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Tonight I attended the AWARE screening of Spoil; an incredible documentary about the Great Bear Rainforest.

The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) team[ed] up with Pacific WILD, the Gitga’at First Nation of British Columbia, LightHawk, TidesCanada, Save our Seas Foundation, Sierra Club BC, and the Dogwood initiative to carry out a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE) in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. [They] focused their energy and cameras on this pristine region in response to plans by Enbridge Inc. to build a pipeline for heavy crude oil from the Alberta tar sands across British Columbia to the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest.

The film features incredible footage and stunning still shots of one of the only truly wild places left on earth.  I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. Old growth forest is nestled up against the sea and cradled by fresh water estuaries. The whole area- terrestrial and aquatic- simply teams with life; salmon (the lifeblood of this ecosystem), giant starfish that can swallow up anything (even spiny urchins!) wolves, eagles, whales and bears are just some of the inhabitants.
The Spirit Bear, from which the area takes its name is a really rare black bear with a recessive gene that makes it all white. There are something like 200-400 left and this is the only place in the world where they live. The images of the Spirit Bear, literally two feet from the lens of the photographer reveal a playful, resourceful being with just as much right to be here as we have.
The film also features the Gitga’at, one of the first nations people that call this place home. At first they spoke of the Spirit Bear in hushed tones, afraid of the attention this rare creature would bring to their hidden gem of a territory. Now that this area is in dire threat from pipeline incursion they are trying to raise awareness worldwide about the existence of the Spirit bear and the importance of protecting its home. They believe that the Spirit Bear is sacred and was sent by the Creator as a message to preserve their homeland and keep it clean.

A pipeline shipping 400000 to 1000000 barrels a day of crude oil is a huge threat to Gitga’at’s traditional way of life and food sources as it is to all of the inhabitants of the Great Bear. If the project is approved the dire threat of a spill would be a horrific specter in all of their lives, because it’s not a matter of if, but when an oil spill would happen. Enbridge alone is responsible for close to 700 spills in the recent decade (1999-2008) amounting to 132,000 barrels of hydrocarbons released into farms, wetlands and waterways on the continent. The 2010 spill in Michigan was one of the largest in Midwest history, leaking more than three million litres of oil, some of it into a 50-kilometre stretch of the Kalamazoo River. The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is intended to cover  1,170-kilometre- the immense scale and geographic scope of the proposed pipeline (and thus the implications of a spill) are mind boggling, and not just for the the Great Bear. The pipeline will cross over 1000 waterways, several mountain ranges and a spill could cost Canada billions. That is to say nothing of the staggering impact mining the tar sands has on the boreal forest and the climate change impacts of using the filthiest crude on the planet.

Do we really need to ask what the price of clean water is? Or clean air? Or healthy fisheries? Or healthy ecosystems? Of preservation of ancient traditional wisdom and customs? Or our national sense of ethics?  These are questions that can not be answered with dollar figures. They are priceless.

I have been touched by the Spirit Bear and think a trip to the Great Bear is necessary. Perhaps as a post-marathon reward…

Where is the project at right now you may be wondering…? (I will be writing more on this soon!)

Federal regulatory hearings (AKA Joint Review Panel Community Hearings) started this month and will continue for many more months. Here’s a link to the dates and locations: (http://gatewaypanel.review-examen.gc.ca/clf-nsi/nwsrls/2012/nwsrls01-eng.html)

More than 4,300 individuals and groups have registered to speak at the hearings conducted by two federal environmental bodies over the next 18 months or more across British Columbia and Alberta. Kevin Rae of Whistler is one such individual and he said a few words at tonight’s gathering.

He said that the tar sands are the largest industrial development in the world and that the prospect of expanding them via pipeline expansion and increased tanker traffic is the biggest environmental issue facing Canadians today. It’s one about which he has serious concerns that he will be raising at a hearing in the near future. While the period to register for speaking during the review process has closed, it is possible to submit a letter to the National Energy Board or Federal government opposing the project by March 13th. He urged everyone to sign the Dogwood petition (http://dogwoodinitiative.org/no-tankers/petition) and continue to raise awareness by writing letters to local media, CBC and via social media.

Check out how these awesome organizations are making a difference!

