The Island (Prince Edward Island) was just what I needed to relax and wind down from the year. It wasn’t until I was able to take some time off did I realize how busy this year had exactly been. I keep hearing that the island had so much snow throughout the winter but there was no evidence anymore to back that up. Six feet of snow…and all I saw was a few tiny patches that faded away within a day or two. Most of the golf courses look in mid-season shape even though they only opened within the past two weeks. So as any good Islander would I got back out on links and started golfing, something I haven’t done in a few years now, but was glad I picked it up once more. On the last day I was on the Island I went for a run in Cavendish. Unfortunately it was the first day it actually rained, despite the forecast calling for the past week to have rained every day. None the less it was a great run. I began on the Haunted Woods trail. This is where Lucy Maud Montgomery got several bits of inspiration that would be featured in the Anne of Green Gables novels. The trail would end at the actual house of Green Gables. Going around the house led to the Balsam Trail. A short, but beautiful trail working its way along a creek. Following the trail around I found myself on the edge of the Green Gables Golf Course. I gingerly crossed the fairway then got on another trail and headed for the beach. Once I reached the sand I ran along the coast for a little bit before getting back onto a wooded trail. I made my way to the Homestead trail. I was only able to run the beginning of the trail, but said I would be certain to return and finish the rest of the trail.
I was westward bound. Before I could make it to Canmore I had a conference in Ottawa. The conference was the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s first ever Excellence Series. Coaches and athletes from both summer and winter sports gathered over four days to share their experiences and prepare for the next generation of success. There was so much to learn during the sessions, almost hard to keep up. Past and present medalists were invited to speak on a variety of subjects from overcoming distractions at the Games to media, and everything in between. I got the chance to hear from some of the best coaches and Paralympic athletes to ever wear the maple leaf. Chantal Petitclerc(Athletics), Brian McKeever(Nordic), Lauren Woolstencroft(Alpine), Paul Tingley(Sailing), Michelle Stilwell(Athletics), Josh Dueck(Alpine), Marcel Lacroix(Speed Skating) and Elisabeth Walker-Young(Swimming) just to name a few. Most athletes had the same message of work hard, have fun or accept challenges, but its hearing how they learned those lessons that make the biggest impact. Listening to these athletes, so much stuck with me and I know that it will help me to obtain my own success. It was also great to spent some time with the summer athletes; I know most of the winter athletes but hadn’t had the chance to meet any of the athletes competing in the summer. One of the most memorable experiences was trying out sitting volleyball. Essentially volleyball, with a shorter net and you have to have at least one bum cheek on the floor, or torso, while hitting the ball. It was a blast! We began with some simple passing and setting drills, then the girls set up for a hitting drill, so I foolish (along with a few others) went to the other side thinking we could defend against them, and nearing had my face flattened by a rocket of a smash. The drill soon developed into a game. Trying it out was an incredible experience and there were plenty of laughs.
The next afternoon I flew to Calgary and made my way to Canmore. I would suffer a bit of Friday the 13th in the dying minutes of the day. I took the Airporter to Canmore but it only stops at a hotel on the other side of town. I got to the hotel at 11:48PM and called a cab, but they said that the earliest they could get a cab to me was in an hour, they were just that busy. With 12 minutes before the day would be over I got my bad luck. It wasn’t worth waiting so I walked to my house which is a 20 minute walk, then drove back to pick up my luggage and finally was able to say ‘I was home’.
After three weeks off, I would officially begin the 2011-12 training year with an amazing crust ski near the Mt Engadine Lodge (the Engadine Valley pictured on the right). It was nice to get back with everyone from the club and have some fun in the sun. The weather over the two days that I’ve been back in the Rockies has been incredible. With a slight blip tomorrow, the rest of the week looks to continue with the great weather.