2014 Play Season: ‘Vegging’/’Off’ Season

I realized that I did a lot of fun things this play season and that it is coming to a close. A bit sad but also, I’m kind of stoked to have a bit of rest. Most of us are usually burnt out around this time and can’t wait to collect some winter fat and hibernate a bit…or at least, the triathlete version of vegging lol. I didn’t do this last year but I really wanted to recap my season. I thought it would be fun to give myself an opportunity to reflect on my season and in future, read about them to see where my ‘athlete’s’ journey has taken me. It would be interesting to see how these experiences compare to future ones especially when it comes to my mental gain and how much (more?) masochism I can endure ;)It’s always interesting for me to read about the thoughts that go through an athlete’s head. There’s a lot of preparation and mental fortitude that goes into preparing for the play season but man, is it ever fun. I hope you enjoy this series. I will be adding more as I go; I’m not sure how I want to organize them just yet. This one just came out as is so maybe I will do it according to sport? Or perhaps, event. I think that I will release these blog excerpts as the season progresses next year. As I started writing up all these recaps, I noticed that I have a lot to write lol. Maybe it’s just me being long-winded…:D

‘Vegging’/’Off’ Season

When one is friends and part of a triathlon club, the new year doesn’t start with hangover from a new years eve party. No sir, it starts off with a spin off and brekkie get together. It also kick starts planning for the upcoming race season. Now this was my first new year as a ‘triathlete’ so it was new experience for me but I found myself scouring the web for races. There were a couple things that were important for me to keep in mind: fun, outdoor time and challenging/pushing my boundaries. However, the most important factor was that I chose most of my races/events based on the fact that they had some sort of altruistic meaning behind them. I think that this year I was really challenged to see beyond my goals as an athlete and to also use these abilities that God had given for something and someone other than myself. However, the race season hasn’t quite begun yet at the point of this particular post…:)

This was my first year that I decided to try out winter running. Don’t worry…this decision was made with much apprehension lol. Those who know me know how much I loathe being cold…I’m just a baby when it comes to being cold. Thankfully, as soon as I start moving, my body is pretty efficient at producing heat. It’s always those first few minutes though…*shudder*…literally. Part of the reason I decided to try out winter running is because running doesn’t come easily to me, as much as I enjoy it. Last year, I started off the season struggling with 3-5km runs. My turning point was running a 10k with my good friend Amy B. Even though I wanted to stop, my body went on auto-pilot and after much self-pep talking and suffering made it through! To run at the level I want run at, I’ve had to work very work and sometimes it ebbs and flows as to how good it feels. I know that I really enjoy trails more than pavement and that every time I’m out in the river valley and just completely surrounded by trees, have that sunlight just filtering through the leaves…man it just brings me to this natural, organic happy place. So instead of hanging up my running shoes and putting away my bike (so sad!), I decided to keep commuting via running. Oh the logistics of how to stuff all my clothes and swimming stuff into a tiny pack. Also, where to get a good running pack?! I borrowed M’s for a while but obviously that came to an abrupt stop when we broke up (though he offered to let me keep it for winter season…thanks but no thanks). Thankfully, I got a good little Camelbak pack that worked well. It was a little big but most definitely an improvement from what I was using before. It was a woman specific pack and just fit so much better. I was slamming the back of my head with M’s pack before. Also, how to layer properly?! As spring rolled in, I finally got a solid grasp on my layering system(s) for the various temperatures and weather conditions that one encounters running in the winter. I bought some awesome wool socks that were bomber for running in the winter. There is nothing like wind chill that brings -15C to -25C (I did draw the line at no running when it hit -20C before windchill)…snow in your face because it’s being blown horizontal rather than falling vertical. But there is also nothing like the feeling of running in a blizzard; I think that during the times that I did, I had a huge and crazy looking grin on my face. Part of me relishes on the idea that people probably think I’m nuts…part of me also thinks I’m nuts so it’s good to know some random strangers and I are in agreement. One other plus was that the trail were much quieter so I didn’t have to be wary of bikes bombing down the path behind me or yelling ‘on your left’ as I pass pedestrians.