AWARE (www.awarewhistler.org)

Pacific Wild (http://www.pacificwild.org/)

International League of Conservation Photographers (http://www.ilcp.com/)

Dogwood Initiative (http://dogwoodinitiative.org/no-tankers/petition)

Empowering Innovation and Innovators in the Great Bear Rainforest

via Empowering Innovation and Innovators in the Great Bear Rainforest.

The thing about running is that suddenly you have this all time to just be with yourself. There’s nothing to distract you from the lists, questions, fantasies, and theories incubated  by your mind.  Running can be a wonderful time to clear out the mental clutter, but it can be a spinning record of sadness, anger and grief when you are dealing with the loss of your friend.

On Thursday the world lost a hero. Sarah Burke was a talented athlete and champion of women’s skiing. For those that knew her, she was so much more. It’s impossible to sum anyone up in words of course, but when I think about Sarah, I think how sparkly she was. She positively shone. Her smile, her sense of humour, her sweetness, her love of life, her love for her friends, for her family, and for Rory. It rips at my heart to think of what he especially is going through right now. It may be too soon to take solace in the fact that he loved and was loved by such an incredible person, someone who touched so many.

The brightest lights leave the darkest holes when they are gone, but her memory will shine on.

Rest in peace Sarah.

 

Here is a lovely tribute written by Jeff Schmuck of Newschoolers.

http://www.newschoolers.com/readnews/4640.0/Remembering-Sarah-Burke

 

 

Amazing documentary on the Great Bear Rainforest. Watch it here or come to Whistler and watch it tomorrow night (Jan. 23) at 7 pm at the Library. It’s free!

“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
Robert Frost

I have a feeling that this is the preferred quote for blogging runners (running bloggers?) that want to show that they aren’t the meathead athletic type, but in fact have a sensitive side. They may not have actually gone miles and miles before bed, but they’re so well rounded it doesn’t matter. They’ll probably just cook you a gourmet meal with the wild mushrooms they foraged on a recent falconing trip in the Yukon while reciting a haiku until you forget all about that little detail.

Cliche or otherwise, it is a lovely quote and I’m keeping it. It’s also important that I begin this post with it because it precisely sums up everything that my run wasn’t tonight. Which is a shame because I love running in the woods and promises are nice, as is sleeping (still working on loving the miles and miles part).

Tonight there were no woods, lovely or otherwise, because the woods have been hijacked by arctic temperatures and tundra like running surfaces. Instead there was a gym filled with tread mills. And sweaty people. And mirrors. And Adele on the speakers. And golf on T.V. Seriously- golf. So pretty much hell.  Oh, I have nothing against sweaty people or Adele per se but put them all together in a room with golf on T.V. and nothing but yourself to look at in the mirror and the numbers on the machine ticking by in super duper slow motion and you have yourself a pretty dismal running environment. A far cry from lovely deep woods indeed.

Fortunately, today was a short run day (5 km); but still for 25 minutes I had to look at my face fat jiggling up and down with each stride. It would float up and I’d look young then gravity would kick in and I’d look sad and droopy faced. “Young me, old me, young me, old me” started to become my metronome (replacing the  much more riveting “1,2,1,2,1,2”). I stopped when I started to feel kind of nauseous from staring at all the bouncing and trying to decide which one was my normal face (yikes!). That left looking at the numbers on the machine, the tough guys picking stuff up and putting stuff down, and golf. So not a whole lot of options.

My general treadmill strategy is to avoid looking at the digits as treadmills seem to subscribe to the laws of a completely different dimension. It’s a place where time moves backwards, I basically stand still and everything is in imperial.* So I try not to look at the numbers until it is absolutely impossible for me to resist looking any longer.** This is another irritating property of the tread mill dimension. Just one peek at the numbers and I’m forced to clumsily convert the the miles I’ve run at that point (0.01) into kilometers, calories into how many more pieces of chocolate I’m allowed to have and bam! Suddenly doing math has been added to my already dismal running experience.

Then there is the form on the treadmill. I feel like no matter your style or technique, running on a treadmill is going to cause a terrible racket. I’m sure it would be really disturbing to the rest of the gym people if they weren’t so enthralled with the golf on T.V. (serious?!). That being said there are definitely ways of reducing the noise. In my limited experience, the Pose Method is not one of them. Its the method of landing on the ball of the foot instead of the heel and kicking the heels towards the bum. Maybe I’m getting too carried away with the bum kicking part, but this method for me results in hopping from one foot to the other which is extremely noisy on a treadmill. In theory, this method makes a lot of sense, but is not the stealthiest way of moving.

