink Fox gloves and my black pink and white Fly Racing pants and felt pretty badass. My bike is black also so I make quite the black and pink spectacle flying down the road.
The ride was getting really hot and occasionally we’d come down into a valley and the road would wind beside the North Thompson River and the cool air would waft over us for a while. It would feel great for a few minutes before the road would climb back into a mountain pass that heated up. For the first time on the trip we started to encounter multi-lane roads and traffic. As we came down into Kamloops the temperature climbed until it was almost unbearable. We keep going until we ended up outside Hotel 540 in downtown Kamloops. By this time both of us were very overheated as were our bikes. I’ve been having trouble with my kickstand during this trip. If the ground where I stop is perfectly flat or sloped to the left I can get my kickstand down and step on my left peg to get off and it’s all good. If the ground is even slightly sloped to the right however I cannot get off the bike without Cameron’s help. The kickstand is about an inch too long. The bike doesn’t lean over enough and is in constant danger of falling over to the right. It has a centre stand which is very stable on any type of ground but I cannot get off the bike with the kickstand up. I’m too short to do it without dropping it. I’ve been feeling very dependant on Cameron to help me on and off about 75% of the time because of this. We’ve looked up the problem and apparently it’s a very common problem on my bike that is constantly complained about. Many people have their kickstand shortened about an inch to fix the problem but we haven’t been able to get that done for me yet. This is relevant as we pulled into Kamloops because as we parked on the street in the sun outside the hotel Cameron hopped off his bike and literally dove for the shade against the building to get out of the baking hell sun. It was 36 degrees Celsius there. We had parked on the side of the road so it was sloping to the right and I was stuck on my bike. I couldn’t get off without dropping it and Cameron was standing in the shade against the building while I sat on my bike sweating my face off. I turned my bike off, lifted my shield, looked and him and muttered “help, help” in a pathetic pleading voice. He said “you’re on your own” and left me there to bake. Douche
I must have given him an especially good – angrywife – look because moments later he came back into the vampire slaying sun to help me off and put my bike on it’s centre stand. We recovered in the shade for a few minutes before making our way into the hotel. Turned out they had a shady undercover breezeway right in front of the doors that we could have turned into but missed in our hot-panic. We stumbled into the lobby sweaty, dirty and shabby looking and checked in. We’d reserved a king club suite the day before with our BCAA discount. We’ve been getting pretty good deals as we’re right in the shoulder season before the kids get out of school. We didn’t plan it that way but it has worked out very well timing wise. This hotel was quite fancy on the inside and we felt very out of place in our dirtiness. We got up to our room after parking our bikes in the –slightly less sweltering than outside – underground parking lot. Immediately after unloading our things we headed for the rooftop pool. It so happened that there was a wedding reception taking place in the conference room adjacent to the pool. The room was open to the pool deck and roped off with a thick fancy velvet rope. We gave zero shits and plunged our hot selves into the pool. Every table around the pool was occupied and the wedding reception was full of fancily dressed people waiting for the couple to arrive. The pool was empty and we jumped right in to cool off. We spend about 10 minutes in there feeling like heaven and then another 5 minutes feeling awkward with all the fancy people around us until we got out to go back to our room. We gave ourselves a token dry with the pool towels and walked towards the elevator back to our room. When we passed the entrance to the conference room the bridal couple was waiting to enter their reception behind the closed doors and we passed within a foot of the bride dripping our pool water and road dirt just behind the train of her beautiful dress. Cameron muttered “don’t do it!” And I replied “it’s too late!” and we laughed all the way back to our room. We may have had some heat stroke… There’s no way to know. Don’t worry, we didn’t really say that.
For two days I had been feeling like I brought too many clothes and wanted to mail some things home to myself when we got the opportunity. After we dried off from our pool shenanigans I looked up post offices in Kamloops. There was no way I was getting back on my bike in the desert of misery so I was hoping there was one within walking distance. It was Saturday evening so I wasn’t very hopeful but the internet told me there was one post office still open in Kamloops and it happened to be in the London Drugs not 200 meters from our hotel. We had 40 minutes until it closed so I packed up everything I didn’t need and we walked over to mail it all home which made me feel much better about my luggage space. This is also where I picked up my awesome tiny keyboard that I’m typing this on now. I’m glad I brought everything I did on my first motorbike trip because I really wasn’t sure what I’d need, but I’m also glad I was able to unload some excess clothing back home when I did. We sent one package home that was probably close to five pounds in weight and included a lot of my extra clothes and all of Cameron’s extras which amounted to one thermal shirt. Cameron looked out the window and saw a Senor Froggys restaurant which we had never heard of but is apparently a Mexican fast food chain restaurant. We didn’t want to go to a chain restaurant. I read on one adventure biker’s tip article that “if you go on a motorcycle tour and eat at a chain restaurant, you’ve failed.” Well we’ve failed with some iced capps at Timmies and some DQ ice cream but I was determined not to fail so spectacularly as to have Mexican fast food for the main meal of the day. We searched out the best Mexican restaurant in Kamloops (thank you Internet) and it was 350 meters from our hotel. We ate there and I had the best quesadilla of my life.
