Category Archives: Adventures

70 Down 20 To Go

Bundled up before my run.
Bundled up before my run.

Holy cow, I can’t believe 10 weeks of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge are now a part of history, and less than 3 weeks remain.

Last week was a huge improvement over the two weeks that preceded it. While it wasn’t my strongest week ever, it did see me get in three solid runs, plus a lot of stretching which I desperately needed. More than that, I actually managed to end the week with a really strong run on the treadmill. Specifically, I logged 6.49km in 30 minutes – or in other words – I managed an average pace of 4:37 per kilometre. Not too shabby at all.

At this stage in the challenge I’ve managed to complete 25% of the distance required on my quest to 1000km. Note – my quest to 1000km was not the goal for the 90 Day Fitness Challenge. I’m crazy, but I’m not that crazy.

Anyway, at the rate I’m going and if I manage to keep to my training schedule (translation – no injuries), I should hit my goal of running 1000km sometime in May or June. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now I have the remaining days of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge to focus on.

I’ve got this.

A Pi-Day Weekend

Mmmm, pie on Pi-Day
Mmmm, pie on Pi-Day

Happy belated Pi-Day all y’all.

For those unaware, Pi-Day (March 14th) is the mathiest of math days; unless you also observe Tau-Day (June 28th) – which I do. Since tau is equal to 2 pi, Tau-Day must be equal to 2 Pi-Days, and 2 Pi-Days is better than 1 Pi-Day, so by definition Tau-Day would have to be the mathier of the two. Math!

I digress.

To celebrate Pi-Day I opted to spend my day enjoying as much pie as I possibly could. This meant that I attempted to have pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m all about healthy choices.

Sadly my breakfast pie was not to be as The Joint Cafe was out of their oh-so-delicious banana coconut cream pie. I settled for a bagel and apple juice – which is about as far from banana coconut cream pie as one can get.

To make up for my breakfast pie failure, I sauntered over to the Woolwich Arrow for lunch-pie. I had learned the night before that they were serving pie from The Williamsford Pie Company. And it was oh so delicious.

To round out my Pi-Day, I enjoyed a delicious peach-raspberry-blueberry pie with friends. I made a point of having just enough pie to be able to say that I ate half a pie on Pi-Day. Why would I eat that much pie? Because half a pie is equivalent to pi radians worth of pie, that’s why.

Pi radians worth of pie on Pi-Day. Yup – I’m just that nerdy.

Bi-Polar Vortex

Walking on the road because the sidewalks are covered in snowdrifts.
Walking on the road because the sidewalks are covered in snowdrifts.

With a -30 something wind chill this eve, my walk home from the office was a bit of a chore. With every gust of wind I shivered and cringed and tried to ignore how painfully cold the exposed bits of my face were. I also tried not to curse Mother Nature whenever she decided to blow snow – which felt like tiny frozen razor blades – at said exposed bits.

It’s usually around this point in the year when I begin to lose my patience with all things winter. My walks to and from the office become a little less the air is so crisp and clean and the snow is beautiful and it’s all so wonderful and magical, and a lot more holy fricking shitcakes, I’m going to punch the next snowman I see in his stupid, stupid neck. 

Fortunately winter hasn’t completely destroyed my spirit, which means any snowman I meet is safe – for now.

The thing I find ultimately weird is how easy it is for me to run in weather like this. It’s almost like some bizarre badge that I wear, and one that I wear proudly. Just yesterday I ran in similar weather for 30 minutes, through snow drifts and crazy-stupid cold wind. A few days before that I returned home with my eyelashes and eyebrows encased in ice. In both cases I ended my runs feeling like I’d just conquered a small country, and loving that I was able to take on winter. Today, however, I spend 25 minutes walking home and I want to assault a snowman and then collapse into a defeated quivering pile.

I think the solution to my bi-polar1 response to winter is that I leave all of my work at the office. My non-homework laden self would then be able to run to the office in the morning, and home in the evening – filling me with conquering winter pride instead of murderous snowman rage.

Or, another solution might be a wee vacation somewhere warm and tropical and filled with servants who bring me coconut based drinks.

Tough call.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some travel websites to peruse.

