Nick Versteeg – Runner

Nick Versteeg – Runner

Nick Versteeg – Runner


When I began writing for Ceevacs Connect and seeking runners who were willing to tell their stories, I had no idea that our blog was reaching so many runners. Then a friend emailed and recommended Nick Versteeg as someone who had an interesting story. I admit, I was a little nervous about interviewing someone I had never met but I was intrigued by what I heard about him; In less than a minute I was put at ease.

Nick Versteeg was born in Holland in 1949. When he came to Canada, he lived in a variety of places but most recently Vancouver, Cowichan Valley, Cowichan Bay and now Victoria. While living in Vancouver Nick was introduced to running by his son who was moving into a third floor, condo where he found out he was “not in such good shape”. Nick kidded him about it and four months later, his son announced that he was running in the Victoria Half Marathon. He invited Nick to watch. Nick’s son called again three months later, saying “You teased me into doing the half marathon” so “I’ve registered us to run in the Victoria Half Marathon next fall!” While Nick had never run before, he was motivated to try. He had 8 months to train. That was 10 years ago.

Nick was hooked and whenever he could, he ran the Victoria Half Marathon and the Vancouver Sun 10km but never trained for them. While living in Glenora, in the Cowichan Valley, Nick enjoyed running the Cowichan Autumn Classic. He liked to “wait for the cookies”. Nick declares “It’s fun to run for a certain time”, but “It’s just great to run.”

In 2019, Nick Versteeg planned to tour Europe for eight months, with his wife, Elly while completing his iBook biography series “From Baker to Filmmaker”. They visited family in Holland, travelled through Portugal and Spain shopping in markets, enjoying the local foods, and visiting museums, art galleries and castles in each country. And of course, Nick ran. He had signed up to run the Toulouse Semi (Half) Marathon in France on Sunday, October 20, 2019. As he finished the 21 km race, he raised the Canadian flag above his head. When he crossed the line, his name was announced, and he was acknowledged as the only Canadian to run the race. His ankles hurt from the cobblestones but otherwise, all was well. (Click on the video attached of Nick’s final 17 seconds before crossing the line).

Shortly after that, Nick and Elly settled in southern France, in Olonzac, known as the “Capital of the Minervois” a wine growing region with a population 1,797; about 400 residents more than Crofton. Olonzac was a friendly village, not far from the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and the Spanish border with numerous roads that were rarely used; Ideal for runners like Nick. Only 20 minutes from Olonzac was Carcassonne, located on a hill, it is a historic, medieval city, surrounded by double walls 3km in length, with 52 towers spread throughout, and a citadel dating back to the Gallo-Roman times. In 1997, the Carcassonne castle was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Historically, another great place to run!

From Olonzac, Nick travelled by train to his second race late in February 2020. The 28th edition of the Paris Semi Marathon was to be held on Sunday, March 01st. On Friday, he picked up his bib and t-shirt. On Saturday, Nick scouted the route where he would be one of 40,000 runners racing the next day. When Nick arrived home Saturday afternoon, he checked his email and to his surprise, the Paris race had just been cancelled due to COVID. When he told me this, I thought “He just lost the moon!”

Nick and Elly are “pretty pragmatic” people. There were 40,000 people planning to run. Nick had run the Vancouver Sun 10k and was familiar with what it is like running with 50,000 runners.” In this case, it was best not to run that close to people. Yes, he was disappointed but “People’s health is #1.” Instead, Nick ran his own ½ marathon in the rain passing such sites as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre which were not on the original route. Way to go Nick! Glad you didn’t let that training go to waste. While this was a huge disappointment, Nick later received an email that the race would be held in September. Unfortunately, that’s not happening either. Finally, Nick received the good news that he would get a voucher to enter any certified half marathon in the world. Wow!

Nick and Elly travelled to Mirepoix, France a small town with population of 3,162, just slightly larger than Chemainus. It was a beautiful, quiet rural town with covered walkways and houses painted in pastel colours. It was easy to run in. One week after the COVID announcement, a full lockdown was instituted, which meant when you left home you had to carry a piece of paper with your plan of what you were doing for the next hour. Runners were initially allowed to run where they wanted but were eventually restricted to run no more than 4km from their homes. Nick was lucky to be living in the Pyrenees, where it was a little easier to run than in the city and not so many people! When the Canadian Embassy alerted them to come home asap, they were in the beginning of the 14-day lockdown and felt it was a risk to fly so early in March. The planes were packed; it was chaos. After the 14-day lockdown was extended for another month, Nick and Elly chose to wait a while longer. Finally, they returned home to Victoria and were quarantined for 2 weeks. All has been well since with some incredible memories.