Lessons learnt:

  • Pins/Yaktracks can be pretty awesome. But I was lazy and also it’s hard to find things for my shoe size…so I didn’t get any and just ran with my regular shoes. I don’t remember bailing at all during the winter though I did have a scary descent into the river valley on a hill. I had zero control and it was one of the few times where I totally freaked out internally and no choice but to follow momentum.
  • Snow is great. Slush is not. Need to buy some trail shoes for those occasions.
  • Penguin shuffle is a technique one should master running (or really, shuffling) over ice.

I also went of Saturday morning spinning with my AiA mates though this was a bit more sporadic. I do like the push that one can do during spin classes and they are very challenging but it is hard for me to be stationary while doing something and doing it inside. Hamster feeling you know? But it was a blast because we had a good group of people doing it. I took the bus out a couple times to our spin; I did feel a bit odd carting my bike to and fro on a bus…and not riding out. However, I had promised my parents that I wouldn’t ride in the winter and to be honest, I don’t feel too inclined to. I’ve bailed on ice and snow before and didn’t particularly enjoy it; kudos to those who commute in the winter! Again, this whole spinning during the off season was a whole new thing for me. It allowed me to keep some cycling fitness during the off season and as winter running provided for my running fitness, gave me a ‘higher’ starting point to go from when the race/’serious’ training season began. I also succumbed to buying spandex…fineeee bike shorts are amazing even though they look ridiculous 🙂 I tried on a pair of bib shorts and have decided that if a man still loves me and finds me sexy after seeing me in a pair of bib shorts, he’s a keeper.

The colder weather also gave me an excuse/opportunity to get back climbing indoors. After taking half a year off, the first couple of climb sessions were so disheartening. Climbs I used to fly up on for warm up were so difficult; my skin felt raw. Though in my head I could see the movement, I couldn’t execute. I don’t quite remember the exact route, but I know that my turning point was a 5.10- that I did cleanly with my friend. Man, I was soooo stoked. I was surprised that it didn’t take quite as long as I thought it would for climbing to come back though strength building is a continuous struggle for me lol. Always has been even when I was climbing regularly. The off season gave me an opportunity to climb 1-2x a week which is a lot less than it used to be but most certainly an improvement from 0. I saw my climbing progress but more importantly, got plugged back into the climbing community I loved but had left behind to focus on triathlon. These were my mates that I hung out with around the camp fire, camped under the stars with and trekked out to gorgeous crags with. I also met new friends as well that were stoked about climbing; stoke is so contagious. My new friends included a group of girls that climbed hard and would play on the same climbs as I did. There is something awesome about climbing with fellow girls. Depending on the climbing style, I was beginning on onsight or send 5.11- after a couple tries. I sent my first 5.11 after figuring out some short person beta 🙂 Granted, this doesn’t necessarily translate outdoors grade for grade but it really gave me some confidence. As the race season and nicer weather neared, I eased myself out of indoor climbing but resolved that I wouldn’t give climbing this season. As I planned out my races, I made sure that I tentatively marked weekends for climbing trips.

So I guess the question is…is there a really an ‘off’ season for us? 🙂 I imagine that my off season will look a bit different with school and what not but I guess we’ll find out!

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2014 Play Season – Ultimate Frisbee

I had initially released this blogpost at the end of the summer but then I registered for Fall League. It didn’t seem right to leave out whatever little tidbits may come up 🙂 hope you enjoy!

Ultimate Frisbee 2014

(Note: I know that there’s quite a bit of jargon involved in this post; the bottom of the post gives a short definition of what some of these terms mean. Hope that helps for my non-ultimate playing readers! :))

