Sweet mudder of pearl

Guess whose back? Back again?

Ethel’s back! Tell a friend!

WHAT. A. RACE.

Could somebody pass me a washcloth?

The great thing about all of this mud is that it covers the myriad of cuts and bruises that now decorate the length of my body.

It may or may not look like I went ten rounds with a baseball bat.

Actually, what I really want to do is get a t-shirt that says, “Yeah, but you should see the other guy!”

Also, those running shoes did not return with me on the ride home. The mud was so thick in parts of the race that people were actually losing their shoes.

Talk about trauma-rama – at mile three we passed some poor girl desperately searching through the muck to find her long gone runner – arms and legs completely lost in the mire, trying to feel about for her sinking Nike.

(This was also in a section of the course called “Bush Whacking” which had seen us literally carve our own paths down the side of a forested mountain.)

Her incredibly supportive teammate (and by supportive, I mean exasperated as hell) threw her hands up in the air and exclaimed, “Fuck the shoe!”

Fuck the shoe you say?

Oh no no no no no no no….

There is no way in heck that the unfortunate mudder would be able to continue on to finish her race without something resembling a shoe strapped onto her foot.

And by resembling I mean an exact replica.

Shoes – they matter.

Because dudes, THIS was one hell of a course.

Over 12 miles long (of which probably a good two miles were in the snow!), we went through it all: crawling in the mud under barbed wire, crawling in the mud under ever lower barbed wire, scaling ten and twelve foot walls, running up half-pipes (this nearly broke my breasts – small though they are, no word of a lie that hurt like heck), traversing monkey bars over freezing water, ACTUALLY jumping into freezing water, electrified slip and slides, electrified finish lines, WALKING UP THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN THAT HOUSES A BLOODY SKY JUMP (at mile ten mind you), more mud (think the consistency of newly mixed cement), more mud, running up hill, running down hill – did I mention the mud?

My number, M’s and my headbands.

And seriously, it was glorious.

Brilliant.

A day of supreme bad-assery, if you will.

M and I worked together like a team on fire. It’s so amazing to see what we are capable of doing as a unit when put into these kind of situations. Neither of us complained, or whined; we continually checked in with one another, encouraged each other, let each other know what hurt, what needed to be stretched out, where we would next take water, whether one of us needed to use the loo.

Actually, funny story there.

After the Arctic Enema – even less sexy than it sounds, let me assure you – I realize that I need to quickly use the john. Well, what with my shorts and my underwear now super glued to my body, it was a hell of a time trying to get those bad boys down, let alone back up again (think removing the wettest, coldest bathing suit (re: speedo), and then trying to put it back on as fast as you possible can.)

It’s practically impossible, right?

Especially when you are trying to move it, move it.

My extremely competitive nature made me briefly consider leaving with just my shorts back in place and my underwear still straddling my upper thighs, but luckily I though better of it and made sure everything was good to go before getting back to business.

Oh, I also did the really classy thing of peeing into the urinal (this being an outhouse it was the easiest thing to access) instead of the actual toilet, because some schmuck had actually closed the lid – and there was no way I was making the effort to lift it back up. Plus, THAT’S GROSS.

Priorities!

Anywho, to get back to the race. What a day – beautiful weather, not too cold, not too hot, sun in the alpine, cooler in some parts but not freezing (that was what we had the water for.) M and I ran pretty much the entire course save the brutal, brutal track up the sky jump hill – the incline was just too much, and at way too far into the race. We jogged probably the first 50 meters before settling into as fast of a hike as possible.

It was pretty cool as we neared the finish line – you could hear the music and everybody cheering – what a way to pump you up to finish the race.

As soon as you crossed that line (after running through a massive obstacle filled with wires, some charged at 10,000 volts) M and I just collapsed into a huge hug, and just held each other for a second to drink it all in.

I cannot say all too much else except that I am so very proud of us. We achieved something pretty amazing the two of us together – 12 miles, 23 obstacles, 2 hours, twenty minutes of madness and glory.

Post-race however, as my brilliant friend K texted me later that day – “That awkward moment when you are scrubbing and scrubbing and you realize that it’s not mud, but a bruise.”

Yeaaaahhhhh:

Pre-shower legs.

Eeeerrrr:

Pre-shower arms, plus my number still written on my forehead.

Ooof:

Next day legs.

Eeep:

Next day arms.

Phew, so there you have it.