1 Polar! Ha!

7 Down 83 To Go

Bundled up for my run in the ridiculously cold weather.
Bundled up for my run in the ridiculously cold weather.

The 90 Day Fitness Challenge that began in the old time-y days of 1 week ago is now 1 week old. Amazing. Okay, maybe a challenge that started a week ago being a week old isn’t really all that amazing. Whatever.

Point is, I’m 1 week into a challenge that will last approximately 13 weeks. For those who like percentages1, that’s almost 8% of the entire adventure.

As with most challenges, the first week has gone pretty well. I’m full of adrenaline and kick-assery, so I’ve found getting out to do my runs and stretches not too challenging. Don’t get me wrong, convincing myself to run in the types of weather we’ve had this week hasn’t been easy. But because this week was the beginning of the semester, it was easy to not have work related excuses. Things were busy, but they weren’t busy enough to make me think that sitting in front of the computer was a valid alternative to running.

Here’s hoping I can keep up this momentum; 7 days down, 83 to go. You’ve got this Gillis.

Note to self: get off your butt and go for a run.

1 Oh lord, who am I kidding. We all love percentages.

Happy Goofiversary

63.3 km later, enjoying our shiny new bling.
63.3 km later, enjoying our shiny new bling.

It’s amazing to think that this weekend, last year, I would have found myself in the Sunshine State of Florida running 63.3 km over a roughly 29 hour period.

Honestly, it seems like a lifetime ago that I laced up with Mark to run the first of two epic runs through the parks of Disney World. The first being the Donald Duck Half Marathon, the second being the Mickey Mouse Full Marathon. It was an amazing adventure, and one that I don’t think I could have done without Mark by my side. He kept me focused and motivated, and encouraged me when I needed it the most.

Now a year later, I find myself looking back and thinking to myself How the hell did I manage to do that? I’m not asking this because I don’t think I could do it again – I know I could, and I will. I mainly ask because I’m back at the starting gate: learning to run long distances, conditioning my body in the way that it needs to be to accomplish such feats of craziness, and building my strength to take on new challenges (in this case, the Toronto GoodLife Marathon, and the Niagara 50km Ultra Marathon).

Some days, looking back and seeing where I was compared to where I am now is a bit daunting. After my ankle injury and the running break that it required, my current challenges seem so out of my realm of reality. They represent long arduous kilometres into the future. They’re the peak of a mountain that I’ve only just begun to climb.

But I will climb that mountain. It’s not going to be easy, and I know there will be days where I will curse myself for deciding to take on crazy new adventures, but those will pale in comparison to the feeling of reaching the summit, breathing in the accomplishments, and reflecting on those moments that brought me to my goal.

If the Goofy Challenge taught me anything, it’s that I can do whatever it is I set my mind to. I know this because through all of my training, all of my moments of doubt, and even during the race, I had so many amazing people cheering me on, pushing me forward, and leading me to the finish line. And more than that, I had an amazing friend to experience the thrill, exhilaration, and feelings of holy eff we just ran 63.3 km with.

So thank you to everyone who has supported me on my silly little adventures. But most importantly, thank you to Mark – for running by my side for 63.3km, for encouraging me, and for being the amazing man you are. The world needs more crazy people like you.



On The Topic Of Wanderlust

The world is so much bigger than North America
The world is so much bigger than North America

While my friends Beth and Rick were in town over the Christmas holidays, we spent some time chatting about travel (as we are wont to do). Both Beth and Rick have been on some pretty fantastic adventures over the past year (for example, read about their awesome but separate trips to Ireland here, and here1), and it’s always great to hear about travel related shenanigans.

One of the interesting things to come out of the conversation wasn’t exactly expected. We were chatting about off-continent trips, and I began to wonder when last I launched myself through the air in a people-filled lawn dart3. For someone who loves travel as I do, I was actually shocked by the realization. My last trip off-continent was back in the old-time-y days of 2011 when Rick and I adventured our asses off in Hawaii4, 5. The year before that also saw me in Europe twice – once for Christmas with my brother, and once to celebrate the successful completion of my PhD.

Clearly this close-minded North Amerocentric travel practice can not be permitted to continue. It’s just not right. Think of all of the cultures that I’m not learning about. Think of all of the shenanigans I’m not getting up to. Think of all the adventures that aren’t being adventured. It’s a travesty I say.