Nick has found running is not only a way to stay in shape, but it is a time when he can think creatively about his work and life. The thought to learn animation developed on one run. Running has inspired many ideas resulting in his making documentaries including productions about the Cowichan Valley such as “Once Upon a Day”, a short video that “showcases the beautiful Cowichan Valley” and “Resilience” a film about the Cowichan River. Nick had young chefs from all over the Canada competing on his show, “The Next Great Chef” which ran on Global for 2 years. While living on his hobby farm “The Laughing Geese”, near Glenora, he supplied the local chefs in Cowichan with produce. I looked up the origin of Mirepoix, France where Nick lived this year and found that mirepoix is a crucial ingredient in French cookery that includes carrots, onions and celery, acting as the base of many recipes. The name is derived from an 18th century Duke of Mirepoix who created the recipe. I wondered if Nick chose to live in Mirepoix because of his interest in food security and sustainability, another subject he is passionate about. You may also remember that last year, Nick introduced “A Just Society”, one of the most challenging of his 40-year career to more than 600 people at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.

Nick asserts “You’re never too old to start running. I began to run at 60 and I turn 71 years old in July.” It’s easy to train. “Make it a habit; Decide to get out and run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” In many of the places Nick has lived there have been hills and mountains. While running the Sooke 10k last year, he had the opportunity to talk with long time, Ceevacs runner, Hazura who gave Nick some sage advice as he ages. “I can run because I never run hills.” Nick has taken Hazura’s advice to heart and it works for him too.

A friend of Nick’s told me, “He has his best ideas when he is running and had hoped to run the Cowichan Autumn Classic” this fall, which sadly has been cancelled because of COVID. Instead, Nick will continue to enjoy running up and down mountains, along the Galloping Goose, around Happy Valley and other roads on the West Shore and Highlands. Nick states “I love running and plan to run for many more years.”

Thank you, Nick and Elly for sharing your story.
Ellen Candlish


Celebrating 62 years; A 62 km. Triathlon

Celebrating 62 years; A 62 km. Triathlon

 Celebrating 62 years; A 62 km. Triathlon

I recently celebrated my 62nd birthday. Although this is not an especially noteworthy number, it was important because of our current restrictions on sport in pandemic-times. Many of us in our Ceevacs community have been struggling with the restrictions that have been put upon us: no gatherings for workouts and social coffees afterwards, having all of our races and events cancelled, having to train alone or in tiny groups, and losing all of our momentum and motivation to train. With this in mind, I decided to create a little “carrot” to help motivate myself and triathlete friends to get out there and keep working at our beloved sport, Triathlon. What better excuse to use than my birthday? And why not really go crazy and attempt a 62 kilometre distance?

This idea probably seems like madness to most people; isn’t running enough torture? Who came up with the silly idea of triathlons anyway? The very first recorded triathlon happened on Sept. 25, 1974, and it was invented by two fellows from the San Diego Track Club, Don Shanahan and Jack Johnstone, as a way to cross-train the body (and mind). This tri consisted of a 10km run, an 8 km bike and a 500m ocean swim. At this time, I was a nerdy, sixteen years old teenager in Nanaimo, who liked to hike, bike, swim and do anything outdoors away from the usual teenage social pursuits. I was unaware of the sport of Triathlon in its inception, but I was somehow coming up with a similar idea on my own. I used to spend my summer evenings jumping on my awesome yellow Apollo ten-speed and cycling 10 kilometres to Departure Bay, then I would swim across the Bay and get back on my bike and cycle uphill all the way home again. To this day I still love climbing a big hill far more than riding down one! My parents and most of my classmates thought I was nuts, and they were probably right!

Most people, until they try a triathlon ask why would anyone do such a thing?
It’s like trying to explain to someone who’s never had chocolate what chocolate tastes like. But the best answer is that Triathlon is a matter of mind over body; proving that the mind is stronger than the body. I like to think of it from a kid’s perspective. Kids love to play; they love to splash around at a beach, ride their bikes like race-car drivers and run around the neighbourhood playing different versions of cops & robbers. For me, it’s the excitement I feel from my inner child. I get to swim in a beautiful body of water, I get to ride my bike (like a bat out of hell) and then I get to run like the wind. Pretty cool.