The next morning we set out for fuel and then the Coquihalla Highway. Kamloops is very hilly and there aren’t really any traffic lights on hills in Whitehorse so neither of us have much experience starting our bikes on hills. We stopped at a steep light and I was nervous to get my bike started on it. Luckily we’d gotten out early as we wanted to make it to the lower mainland as early as possible to beat the heat that day so there was no traffic behind us. I kept my back brake on with my right foot while I let the clutch out and got my bike started. I stalled once but got it started up right away and took off. Cameron was ok also on this light. The next light however was even steeper. Cameron was on my right in the lane and I was slightly behind him. He stalled and I was able to start this time. I told him on the Sena that I was going to pass him on the left and he told me “FUCK!!!!” My bike can be started any time as long as the clutch is pulled in (which is normal). Cameron’s bike can only be started when it is in neutral. The previous owner had disabled something so that it can’t be started unless it’s in neutral which is very annoying and a little dangerous as well. My bike also turns off automatically if you put it in gear with the kickstand down. His doesn’t, so when he stalled he couldn’t just pull the clutch in and get it started again. He had to put the brake on to keep it from rolling backwards and then get in neutral (which is finicky on his bike) and then start it and try again. He said he felt like that was pretty unsafe and it was lucky he wasn’t in traffic. I agreed and said it was a pretty good reason to get a new bike. He actually agreed with me…. The – will he get a new bike? Won’t he get a new bike – saga continues…
We had a beautiful – warm but not too hot – drive on the Coquihalla. There were three lanes and the speed limit was 120kph the entire way. I didn’t remember the speed limit being so high but it was great. There was no wind and occasionally when we passed a little valley I could feel a blast of cold air coming off the mountain or the smell of the forest and I listened to some rock music, sang my face off and loved it. This was my best day so far. I was getting more comfortable and the weather was great and I was going to see my mommy and daddy that day which can do a lot for a girl ;). I told Cameron that there was a 40% chance I would collapse in my mother’s arms in tears when we got there relieved to have made it so far with only minor incidents. We only made two stops during the 340km ride. Once at a rest stop and once in Chilliwack. We exited the highway for fuel and stopped at a red light in the left turn lane. It was about 30 degrees and we were baking. It was a big intersection in which each direction of traffic goes one at a time including the left turn lane. We just missed the light and we were first in line. The three other directions of traffic went and we sat there in full sun, sweating. When it was our turn the left turn light didn’t go. We weren’t heavy enough to trigger the sensor. We swore and sweated and I creeped up as close as I could get to Cameron and the semi truck behind me creeped up until he was almost kissing my back tire so the light would turn green on the next rotation. After what felt like an hour in the sun the light changed and we got a green. We fuelled up and had the aforementioned iced capps in the air conditioned restaurant before leaving for Port Moody.
This was the first time we encountered real traffic on the whole journey. I wasn’t scared of the traffic at all. I thought that was kind of ironic considering all my fears up to that point because traffic is really the most dangerous thing to a motorcyclist. I figured that I wasn’t scared because I can usually predict what stupid shit those derps will do. I’ve been driving in lower mainland traffic since I learned how to drive and spent ten years doing it until I moved to the Yukon where the drivers are far worse but definitely fewer and slower. While I have lots of experience in traffic, I have had very little or no experience riding on wet roads, in gravel, or downhill on a wet road in gravel and wind (my own personal hell). Traffic didn’t bother me at all.
We pulled into my parents house and I did not collapse in tears because I was too fucking hot to do so. While it wasn’t as hot as Kamloops I was still in a hot panic by the time Cameron helped me (yes I was stuck on a slope again) get off my bike. I ripped off all my layers of armour and clothes and crazy hot dirt boots and just stood in the shade in my shorts and tank top happy to be home.
I wrote most of this blog about four days ago and have been so busy that I haven’t gotten around to editing and photoing and posting it. I’m getting pretty far behind now but I’m not too worried about it. I’m determined to get all of this trip blogged because it has been so amazing, and terrifying, and beautiful, and I guess… character building? I want to remember it all and even if only ten people ever read this I want to write it for Cameron and I to look back and remember how awesome it was, but at the same time I hope you also enjoy our stories of wonder and woe. So thank you for reading and see you soon!
Coming soon – Ferry shenanigans, Vancouver Island and Butchart Gardens, Saltspring Island, and more Ferry shenanigans.
If you’re joining me for the first time let me bring you up to date. My blog is normally about my journey (or more accurately struggle) towards fitness and weight loss. For the next three weeks I’m taking a break from that to write about the 6000 km motorcycle trip my husband Cameron and I have taken from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Vancouver Island and back again. As I write this I am sitting on a sun deck on the Island with an epic view of the Pacific Ocean and Gulf Islands. It’s a beautiful warm day eight of our trip and I can’t believe we’ve finally made it here. It’s been such an interesting trip that I wanted to write about it but I didn’t bring my keyboard with me…. However since there are such things as stores in the south lands I went out and bought myself a fancy schmancy keyboard that folds up small enough to fit in my motorcycle bags so that I could bring my adventures to you! Even though we’re on day seven I have only managed to blog days one and two so far which you can find here. I will catch up eventually but for now, without further ado, let me bring you days three and four.
The morning of day three we woke up in Fort Nelson planning on driving 453 kilometers to Dawson Creek. When we left our bikes the night before Cameron had locked the wheel on his bike. As he did that he told me that he thought locking the wheel once before may have drained the battery but “if I’m going to have a dead battery somewhere it might as well be when we’re in a town and no the middle of nowhere.” I had to agree.
When we got out to the bikes the next morning… possibly not early… surprise, surprise his battery was dead. Cameron was fairly angry about this. I was confused when he was angry because it seemed like he expected it the night before. Once I reminded him that this kind of thing was all part of the trip and also that he expected it to happen he realized that there was no point in being angry and it was all part of trip and he cheered up. We purchased a BCAA membership before the trip just in case we got a flat tire or ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere and we thought about calling, but then I realized that we should just ask the hotel if they could give him a jump (derp!). A young fellow helped us out and grabbed the hotel shuttle which he used to jump start Cameron’s bike. He saw our plates and told us all about how he had relatives in Whitehorse and had visited there and thought it was very pretty but it was “way too far from Vancouver” to live.
Another surprise we had that morning was a note from Peter along with a couple of empty bottles to help us out.