Fortunately I have a few plans up my sleeve. One involves Asia, the other involves a return to Europe. Both could occur sometime during the summer. In the former case I’m looking at a potential exchange program that would allow me to bookend a two-week teaching/researching adventure with shenanigan filled adventuring. In the latter case I’m looking at several conferences that are separated by a few weeks.

In any case, it’s very clear that I haven’t been living up to my wanderlusting potential. This is something that I must correct in 2014.

1 Also, why haven’t I been to Ireland yet2?

2 Honestly, 2013 seemed to be the year that everyone I knew when to Ireland or Scotland. I may or may not be jealous.

3 Also known as an airplane.

4 While Hawaii is politically part of the United States, it’s actually in the region known as Oceania.

5 Which means that the three year anniversary of that particular trip is only a few weeks away. I should figure out a way to celebrate said adventure-filled vacation.

90-Day Fitness & Accountability Challenge

It's on. 90-Day Fitness & Accountability Challenge. January 6-April 5.
It’s on. 90-Day Fitness & Accountability Challenge. January 6-April 5.

Because I love challenges, and because my list of things to do is apparently not long enough, I decided to begin a 90 day fitness challenge on January 6th. I blame this entirely on my friend Rick, because he’s the one who first introduced the idea to me (click here to view his post describing the challenge in detail).

The concept is simple: set a fitness challenge that works for you, and stick to it for 90 days. The challenge can be anything, so long as it is exactly that – a challenge. For example, if you are someone who already has a history of working out 3 times per week, a challenge might be to up that to 4 times per week. If on the other hand you don’t work out at all, setting a goal of two 30 minute sessions of activity per week might be challenge enough. Point is – you have to pick something that makes sense for you, and pushes you beyond your current routine.

For those of you who don’t know, Rick goes by the handle of @InspirationRick on the Twitter. Having seen the number of people he’s just inspired to take part in this 90 day challenge, I can tell you he’s earning that moniker. Well done sir. My hat is off to you1.

So what have I decided to do for my challenge? I have committed to 6 days of activity per week3. If I follow my training program for the upcoming Toronto GoodLife Marathon and the 50k Niagara Ultra Marathon, 6 days shouldn’t be a problem – although it’ll definitely be a challenge.

For the sake of my 90 day challenge, all of the training runs, yoga/stretching sessions, and visits to the gym will qualify as acceptable forms of activity. My walks to and from the office will not qualify as they are part of my regular routine.

From a nutritional/healthy eating point of view, I’m going to also strive to drink more water (1 big glass before bed and as soon as I wake up), and eat out less. To accomplish the latter goal, I’m going to focus on short-term objectives first; making lunches instead of buying them on campus every day during the month of January. If that works well, then I’ll see what other changes I can make.

Here’s to a kick ass 90 days.

1 Mainly because you’ve done an awesome job, and deserve the nod. But also because I want to hand you a hat so that you can cover up your face. Cuz it’s ugly2. ZING!

2 For those who are new to this blog, Rick is not actually ugly. I guess.

3 Which I will be tracking weekly with the rest of my Quest to 1000 km statistics.

Let The Semester Begin!

My walk to work starts here. Granted, it doesn't usually have ice covered tree branches in the way.
My walk to work starts here. Granted, it doesn’t usually have ice-covered tree branches in the way.

Today is the first day of the winter 2014 semester, or as I like to think of it – Reading Week bookended by class. Twelve weeks of class to be exact; six on either end.

I’m actually pretty excited to get back to work. Don’t get me wrong, working in the comfort of my pajamas is always better than trudging myself to the office, especially when that trudging involves ice and snow and howling wind. However, until I figure out a way to effectively lecture 70+ students in User Interface Design whilst sipping a coffee and enjoying my fireplace, my need to be on campus will remain. And if I’m being completely honest, I love teaching so trudging through the winter weather is very much worth the trouble.

Despite the fact that today is day one of a semester that still has that new-semester smell, I’ve been mulling over potential destination ideas for Reading Week. Apparently wanderlust never dies. Since it’s only a week-long, the destination can’t be too distant. As much as I’m crazy enough to fly somewhere (Japan for example) for a week, I’m going to save that type of travel for later in the year. I’m thinking I may keep myself confined to North or Central America.

