B for Brrr

Biomechanical Analysis of Rising Trot

Above you’ll find a link to the paper version of the project I worked on over the fall term for my Biomechanics class. If you have a moment, give it a read!

My winter term started off quite quietly, but soon enough reminded me how crazy my life can be. The most exciting part of the past week or so for me was getting back my marks from last term- passing stats (with a C even!) and most of all my big biomech project! I got a B in everything (except stats), and on the project we got an A.. plus my prof said it was one of the better presentations she’s seen. And that I was on the top end of the exam marks wise. Happy dance!!! Biomechanics is definitely one of the courses I had to work the hardest at, but it’s also the one I miss the most right now. My favourite class this term is definitely Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries. Mostly because yesterday we were learning massage in class- which meant practice time in lab. Nothing wrong with free massages.   It’s a good thing I like this class, as it is my Saturday 9-2:30. Exhausting, but awesome.

It didn’t take me long to get completely exhausted by my new schedule. Six days a week of classes, while being better then having evening classes, is still unbelievably tiring. Sundays I usually sleep. All day. I’m usually a zombie by about Thursday. So if you need something from me, talk to me before that. My life has literally only consisted of school lately, so I really don’t have much to write at the moment.I just wanted to post a link to that paper so anyone who is interested could take a read! To all the riders out there reading this, maybe it will help make sense out of why your coach tells you to do certain things! Or why you should listen to those suggestions. Working on this project definitely shed some light on a different perspective of the sport for me. It’s amazing what tweaking one seemingly little insignificant movement can do to improve or hinder.

Here’s me making a crazy face. Just for fun.



Maybe I’ll come up with something interesting to write about one of these days. Until then, stay warm (if you’re in Winnipeg), and stay cool (if you’re somewhere warm).



Some thoughts on Lance…

If you follow sport news, you’ll be sick of the Lance Armstrong story by now. I know I am. It’s been a big topic that many of my class discussions are based around the past week or so- and many people are raising interesting points.

Maybe it’s my over-forgiving nature- but I still think he has shoes to fill as a role model in sport and in humanity. Yes, he did many wrongs in his career. Whether or not they were decisions made in an attempt to be the best in a sport where at his level of competition, doping was a norm- I think at this point all that is in the past and he has a choice to make. The publicity he has now is bigger than ever, and he will either choose to fade away after all this is done and the media moves on- or use this chance to do something positive for the sport with his image and experiences?

“I didn’t invent the culture.. but I didn’t change it either. And that’s my mistake”

As a leader in the sport, and a role model- whether or not he expected his teammates to follow his lead, in group situations it takes a pretty ballsy team member to stand up to the leader- but were they ever denied their own right to choose?

“I was the leader of the team, therefore I set the example”

Athletes at every level make sacrifices to achieve goals in sport. So much of sport is calculating risk. We give up time, money, relationships, other opportunities, etc, because something inside us creates an insatiable drive to reach the next level. One of the ideas proposed in one of my lectures was what if doping is just another sacrifice. In a sense, it is just taking that drive one step farther. What if it was viewed as okay, regardless of the negative side effects to the human body. For some athletes, this is a logical path to achieving goals in sport. Doing whatever it takes. As Lance has stated in his Oprah interview, it didn’t feel like cheating at the time. He viewed it as a level playing field- knowing that many of his peers were also doping. He made the choice that he thought was what needed to be done. How he handled that choice throughout his career and the people who got caught in the crossfire is debatably awful, even he admits- but he stuck by that decision. I don’t view doping as a logical or ethical way to achieve a goal, in any context, but regardless of personal opinions, what if doping was regulated? If it was viewed as acceptable. A new way to see what the human body could do? This was another question posed to my Intro Kin class. In this hypothetical situation, how many athletes would be doping? A lot. Surprisingly, and this is really awesome, majority of the athletes in the lecture said that they wouldn’t feel as though they were true athletes anymore- if this were the case. Sport is about pushing the human body to new limits, busting your ass to reach a goal. It was argued that we could push the body to amazing feats with enhancement drugs and doping- so wouldn’t that be a new level of epic in sport? Countered by many of us by.. but if it’s not real… is it really that great? It turns all sport into somewhat of an act, and doesn’t that defeat the point? Would any of us, as athletes, feel accomplishment and pride in this context?