We thought that was pretty funny. After getting Cam’s bike started we headed out towards Dawson Creek. The riding this day was uneventful. I had been leading for the first two days with Cameron behind me so that he could watch me and give me riding tips on the Sena (our Bluetooth communication contraption). On day three however Cameron rode in front of me for the first time and it made a huge difference to me to have him in front. He could warn me of any big potholes or gravel or crazy road conditions and it made me feel much more comfortable than I expected it would. I was finally able to relax slightly and listen to some music and enjoy the riding. The road was good and the weather was decent and I didn’t have ten pounds of sticky rain gear on. I put on my Spotify “Air Punch” playlist and was boppin to the music while I rode.
We stopped for lunch at the Buckinghorse River Café which was tiny but had good food and when we left there was a Cloud Of Doom on the horizon. It wasn’t exactly clear if the road was heading towards the doom cloud or just around it. We chanced it and stayed rain gear free and thus able to do up my own boots for a while. We decided that if it started raining on us in earnest we’d stop to get me into my Michelin Man rain suit. The whole day we skirted just around the edge of the Cloud Of Doom and although we occasionally encountered wet roads we were lucky enough to only get slightly drizzled on for a moment or two before we were back to the dry. I hadn’t much experience on wet roads though so I was very nervous on them. Every time we got to a wet section my brain said “YOU ARE RIDING ON ICE KIRSTIN, SLOW DOWN!” My brain was wrong however (for the second time ever) it was not slippery at all. Cameron put great tires on my bike and it was totally fine… I just had to get over my ridiculousness. I’m still a little nervous on the wet but nothing like that first day.
All in all day three was decent. I was still struggling quite a bit with fear but I was able to get some music on and sing in my helmet and say to myself one hundred times “you’re ok Kirsti, you’re ok” and I was ok. When we got into Dawson Creek we went to a car wash and Cameron washed off our dirty hobo bikes before heading to the hotel.
The hotel is where I met Jean, my motorcycle riding – pep talking – angel. I went outside to grab something from the top case of my bike and he was out there unpacking his Triumph. He’d just gotten in and was wearing an amazing leather vest with “Veteran” on the back and many beautiful patches on the front. Jean is a Canadian Veteran who was with NATO during his military career. He left his home in Montreal in November of last year and has been touring North America since then. He was in the last three weeks of his trip when we met him. His goal was to get a photo at the Alaska Highway sign in Dawson Creek and he was about to head home. We got to talking (as you do to other bikers when you’re on your bike) and I told him we had also taken a photo at the sign which we had passed many times in cars but never stopped at.
I told him about my fears and how much I had been struggling on the first few days of our trip. He told me that I didn’t need to be scared all the time and that many people, in fact most people would never do anything like this in their life. Maybe I’ll crash, maybe I won’t… But if I spend the whole trip worrying that something crappy will happen I won’t enjoy the good times we will have. In general in life I’m not a worrier so I don’t know why I couldn’t let it go and relax with this trip. Jean really helped me put it in perspective and realize that this may be a once in a lifetime experience for me. I’m hoping that I’ll get to do it again when I have more experience, but I may not. I didn’t want to ruin it by being scared all the time. So I cut that shit out. Do I still have moments of fear? Yep, sure do. But I stopped being scared 90% of the time as I was before. There’s no point. That’s not fun. After I met Jean things changed for me, and after he met us he decided he couldn’t finish his trip without hitting the Yukon and Alaska. So he went up to Watson Lake and got photos at the signpost forest and then rode down the Cassiar and went to Hyder, Alaska before heading back east. So to Jean, if you read this, please know that you changed my trip for the better and meeting you made me less scared all the time… I’m so glad you kept going north because you met us and I hope we were able to change your trip for the better as well. I will never ever forget meeting you and what a difference you made for me. Thank you!
Cameron had been having trouble with his turn signals on his bike. The left signal had stopped working. When he tried to fix the left signal the right signal stopped working. Cam has been wanting a new bike for a while. He put a lot of work into his old KLR repainting it and fixing it up and it looks great, but riding is what he loves to do and he rides every day possible at home so I keep telling him that if he wants a new bike he should get it. Cameron, however, needs a reason to buy something new. I told him broken turn signals seemed like a pretty good reason… Then he fixed them. When we filled up with fuel that day he thought my newer bike probably had better fuel economy than his old one so we compared when we filled up. 10.3 litres for him… 10.3 litres for me. Yet another excuse gone. Oh well, maybe I can push it over some time and break something that will convince him to buy a new bike, we’ll have to wait and see.
After another chat with Jean at our hotel’s continental breakfast he rode off into the morning. Five minutes later as we were packing our bikes he rode back into the parking lot and added us to Facebook! I’m so glad he came back and did that. Soon after we left for Jasper.
The ride through Grande Prairie and towards Grande Cache can be summed up with one word. Wind. The first time I rode this bike it had been windy in Whitehorse and that was a little scary, but the wind on day four made that wind seem as powerful as a 90 year old blowing out birthday candles. This was bold, italic and underlined wind! I fought with fear for a while and was pretty tense. Eventually I was able to remind myself of what Jean said and relaxed quite a bit. Unsurprisingly it was much better when I relaxed and learned to lean into it. The wind generally came from the right side and was able to blow Cameron and I two feet across the road on occasion. If we stayed in the right hand lane position this was ok and I didn’t get blown into the oncoming lane or feel like I was going to fall over anymore after relaxing. Of course riding to the right was a problem when I suddenly got a gust from the left and it blew me onto the shoulder of the road. The shoulder was nice and wide and there were no semi trucks coming at me from there so that was alright. The first time I got a little jolt of adrenaline as I was blown towards the rumble strip. My brain told me that if I hit the rumble strip it would be pretty much ice and my bike would just shoot out from under me. As usual when I thought the road was ice, I was wrong. The rumble strip is just rumbly, like it’s supposed to be. It says “hey idiot! Wake up! You’re going off the road.” Not “I am ice, say goodbye to all your skin.” Well now I know.