Then there is the actual physical and mental challenge of it. For most people, the challenge of open water swimming is intense; deep water you can drown in, many thrashing bodies, cold dark spooky water, long impossible distances. I am no stranger to these fears. As a child, I grew up in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. I refused to swim in any of them. I was terrified of the fish biting me, the weeds grabbing me, and the cold dark bottomless lakes engulfing me and dragging me to their merciless depths. I did not have my first swimming lesson until I was 14, and I had a panic attack and almost never went back. Swimming is now my happy place and when the pools are open, I train 3x per week and clock on average 9km per week. I fully appreciate when someone tells me that they have a fear of the water, but I also maintain that if I can overcome that fear, anyone can!

The human body is not designed to swim well, therefore swimming efficiently is considered one of the most challenging of the three sports. If only we all had natural buoyancy, webbed toes and Michael Phelp’s arms and shoulders. Open water swimming is also made more difficult by no pool-lines to sight by and no walls to rest on. Swimming challenges the cardio-vascular and uses core strength, all of the upper body muscles as well as the hamstrings and calves for balance. Who is not exhausted after a long swim? This is where the mind challenge comes in during a Triathlon. Once you finish one segment, you have to put it behind you and move on to the next phase. In races, a transition from one sport to the next is only a few minutes long. Not much time to relax, stretch, refuel, or stare at your navel and contemplate life. That time is taken up puffing and panting, trying to wiggle out of your wet gear, get on socks and shoes on wet sticky skin, all while remembering the rules and order…helmet first before you touch your bike! Definitely a mind challenge!

The biking phase challenges your cardio-vascular, especially on the big climbs, but also uses core, lower body muscles and balance. For me, it is the hardest challenge on the mind; split second reactions, staying focused and riding defensively, staying on course, and putting a long time in on the saddle. Every second of it is work, but also exhilarating.

I am always shocked when the riding phase is over…now comes the real determination and guts…running. There is nothing stranger than the wobbly feeling of rubber legs and trying to force them to run. The brain says run, and the legs say don’t be silly, I just rode 40 km. It takes pure determination to shuffle along for the first kilometre, and then gradually the body sorts it out and a rhythm comes back, just before the exhaustion sets in and you realize it’s going to be a fight to the finish. This is where I survive with the use of mantras; I will finish, five down; five to go, one more loop, I will finish. And it is indeed sweet when you cross that finish line! Mind and body fully challenged to the limits.

Because of our current pandemic restrictions, I sent out my 62-Km Birthday challenge as a virtual event with the goal being distance, not time, and with the options to do it in any order, at any time, or to split it with a social-distant buddy, as long as it added up to 62 km. An Olympic level triathlon consists of a 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike ride and 10Km run, which is only 51.5 km in total. I had about eleven people rise to the challenge and they sent me their watch times proving their distances and efforts.

For myself, I was determined to challenge myself to the full-meal-deal and do it as a regular competition, consecutively. I got to the lake early on a Saturday morning, with stormy skies and an unenthusiastic temperature of 12 degrees out. Not ideal. But to my surprise, Janis G. was there with her huge smile and words of encouragement and she watched me suit up and take off; cheering me on. I’m glad she was there, so that I couldn’t change my mind! The water was cold, but survivable. Anyone who knows me, knows my dislike of cold water and knows my lips turn blue in the lovely pool temperature of 83 degrees. The water was calm, and I had the entire lake to myself…even the ducks were sleeping. It was beyond beautiful. I did the whole lake circuit and finished bang on at 1.99 km. Getting changed was my next challenge. My hands were too cold, and I fumbled miserably with my wetsuit, but finally managed, put two jackets on because I was shivering so badly and got on my bike. The first 10 km were uncomfortably cold in the wind, which cut through my two jackets like they were nothing. I was never happier to hit the first big hill climb and warm up a little bit. Surprisingly, my ride was uneventful; no stray dogs chasing me, no crashes, no bad gear changes, and the wind and rain that was forecasted held off. I used every kilometre of my distance to contemplate the equivalent age in my life and thought about all of my adventures, hardships and joys. It was a very satisfying reflection.

Back at the transition, I was now finished with 47 kilometres and 47 years old. About the same age that I had started to take up running more seriously. I now had a tough challenge ahead of me; 15 km of very rocky, rough, twisty-turny and hilly trail running through the Municipal Forests. Synchronicity; this also coincided with the most challenging 15 years of my life. Unfortunately, my tummy decided to act up, so I had more walking-moments than I would have liked, but I also had great stretches of flying like the wind. Also, an accurate reflection of my life! I finished 62 km, 62 years old and felt amazing! My longest ever triathlon distance!