Ultimate actually started in the Spring for me this year with my good friend and I joining the women’s league for the six weeks leading up to the summer season. A bit of background here: I played for the last month and a half of last year’s summer season with M’s team which was a fantastic experience. Going into ultimate last season, I was incredibly intimidated because I suck at throwing a frisbee lol. I’m also a bit uncoordinated; however, I apparently had ‘girlfriend duties’ which I was happy to fulfil. Apparently, I also had enough ‘athleticism’ to carry me…I beg to differ but what do? Like almost all co-ed ultimate teams, there are times of girl droughts. Take note girls…if you want to meet boys, play ultimate. Girls are always needed. No joke. I’m so thankful that I got dragged out to play because it’s such a blast and it’s a great reprieve from triathlon and rock climbing which are very individual performance based sports. It also puts my triathlon training to use aka we often don’t have two full lines for girls …or ever…sometimes we don’t get subs at all. My training puts me in decent shape to play ultimate and I absolutely love running around. I feel like a puppy 🙂 a very happy puppy. I think it’s a rare occasion when I’m not grinning ear to ear when I’m playing ultimate. Dear bestie, sorry that it took me this long to understand why this game is so friggin’ awesome. What could be better than sprinting down the field going after a long whipper in the end zone? Well and catching it. Anyways, I digress. Last year, my newb self was told to cover the other girl and that was about it. Sure it worked for that time but post break up, I asked my good friend, Sharon, who played for another team to ask her captain if they could use another girl…I didn’t want to be a complete newb. I wanted to contribute more thus spring league come spring 2014. Admittedly, part of it was driven by the fact that my girl crazy expresses itself in competition…as in, ‘we broke up? May play on the same field? Same game? Bring it on. Let me show you what you’re missing out on.’

Yeah…anyway, locking up that girl crazy for a little bit :). My friend and I really enjoyed our time in the women’s league. There is something very awesome about not playing co-ed and playing with women. The girls we played with were so encouraging and really took their time to get the basics down and to get us into the play. They played hard each game but we also had great fun. I learnt how to throw properly (though to give M some credit, he gave me a good start); although I initially struggled when I was first learning how to throw, it turns out my flick is more natural and stronger than my backhand…must be from badminton? (don’t take my flick away please ;)). It is also where I learnt some basic strategies and how to cut properly; I even got to handle for a couple games…albeit nervously. I also went in thinking that hey, I’m fit, running around won’t be so bad. Oh was I ever wrong lol. Sprinting and cutting is nothing like doing our distance runs. What was awesome about it is that it made me run intervals albeit very short intervals. I never felt like I was really doing so because I was always trying to get in on the play/chasing down the disc. I did register and attended the women’s ultimate challenge league that ran for a few weeks during the summer time but due to scheduling and also a pooped ankle, only made it out to a couple sessions. Note to self: can only play ultimate once a week during race season.

Summer League:

I was apprehensive of playing with a new team but man, I’m so glad that I got onto this team. One of the biggest pluses of playing with the Liver Flukes (new team name) is that I got to see Sharon once a week. Though we are close friends, we don’t see each other that often or at least, as often as we used to so this was really a way for us to get see each other more often. And in the way of how I think and still stand by the idea that playing a team sport with your significant other brings you closer, I think that this opportunity gave us an opportunity to grow our friendship. I don’t think we’ve played any sports together even though we are (or were ;)) very active; Sharon is an amazing player. I learnt so much from her this year and she was always a great encouragement especially when I didn’t know what to do lol. She was also there to give me a big hug/for moral support when I saw M again at the very last game of our season because we ended up playing on the same field as his team was for the first time that season. She and her husband were the ones that let me stay at their apartment without any question for the first couple of weeks when M and I broke up. They saw me at my utter lowest place and loved on me. I cannot repay them for their love. Those were dark times and I wouldn’t have made it out of those times without their and the love of my friends and fam. I digress.

Although our team couldn’t quite run plays as well as we would like to, we did our best. Unlike the time when I played on M’s team, we didn’t establish any plays or really cut into the disc. I think it helps with M’s team that most of them are all good friends and very athletic so they have good synergy. However, athleticism can only take you so far, especially when the other teams you play against are both athletic and understand the game. With the Liver Flukes, most of us were pretty athletically inclined and even if we weren’t, were pretty driven to play well. We had a couple boys that were amazing players but all our boys were very strong players. We had options for handlers which gave our strong players opportunities to play the field more than they would have otherwise. I know that with M, he and a couple of the guys would often be stuck handling the disc when they also had amazing speed and skill to deploy in other roles. During one of the sessions with women’s league, I learnt what ‘zone‘ was. I always thought Sharon was crazy for loving the ‘cup‘ role so much…but I totally get it now. Being in the cup is the way to be. By the end of the season, Sharon, our team mate Joel and I had a pretty awesome cup going. We even had a ‘C’ high5 lol. I was part of the cup a couple times with P and our mighty captain…much less effective there. Sad.