The scenery was pretty much what you’d expect from somewhere called Grande Prairie. Once we got into Grade Cache it changed for the better. The road was twisty and mountainous and beautiful. One thing I’ve noticed most about riding a motorcycle as opposed to being in a car is the smells of the journey. You can smell everything and there are more pleasant ones than you’d think. On my bike I have smelled fragrant trees and plants, a forest fire that was burning just two weeks ago, brakes burning on semi trucks going downhill, fresh cut grass in fields, cattle farms and fresh rain on the road. In Dawson Creek we were sitting at a red light and I smelled a very strong vanilla smell. I looked to my right and there was a 17ish year old girl in an old beater car with at least 6 vanillaroma tree car fresheners on her rear view mirror. Cameron was ahead of me and I was telling him about it when the light turned green and she passed him. He smelled it too and even when she was 200 meters ahead of us we could smell the vanilla wafting out of her open window. I said that I bet she smells like vanilla all the time. Cameron said “yep, but at least she doesn’t smell like weed.” I laughed pretty hard.
The drive continued to be windy but beautiful all the way into Jasper. We arrived at the hotel at the same time as a big convoy of cruiser bikes with the men driving and the women on the back. People that ride cruisers don’t ever give the bike wave to us lowly adventure bike riders but they always seem to talk to us when we meet up at a gas station or rest stop and are usually super nice… Just too cool to wave I suppose. These guys had ridden up together from Edmonton for the weekend and asked us questions about our ride when they saw our Yukon plates. We had a good chat and then went to our hotel room which was the coolest hotel room we’ve seen. It was two levels with a living room, kitchenette, bathroom and balcony on the first floor. It had a real wood burning fireplace and a comfy place to sit which we proceeded to fill with our luggage. It’s amazing how much stuff you can pack in some seemingly small bike cases and we constantly amaze ourselves when we unpack and spread out with how much stuff we have. The second floor of the room was a loft bedroom with a queen bed and a half wall overlooking the bottom floor. We sat on the balcony for a while before going to for dinner and collapsing into exhaustion sleep once again.
The next day was on to Kamloops which was a baking hot hell hole that you will read about in episode three. Will our Yukon bodies survive the heat? Will Cameron get a new bike? Will I manage to go the whole trip without dropping my bike? Stay tuned to find out!!
In a twist from my regular (or not so regular) updates about my health and fitness, for the next three weeks my blog will be taken over by The Motorcycle Diaries. Cameron and I are on a motorcycle trip from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Vancouver Island and back again. We are currently at the end of day five. I was going to write about the first five days all together but so many interesting things have happened already that it would be an impossibly long blog post that no one would be able to read. I’m going to break it up into two days at a time until we have a few normal days and I can catch up… If normal never happens (very possible) then I’ll catch up after I get home. I didn’t plan on writing about this trip but it’s been so intersting that I really wanted to. Of course I didn’t bring my keyboard with me and trying to type it all on the iPad was impossible, so today I went and bought a fancy keyboard that folds up to a tiny size to fit in my bags and now I’m off to the blog races.
Cameron and I left Whitehorse on May 31st for a three week trip on his 2000 KLR650 and my 2012 KLR650. Cameron has been riding for about four years but this is year one for me. I got my licence just over a month ago and we thought it would be a great idea at the time to set out together for warmer climates and different roads. I understand already why they call it “adventure motorcycling” and we haven’t even left a main road yet. Even so, it’s been an adventure!
We left on my first day off after a night shift. I went home and slept for about four hours and then got up and got ready to go. The schedule for our first day was to go from Whitehorse to Watson Lake, about 440 kilometres. We left Whitehorse at 2:00 PM after packing everything up and making a couple of stops in town. I have been nervous about this trip for a few weeks. My KLR650 is much bigger than the bike I learned on and love, a Yamaha XT225. I’ve been excited about the trip as well, not just nervous… But mostly nervous.
We had pretty good weather the first day and the riding was going well until the road got quite potholey. I was doing a good job of avoiding them but all of a sudden there were potholes across the entire road and one right in front of me was unavoidable. It was deep and terrifying. I was staring my death in the face. My whole body tensed up, I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing. Then I remembered that Cameron said I need to relax. So right before I hit the pothole I made sure I had a good grip on the handlebars and relaxed the rest of my body. I thought my front tire was going in that pothole, stopping dead, and I was going to keep going over the handlebars. I was ready for the end, but the KLR just said “meh” and went right through it with a big bump. Cameron was following behind me and he hit the pothole on his KLR which also said “meh” and tanked on through it. Thank you draft horse of adventure bikes!
We ate lunch in Teslin. I wasn’t very hungry so I just asked for a side of fries… Then they told me the soup of the day was beef barley so I said I’d have that. This is what I got.
It’s pretty much a bucket of soup and ALL of their french fries. We laughed pretty hard. I ate about ¾ of the soup and when I finished with the fries it still looked like an entire platter that could feed a family of four.. We’re still laughing about it actually. Hilarious.
The first night we stayed in Watson Lake thanks to the hospitality of Jon and Jenna who were away in Texas on their own bike trip but generously let us stay in their house anyway. Thank you both and we’re looking forward to riding with you later this summer… Or boating… That would also be fun to the max. We stopped at the grocery store and got a frozen pizza which Cam attached to the back of his bike in the plastic grocery bag. We filled our pockets with drink and headed to Jon and Jenna’s. I rode behind him to make sure we didn’t lose the pizza. It survivied. We were exhausted. More exhausted than I thought you could be from sitting on a bike all day. We had to stop every 100km or less due to extreme arse pain. Riding is very physical and without these last many months of training I wouldn’t have lasted more than two days. That’s not a “might not have lasted” it’s a “definitely would not have lasted”. This is most likely the hardest thing I have ever done both mentally and physically. You’ll have to stick with The Motorcycle Diaries to find out why in full but as I’ve been reminded, the hard things are usually the things worth doing.