Deciding on a location, however, is the second decision that needs to be made. The first decision is to figure out what type of vacation I want/need. That is, should I go with an adventure vacation (think hiking, mountain climbing, zorbing, skydiving, cliff jumping, bungee jumping, etc.) or a relaxation vacation (think well tanned hotties serving me drinks while I read/nap on the beach)? Or perhaps a blend?

So what do you think, dear readers? If you were vacationing over reading week, what type of vacation would you be taking?

Take That Cold Weather

Baby it's cold outside. And yes, that is ice on my hat.
Baby it’s cold outside. And yes, that is ice on my hat.

I woke up yesterday morning to the news that it was -23C outside but that it felt like -29C with the windchill. Seriously, who decides that these temperatures are okay?

As I huddled under my covers shivering from the thought of -29C, I began to wonder whether or not heading outside for a run was a good idea or a demonstration of insanity. I’m pretty sure it’s more the latter than the former. As I blinked my vision into focus, I grabbed my trusty iPad and opened up my training schedule.


Not really a terribly long run, but my mind was immediately imagining every single one of the 5000 metres required to complete that distance. Back and forth my mind went with messages of it’s too cold and suck it up buttercup. I may have pulled the wee fuzzball a little closer in an attempt to siphon some heat.

Eventually I made it out of the warmth and security of my blankets. Eventually I made it downstairs for a piping hot coffee and some oatmeal. Eventually I started convincing myself that running had to happen. Surely I couldn’t mess up my training this early in my schedule.

I’m not exactly sure when but at some point I opened up my blog. I immediately noticed that my training gauge was indicating 41.13%1. What the hell? It took me half a second to understand why the reading was so low. It also was the proverbial kick in the pants I needed to get off my butt and get out running.

And so early yesterday afternoon, after the temperature had warmed up to a balmy -24C with windchill, I laced up, bundled up, and headed out. Despite the cold it was another beautiful day for running, and I found that I was quite distracted by the crunching of the snow with every footfall. It wasn’t an easy run, but it also wasn’t a terribly difficult run either. The temperature forced me to slow my pace and remember to control my breathing. And before long I was finished. Interestingly, I ran 5.71km bringing my cumulative total so far this year to a nice round 9.00km. I wish I could say I planned that, but I didn’t.

It’s amazing how easy it is for numbers to motivate me. I guess this really shouldn’t be much of a surprise given my love of mathematics and statistics.

Anyway, I’m proud to say that my training gauge has settled at 112.50%. Here’s hoping I can keep it at or above 100% for the next 24 weeks2.

1 The training gauge indicates the up to date percentage of kilometres I’ve completed compared to cumulative total I should have completed according to my training schedule. In total I had planned 8km between January 1 and January 3. As of the morning of the 3rd I hadn’t put in my run, so only had 3.29km from January 1 to add to my total. And since 3.29/8.00*100% = 41.125%, we see where the 41.13% came from.

2 Actually, I’ll be quite content to keep it above 90% for the next 24 weeks. While I ultimately want to run the entire schedule I’ve set for myself, I also have to realize that life will probably get in the way at some point.

Feeling Throw-Uppy

I'm not sure if this schedule is insane or awesome. Probably both.
I’m not sure if this schedule is insane or awesome. Probably both.

Last year I was in the midst of training for the Niagara Ultra 50km race when I was sidelined by my ankle. Because I don’t like leaving things unfinished I’m determined to conquer this race in 2014. As part of my training program I sat down the other night to figure out exactly what I’d need to do to achieve this goal.

To put it simply – I want to throw up already.

The training program that I’m working from (found here) is intense, and is only 16 weeks long. Fortunately I have just over 24 weeks to prepare, so the first 8 weeks of my program will see me getting back to fighting form. Still, looking at the total distance I need to run per week is rather imposing. I know I can do it, but that doesn’t mean the numbers aren’t freaking me the hell out.