I believe Lance has a huge chance to change the face of his sport. I think he already has. He has lost the respect he held as a elite athlete, stripped of wins, but will he work to regain that respect in another way? He’s been a leader in sport his entire career- will he maintain that characteristic and use it to make some right out of his wrongs? His sport, the world he lived in, is being exposed as a pretty ugly place. He has a chance now to help rebuild that image- as it will need repairing if it is to survive in the ever changing, very public, media corrupt world of elite athletics.

This is a man who admittedly abused his power as a leader in sport. As a role model to millions of people all over the world. What will he do with it now? So many people have lost their belief in what he stood for and they have every right to be disappointed, but if he really thought his intentions were right in the moment- regardless of what we know now, is there not still some inspiration to be found there? I think many people would find that if they were put in a similar situation, their stories would play out similar to this one. As an athlete I would hope that if I was placed in his world I would make different choices, but I have no idea what it is to be at that level in that particular sport, or any sport. It’s a completely different world, that few- if any- truly understand. Nobody can predict what choices they will make in a given situation. It’s inevitable that we will make the wrong choice, or a choice that feels right, but in hindsight wasn’t. I really think it’s what we do with the results, where we go from the mistakes, that decides who we are. I’m sure I’m one of few followers of this story that still has respect for Lance Armstrong. Even if he is only coming clean after being forced to by mountains of evidence. He has a lot of work to do to even begin to rebuild the trust he has broken. That is undeniable.

I hope for his sake, and for sport, that he does do the work. I hope that he can become a role model again, for the integrity of sport, for the people that once found him inspiring. I also hope that the public will be open minded about whatever else is to come of this. We all have something to learn from his story, from his mistakes, and in turn from our own mistakes.

Before you know it

It’s over. No more lazy days of nothing with no specific plans…After a crazy two weeks of holidays- it’s time to get back at it. Crazy of course being the understatement of the year!

I mentioned briefly in an earlier post that my previously organized surgery had been cancelled- and more testing ordered. This is because the original diagnosis of appendicitis is being questioned, and I have since gotten opinions of a couple other doctors who seem to think it could be any number of things. So, that being said, I agreed to have more testing done. Blood tests today, CT scan being scheduled, and then more decisions to be made after those results. Its very much unknown at this point. As much as I would have liked it to be as simple as the first doctor being right, and the surgery going as planned. I’ve come to realize that I would much rather go through all the diagnostics, spend a little more time in the limbo of not knowing, and have a correct diagnosis- than go through all the stress of surgery only to have the same symptoms later on. It’s honestly been some of the most frustrating few weeks for me- as anyone who has had health problems could relate, I’m sure. Had a few emotional roller coaster like days. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by amazing friends and family who have kept me sane through it all.

After having blood taken this morning, I moved myself back to Ainslie Street- and settled back in for semester numero 2. I’m still waiting on most of my marks back from semester 1, but I know I got an 81% on my Scientific Principles of Fitness and Conditioning final exam, and a final B grade in that course. So yay! Still anxiously awaiting my Biomechanics project and final mark- as well as to know whether I passed my stats course. Nevertheless, onwards and upwards! This term looks as though it will be a little easier- even if it is spread over 6 days of the week. Intro Kinesiology was the only class on the docket today- and looks as though it will be a pretty straight forward course. As to be expected. I am also enrolled in Psych Skills in Sport and Life, the same old Anatomy and Physiology, Intro to Research Methods (a continuation of the stats course (yay)), and Prevention and Care of Injuries. I’m quite excited for the psychology and the prevention and care courses! It will for sure be another busy term, but after all that how I function best.

What else have I been up to lately? Well, I’ve spent a good amount of time in the gym-as well as riding. Reached a personal best in both deadliest (lifted 145lbs) and bench press (75lbs), which was awesome! Also went for my first run over 2 miles since June, yesterday, got in about 4 miles around Carman. I have to say, winter running is pretty awesome! Foot felt great (until the blister started forming), and back felt great! And thanks to the snow covered pathways, offering great cushioning, no shin splints occurred!  Still ever so grateful to be able to hack around once in a while on Samson, my good friend Lauren’s jumper. Barn time is sane time. The gym, and the barn are probably the two places I am most at peace. I don’t have to put thought into what I’m doing there, especially in the barn. It’s second nature. Everything little thing I do there, from putting a halter on, taking a blanket off, grooming, tacking up, etc etc, all the way to riding and then untacking, seems to centre me. Perfect atmosphere. Plus the people that are around always cheer me up too! I am holding the optimistic thought of the 2013 show season in my mind’s eye. I can’t wait to get back on my own horse and start training this spring. As much as I love school, and understand that right now it would be next to impossible both financially and scheduling wise to be training like I’d love to be, it’s a huge part of my life and as any athlete will relate- offseason kind of sucks sometimes. I’ve chosen to pursue a career along side being a competitive athlete. I’m so lucky to have found a path that I am equally as passionate about as I am my chosen sport. I just need to find a way to combine them so I can have the best of both worlds!