Think of a trip you could do where you were terrified about 70% of the time. I have much less terror now, but the first three days pretty much went like this –> fear, stress, fear, terror, adrenaline, fear, ooh this is nice, arse pain, terror, adrenaline, stress, nicotine, lunch, fear, adrenaline, stress, arse pain, adrenaline, nicotine, nicotine, fear, terror, adrenaline, stress, nicotine, fear, arse pain, end of the day!! Booze, exhaustion sleep. Don’t worry, it’ll get better when we get to day four but no less interesting.
Day two took us from Watson Lake to Fort Nelson. This was the day of The Incident. The morning started out with alright weather. It was cloudy but didn’t look like it was going to rain imminently. We had breakfast at Bee Jay’s. This is a place that looks Iike it’s been closed for 20 years but actually serves really good breakfast. We hit the road late morning and had a few hard packed gravel sections in construction zones that I was nervous about but had no problem with. Then we hit a very loose gravel section and I have never ridden in anything like this before. I was doing ok until this happened:
Cameron was yelling “slow” at me in the Sena (our Bluetooth communication thing of awesomeness). This confused me because I was pretty sure the right thing to do was speed up a little and that was what I was doing. I managed to wrestle the front wheel straight and keep the bike up which is a major miracle. Peter, who saw the video later that night, said I “James Paterson’d the wheel straight. I thought that description was funny and exactly right. I James Paterson’d the shit outta those handlebars, and James Paterson was the one who trained me to be able to do that, mentally and physically. Thanks buddy 😉
TheIncident stayed with me for the rest of the day and every time there were construction signs or gravel patches I was pretty terrified. Cameron said I was silly to worry about something that didn’t happen (i.e. a crash) because I did well and stayed up. He was completely right, but I was still pretty terrified. We made it to Fort Nelson with no further incident. We got a good photo at Summit Lake and Nothern Rockies Lodge at Muncho Lake and some great GoPro videos that Cam will edit and post later on YouTube. I’ll add the link when he does. We also discovered I look hilarious in my rain gear and cannot do up my boots by myself when I have it all on. As Cameron was fastening my boots I asked him if he felt like he was taking a child on a motorcycle trip… He said it felt exactly like that. I had to agree. He gets one million man points for patience and a good sense of humour on this trip so far.
In Fort Nelson we stopped to fuel up and a very nice lady in a van parked at the gas station left her spot to drive over and chat to us. On a bike trip, everyone wants to talk to you. It’s really neat compared to traveling in a car. You meet some cool people. In episode two I will talk about one of the coolest people I have ever met (on day three) who told me not to be so scared all the time… And then I wasn’t. So back to the gas station… This lady drove over and asked where we were from and where we were going and we chatted for a bit. Then she said “ya know, if you’re on a budget and need a place to stay I work at the men’s shelter and we can definitely give you a bed and a meal.” We were a little stunned for a second and then I smiled and thanked her very much for the kind offer but we’d probably go with the hotel tonight. She seemed a little dissapointed. We looked at our bikes and ourselves and realized how dirty they both were. Cameron said our bikes must look like hobo bikes. I had bug splatters all over my jacket. We proceeded to find the nicest hotel in Fort Nelson and stayed there.
We had dinner at Dan’s Pub. They had just reopened days before our visit with new owners and they brought us the most delicious shots in the world on the house for opening week. They called them “crispy crunch” and they tasted like boozy chocolate heaven. When we were eating dinner we heard from Peter who was headed in the opposite direction towards home with a new Van and had just pulled into town. He joined us at dinner and this time Cameron had made the mistake of ordering too much food this time with a double order of wings. Luckily Peter was able to help him out. He checked into the same hotel as us and we had a great time hanging out after dinner and have a few drinks together. We showed Peter the video and he told me I James Paterson’d it. Finally I started feeling better about my near crash.
The first two days were over and I had almost crashed twice, cried in my helmet twice, wondered what the fuck I was doing in the middle of nowhere on a motorcycle that I’d just learned how to ride uncountable times and enjoyed myself for about two minutes total. But I was determined to do it. Cameron had been amazing. Patient and helpful and understanding. Even though he’s wanted to do a bike trip for years he offered to turn around or fly me home or anything I needed. That was amazing but I was determined to see it through or crash trying. I always quit the hard shit and I refused to quit this. I’m so glad I pushed on because as I said, it got better, much much better. But you’ll have to keep reading to find out how and when. Stay tuned for Episode Two in the next few days. Until then…
Keep the shiny side up…
P.S. I’ve finally finished this post and it’s late and I haven’t proof read it 1000 times like I normal do (and still make mistakes) but I care not and am going to bed now! So sorry about the goofs… I’m sure you know what I mean.
That was my thought during most of my mediocre run today. Running sucks. It really does. Stopping running, as glorious as it is, failed to be enough for me today. I gave zero shits about stopping. I just did not want to run. So I didn’t.
I’d love to say I did it in spite of my crap attitude, but that would be a big ol’ lie. Realistically I ran a hell of a lot more and a hell of a lot faster than I would have at this time last year (zero running at that time)… But once that thought took over I just stopped and walked with my dogs around my neighbourhood. I enjoyed the sun and the warmth and the wearing of shots and a tank top in the Yukon in April and didn’t care that I wasn’t running anymore. It was quite good.