So all in all, it wasn’t the most enjoyable running experience, but at least I’m still on the program. Indian food afterwards tasted pretty darn good as well. And of course there is always sleep.

*Answers.com tells me that the only countries that still use the Imperial system are the US, the UK, Liberia and Burma. Burma- this is telling. Perhaps it’s time to consider switching teams, mmmmm?

**Usually about within 3 minutes and 18 seconds.

I’m a week into my training and on my “off” day (that’s marathon parlance for “no running today, thank god”), so I thought it would be a good opportunity to review my progress. Here’s a checklist of accomplishments and reflections to date.

1. Sign up for marathon. Eek! and check.

2. Running Buddy? Yup, Ms. Cowie is the best. Supportive text messages are surprisingly reassuring.

3. Excellent cause that has resolved my run’s (albeit brief) existential crisis? Yes. This is a mission to support good (the Great Bear Rainforest in its pristine state) and conquer bad (oil sands expansion through BC and the Great Bear Rainforest).

3. Training and nutritional program? Uh huh. Gots’ me some powders to give me super powers!! Um, I’m talking about Hemp protein and Endurox (not, you know, those other kind of powders that give you super powers).

3. Gear? And by gear, I mean leg warmers?  In spades. They’re bright blue and even though they look like Mojo the Fierce Feline Ninja chewed on them a bit they do the trick. Mojo is also in training.* I wish they were thigh warmers too because my thighs were awfully red and cold after my 10 km in -30000 degree cold yesterday. And itchy. Calves remained toasty, not itchy- perfect! (BTW I do wear leggings under the warmers, I’m not running around in the nude like a nut or anything…)

4. Playlists? Ok for now, but will need some refreshing soon.  There’s only so many times I can listen to Azalea Banks 212 (quite possibly the awesomeist, potty-mouthiest song ever recorded). Love. It.

5. General condition and motivation level? Feeling strong and stoked. I think mixing yoga and snowboarding into my schedule keeps it all interesting and my body on its toes. I ran 28 km last week and everything still works.

6. Extremely supportive husband, friends (human and feline) and family? Definitely. Amber and I have even recruited the husband (Nate) and practically-husband (Ben) to cheer us on from the sidelines and pass out beside us afterwards (hopefully not in a pool of our own puke and blood). Amber and I have minor goals of finishing the race with all of our insides still on the inside.

A pretty good start I think. I plan on elaborating on a few of the above topics, but it would be great to get questions or suggestions from readers, especially you BearRunner. You are my first (and only follower) so I’m looking to you for suggestions…

*To eat the most tuna.

**So no, he’s not a ninja.

***But he is black and kind of sneaky like one. (He wanted me to mention this)

****Minus the sleek physique (because of all the tuna). (I reminded him of this)

*****And not all that sneaky due to an abnormally loud constant waking purr and perpetual sleeping snore. (Seriously, I’m going to Utube it. Ridiculous)

Since deciding to run the Edge to Edge marathon, I have been contemplating my motivation and real reasons for doing it. It seemed like a whim at the time I signed on, but I’m pretty sure it was cooked up by my sub-consciousness for some deeper purpose.

I’ve been thinking about intention-setting. Awhile ago, I stumbled across this amazing blog by Steve Pavlina called, “Personal Development for Smart People,” (because I’m good enough, smart enough and doggoneit, people like me”) that talked about intention-setting. I have a sneaking suspicion that Steve is of the self-help ilk, but I found some of what he had to say, well, helpful. Pavlina’s premise is that you have to be crystal clear about the polarity of energy behind your intentions. In other words, you must decide whether the outcome of your intention to meant to benefit yourself or to benefit the world around you. He makes a pretty good case for choosing one or the other explaining that the interconnectedness of all  beings means that benefitting the self will benefit the whole and vice versa. Interesting stuff. Check out: (www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2007/02/the-1-mistake-people-make-when-using-the-law-of-attraction)

So the question is: is this marathon about me working towards a personal goal or is there a way for this marathon to forward a cause that I really care about? Personally, I feel that intentions are stronger when they are directed outwards and goals easier to achieve when they are devoted to something bigger than myself.

