I love going on vacation.  It is a great time to kick back, relax and reconnect with family and friends.  My workouts will take a back seat during this time but that doesn’t mean that I will be putting my feet up and drinking margaritas all day! I am an active person.  Some well meaning friends and family members might want to label me as “fitness crazy” or suggest that I might have an obsession with exercise.  The simple truth is that I have always enjoyed an active lifestyle.  Sometimes this can make friends and family defensive about their fitness and therefore throw out the negative labels.  If a person reads everyday are they a “readaholic”?

So how does an active person juggle friends, family and fitness?  In a recent trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, I had to face this challenge. I went with a girl friend, Carol, from Petaluma who is an athlete and wanted to experience some of the local activities while sight seeing.  In just 4 days we packed in a lot!  A very good friend of mine, Rosemary,  put us up in her home in North Vancouver for the 4 nights.  Rosemary is a Yoga instructor and avid hiker.  Activities like triathlons are not her thing.   She thinks that running is too hard on the body.  There is no convincing her otherwise.  It would be an aerobic challenge beyond my ability to even try!  So how to strike a balance?

Acknowledge that activities can be as diverse as individuals.  Everyone should just find the activity that they enjoy. Then make sure to plan to do some activities with the folks you are visiting.  So if they are into Yoga, see if you can take a class with them. If they are into walking or hiking plan to go on their favorite walk or hike.  On our first day we were a little tired from the travel so after getting unpacked and relaxing for a while we went on a 4 mile walk.  Rosemary lives in Lynn Valley, a beautiful part of Vancouver’s North Shore.  Mountain trails featuring canyons, lakes and wild life are a part of the neighborhood.  This walk  is one of her favorites and she does it   a few times a week. She was happy to share it with us.  It was a wonderful way to get caught up with my old friend while enjoying our environment.  We crossed over a suspension bridge and around a near by lake. It was really beautiful.

The next morning, Carol and I, who are early risers, let our hostess sleep in and we ran the loop we walked the day before.  We ran at an easy pace and talked the whole time mainly to make sure that we didn’t surprise any bears. (Seriously, in this city they have bear alerts in thier local papers!). After the run and a breakfast with our hostess we all headed off to Stanley Park.  This park is located in downtown Vancouver and has a seawall walkway that is just over 5.5 miles long. The views of downtown Vancouver, the North Shore Mountains and Lions Gate Bridge are awesome.  We saw bald eagles, whales and starfish along the way.  From there it was off for a delicious lunch and shopping (another one of my favorite aerobic activities).

On our third day we headed up to Whistler.  This mountain community hosted a whole range of events during the 2010 Winter Olympics.  We were there to try the Zip Line with top speeds of just over 40 mph.  Rosemary, who wasn’t into this type of adventure and had lots to do at home, didn’t come along with us.   The Zip Line was awesome.  The speed didn’t give us the thrills we wanted – even when we did it upside down with no hands!  But, the views where amazing – snow capped mountains, rushing water and a sea of forest.  After lunch and walking around the village we capped off our Whistler visit with a dip in a local lake to wake us up for the drive home. We enjoyed relaying our adventures with our hostess over some wine and goodies.

On our last day in Vancouver we needed to pack in more activities. This would require getting up early and heading off to Grouse Mountain.  While our hostess was fast asleep in her bed we hiked up “The Grind” in  North Vancouver. This 1.8 mile hike is 2,800 up rugged terrain. I used to do this hike once a week in the summer with my old run club, the Eagles Run Club, when I lived in North Van.  It was really rugged then but now has 2,830 stairs. The average time to complete the hike is 1.5-2 hours.  Since we wanted a workout we did it in just under 55 minutes! By the time we reached the top we were soaking wet and a little buzzed from the endorphins! A quick tram ride back to bottom of mountain (they discourage folks from going down the Grind since is it so steep). It was a beautiful ride down with sweeping views of Vancouver and the harbor.

From there we headed over Lions Gate Bridge to Kitsilano.  The Kitsilano pool is a 150 yard long and is the largest pool in Canada.   Just 12 laps and you have done a mile.   It is a heated salt water pool and is located right on the ocean. It was so awesome to swim in.  We finished up our mile jumped in the car and toured around the area before heading back to the North Shore. It was lunch time so we enjoyed a bite of lunch with my friend Rosemary.  She wanted to take us on a two hour hike called the Lynn Loop.  I was ready to relax on an air mattress in her pool.  Not wanting to disappoint anyone, I pulled on my runners and we headed out.  Once I got started I was feeling great again and enjoyed the hike along the steep canyon trails.  We ended our visit with a dinner on the water front and an evening stroll along the West Van seawall.

Carol headed back to Vancouver with a smile.  We had a great vacation and took in the local sites and enjoyed the active lifestyle in Vancouver. It was great to discover my good friend Rosemary’s favorite walks and hikes and catch up with each other again.

I had two days left in the Vancouver area which I  had put aside for visiting my family. Since they all work during the week ,the weekend was the perfect time to visit.  My brother and his wife enjoy an active lifestyle but aren’t the type to sweat hard.  My sister is also active and her boyfriend is a big curler and golfer. My brother is the Associate Dean of B.C.I.T. Aerospace so my last day in the Vancouver area was spent at the Abbotford Airshow. It was fun to walk around and  enjoy my brother’s passion for airplanes.   That evening we relaxed and enjoyed a great meal with my sister and her boyfriend.   At that point I was happy to put my feet up and enjoy that margarita!

Keep up the Pace Petalumans!