I’ve been away for a while; I know. I was reading a weight loss blogger’s book earlier this month and she said that usually when we disappear it means we’ve failed, we’re off the wagon, kaput. I think that’s generally true but it’s not the case for me. I actually rocked the last month. I just didn’t feel like writing about it. I’ve had runs and stairs and fire hall shenanigans. Here’s me copping an unintentional feel on rescue Randy while trying to pick him up and drag him around.
I realized this month now that there are more photos of me being taken (because I don’t run and hide as much when a camera comes out) that when I smile big it looks like I haveno eyes. I had no idea this occurred. It’s concerning to me because I smile and laugh a lot. Like really a lot. And then my eyes just dissapear. I don’t understand how I can still see when I’m smiling. Why am I just realizing at 33 that this happens?!?! How could I have made it this far in life without knowing? I’ve been pondering this for days. The picture above is about half power no eyes. It gets worse from there. I’ve decided I’m just going to try to return to my blissfully ignorant days when I thought I had eyes all the time and forget the horrid truth. I can be fairly skillful at not thinking about things I don’t want to think about… Unless those things are “ErMahGerd my legs feel heavy and I’m so tired and I want to stop running now please.” Still can’t banish that little gem.
After a distressed conversation with Cameron about having no eyes when I smile I chose this as my Netflix profile picture:
Cam saw it the next day and found it hilarious. He knew instantly why I chose it being clever and funny himself. You have to be able to laugh at yourself right? Especially when you’re super clumsy and have no eyes.
Last week I finally hit 20 pounds lost after many grueling months of hard work. I feel generally pretty strong and fit now especially compared to last year when I was generally pretty squishy and weak. I still have a long way to go but I feel good and my body continues to change weekly in amazing ways. Last week Cameron, Alison, Gillian, James and I did the 20 pound sand carry up the Black Street stairs and dumped the sand at the top with that weight never to appear again on my body. It was a really amazing experience that I am so thankful for. This was probably Alison’s best idea ever and when I get around to editing the video we took I’ll post that along with my revelations about losing 20 pounds and then carrying it up one million stairs… Hopefully later this week, although I make no promises.
There have been a couple of highlights over the last few weeks. Of course the best thing was losing 20 finally and the sand carry with my friends… But other than that the coolest thing that happened to me was that James took me shooting. This was not only a weight loss highlight, but a life highlight. I had so much fricking fun, and I didn’t deserve it. Not a bit.
James sent me coordinates and told me to meet him there at a specific (and early) time and be prepared for a couple hours of “straight up ninja”. I was excited and scared and looking forward to it. But when the appointed early time came I found myself tired and grumpy and more princess than ninja. The workout began with running uphill which I was less than thrilled about and could not do. Hills have ever been my enemy and I would rather gouge my eyes out than run or walk up them. Then again I’m a big fan of seeing so that’s not really true. But the fact remains, I hate hills. I was a little twat about it to be honest. I didn’t even try that hard. I just grumped up the hill with no idea about the amaziness James had in store for me. I like to think I’d have been a bit less awful if I knew… But I’ll never know.
After three kilometers of grumpy princess we arrived at a gun range. When I realized he was taking me shooting I was immediately ashamed of my behaviour and “I can’t”s and knew I didn’t deserve the fun that was coming. He forgave me instantly and took me shooting anyway. Perhaps I’d stocked up enough ninja points in previous workouts, perhaps that’s just his nature. Either way… It was amazing. I had shot a handgun only once about eight years ago and I was not very good at it. I’ve a lot of rifle experience from working at summer camp and have always loved shooting. I believe people should have a license to own guns as we do in Canada and I have a firearms license, but I haven’t done a lot of shooting. Check out this video of our super fun happy good shooting times.
Let me tell you that I ran my little (Big? Medium sized? Strong?) ass off on the way down the hill after the shooting to make up for my awfulness on the way up. I got my fastest km and fastest mile on the way down. Yes it was downhill but yes I was also working hard to make up for princessing out on the way up. This was an experience I will never forget. Thank you Jedi.
I turbo fired faithfully for a couple of weeks while Cameron p90x3’d faithfully… Then we skipped one night. Then another night. Then a week. Honestly. Will I ever be able to do the crap I say I’m going to do? I hope so. Turbo and running and weight watchers helped me get to that 20 pound mark. I’m back on it now and must continue if I want to keep getting results. I know this in my brain. Now I need my body to stop being a douche and listen to it.
I’ve been working hard on my motorbike skills. That first time on the highway was terrifying and also exhilarating. I’m not sure if there’s a better way to travel on a warm and sunny day. I’ll let you know how I feel once I’ve ridden on a cold and rainy day. I suspect it will not be quite so pleasant. But I’m in it now. Cameron and I bought a KLR650 for me and I both love it and am a little scared of it. It’s amazing and so much more comfortable on the highway than my little xt225 with a lot more wind protection and power. It is also a lot heavier and may or may not be easy to drop. There’s no way to know. However if I did drop it once while trying to park right in front of the windows of Boston Pizza there was probably a dude with tattoos all the way up and around the back of his bald head and neck and wearing a hoodie that said something or other “prison” that walked up to me and said “it’s ok honey, we’ve all done it”. I’m not even shitting you. That might have really happened to me last week. It actually made me feel a little better about dropping it. The fact that Cameron installed the crash bars the day before also helped. Here’s our bikes together, mine is the black awesomeness on the left.
The last two weeks since I’ve hit 20 pounds lost I’ve been in a bit of a lull. James has been focused on his own training this month as he has competitions coming up for Fire Combat and I’ve fallen down without him. I guess I’ve been leaning on him pretty hard for motivation and inspiration and advice and when he stepped away I just kind of fell over. It sucks but I think it’s really a good thing and let me be clear – this is not his fault, this is all me. I think it’s ok to lean on your trainer a bit but the time has probably come that I get up on my feet and do it on my own. Or at least be able to do it on my own. Don’t worry, James hasn’t abandoned me… I really don’t want you think that because it’s not true. He’ll be back around again regularly after his competitions and such and if he’s not I’ll probably punch him pretty hard. That would be super ironic because he’s trained me to be able to punch really hard. Although I suppose I’d have to catch him first and I really can’t do that yet. No punching will be required though, worry not.
