Travel Update

Sorry for not posting an update before now. My iPhone was out of commission for a little while due to water damage from our Chamonix-to-Zermatt adventure. First it wouldn’t work at all, then after a couple of weeks in a rice bag, it would only work when plugged into the wall. I replaced the battery at the end of last week and now it’s working again!

Enough about the iPhone. Here are some quick updates:

Pictures: We didn’t travel with computers so I can’t sort/edit any photos until we are back in Canada. I go back to work right away but will do my best to get some posted soon.

Haute Route: We made it! Chamonix to Zermatt in 11 days. We covered a total of approximately 160 km by foot and somewhere between 10,000 to 12,000 meters of vertical! We are feeling good though and have managed a few more hikes and runs since then.

Zermatt: After finishing, we spent four days in Zermatt. Lauren (Amanda’s sister) and her fiancĂ© Paul joined us for the weekend and we did a great hike with wonderful views of the Matterhorn (the mountain on the Toblerone chocolate bar).

Grenoble: We spent last week in Grenoble with Lauren and Paul. It was a mixture of low key, relaxed days with some hiking thrown in.

Tuscany: Amanda’s parents have now joined us and the six of us are currently having a “tough” week at a villa in Tuscany. Lots of relaxing by the pool and we ate lunch today at a local winery. Amanda and I have been getting out for a run each morning before it gets too hot.

That’s all for now! More updates soon (either later this week or when pictures are ready when we get back home).

Haute Route

haute_route_map

I thought I would post some information here about what we are up to so people have a place to get the details.

What are we doing?

We are going to attempt to “run” from Chamonix to Zermatt – Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. The route we are taking will likely be somewhere between 160-180 km and we are aiming to finish in 11 days. Each day will be between 15-24 km and will vary in difficulty based on changes in elevation. The map to the left will give a general idea of our route, but it could vary depending on conditions, how we are feeling, etc.

Why are we doing this?

We are not completely sure ourselves!?!? All we know is that three years ago we had a great time doing the Tour Mont Blanc and this trip promises to be more of the same. Since we have been doing more trail running over the past year, we thought it would be fun to give a multi-day run a try. But, our main goal is to have fun and be safe, so if that means hiking instead of running at times, that’s what we’ll do!

Information for those interested in following along:

Map and Messages:
https://share.delorme.com/ASkinn (password to access the map is: hauteroute)

We hope this works! While we are running, our new GPS device should send a location data point every 10-20 mins. We will also try to remember to send a message each night, from the GPS device, which will appear on the map. If we forget to send a message one night, or have technical difficulties, please do not worry about us. We will update everyone when we can.

Talk to you all soon! We will try and post here when we can as well but we don’t expect to have reliable or regular internet service for the next couple of weeks.

Andy and Amanda

Still Alive!

I know I haven’t posted much here in a while. It’s mainly because most of my “spare” time right now is spent studying.

We did get away for a night on the weekend to see Craig Cardiff again in Wakefield. Always an entertaining show.

I have been trying to run in the mornings before work as much as possible and some longer runs on the weekends. The plan is still to run the Ottawa half-marathon on May 27. Today I also signed up for the Powderface half-marathon trail race in Bragg Creek, Alberta on July 14. Hopefully I will be able to adjust to trails, altitude and elevation change.

More soon!

Back to Iqaluit!

This picture was taken last year near the end of my stay up in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Due to some last minute cancellations and other sequences of events, the hospital in Iqaluit needed a Pediatric resident for a week from February 5-13. Since I really enjoyed my time up there last year, I decided to go for it! It will be the exact same time of year as last time, so I know what to expect from the weather. Pack the long johns!

Forward

When trying to come up with a title for this post, I considered Moving Forward, Forward Thinking and Forward Progress. All of them seemed to capture part of what I wanted to write about, so I settled on simply Forward and using the other titles as headings. As the word may suggest, this post will focus on the year that has just passed and a look ahead as I go forward.

Moving Forward

While Amanda and I enjoy many different physical activities, the one that has served as a common theme for the past few years has been our interest in running. 2011 was a particularly interesting, frustrating and rejuvenating year in running for me. Early on, I was running and just trying to stay warm in temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius while spending a month up in Iqaluit, Nunavut. When I returned, I got into training mode for the Ottawa Race Weekend where I completed my second marathon in a span of 7 months. Race day was a mixture of emotions. Of course, I was thrilled to have finished my second marathon and improved on my time. The frustration was that I was unsure if I had bilateral stress fractures in my feet, just sore overused muscles, or something more serious that may signal the end of my young running career.

After taking time off from pounding the pavement, I knew I would have to start slowly again and rebuild in order to avoid that feeling in my feet from coming back. After lots of rest, walking and stretching, it was time to attempt running again. It was also time for a bigger shake-up. All of the downtime led me to read even further into barefoot running. It seemed like as good a time as any to give it a shot since I would be having to “start over” again anyways. I was not willing to go “all the way barefoot”, so I settled on a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves to be my new minimalist barefoot shoes. It was great to have my feet truly feel the ground again and slow but steady, I have built back up to about 12 km over the summer. It was also a great way to see the streets of Gaborone, Botswana, and even a trail run in South Aftica. Definitely rejuvenating!

Moving Forward. In 2012, I hope to continue building on the new form I have learned over the past 6-7 months in the barefoot shoes. I plan to do more trail running, especially in the summer when we move back to Calgary. The plan now is also to keep slowly building my distance and run the half marathon at the end of May in Ottawa. There is also a trail half-marathon just outside of Calgary in July that I would like to try. Depending on how my feet are holding up, I’ll likely add a few more goals to close out the summer of 2012.

Forward Thinking

Amanda and I were extremely fortunate to travel as much as we did in 2011 and experience many different people and cultures. It also gave us a lot of time to think about our beliefs, values and what is truly important to us. I have written before about us trying to minimize the “stuff” in our lives, and I’ve recently discussed that people should be treated fairly for the work they do.

Forward Thinkng. Moving back to Calgary in July will give us a chance to rethink some of these things again. How big of a house do we really need? How much of our “stuff” do we really need to move? Should we buy things for the 1 or 2 times a year we might need them, or should we figure out how to get by with what we have or rent / borrow what we need in those rare instances? Perspective on these things changes when you see how little some people have as well as living out of a suit case for almost four months!

As part of the process of minimizing, we have already given away quite a few of our things to local charity. We have also started posting a number of things online for sale. Of the things we have given away or sold so far, I can’t say I’ve missed any of them yet!

Forward Progress

In some ways, the biggest thing happening in 2012 is something I don’t always talk about but will try and elaborate on a bit here. Three and a half years ago we moved to Ottawa for me to start my Pediatrics residency. As part of that program, I was fortunate to be able to spend 16 weeks working in the health care system in Botswana. It was very different than working in Canada, but kids are kids and I do love my job. There are frustrations working anywhere in the world when it comes to health care, but the kids don’t know any of this. They just want to get better and we do our small part to try and help them.

This year will mark the end of this time in Ottawa. In May, I have a series of exams to become a certified pediatrician in Canada. These exams are known to be quite difficult and will require me to put a focus on studying for the next four months. In July, the next chapter of my training begins as we move back to Calgary and I start a Pediatric Gastroenterolgy Subspecialty Fellowship training program. What’s another two or three years?!

I am reading a book right now about training for ultramarathons,1 Relentless Forward Progress. I think the title also sums up the fact that I am currently completing my fifteenth year of post-secondary education! Who needs a real job anyways!

All the best to everyone! Move forward and have a successful 2012!


  1. Not committing to anything, but maybe a potential long term running goal of mine.