We most certainly didn’t have the best record lol. We started off the season very well but oh man…we didn’t win a lot of games for the latter half even against teams that we had won against earlier. A big reason was that our team struggled a lot with maintaining the minimum numbers of players. Shockingly enough, not just girls but also guys. We had our core players but beyond that, really struggled with people coming out. Even some of those who were registered as full time players didn’t show up for half of the games. I find it odd I guess. I may have commitment issues but when I decide to commit to something, there’s not turning back. In my schedule, I usually have certain things in my week that I would call ‘unmoveables’; for the summer, this included ultimate and small group. Although I love to train with my AiA crew, I most certainly didn’t train with them as much this season. I was on my own a lot or called up a friend or two to train with; I felt that if I wanted to work around these unmoveables, see people still and get my training in, I couldn’t quite fit myself into their established schedule. Unfortunately, people inconsistency really disrupted our flow as a team I think. We scrambled to pull subs from random places, all of whom we were grateful to get; my girl friends would receive a weekly text pleading for a warm body. Our subs were awesome but it was always a challenge to get some team synergy going and quite a few of our subs were fairly new to the game. We did pick up a couple people who were great subs and could play the game, one of which is an acquaintance of mine that I had played against with last year and also climbs/bikes. He’s asked to play on our team as a regular next year and I’m really hoping our captain takes him in. He’d be much more consistent than a lot of the players that we had this year. He’s also a pretty good player so 🙂 Sharon and I were talking after our last game it may be better for us to have a smaller regular roster next year with people that we know will come out since most of us don’t mind running double shifts.

It was kind of funny that the one time we had two full lines for guys and girls that we completely fell apart. It was absolutely the worst game that we played. We didn’t connect at all. I don’t think many of us played particularly well but again, I think the poor performance was due to the fact that our game roster was made up at least half new people/non-regulars. Although we hadn’t been winning a lot of our games leading up to this particular one, at least we had tried our best and played our hardest. But this one…man we just sucked so it was poopy. However, the one time we had 2 girls and 5 guys aka zero subs (thanks to the other team for letting us run this line rather than the regular 3 girls and 5 guys), we played our best. We had an awesome last game and just had good chemistry. I think we saw what our team could’ve been if we had consistent regular players. Also, maybe we can play playoffs next year! The team we played was another team that wasn’t playing in the playoffs and unfortunately for them, had been playing at a lower tier. Despite the fact that we were down people, we dominated but they were great about it and we really tried hard not to rub it in. Near the end, we tried to add in a couple little things to make it harder for us (eg. need to get to everyone before we score). We finished the game with nearly an hour left so the two teams mixed to play a game. Man we created so much confusion lol but we got to cover our own team mates which was a fun and new experience. At one point, Joel was like so…this is what it feels like to receive a huck from Joey. It was great fun just jostling around with each other…seriously, great way to end the season. At the end, Sharon and I gathered our things quickly and left the boys to run to the car because the mosquitoes were so bad. Oh man, the endorphins! We just ran and laughed the entire way to the car…then keeled over because we had been running so hard lol. On a personal note, it was also really good to see P again because we hadn’t see each other for a couple weeks because he had gone to BC for 10 day trip. As mentioned early, it was also a bit awkward because M and his team were playing at the same field. There was no way that I wanted to be a jerk and give P a running jump hug as I had initially planned in front of M. I am convinced that God arranged it so that M and I wouldn’t play at the same field for pretty much the entire season to give us time to heal and to be apart from each other. It was good to see M again as hard as it was, and to see the team again though; I got some hugs from his mates 🙂 so it was really nice. At least I was prepared for it…I kept tabs on the schedule so that I could mentally prepare myself if need be whereas he was completely taken off guard.