A few other highlights this month were lots of stairs with Alison, swimming with Jenna, playing music in a bar in front of humans with Josh, and running a personal best 5k with just my thoughts and my music and no running buddy. The last one was great because I suck at running on my own. I just think about how much I hate running. This one time I was able to forget that and actually push myself hard enough for my best time. I can’t tap into that superpower most of the time. I thought it would get easier as I got fitter but it has not. I can’t strip away the pain and the fatigue and the thoughts and just run. I keep thinking maybe one day that will happen and oh it will be glorious and make it all worth it… And maybe that’s why I keep running… Because some day I might love the run. It’s possible that one day I’ll feel light, and fast and free.
Emotions kind of suck. They are a roller coaster. Even though I think of myself as fairly even keeled most of the time, I do have the ability to go all Anne of Green Gables about things…
“When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts…it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.”
-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
Almost pays, but not quite. Like Anne, I tend to get very excited about things I am looking forward to. Then, when I am inevitably disappointed about something it can plunge me into the depths of despair (yet another Anne saying). That is perhaps a little dramatic; I don’t really do depths of despair, but the fact is I don’t do disappointment well either and it’s my own fault. The worst is being disappointed in myself. For no reason that I can fathom I started out my week that way. Well, I suppose I can fathom that I was disappointed in myself for my slow weight loss due to my not so perfect diet.
I am looking forward to an “easy run” feeling relatively easy… or at least easier than it is now. I am looking forward to fitting into the clothes that I want to wear comfortably. I am looking forward to that half marathon. I am looking forward to beating my records. I am looking forward to being a ninja. Those things are happening slowly and I need to learn not to be disappointed when I fuck up for a day but just toss it behind me and be better the next day. My friend Heather said a little while ago when I was whinging about crap January that she had a bad month also but she had “tossed it in the fuck it bucket”. I loved that.
So, with my disappointing, grumpy week finally in the fuck it bucket lets take a look back shall we?
After Run Week which was great I took a few days off to recover and then on Wednesday James and I set out to run 12.7k. This was my furthest distance so far. I realize that it is a strange distance to shoot for but it so happened that it was the distance from our starting point to my house. I made it 12k and then I could not run anymore and we walked the last 700m.
When we ran 10k the week before along the same route I felt really good. It was hard but I was in the zone and trudging along determinedly. I felt the opposite during the 12. We had actually cancelled the run the day before and I was working night shift on Tuesday night. Because I now had nothing to do the next day I stayed up the whole night watching motorcycle videos (Races to Places with Lyndon Poskitt… if you’re even a little bit interested in motorcycle adventure touring I highly recommend it!) and didn’t even try to sleep although we weren’t busy at all. Then in the morning just as I was getting off work James told me he could now make it and did I still want to run? My first reaction was “but… cancelled… motorbike videos… so tired… no way.” Then my second reaction was “fuck it, lets do it!”
So I busted a move home and slept for three glorious hours before we headed out on the 12k of doom. It was a fight for me the entire time. I was tired and my legs were heavy and I really struggled to get it done. At 11k I was pretty much done. My bra band had rubbed both of my sides raw (a week and a half later it is not quite healed) and I was so, so tired. I vowed to myself to make it to 12k mostly because we had a big downhill coming up and I did not want to quit before that nice gift of geography. I kept my legs staggering until my watch beeped at 12 and then stopped, leaned over and almost fell down. I didn’t fall though because James said “stand up, you need to walk” and then drunk person arm grabbed me to stop me from falling over.
If you’re not familiar with the drunk person arm grab let me fill you in. You grab the unsteady human by the inside of the upper arm and then lift while at the same time guiding them forward so they go where you want them to but don’t fall down getting there. Cameron has been known to use it when I wear heels in the snow or ice. It is very effective, I must say. Cam saved me from near disaster at the Policeman’s Ball in Watson Lake recently with it, and James saved me from falling on my face in exhaustion when I stopped running.
Anyway, the 12k was done but I didn’t run as far as I wanted to and I had some battle wounds to show for it. When I got home both sides were raw and bleeding and I painfully peeled my shirt and bra off which were now stuck to me. Putting on a bra for the next four days was super painful. It was so much harder than my 10k but not just because it was 2k farther, it was harder the whole damn time and while it felt good to stop, it did not feel good to stop short.
Note to self: Body glide now goes everywhere.
Here’s a photo we took on the route but after the run during the vehicle recovery mission.
After this run I again took a few days off and tried to stay at home and wear a bra as little as possible while I pretty much just healed up and grumped around and watched more motorbike videos.
Motorcycles on my Mind
Spring has almost arrived in the north and I’m bikecited! In fact it’s almost all I can think about. Me and my bike have had a tumultuous history. Three years ago Jenna lent me her little 50cc scooter for the summer as she wasn’t using it and I rode that sucker everywhere. I called it “Scoots” and had a great time bombing around town at a top speed of 60kph (going downhill). That summer if it wasn’t raining, I was scooting. I bought my Yamaha xt225 motorcycle that August and the next day, before I had even ridden it I broke my left ring finger so badly I had to be sent to Edmonton to have it pinned back together. I was unable to pull the clutch in because of this and more than once I sat on my bike, tried in vain to pull the clutch and cried. I had wanted a bike since I could drive and now I had one and couldn’t ride it. Depths of despair!
