I've been meaning to write this post for the last month, but naturally it isn't until 2 days before my Comparative Environmental Physiology final that I feel that it is a good time to sit down and blog.
A month ago I got the chance to head home to Yellowknife - in between midterms and final papers/presentations - to spend some time with several of the sporting organizations where I started my path as an athlete and to share my story with a couple of the schools.
I've always felt that growing up in the North had a huge impact on who I've become as an athlete. Both the support of the community and how much physical activity can become a way of life. People laugh now when I'm determined to head out to ride even if it's miserable outside. But to me it just seems normal. I was never getting out of Jackrabbits as a kid, because no matter what temperature Mom had to be there to run things, so I was going to be there skiing. Even the Christmases I've spent in YK since starting cycling, I was much happier to get out skiing on the trails (even if it was -35) than spending hours on the trainer.
That commitment to training, and my long history in sport, has definitely paid off in my athletic career, but I think it will continue to pay off once I'm done being a competitive athlete as well. It's not just about the racing, but leading a healthy active lifestyle. You need only go to Canmore, AB to see the retired Northerners who's activity regime could put any Olympian or professional athlete to shame.
And for me when it comes down to it, that's what this - being an athlete - is really all about. Maybe on a day to day basis it isn't, but long term it's about promoting a healthy lifestyle and the power of sport.
In Yellowknife I got the chance to get back on my skates and get out with the Speed Skating Club, as well as get in a dryland session. I still think speedskating dryland has got to be the hardest thing I've ever done. Never a fantastic jumper I was worried I was going to land on my face doing different stair drills, but thankfully kept it upright.
Back on the ice
Same on the ice - after 6 years off short track blades I managed to keep out of the mats.
As I signed helmets, we all laughed at the autographs on my helmet - I'm old now I guess.
There were lots of promising athletes in the group, but I wanted to say a special good luck to Cynthia Simmons, who's heading to Korea to represent Canada at the Special Olympics World Winter Games next year.
I spent Friday at three different schools talking about my Olympic journey and the importance of sport. That was a new experience for me, definitely the biggest groups I've talked to, but lots of fun. The middle and high schools kids had plenty of questions, some that got good laughs - "Are you single?" in an assembly with 150 kids. I forgot what high school was like. I got to check out some cool artwork the grade 1/2s were working on at k'alemi Dene school, and the grade 4s kept me on my toes with lots of questions, down to what my favourite colour, and number were.
Talking with students at William Franklin, Sir John and k'alemi dene
I got to spend a little time on air with CBC and CJCD as well.
Hanging out a CJCD
And then wrapped up the weekend at the Ski Club's Snow Show which was good fun as well. One of my Olympic jerseys auctioned off for a couple hundred dollars, which was great and I got my butt kicked by the high performance group. I haven't played frozen tag or done sprint relays in a while - I'm going to definitely stick to the biking/not sprinting.
Running hard at frozen tag
A huge thanks to Sport North, John Stephenson and Karen Johnson and the Ski Club for giving me the opportunity to come up and share my Olympic experiences. The skating and running were a good way to kick off my training for the coming season!