As for playoffs, our team didn’t play but Joey and I really wanted to play still. We reached out to the association to see if they could get us hooked up but it turns out one of my friends who had subbed for us once asked her Thursday team on our behalf as to whether or not they could use Joey and I. It was a good fit for us as they were tier 2 team (granted Joey could play in tier 1 and completely own it). Coming into Saturday playoffs, the team had narrowly won their first game by one point. The first few points of both the game we played on Saturday were pretty close but we pulled away in the second half both times. I got let loose a couple times to just book it down the field. Joey connected me with quite a few discs. When we were warming up between the two games, a couple things happened: my throws got better and Joey hucks the disc and without thinking about, I ran down the friggin’ field to get it. When I turned around, I see Joey just chuckling to himself. How do you know me so well?? Just knew that I would automatically go after it. He told me later that he told the guys on our playoff team to ‘just whip it and don’t try to float it, she will book it and will be there to get it’. Love it 🙂 We ended up winning our pool! So it was awesome. Personally a bit rough because M was there…with his new gf. Such is life though. Made me play that much harder…that girl crazy, I’m telling you lol. I was so stoked that I just kept smiling and played hard so what more could a girl want? Heh, at one point, I was allowed to stay on for the next point because I hated the way that we lost our point. Thankfully, our girls were great 🙂 I also learnt a bit more as to how to work offence against a zone defence.

A couple highlights:

  • Seeing Joey lay out all the time. All the freakin’ time.
  • See Joey’s wife and baby come out to cheer us on.
  • Seeing Clay lay out especially during our last game
  • The results of Clay’s encounter with poison ivy…so gross.
  • Seeing Joel vault up like an antelope and get crazy vertical over a guy who was taller than him to get the disc. Sorry ladies, he’s taken.
  • Seeing Clay take out a player on the other team…but then that player taking out Ams 😦
  • Seeing Sharon reach out her hand with her back turned to snatch the flying disc in the end zone
  • Hearing one of the guys from the other team telling our team to ‘stop saying time!’ and then one of his team mates telling him ‘actually…that was our team’ – please insert awkward turtle here
  • Getting completely body checked/taken out by P when we had just started seeing each other. He told me that his immediate thought was: oh crap…she probably doesn’t want to see me any more
  • During playoffs, Dan (handler for our playoff team) got the disc and whispered to me ‘go Bonnie!’ so I started booking it and he whipped it down to the end zone. A team mate of mine tipped it and after a fumble, I managed to curl my body over it and got the point. Like we rehearsed it 😉
  • Getting some grass burns by rolling/trying to lay out. Street cred you know.
  • Going for drinks/food after almost every game – the one time Joel and Gabby came out, they were well dressed and surrounded by tie dye dressed third, fourth, etc. wheels ….13 wheels 🙂
  • Last but not least, meeting P via the introduction of the ‘awkward turtle’

So I’m thinking of joining Fall league…depending on school. If not, I’ll at least put my name forward to be a sub. I’ve joined fall league lol. Despite all the heart ache associated with M, I have to give him the majority of the credit for getting me out. Most definitely have to give some credit to the bestie because she kept ranting about how awesome ultimate was…but she was in Ontario most of the time thus diminished ability to get me roped in 😉 Also credit to Sharon for my in to the Liver Flukes and just being a great friend and team mate. I’m curious as to how I will balance school, work, life and my now three play season activities of triathlon, rock climbing and ultimate…especially since Hoops and I are thinking of tackling our first Half-Ironman next year…that’s for another blog post though.

Definitions

  • Flick – forehand throw
  • Cut – running movement which means you pivot on your dominant foot quickly to change direction; allows you come towards the disc and potentially lose your defender
  • Handle – two to three players are designated as ‘handlers’ and are responsible for making the plays and often the long throws
  • Zone – defence strategy that’s often deployed when its windy; for a 7 people line, there are three people who form the ‘cup’, three mid-fielders and one long (at the far end of the field)
  • Cup – part of the zone strategy; three people follow the disc until the disc reaches a certain point close to the end zone; they try to disrupt the play and prevent the disc from reaching others out in the field
  • Huck – the initial throw to kick off the point

Mental Game

Note: a not so introspective post this one but still very important to me. I like to think I’m multidimensional 😉