Also, the next race is in Seattle on September 29.

I may or may not be able to wait to get out there again.

How about I get the team t-shirts? And will that be a small, medium, or large?

Canadian content

Hey beauty cats.

So I realized (aka it was pointed out to me) that I never revealed what it was I bought M for his birthday – especially after all that badgering he managed to withstand leading up to the day.

We ended up having a rocking shindig for him on Sunday night, filled with food, friends, drink, games and general merriment.

(If ever in the future you attend a party at our place I can promise you two things: 1. there will be a TON of tasty eats to be had, because we have the  most fab, most culinary bad-ass friends you can imagine and 2. you will be forced to play the Name Game, because, well, that’s what we do at parties, okay?)

Earlier on in the day, I presented him with this:

The flowers, I should point out, were given to him by our brilliant friend Ms. M, whom, I am so excited to say, has just returned to the West Coast after spending a year and a half in Australia on a working holiday.

She is pretty much the best ever folks.

EVER.

Anywho, Mr. M loves Canadian history – Farley Mowatt, White Fang, North of 60, Pierre Burton – you name it.

So when I saw this hand written, hand illustrated book, I knew I needed to get it for him.

I also fell head over heels in love with his card.

It’s a mouse! Dressed in Elizabethan garb! HOLY MOLY!

Love it.

It’s funny, I don’t think I subscribe to a specific form of nationalism (goodness, I have a hard time using that word in a non-pejorative sense), but sometimes I dig being Canadian so much I feel a little funny.

(Which only serves to make me feel ever MORE Canadian because I understand this as me feeling bad for being too “into” my country. Someone get me a double-double and some timbits STAT.)

I mean, I’ve read enough literature on the invention of borders and passports, and the evolution of national languages and mythology to be wary of buying too much into these institutions and systems.

Heck, I wrote my master’s thesis on Canadian and British immigration policies post-1945.

However, I feel as though this perspective gives me enough wiggle room to take to heart some quintessential Canadiana, while still remaining critical of these norms on a larger scale.

It’s all about balance right?

When we were living in the UK, our flatmate S (we lived in an absolutely bat crap CRAZY old mansion that had been converted into nine apartments and we were living in 300 square feet of madness) asked if we could put together a slide show of some Canadian vistas, because he had always been attracted to our country’s wildnerness.

So over dinner the next night (we had a sweet system in place where one out of three couples that made up our group would cook, so all six of us could rotate cooking and washing duties) M and I shared as many photos of our travels across Canada as possible.

Here are three snaps from the original presentation:

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia.

While I may live on the West Coast (and love it here), much of my heart belongs in the East.

The Maritimes are so beautiful I do not know where to begin to describe them.

Nova Scotia’s beauty is stark, cut out of wild, tempestuous seas, multi-coloured fishing villages, fiddle-driven ceilidhs, and the effervescent, endearing (and enduring) spirit of some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Lunenberg is situated on the province’s South Shore (seriously, GO THERE) and is located on a peninsula at the western side of Mahone Bay (again, GO THERE). The town is approximately 90 kilometres southwest of Halifax (when you go to Lunenberg, you will fly into this city. STAY THERE for a few days at the very least.)

No more caps, I promise.

North Vancouver/Pender Harbour, BC.

M and I do quite a bit of hiking.

Seriously, in the summer months, gives us our hikers, a mountain, some food and water (and also sunscreen because goodness knows if you’ve seen my skin you’ll understand that I am in fact a vampire) and we are happy.

Two gorgeous trails for views of a lifetime are Mt. Daniel on the Sunshine Coast (GO THERE NOW – sorry!) and Lighthouse park on the North Shore.

Soon, my darlings, it will also be camping weather, and you know what that means…

Onwards!

Whistler, BC.

M is a journeyman carpenter. Five years ago he worked on the Olympic ski jump in the Callaghan Valley (GO THERE) and he took this pic just as the weather began to turn, heading in the tail end of autumn.

All of the pictures he took from his time on the job site are pretty darn spectacular, however there is something about this one that just leaves me with goosebumps, all up and down my arms.

He did also manage to take a few snaps of bears.

And boy do I ever love me a pic of a black bear scouring the grass for some tasty wild flowers to munch, munch away on.

And speaking of which, I’m off to procure some grub myself.

So I ask you friends, what places would you like to share with the world from your own backyard? I’d love to know, even if it’s thousands of miles away from your actual home.