I was so proud of the effort of everyone who participated! All were winners in my books. Kudo’s to Danna and her social-distant buddies who supported her for doing my 62 and adding one extra for her Birthday that she also just celebrated!!! Special Kudo’s to our amazing Coach, Sheron for over-coming her fear of the water and getting back into it to do my triathlon! So proud of you Sheron! And Kudo’s to Ellen, who also completed it, despite a tumble on her run portion and who scared the heck out of her running buddy, Janis. Most of you may know that Ellen just recovered from a major fall with broken bones, surgery and had an incredible recovery and determination to get back to running. This time, she bounced like a beach ball!!

The results were neck-in-neck, and I had to use actual math to figure them out!
Closest to 62 km. total went to our esteemed President, Cara Light for Female (her accounting and math skills must have been an advantage!) and her Hubby Richard Light for Male. The Boobie prize to Ellen, and Most Inspiring to Sheron. I have prizes that I will get to you soon, through social distancing!

I would encourage you all, as we try to return to a different way of doing sports, to challenge and support each other and celebrate these challenges and successes.

Missing my running, triathlon tribe, but sending hugs and encouragement to all,
Robin Taylor



DANNA COLLEEN WENDY (GRETCHEN) – 2.023 – 47.19 – 13.00 – 62.213 – 0.213

ELLEN / JANIS – 1.0 (BEST GUESS) – 51.15 – 10.0 – 62.15 – 0.15

ROBIN – 1.994 – 45.13 – 15.00 – 62.124 – 0.124

BRENDA – 1.398 – 46.47 14.18 – 62.048 – 0.048

SHERON – 0.2 (BEST GUESS) – 54.0 – 7.8 – 62.0 – 0

RICHARD – 1.485 – 58.31 – 2.19 – 61.985 – 0.015

CARA – 1.021 – 58.51 – 2.45 – 61.981- 0.019

Looking on the bright side a.k.a. Character Builder

Looking on the bright side a.k.a. Character Builder

Looking on the bright side a.k.a. Character Builder

During the course of 2020 many of us have and will experience the disappointment of an extensively planned running or triathlon event being postponed or outright cancelled. I share your disappointment. This is my story.
In June 2019 I was thrilled to find out I secured an entry into the London Marathon scheduled for April 26, 2020. It’s hard to get into this event. Many people try for literally years through the lottery system to get in without success. I was fortunate to snag a spot through an International Tour group. On July the 2nd the excitement continued when, after a good couple of hours of very frustrating technical website issues, I found out I had also secured an entry into the Tokyo Marathon scheduled for March 1, 2020. And then in September, the icing on the cake…, I received confirmation that I officially gained entry into the Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20, 2020 (6 days before London).

2020 was going to be my year of Marathons…3 Abbott Majors World Marathon’s in the course of 8 weeks to add to the 3 I have already run: New York, Chicago and Berlin. With my crossing the finish line in London on April 26th I would complete the 6 World Majors and be presented with the Abbott Majors medal. I now had to book all my hotels, side trips and of course figure out a training plan. Well that all happened. That all happened until February 17th when things all started to change.

Up until February 17th, after putting in 837 km of training over the previous 14 weeks in preparation for the March 1st Tokyo race I had to put that all in my back pocket. The race was not going to happen, at least not for the general population, only for about 200 elite runners. I now went about cancelling all my hotels, side trips for Japan. For most of the cancellations I got a full refund but there were some that incurred a penalty. That’s just the way it is sometimes. The Tokyo Marathon was not going to give a refund, but they were going to send the shirt, bib, poncho and other assorted paraphernalia. Despite the disappointment I had to look at the bright side… I was now in pretty good shape and after all I still had Boston and London to train for…right? I continued my training for the next month putting in another 284 km until the news came down on March 13th that the Boston Marathon and London Marathon had been postponed to September 14th and October 4th respectively. No surprise there. Thus, another change in plan and more hotel and side trip cancellations and re-bookings. Luckily no extra costs.

As a result, plan B…re-start my training on June 1st in hopes that Boston and/or London might happen. Fast forward to May 28th. It’s official, the Boston Marathon has been cancelled and will only be held as a virtual event between September 7th and 14th. I’m thinking I may run it in the beautiful Cowichan Valley, but I’ll be waiting for the final details before I commit. I’d simply treat it as a fun run anyway.

Effective June 1st I have restarted my training. Can’t hurt! At least I’ll stay in shape and be ready to run the Virtual Boston Marathon if I decide to do so. And, of course there’s still one piece missing to the story. London. As it stands now, I’m waiting to hear what will happen to the planned October 4th event. I think that is going to be announced near the end of this month. Realistically, I don’t think London will happen this year but only time will tell and with my training re-start I’ll be ready in the extremely off chance it will go ahead.

