Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Southward Bound

And so, it is happening again. We finally had written confirmation this time and are on the move once again, although this time our journey will not  be quite as far despite moving to another country.

Just before Christmas, Andy was suddenly in great demand with numerous international companies making contact and inviting him for job interviews. Several job offers later, he finally made a decision about which job offered the better package and greatest opportunities, and so it is that we will be relocating to the USA - Phoenix, Arizona to be precise, at a Moonshine distillery  - sometime in March if all goes to plan.

Things will be a little different in Phoenix - for a start, it lies in the desert area of the US which means heat all year round - no more snow or ice to contend with during the winter months! - but it also means very hot summers, which for a red head is going to take some getting used to. But we're adaptable and flexible, and we're pretty sure that we will get used to it, and with regards to Wilson and Brandy, we've agreed that a doggy paddling pool is an absolute must to ensure that they too are able to cope with the heat and change in climate.

The good news is that Phoenix has an excellent running scene and with road or trail races available all year round both in Arizona and neighbouring states, I'm really looking forward to being able to race all year round if I choose to.

Of course, we are going to miss Calgary immensely. This has been our home for the past 3 years, and whilst that is a relatively short time in the grand scheme of things, we have been fortunate to have met some pretty amazing people and have some exciting adventures during our short time here. For me personally, I've had some pretty fantastic training runs and races on both road and trail in and around the Rockies, but we've also managed to do lots of outdoorsy things including lots of camping trips, white water rafting and hiking, and of course when our family visited, we were able to show them around just a small part of this wonderful part of the world. We've also done a few winter activities like snowshoeing and ice skating but there are still some things that remain on our bucket list that we have yet to do.

One of the winter sports that we'd always wanted to try was dog sledding - or mushing if using the correct word - and with knowing that it was highly likely that we would shortly be leaving Canada, last week we booked ourselves on to a dog sledding trip with Snowy Owl Dog Tours in Canmore.

I have to say that it was one of the most exciting, exhilerating activities I have ever done and the fact that we got to have a sled all to ourselves and that Andy and I took it in turns to drive made it even more special. Mushing is quite a physical sport, particularly when hitting the inclines where you hop off the sled and run alongside to release some of the weight to make things easier for the dogs, and with the slight increase in altitude, it certainly got the lungs burning whilst trying to keep up. The downhills were even more exciting,and the feeling of speeding along the snowy trails beside Spray Lakes was spectacular, creating one of those surreal moments for me - was I really driving a 6-dog sled team in the midst of a Canadian winter in the Rocky Mountains? I can't describe how it made me feel, and at the end of the trip whilst sitting around a campfire eating chocolate brownies and drinking hot apple cider with the other mushers, it really hit home what we had done and what a magical experience it had been.

Andy drives first with Del a very happy passenger

Whizzing along the trail beside Spray Lake
Ice climbing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling are also on that list and whilst we're unlikely to have time to do all of these in the next 4-6 weeks, we are hoping to get out on a snow mobile over in Yoho in the next couple of weeks all been well.

Another thing that I will definitely miss is the Calgary Road Runners Cross Country Grand Prix. For the past 3 years, these 10 races have been a huge part of my winter racing and training and I get extremely excited for each race and look forward to seeing the familiar faces that I have come to recognise. I've managed to do all of the races so far this season, but with 3 still remaining, the timing of our move means that I may miss the last race at Fish Creek.

One of the races was held on Saturday at Twelve Mile Coulee over in Tuscany and as in previous years, I absolutely loved this race. The weather in Calgary has been extremely mild for the past week or so, but despite much of the snow melting and turning the course into muddy slush, the part along the valley bottom was extremely icy with huge swathes of ice covering large areas of the pathway making it particularly treacherous for those without spikes or traction aids. The single track trail meanders through the trees and has plenty of small undulations to make it interesting, and I found that I was really enjoying myself on Saturday. I was again feeling fit and strong and the recent speedwork I've been doing was certainly starting to kick in. I was really pleased to finish 2nd lady in the race and ahead of some the chaps that would normally finish in front of me, and having compared my time to the previous years, I discovered that I was around a minute faster which shows that things are heading in the right direction.

12 Mile Coulee and having some fun on the ice!
Sunday was a recovery run for me, and along with Wilson and Brandy, we once again headed over to Kananaskis for a 14km trail run with friends. It was a fantastic run, and with the mild temperatures and melting snow, it almost felt like a spring day - we even saw a male and female moose about 100 yards away on the edge of the treeline - and even the birds were singing. It really was a remarkably beautiful day!

Trail runs with friends on a warm winter's day

Wilson and Brandy having tons of fun running with us
And so, with our imminent move south of the border looming and the need to start packing once again and putting our house on the market, we intend to make the most of our time in Canada over the coming weeks. We'll hopefully be spending some of our time with some of the wonderful friends we have met and if we have time to plan it, we'll finally have that house warming party that we never got round to having. Yes, it's a little scary moving to somewhere new again and having to start all over but I guess Andy and I have never been afraid about trying new things and going to new places. So long as we have eachother, and so long as our animals are with us, we know that things will always work out.

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