Assuming my ankle and the rest of my parts don’t spontaneously explode or turn to gelatinous goo, the last 16 weeks of the schedule (which begins March 3rd) look something like the following:

Week 1, 59km Week 2, 57km Week 3, 67km Week 4, 65km
Week 5, 74km Week 6, 72km Week 7, 72km Week 8, 76km
Week 9, 79km Week 10, 81km Week 11, 74km Week 12, 84km
Week 13, 65km Week 14, 46km Week 15, 52km Week 16, 89km

This is a crazy amount of mileage leading me to the ultra which I assume will be held around the 21st of June. The date hasn’t yet been set so I may have to adjust my training schedule. Whatever the case, hundreds of kilometres will be covered on my mission to the 50km finish line1.

Despite the nerves and hesitation I’m feeling at this point, I know I can do this providing I take care of my body and make sure to get in the rest that I’m clearly going to need.

I’m still not sure if this goal is crazy or awesome. Probably a little bit of both.

1 1412.50km to be exact2.

2 Assuming I stick to the schedule.

Final Thoughts

Happy New Year all y'all
Happy New Year all y’all

So 2014 is nigh. I’ve just finished cleaning up the house, organizing some platters of food, chilling some champagne1, and am about to go shuck some oysters as I await the arrival of some friends who will be ringing in the new year with me. All told, not a bad way to spend the last day of 2013.

Looking back, 2013 has been a crazy amazing year. Despite setbacks with my exercise goals, I’ve had an adventure filled 12 months. Crushing the Goofy Challenge with Mark, wandering New York City twice, learning the true meaning of What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas2, exploring the beauty of Newfoundland and Labrador with Danny, Lee-Jay, and Corey, celebrating the 2nd Annual Big Mountain Challenge with Rick and my brother3, and various other adventures with friends in Ottawa, Toronto, and London; all have reminded me that I am one lucky bastard.

And even though work was as crazy as it was, I have to say that I love my job and had so much fun this year. I was beyond fortunate to work with several amazing students – people who have reminded me again and again that if you give students something real to work on, they can do amazingly awesome things. Their hard work led to, and all of the subsequent and well-deserved attention that it brought. I’ve been spoiled because of their talent, drive, and passion. Because of them, I was invited to speak at several conferences and seminar series. Because of them the Farm To Fork project raised and continues to raise money because so many people understand its importance. Because of them I feel that I have something significant to contribute to the world beyond academic papers. And that dear readers is an amazing feeling.

Beyond all of this, I’ve just been lucky to spend the year with some amazing people. Family and friends who look out for me, take care of me, feed me, and spoil me on a seemingly continuous basis. To all of you, thank you for making this another fantastic year. Thank you for telling me I need to sleep more or eat more or get out more, or that I need to learn to say no. I can’t promise I’ll do any of that in the new year, but it makes me smile to know that you’ll still be worried enough to tell me so.

So raise your glass and toast the year that was. To the ups and downs, the good and the bad. Here’s wishing that 2014 brings with it all the things that make you smile.

Happy New Year everyone.

1 Okay, not Champagne so much as sparkling wine.

2 Curious, aren’t you?

3 I’ve decided this must be an annual event. However, I’ve also decided that we don’t necessarily have to climb a mountain at this point in time, so long as we are doing something adventurous.

Prepping For Awesome

As we passed The Face Shop yesterday, Rick suggested to me “we should stop there so you can fix your face, cuz you ugly”. He’s full of great questions, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t also a jerk. Seriously though, everyone should have a Rick in their life. He’s pretty good I guess.

A few days ago I was describing my need to write more blog posts to help keep myself on track. Setting goals and creating lists is a bit of a thing for me, but I find that if I don’t take the time to sit down and reflect on those I’ve met or those that still elude me, I lose sight of what is important to me. It’s not that I’m not achieving goals or pushing myself when I’m not writing, it’s just that I fail to take the time to really appreciate what I have accomplished, the people around me who have helped me get to wherever it is I happen to be, and how lucky I am to have the opportunities that have been afforded me.

Clearly this is something that I’ve decided must change (and hence the reason I’ve started posting more frequently).

Of course having spent the better part of yesterday with my friend Rick, I was forced to challenge some of my own misconceptions about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. That is, being a bit of an adventuring overachiever and goal-minded individual, Rick asked just the right questions.