For some time now, I have been following the developments of the oil sands expansion proposals submitted by Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and CNRail. I am deeply concerned with the prospect of any of these going forward, particularly the Northern Gateway pipeline that would transport bitumen from the Alberta tar sands across the vast province of BC exiting in Kitmat, the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.

The proposed Enbridge pipeline would cross some 1,000 streams and rivers, including sensitive salmon spawning habitat in the upper Fraser, Skeena, and Kitimat watersheds. Five important salmon rivers that would be impacted are the Stuart River, Morice River, Copper River, Kitimat River and Salmon River.

The likelihood of a spill is a near certainty; “The National Enery Board estimates large petroleum pipelines will experience a spill every 16 years for every 1000 kilometres in length.” [National Energy Board, Analysis of Ruptures and Trends on Major Canadian Pipeline Systems, 2004].
The consequences of tanker traffic in the Douglas Channel near Kitimat (disturbing marine life like humpback whales) let alone a spill at any point along the massive pipeline would be monumentally disastrous. It would be devastating for not just the environment, but for the First Nations and BC communities that rely on the integrity of the natural environment for the sake of their health and for their economic livelihoods. Wait- that’s virtually all of us.

The prospect of such a project and similar tar sands projects  being approved despite the tremendous outcry by First Nations and other BC communities has struck at my heart and I have been seeking out ways of supporting groups opposing it.

It occurred to me (on a run of course), that I could create a blog that would detail not only my running progress and epiphanies (of which there are many), but would also serve to raise awareness about this issue. And voila, kimnsrunningmonologue was formed. I am still trying to figure out how I can raise funds for protecting the Great Bear Rainforest, but I feel like this is a good first step. In the posts to come, I will write more about this issue and how it is progressing. Hopefully I will get some feedback from you good readers as to how I can raise funds and further increase awareness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Normally I reserve closing my eyes while hitting send for impulse buys on Etsy, but 2 days ago I found myself causally hitting send for something a lot less whimsical than a pair of vintage Mary Jane’s.

With a single click I signed up to do the unthinkable- run a full marathon.

The idea came up at a dinner party a few weeks ago, over wine no less. My friend Katie who likes doing crazy things like run really really far, mentioned that there was an “amazing” (her word, not mine) marathon between Tofino and Uclulet June 10th and wondered if I would be interested in joining her. I casually declined with the excuse that friends were getting married that same weekend and that I would be out of town. The conversation shifted and we turned our attention to our spring rolls.

I actually did think my friends were getting married that weekend, but no, when I checked the invitation later that night it clearly indicated they are getting married on the 29th; apparently leaving the 10th open to all kinds of fools missions.

I could’ve just left it at that, but once a seed is planted sometimes it tickles and itches as it grows. Instead of keeping my mouth shut like a sane person, I found myself mentioning the “crazy marathon idea” to my best friend Amber, who remarkably thought it was a great idea (damn her). I had thought Amber would be the one to talk some good sense into me, but somehow running a marathon together made sense. Again, I think there might have been wine involved.

So two drunken dinner parties was all it took to get me to pay the good organizers of Edge to Edge Marathon $98.60 for the privilege of running 42.2 km. Gulp. Typing the number ‘42.2 km’ after the word ‘running’ just seems unfathomable, if not plain wrong.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy running. I have dabbled in it for a number of years now, which is why Katie mentioned the race to me. I even managed to make it through a grueling 25 km trail run last spring (more on this later), but it never crossed my mind to do a full marathon. In fact , the 25 km run was at the time reason enough to never run again. Ever.

Time has a funny way of working on the memory though. It softens the edges of hard times passed, making them seem romantic and packed with glory. The pain seems heroic instead of, well, painful.  I suppose this amnesia where painful experiences are considered is necessary. I mean how else would Mom’s have a second child? Pamela and Tommy Lee get back together?

Many moons ago, Amber and I were treeplanters. We were young enough that stumbling through the woods with bags that weighed as much as did for hours on end in the pouring rain seemed fun… in a hellish kind of way. Somehow being brave and dumb enough to be a treeplanter, even though is was a decade ago, still feels a little like being part of a small warrior class, enough to get a nod of respect from fellow planters for life.

So perhaps this marathon is a chance to reclaim some of the old treeplanting glory. It’s a chance to see what we’re made of and have one another for support, like the good old days.

 

 

 

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