technical gear


I like looking at olden-days running events because people wore fairly normal outfits.

Katherine Switzer’s comfy sweats, 1967.

No compression stockings, muscle tape, “sweat wicking” fabrics, hydration packs, $200 shoes that come with evidence-based research papers, or other such shenanigans.

I’m not bitching. I don’t really have anything against the technical niceties available to today’s athlete. I’m just saying that it is relaxing to consider the olden days. It is nice to remember that owning special gear isn’t the guarantee of success with something. Doing said thing is a better guarantee of success.

As a cyclist, I fell in love with having the precise right bit of gear to suit every occasion, and I had no qualms about spending $$$ to get tech-y stuff.

But part of me always wondered how much of this “appreciation” for the pretty stuff was merely trying to look the part, to “pass” as a True Cycling Person. My heroes were always people like Dervla Murphy, who were on their old, metal bicycles kicking ass before all the conveniences existed (on her first solo bicycle tour Dervla was fending off wolves with her pistol and drinking neat rum to stay warm! My kind of lady.)

Despite my investments in pieces of fanciness, the items that made the biggest difference in my game were usually utilitarian things. Like my very durable thrift-store mittens (cold fingers are literally a ride-killer for me), and my cycling cape, which was cheap but is highly visible and keeps me dry. NOT LIKE my cycling underpants*, which did nothing, and cost nearly $25 for one pair!

*Yes, I bought some before my first bike tour in 2010

Naturally, proper equipment is important. Back in October I started running in gross neon-orange Keens with flat rubber soles. Once I decided I really enjoyed running, I went shoe shopping, and bought some New Balance things that the clerk said were decent. I think continuing to run in those gross orange Keens would have hurt me, eventually. Proper shoes are important.

Sometimes you find that one ridiculous tech item that actually really helps your game. I have to admit, I’ve got my eye on some fancy compression stockings. But for many perceived issues, often a cheapo or DIY substitution will work. For my long runs I lube my toes and chafe points with Vaseline (one-the-dot of mile 6, friction becomes a problem). I’ve eyeballed more expensive, “technical” lubrication products that maybe won’t make it look like I wiped my hands on myself after eating greasy popcorn. I use a rolling pin on my legs when I’m stiff, but I admit a sports masseuse would be nice. I’d definitely feel like a runner if I had a masseuse.

Sometimes buying for your hobbies is fun; it makes you feel legitimate. On weekends when shopping for some litte doo-dad at MEC** (when we still lived in a city that had a MEC) I’d marvel at all the other people shopping and I’d be forced to wonder how many of them were truly outdoorsy folk (like the dirty people in the posters all over the store), compared to how many were in some stage of outfitting-themselves-to-be-more-outdoorsy. Would that sleeping bag, that camping stove, that heart rate/biofeedback/Mayan calender watch ever get fair use? MEC is a pretty exciting place, you realize how much there is to do and how much you can buy to do it with – or in (“this lightweight linen/wool wrap-around is perfect for showing off toned shoulders by the campfire after a day spent rock climbing – $129.00″)!

**Mountain Equipment Co-op – the unofficial outfitter of all  Vancouverites

Perhaps I am just feeling neurotic because my shoes are wearing out and my sports bra is about to rip and I have to go shopping again.  Shopping makes me morose. It also makes me feel poor. As a student, I don’t have money for all the things that exist that could surely make me a better person.

3 writers who i’ll be fucked up over when they die


…Edna O’Brien (taking Ireland with her)

…Alice Munro (taking lonely girlhood and rural Canada with her)


Mother of god, I get chilly just thinking about her. And she’s probably on Vancouver Island somewhere right now! I could never meet her…her insights are too ruthless. She’d have my pathetic number in 13 seconds flat…

…Joyce Carol Oates.  Her voice of is a voice of lightning bolts, of weird-women and sluts, killers and victims, and hopelessness and hope. Dirt, concrete and neon. She deserves a greater prize than the Nobel. What would such a prize look like? She is the most remarkable writer I know of. Farm girl professor wife writer.


JCO. I could just die.

Who will replace these writers?

mine would be strong earl grey tea and yeasty carbs of some sort


I was cutting vegetables at the psych placement with my fellow classmate and just to make conversation I mentioned that Texas no longer allows death row inmates to make special last meal requests. They just have to eat whatever is on the menu. What a bummer, hey?

My classmate didn’t know what I was talking about. So I had to explain the concept of “last meals,” the final comfort the condemned are allowed.

“Uh, no. Never heard of that one.”

She is 21. How do I file this? Under “I’m old” or “she’s ignorant”?

I take for granted that my “general knowledge” is also “common knowledge.” But that’s what all oldsters think…

rotting and dying in the canadian mental health care system


Today was the last day of my psychiatric nursing placement.

[All thoughts, opinions, and insights redacted.]

In lieu of my opinions, I’ll just quote this:

The  World Health Organization’s Violence Protection Alliance defines “violence” as:

“the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”

(emphasis mine.)

OK. Despite my disclaimer, some opinion must bust through anyhow.

As a Canadian person, I can only speak about the Canadian government (but if you are reading this somewhere else, your government is almost certainly guilty too): Our government (thus: the Canadian people) is responsible for systemic violence that is being commited against this unfortunate demographic. Mentally ill citizens are afforded just enough support so that they do not die outright – but the design is that they die. Essentially, in our system, they are meant to rot and die.

Please let me know if you have evidence to the contrary?

the motions of life/running


I go through the motions of life but somehow I am still, sometimes, so lonely (dismayed?) that it feels like a fog floating not in me but right through me. Mist through a hole.

This is better than the veil. This doesn’t feel like something wet and lacy covering my face. This just feels like there’s a pelletgun wound in my lung and the air gets to blow through. Improvement!


I have been running since October. First on the track near the college. (We get an hour for lunch and that was plenty of time to run the 8 laps and still have a buffer zone of time for the sweats to evaporate.) I’ve been seriously running since then. Serious as in tracking miles, running on a schedule, not only finally knowing what “splits” are but keeping track, too. Since Christmas I’ve kicked it up a notch. Dec. 28 I began a streak that is still going come hell, highwater, or hangover. I have said “Sunday is run day” without irony (but that will only happen once).

I’ve signed up to run the Vancouver Half Marathon in May. My school schedule and my partner R.’s work schedule align with this event perfectly. How can I not take advantage?

I looked at the route online – it is glorious! I can visualize every step.


R. asked me why don’t I start with a 5k, or a 10 k. Bah! Those distances are for fundraising children! Then he asked why I don’t do a run in Victoria or someplace local. Well…Because I love Vancouver and can picture exactly what I have to do!

To run 13.1 miles (21.1km) in my “home” city would be a nice cherry on top to the years I spent there watching other people run and thinking I could never do it.