While driving to Toronto I was reminded that I am my own worst enemy. I have no idea why, but every now and then I shift my focus to those things I haven’t accomplished. Most of the time this acts as a great motivator – pushing me beyond my comfort zone and into new territory. But, as has been the case over the past several months, this focus has become more of an unhealthy obsession. It’s an energy sink, it’s unproductive, and it’s very self-defeating.

Since the second week of June I’ve not been able to run the longer runs that I love to do. Instead of recognizing that this was a necessary break from running to allow my ankle to properly heal, I’ve focused on the fact that I’ve felt gross and sluggish and not myselfI’ve ignored the fact that I’ve run almost 700 km this year, focusing instead on the failure to reach my 1000 km goal. But when I actually sit down and think about it, 700 km is a huge accomplishment, especially since the bulk of those kilometres were completed by June. If not for my injury I would have surely passed 1000 km. So I need to focus on what I did accomplish and realize that the new year means a new beginning. I will crush my 1000 km goal, and I’m going to smile through as many of those kilometres as I possibly can.

Point is, I have to remember that I’m human and sometimes I’m not going to make the goals that I set for myself. Instead of getting down about that, I have to focus on what I have accomplished, figure out what – if anything – went wrong, and reset my targets.

So take this as a warning 2014 – I’m reviewing 2013 and prepping myself for what’s to come. Be prepared. Things are about to get crazy.





19 Again

Christmas mimosas – it’s what’s for breakfast.

For those who follow my Twitter account1, you’re likely already aware of the fact that I had a bit of an incident at the liquor store yesterday. Nothing crazy of course – I made no scene, there was no need for security to be called. Regardless, something happened; something that was a mix of amazing and surreal and ridiculous and hilarious.

I had sauntered over to the liquor store early yesterday to pick up certain key ingredients for the traditional Christmas morning mimosas. Surprisingly the store wasn’t very busy when I arrived, so I only had to wait in line behind one other person. I placed several2 bottles of Christmas cheer on the counter and pulled out my bank card.

Could I see some ID?

I was only slightly surprised to hear this. I’ve heard this request before and I’m sure I’ll hear it again because I realize that I look younger than my 38 years. Further, the staff of the liquor store are required by law to ID anyone that looks 25 or younger. The legal drinking age is actually 19, but the law is in place to honestly, I have no idea what the intended purpose is. 

You might be asking, do I look younger than 19? Unless you are visually impaired, drunk, or high, I’m going to guess no. I’m not even convinced I look 25. However, the liquor store employee decided that she needed my ID.

I happily passed her the ID I’ve been using for the past 10 years.

I’m sorry, but this has expired.

I stared blankly back at her, not realizing what she was saying.

I can’t accept this. Do you have another piece of ID?

I didn’t. I told her so.

It was at this point that I realized what she was getting at.

It was at this point that I realized she wasn’t going to sell me the booze.

It was at this point that I realized that Christmas might be ruined.

I tried explaining that it was the same ID I’d always used. I never thought to reiterate the fact that I’m almost 40. I just kept staring at her assuming that my impressive powers of persuasion and my out-of-date ID would convince her that I was worthy of the bottles placed before her.

I clearly was not. Instead I had to pack it in, sad-faced, empty-handed, and convinced that Christmas was ruined. Denied at the liquor store at the tender young age of 38, because I apparently didn’t look old enough to pass as someone of the legal drinking age in this province.

But don’t worry folks – all was not lost. My little brother dropped by later to buy the necessary mimosa ingredients. That’s correct – my little brother bought me Christmas cheer because apparently I’m not old enough to buy my own.

It was a weird but wonderful Christmas miracle.

Merry Christmas everyone.

1 @thedangillis

2 Read 3.

White Whine Anyone?


Several weeks ago I was chatting with someone about my lack of travel this year. To put this into proper perspective you’ll have to understand that this observation had followed multiple months of 100+ hours of work per week. That is, I made the observation at a point in time where my body, mind, and soul were beyond exhausted. In other words, I was in a heightened state of stupidity, suffering from extreme lack of awareness, and dealing with a giant case of woe-is-me-itis.