On Monday night, I had a plan: go for a run (~10km) from work to home, shower/nom and then meet up with my friend to check out the Fringe festival. Making sure that I have a fully active but also fully social life is something that I constantly strive for, especially during the busy racing/training season aka the ~5 months before the weather goes to the poo. However, my plan didn’t quite go as planned. As soon as I started my run, I didn’t want to be there. Things got a bit better when I found myself running on a trail amongst the trees but I couldn’t mentally focus. When it comes to athletics, I view myself as two separate but connected entities: mind and body. Usually one kind of waffles a bit but the other pushes through. It is amazing when both are like boooooyah! let’s play!! Which actually happens more often than not. But when are both like uh no; screw you, I know that I’m done. So 5km into my run, that’s exactly what happened. Not because my body couldn’t push forward; it didn’t want to and nor did my brain. So I had to ask myself: what do I have to prove? Nothing. Then why do I still feel the need to train my tired, sodden and uninterested mind and body into oblivion? I had always told my mates that as soon as you’re no longer having fun whatever activity it is that you’re doing, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of ‘suffering’ when it comes to training, racing or just pushing your limit but there’s still a strong element of having fun. After a tough whatever, I’m usually still all smiles.

Case in point (aka story time): we had our last ultimate frisbee game yesterday but man, we were down people. As in, we didn’t have the minimum number of girls and had 5 boys. Thankfully the other team was awesome and let us play a 5man-2women line but that did mean that we would be playing the entire game. But, I love it. I love playing ultimate even though half the time I feel like I’m not exactly sure what’s going on lol so I just try to make good cuts and anticipate where the disc may be going 🙂 We were so pumped that we were finally syncing and playing well. There’s a defensive strategy called ‘zone’ where there is a ‘cup’ made up of three people that follow the disc and try to prevent/channel passes to a very limited area where your mids are covering. However, being part of the cup means that as soon as the disc is initially hucked, the cup has to book it down the field. So partially because I suck at mid lol but also because I just love to run and have a decent handle on what to do in the cup, I often volunteer to be part of the cup. Despite our shortage of (wo)man power, I was only out of the cup for a couple shifts but man I loved it. I always feel like a puppy when I play ultimate, just so happy to run all out and chase this plastic disc thing. So…I’ve totally digressed but the moral of the story is that though we were soooo tired aka keeled over at the end of each point, we were having such a blast. Mind and body were like boo-friggin’-yeah; well, maybe mind a bit more than body but you know lol.

So I guess for me, this post is about checking in on yourself – both your physical and mental well-being. The mental game is arguably more important than the physical. You will hear endurance athletes often say that they’ve gotten very good at tuning out the body’s moans and groans to push forward. Granted, there’s also a limit to that too…body combustion is bad. But when you know your body is still good to go, it is all up to your mental fortitude to make it. But when you can’t figure out why it is that you want to keep pushing, going forward or if your brain and body is like eff you; we’ve hit the limit (wo)man, it may be time to, I don’t know, rest like a sane person 🙂 …I’m still struggling with it lol. I’m taking an unprecedented two whole days in a row off :O who wuhhhh. Stoked lol. But there’s a little part of me that’s like we could still go climbing indoors today since it’s cloudy/rainy outside. No self! Rest! Rest is not just for the body, but mind and soul. To be successful at anything, including our chosen play time activities, rest is that integral piece that we often seem to overlook because we think more more more! training will lead to our success. We need to know our limits and adhere to them. It’s hard, make no mistake about it. It is difficult to strike that continually moving balance point between pushing our limits but pushing past our limit. It doesn’t matter where yours is compared to the balance point of others even though it can be difficult not to compare ourselves to where others are. Last year, I did two sprint triathlons and pretty much zero climbing for 6 months. That was my max point. This year, it’s very different because I’ve built up a base and went back to climbing during the off (race) season; all the events I had chosen to be part of/compete in all pushed my limits. I’m also really happy that I spaced them out accordingly to allow for maximum training but also necessary taper and recovery time. But now, I’m done. Reached my limit. So even though that Banff triathlon would be a blast, I need to say no…even though it would  fit so nicely before my friend’s wedding in the mountains (pretty sure sane people don’t think like this!). After my body somewhat failed to hold up to a half marathon, part of me wants to see if I could do the distance better but no…There’s a part of me that still wants to test my mettle but I’m learning how to be mature (sigh) and in my case, understand where to push and where to not.