The next year right at the beginning of the season I did a bad call at work involving a motorcycle and after that I had no interest in bikes for the rest of the season. Cameron was undeterred however and rode the little bike all summer and loved it. Last summer he bought his baby, a KLR 650 and spent hours and hours sanding and painting and modifying it. He took it on a couple of long trips and had a great time. I got on my bike last year and rode it up and down our long driveway and around the neighborhood quite a bit, but unlike a year earlier when I was in a bit of a fitness upswing, I was now extremely out of shape and felt like a hippo on a little bike and would not ride it where people could see. Plus my bike jacket no longer fit… This weight problem of mine has stopped me from doing many things over the years. No more. I absolutely loved riding the bike; it was amazing, but I had no confidence and no strength and that was that.
This year I have bike mania. I have been ordering gear and watching videos and reading articles and bugging Cam about getting out there. Never mind that it is only two degrees out at the warmest right now and half our street is covered in ice. His cooler head has prevailed however and it is not yet time to ride. I did see a motorcycle out on the street yesterday… he probably doesn’t have a 250m driveway covered in ice though. Oh well… the time is coming and when these babies come tomorrow I’ll be ready!
The End of the Grumps
My grumps had endured for about a week with no relief until Thursday night. I realized I hadn’t done stairs this week and I had vowed never to go a week without stairs again to avoid the pain of the zombie walk. I got an amazing text from Alison this week about just that and she has agreed to let me share it with you.
An Ode to the Stairs by Alison
Dear stairs, I’m sorry I have been so absent lately. I have no excuse. You have always been there for me, but lately I have chosen not to acknowledge you. This was my mistake and now you are making me pay. I did my best today to rekindle our relationship (15 minutes is something right?), but you showed me that I should have paid more attention to you. I deserve the pain you caused me today because I should have been more consistent with you. My only excuse is that I find you extremely intimidating, especially when I haven’t seen you for a bit. I know our relationship would be better if I paid more attention to you; this, you have proven to me today. I have seen the relationships you have with others who are more consistent and it looks amazing. I wish I had half the commitment and dedication as those people. They are truly inspiring for having you as a steady. One day I wish to be more like them and give you more of my time. I don’t want to feel the pain that I felt today again, so I guess I will commit to you more.
Calves, hamstrings, quads, heart and lungs
That is both awesome and true, so I headed to the stairs before work for the first time by myself and did five sets before dashing off to a shower and a night shift.
That night I got to do a wonderful call at work. I’d love to describe it to you all but alas due to patient confidentiality I cannot. I will say however that it was one of those calls that go perfectly and make you feel awesome and remind you why you wanted to do the job in the first place. It was amazing and I’m still riding high about it a little bit. It effectively ended the Kirsti grumps and put my life back in perspective for me, reminding me of what I’m capable of when I’m at my best and what is really important. I just need to apply that best to fitness and nutrition and I’ll be rolling. The next day I went snowboarding with James and two of his human children which was happy fun good times. It was much more fun than running 12k after night shift. It was a beautiful day and it was nice to get out and ride for probably the last time this season.
We are also puppy-sitting for Alison and Quinn while they are away on vacation. It is super fun and also exhausting… Sunny is adorable. Here she is with Switch. They are now bff’s… most of the time. Their favourite game involves Switch stealing her toy and then running away while Sunny chases him barking and biting the backs of his legs. He loves it.
P90x and Turbo Fire
Cameron had committed to James to start P90X3 before March 15 and his deadline was fast approaching. I’ve been bugging him to do something but not pushing too hard because I know what that’s like and when you’re not feeling it, you’re really not feeling it and pushing does not help.
The other day Cam had his bike out to mount a new tank bag that he was really excited about. He had it all set up and propped the bike up straight to mount a new fuel tank on the back. The bike was not stable enough when up straight and started to tip over. As Cam was behind it there was nothing he could do and he just had to watch and shed a single tear while his baby fell over. This single tear quickly progressed to multiple tears when he realized the fuel cap was not sealed completely and gas began to pour out of the tank directly into his brand new expensive tank bag. (He didn’t really cry but I hear there was a lot of loud swearing… I was not there to witness this unfortunately). He tried to pick the bike up quickly… then he tried again… then he went full rage hulk and hauled that sucker up.
Cameron had found his fitness motivation.
I agreed that to motivate each other it would help if I was doing more workouts at home too so we could work out at the same time and keep each other accountable to get that shit done. So while Cam does P90X3 I am going to rock Turbo Fire. I realize that I’ve committed to other programs here before and failed but if I let that stop me I’ll never do anything and just stay like this. So yet again I will attempt to finish something I’ve started. Turbo Fire is a cardio dance/kickboxing type workout which is honestly fairly ridiculous but there is no denying that it is first an amazing calorie burner and second, pretty damn fun (I’ve done a couple months of it before). So while Cameron hangs out with Tony down in the gym I will dance punch my way to fitness upstairs thereby keeping him motivated and knowing that I’m not playing Final Fantasy while he swears his way through one million planks and jumps and buckets of sweat. We started yesterday and Turbo Fire takes me right through to the last day of July.
This does not mean I won’t be doing all my other normal stuff. I’ll still be Jamesing it up with runs and stairs and fire halls and fights. Worry not fair followers!
The week to come will have stairs, Turbo Firing, motorbike boot arriving, a block at work, and who knows what other adventures!
I’ve now lost 5lbs on weight watchers in 5 weeks and considering I lost 10lbs in the 6 months before that I should be pleased with that… and I am!
Here’s to Spring, motorbikes and being off the roller coaster and back on solid ground!!
We’ll just ignore the fact that it snowed an inch between writing this last night and polishing and publishing today. The streets that were bare and dry yesterday are once again covered in ice and snow… The universe mocks me.
Switch and Sunny with a cameo by Chinook at the end. Don’t worry Alison and Quinn, we’re teaching her lots of bad things like playing tug with slippers…