After I made the bold proclamation that I haven’t really travelled that much this year, my friend looked at me as if I were on some sort of Rob Ford bender. How could I make such a claim knowing full well that the facts of the case would clearly destroy it?

It was at this point that I felt obliged to justify my statement.

It’s true. I haven’t really travelled that much this year. Ugh. 

The ugh was delivered with probably more drama than warranted. It was at this point that I started listing where my travels had taken me, fully confident that my statement would easily be verified. Inside I felt a pre-victory party brewing, because by the end of my list I knew that I would stand point-proven and triumphant.

True story. In January I was in Florida for the Goofy Race.

February I was in New York, because, well, New York.

In March I headed to Vegas for my friends’ wedding.

It was at this point that I realized how much of an ass I sounded. Three major trips in three months. And somehow I had forgotten them. They seemed a lifetime ago.

Early in the summer I was in Newfoundland for a conference.

I trailed off. How, I thought, could I have travelled this much and still not feel like I’ve travelled at all this year. Seriously – could I be any more spoiled? I stood there smirking awkwardly because inside I realized how much of a whiney little shit I sounded.

Truth be told I’ve travelled a lot this year. My trips to Florida, New York, Nevada, and Newfoundland & Labrador were followed by trips to Ottawa, Calgary, and New York City. I’ve also been fortunate to travel for work – giving talks at Western University, and in Toronto. In essence, the year has been filled with adventures wrapped in shenanigans and deep fried in awesomeness.

And yet somehow I had forgotten.

Talk about feeling like a giant ungrateful ass.

Fortunately this is the time of year when I often look back at the things I’ve accomplished to make sure I don’t take where I’ve been and where I am for granted. I’m a lucky SOB because I am able to travel like I do, and even though I always want to travel more, I’m very grateful for this crazy life I have. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am, and it’s irresponsible for me to take that for granted.

Here’s hoping that I don’t soon forget this.

I Miss The Mountains

We came. We saw. We conquered.
Me, Rick, and Aidan at the top of Sparrowhawk

On Tuesday afternoon I made my way back home to Guelph, having spent the prior week visiting Rick in Calgary. The adventure was amazing – but that really wasn’t a difficult bar to pass given that the trip involved mountains, hiking, meeting up with friends, good food, a drink known as Better Than Folgers, more mountains, Banff, hanging with both Rick and my brother, and basically celebrating the anniversary of the grandest of adventures known as the Big Mountain Challenge.

Since I returned I’ve been running around a little crazy – doing last-minute and final prep for the course that I’m teaching this semester, organizing my undergrad and grad students1, organizing several projects, organizing the Farm To Fork launch party, trying to come up with a prioritized list of things to do, and basically doing whatever I can to make sure the next several weeks/months aren’t too stressful2.

Easier said than done, obviously.

Despite all of this (and the occasional build up of anxiety3) I’m feeling good. I think my trip has a lot to do with that. There’s something special about mountain air that does my body good – providing me with better focus, more energy, and the drive to crush whatever obstacle might be in my way. And I’m going to need that this semester, because my list of projects and papers and grants and talks and posters and events could be overwhelming. I just have to remember to take the time – especially when the anxiety and stress start building – to stop and reflect on my mountain-top adventures. Because nothing destroys my stress quite like the mountains.

And I think that’s why I miss them so much.

I’ve uploaded a bunch of pictures and a video below – some of these are new, some you’ve likely seen before, and some are courtesy of Rick. Enjoy.

Adventurers (at Mount Indefatigable)
Adventurers (at Mount Indefatigable)
Climbing Sparrowhawk
Climbing Sparrowhawk
Not the summit of Sparrowhawk, but still pretty impressive.
Not the summit of Sparrowhawk, but still pretty impressive.
Sunset following our Sparrowhawk climb
Sunset following our Sparrowhawk climb
Climbing Mount Indefatigable
Climbing Mount Indefatigable
At the top of Indefatigable. Epic scramble. Epic ridge walk.
At the top of Indefatigable. Epic scramble. Epic ridge walk.
More of Indefatigable
More of Indefatigable

1 Which really means organizing myself.

2 Such as snuggling with Elliot.

3 Apologies to Julie who had to hear a mild rant today.