Sport and Purpose

Generally, I’ve always separated the sports I did and my purpose into two categories with little overlap. Sports were something I did because I felt that it brought me closer to God in terms of having that freedom to fly and enjoy the outdoors but it was something akin to enjoying life. My purpose on the other hand was the driving force behind what I did for work and volunteering. The two things balanced my life between enjoying life and pursuing this purpose that could be riddled with challenges and perhaps sacrifices of the more comfortable things in life. However, I’m beginning to realize that I can’t separate the two, that they bleed into one another and this is actually a great thing. The two sports I have been primarily focused on (rock climbing and triathlon) are individual sports and in a way, focused on self-fulfillment but I’m beginning to see how my commitment to them has also opened doors in my area of purpose that wouldn’t have otherwise been available. Later today, I will be meeting with the YMCA about a volunteer position I applied for. The YMCA is an organization known to promote healthy living and some also run social programs; the volunteer position I applied for was to sit on a council to promote the involvement of young adults in the community. If I wasn’t active member in my triathlon club and involved in other sporting activities, I think it would be a bit odd to volunteer with an organization that prioritizes that. What’s more, being involved in sports also places me in a position to interact and build relationships with amazing friends that are committed to their sport but many of which are also interested and want to give back to the community. Sometimes, I get too narrow-minded and see ‘giving back to the community’ in ways that don’t involve activity/sports, for example building affordable housing. However, when I sit down and think a bit more, sport is probably one of the greatest avenues to meet people, opportunity to grow in ways beyond physical development and to overcome barriers that otherwise would remain.

These thoughts have been popping up into my head every now and then but really came to head  this morning. Earlier today, M sent me a public survey that had been launched by the provincial government that will allow the public to express what they believe are priorities are in sport funding. Initially, I had chosen all of them and grossly surpassed the points allotted. The first couple of sections dealt with physical education and introduction to sports, primarily with youth; one of the last ones outlined was development. Now, I knew that if I was to ever have children, that I would want them active, to dabble in a number of sports from an early age. I wanted them learn how to swim and bike because these were great life skills to have. I wanted to get them outdoors so they could not only frolic in the woods, play with leaves, branches and roll in  the mud (though I think I will delegate the hubby to cleaning them…;)) but so that they would grow up with the same appreciation that my parents instilled in me for the gorgeous outdoor playground and natural beauty of this world. For this survey, development was defined along the lines of engaging people, including children, who were severely challenged in other areas of their life and often, have no where else to turn but to other things that would further detriment their lives. Given my background and my own desired area of focus, it is no surprise that I would allocate points to this area.

However, it was not my own revelations that made me excited this morning. No, it was what M revealed. When M and I started dating, he expressed his concerns over his lack of community involvement and how he wasn’t sure what to do about it. He is extremely talented and skilled in a number of areas that seemingly have little connection but his biggest thing is sports. It is this shared passion that was one of the reasons he and I really clicked. For some reason, it never clicked with me until now that it is this area where I could see and potentially, where he could see, himself giving back to the community. Giving back isn’t always a grand gesture. When he was younger, he was competitively involved in a number of sports, all of which he has kept ties with. I can imagine him coaching kids in these sports and providing the right balance of support, motivation and challenge for the kids on his team. Time and time again, we hear stories about coaches being that role model and motivation for athletes to not just better themselves out on the field but also to pursue success in other areas of their life. What’s more, these kids grow up to be role model themselves and there we have it, the ripple effect. So that’s one revelation by M; the other revelation was how much he loved how sports brought people together. In my own head, this also means the breaking down of barriers. There is a fantastic Ted Talk that talks about organizing an annual marathon in Beirut, a city of which resides in a country torn apart by political and religious differences. Yet this marathon, this pursuit of running and running well, brought people together like nothing else; no policy, no strategy, no political action could ever have such success. I told M about this Ted Talk and it looks like it’ll be the next bed time video we’ll be watching next.

This shared excitement, this shared passion has taken the next step in my life and I think his too. Butterflies are flying in my stomach because I get to share this with him. That I get to grow but I also get to see him grow. Sports has always had an important place in each of our own lives. Yet coming together not only in playing a sport but perhaps doing something more is pretty awesome. Here’s to hoping 🙂