For now, I’ll just have to keep taking it one day at a time.

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Turbulent 2012

Similar to previous years, seeing as I don’t make resolutions, here is a list of some of the most memorable moments of the past 12 months (in no particular order)!

  • Meeting the people I met overseas. Especially all the distant relatives. To be made to feel at home in a country that is so far away from home was something truly awesome. I am very lucky to have had that experience, and those people surrounding me during part of a pretty rough year made some impossible situations very possible. 
  • The last few weeks of travel in NZ. Working for a grand prix rider, glacier hikes, bus trips, amazing scenery, living on trail mix and instant noodles, being broke, sitting along the coast and listening to the waves crash to the shore, scenic train rides, busing through, unbelievable landscapes, and everything else. Pictures don’t do it justice, and no words can describe it. This post has more detail on some of what I did those last few weeks.


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  • Flying into Vancouver, and then Winnipeg. After what seemed like ages away, the sight of the Rocky Mountains covered in snow and looking glorious brought an unexplainable feeling, and was the best thing I’d seen yet. There is no better feeling than coming home after being away. If even where you were became like a home away from home. All those things I experienced, good and bad, were solidified as my plane landed in Vancouver. A journey was concluded, and another begun. I came home both the same, and completely changed. DSCN0373
  • Choosing a career path, and making relevant goals. I battled with myself long and hard over what I wanted to do with my life. Pretty much exactly a year ago I decided that athletic therapy was where I wanted to be, and set some goals for myself. It was definitely the right choice, and accomplishing the goals I’ve set has been unbelievably challenging and terrifying- but also fantastic. It’s nice to know that I’m doing something with my life that is always going to present me with a new challenge to keep me motivated.
  • MHJA’s Fall Harvest Show. I believe this was in last years list too. Coming up to this year’s show, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After a surgery in mid-July on my tailbone- I wasn’t able to ride up until 6 days before the competition (approx 6 weeks off for both me and my horse). Challenge accepted. I definitely pushed my recovery a little far- but I rode everyday for those 6 days and against the advice of pretty much everyone went to Fall Harvest. I’m sure we only survived that weekend on pure adrenaline (sooo out of shape). It was at that show, same as last year, that the difference in my riding ability really was shown. Mike broke his gruff exterior more than once at this show, saying “we might make a rider out of you one day”. A huge compliment!
  • Similar to the above, the Hunter Derby class at Fall Harvest 2012 (Check out this post for more!)
    . This was the first year doing a derby was realistic for me, and I got the okay from my coaches to enter. I wish I had a video of it! But any rider reading this will understand- it was one of those courses that presented so many new challenges and tests for both horse and rider and somehow, by some luck, we got around it and were rewarded the greatest feeling of teamwork and accomplishment. Best way to end off our short season!

    Not from Fall Harvest, but from Beach Party 2012.

    Not from Fall Harvest, but from Beach Party 2012.

  • Getting to know the people I ride and compete with better. I realize this is more than one moment in time, but over the past year I’ve really gotten a chance to spend more time with my coaches, Mike and Charlene, as well as other riders who train with them. It makes the sport so much more fun to be surrounded by people like this! I’ve learned a lot just by being around them, and they’ve helped me to gain confidence in myself and as a result ride that much better.
  • Kin-3201 Biomechanics. From day one this course terrified me, as well fascinated me! The study of biology and the forces acting upon it. Anatomy and physics combined. Being someone who never really excelled in physics- this was a challenge. But I found the math part of things much easier to understand when it was put into a athletic/movement perspective. I liked this course way more than I thought I would. And the final project, which was one of the hardest academic things I’ve done so far, was so cool! My post Critical Instant has more detail on the project and what I did my research on. I learned so much from this course, and loved the challenges it presented!_DSC0315 _DSC0317


2012 was a challenging year for me. I saw some pretty unbelievable things, on both ends of the spectrum. I experienced some of the worst physical pain, and emotional turmoil I ever have- but also had some great accomplishments and good times. I am positive 2013 will present new challenges, tough times, and good times to rival what 2012 threw at me. After facing what I’ve faced the past 12 months, I don’t know what else could be better preparation for whatever 2013 has in store. Here’s to the New Year, and may it be what it will be!