Back in September last year, my friend and teammate Svenja got a job in Calgary, Canada. The more she was telling me about the Alberta region and the Canadian Rockies, the more I wanted to go there too! My initial plan was to go and spend a year in New Zealand but she had planted the “Canadian” seed in my head…so, I then decided to apply for a Work Holiday Visa instead. In order to get it, French citizens have to put their name in a pool of applicants and wait to hopefully be lucky in one of the draws. After waiting for a couple of months, I finally got lucky and a 2 years visa was given to me! Yay!! I was still undecided whether I should go to NZ for a year and then to Canada or just go to Canada straight away (Yes I know, tough life right?!). Having traveled for over a year, I felt the urge to settle down and so New Zealand didn’t feel like the right place to go as it is just too far away from Europe. I still decided to go there for a few weeks and take part in the Tarawera Ultra marathon.
3 weeks after I came back from NZ, it was time for me to pack up my stuff yet again and say goodbye to my friends and family. However, this time I didn’t know when I would see them again which made it very hard… I guess following your dreams has its advantages but also its downsides… Since my birthday was just round the corner, I decided to go to London to celebrate with my friends before setting off to my new life. I had a great birthday race (Maverick race) and party!! I also spent 2 amazing days catching up with my good friend Angela. She has moved from NZ to the UK 6 months ago so it was great to chat with someone who understands the emotional turmoil of travelling and living a rather nomadic life. You should defo check her out – she is such beautiful person and a running machine in the making. After a week spent in the Big Smoke, I found myself on a plane Calgary bound!! I was excited but also really anxious…
9hrs later I was in Canada!! Svenja came and pick me up at the airport (well, I had to wait for over half an hour for her to show up, you can’t rely on anybody these days!! 😉 ) and we headed to Banff the next day for some mountain action!! Banff is a really cute town surrounded by mountains and it is where I have decided to try and settle down. Once we had greeted my new roommates, we went straight to business and went for food!! Lol…
The very next day, we tried to run up Rundle Mountain, but we underestimated the amount of snow we would find on the trails (well, it was still in the midst of Canadian winter) which made running a rather difficult matter. In addition, all the travelling and the jet-lag kind of caught up with me and I crashed after a couple of hours. Thus, we decided to abort our attempt to summit Rundle and ran/stumbled (and fell) back down. This was my first proper experience of running in the snow and wow it is hard!!! You get a proper leg and core workout with every run… During the following week, I kept my training as usual but my body felt sooo tired; the altitude and snow were taking their toll. I had to calm down or I was going to burn out very quickly. It was really frustrating not to go and explore every single trail around town, but my body was simply not ready for it yet. It got better after a couple of weeks and I could finally start to really enjoy the Rockies!
Running in cold temperatures is something I had to learn to deal with. Even if I was lucky enough to arrive after the coldest part of the winter was over, it was still very, very cold to my taste (-10/-15degrees C). Svenja warned me about the temperatures before I left Europe, so I had bought some extra winter gear prior departure, which was a very smart move as I would sometimes wear almost all the layers I own! Lol. The body is quite amazing at adapting though. After a couple of weeks, the cold temperatures were not so much of a problem anymore. I imagine it is a completely different story when the mercury drops below –20degrees though… Speed work is not really my cup of tea but add some cold temperatures in the mix and it becomes a suffer fest: no grip due to ice or snow, lungs and throat burning due to the cold, dry air, and you literally freeze your ass off on the cool down… But hey, these big races are going to run themselves!
The running community around Banff is really incredible! You would be amazed to see how many people run through winter even when it is stupidly cold! I tried my best to make it to all the group runs and was pleased to find out that there are quite a few around to tag along to. The Rockies Run Collective runs every Monday evening from Banff, The Canmore Trail Culture runs every Tuesday evening in Canmore, The Bow Valley Dirtbags run every Thursday in Canmore, and SkiUphill runs every Sunday in Canmore. The Calgary Trail Runners also organise some runs on Saturdays, but mainly in the Bragg Creek area. All the people here are so friendly and make you feel welcome straight away. They are all very happy to see new faces and would go the extra mile to help you with anything. Meeting people and making friends is definitely not a problem Canada.
My roommate Melissa also introduced me to climbing and I got hooked straight away!! I love the physical challenge and it is such a good way to get a strong upper body which I desperately needed… Running helps me sorting things out in my mind but climbing brings some much appreciated peaceful and quiet times. You can’t think about anything while climbing, you have to stay alert and focus. I always feel so relaxed after a session. I have been climbing outside only once so far, but I can’t wait to do more over the summer!
I think I really found my happy place! Banff is such a nice town with loads of trails around to explore and now that I have a car, I will be able to get to and explore even more places. Awesome! Watch out for jaw-dropping pics 😉 The Rocky Mountains are incredibly beautiful and have endless trails to explore. I will never get tired of all the views around here. Also, my housemates are really cool and active, I really feel home in the house and I even got myself a job!! The Canadian people are just amazing and so welcoming. Canada you rock!!!
The temperatures are getting warmer now and the snow is melting fast! Bring it on summer adventures!