Despite the disappointments, I do try to look on the bright side… there’s lots of good news.
• My training has put me in pretty good shape.
• I still have my Tokyo Marathon spot, even though I have to pay the entrance fee again. And by the way I did end up getting a bunch of cool stuff sent to me from the Tokyo marathon organizers. I will soon face the choice whether to pick March 2021 or March 2022. I’m pretty sure I’ll go with March 2022. A better chance that one will actually happen and besides, my Air Canada flight credit is good until April 2022.
• The Boston Marathon is allowing qualifying times to be used for entry into the 2021 race all the way back to September 2018 so I’m 99% sure my times from Chicago and Berlin will still get me in. A full refund is being given. Registration will be in September for the 2021 race. Will Boston happen in 2021 you ask? Keeping my fingers crossed but we’ll have to wait and see.
• My London Marathon package with Marathon Tours out of Boston is fully protected and fully paid so no worries there. Even if London is cancelled, I feel pretty comfortable that my entry package will get pushed forward to the next running of the race.
What else is good…
• We are so fortunate we live where we live! In comparison to other parts of Canada and the World we are pretty safe plus we can run year around!
• I enjoy running… so training…pause…repeat isn’t so bad. There’s not a lot of other stuff going on right now anyway. I would of course prefer to be enjoying Sheron’s Tuesday training sessions with the Ceevacs crew and I do miss those planned longer Saturday group runs, especially enjoying coffee and conversation afterwards but that will happen again, and I think I’ll even appreciate it more than before.

My Abbott Majors medal will have to wait a while but I’m confident it will happen. I do look forward to the day, hopefully in March 2022, when crossing the finish line in Tokyo (my 6th World Majors Marathon after completing Boston and London) a volunteer will smile, congratulate me and put the Abbott majors medal around my neck. An accomplishment a little later than originally expected but an accomplishment worth waiting for.
That’s my 2020 Marathon story to date.
Thanks for reading.

Stay happy and safe everyone.
David Sykes – Proud member of Ceevacs

Re: Photos – They’re all from Berlin (Sept 2019) – the Berlin 6K Fun Run the day before the Marathon.
The first is a selfie with the crowd forming before the 6K race started.
In the 2nd photo, during the Fun Run, the 3 people in front of me had these cool T-Shirts that show my current Marathon Goal (“Chasing the World Marathon Majors”).
The 3rd photo is another selfie taken at the end of the Fun Run as we all entered the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

Ellen on Swimming

Ellen on Swimming

Ellen on Swimming

Fuller Lake is a pretty nice place to swim and there are a lot of people who frequent the area. It’s convenient to Crofton, Chemainus, Ladysmith and Duncan. I wondered if I could swim in open water again.

Three years ago, when I moved to Crofton, my friend Colleen, a Ceevacs runner asked me to go swimming at Fuller Lake. “Yikes, are you kidding? I can’t swim.” Haha! I couldn’t help laughing. Colleen is an excellent swimmer and very understanding and supported me to swim a quarter of Fuller Lake a few times. I was always very uncomfortable and nervous.

Swimming has been a lifelong, horrible story for me. My grandma drowned in the Ottawa Rideau Canal during the war and as children, my mom forced us to swim in cold lake water a couple of times every summer. We had a community pool in town, where I got pink eye a couple of times and was done with swimming! When we moved to the big city (Winnipeg), the Fort Garry Community club had a pool. A couple of guys decided they’d play tricks on me and practically drowned me. I didn’t swim for a long time after that.

I was not a natural candidate for swimming. As an adult, I joined the Westshore Swim club and the Tri Club and learned how to swim at the Naden pool on the Canadian Military base in Esquimalt, practiced at the Juan de Fuca pool and outdoors at Thetis Lake a few times. I liked to cycle and run but swimming has never been a favourite sport of mine. When my father asked to come to a triathlon I was in, I learned swimming was really an issue for me. When the gun went off, this swarm of bodies went flying into the water like crazed maniacs, tramping anyone in their way. As I swam, my heart was beating 100 miles a minute and swimmers were bumping and kicking me. I was put off the swim immediately so moved away from everyone and took my time swimming at the edge of the other swimmers. When I got past the last buoy and was heading home, sighting where I was supposed to land, I realized I was the last person. The very last person! How embarrassing, humiliating and sad. Every kayak, boat and official supporting the tri was around me as I bobbed up and down trying to stay above water, gasping for oxygen, knowing that everyone was watching. Swimming as close to the beach as possible, I tried to right myself in the shallow water and run out. Not! Instead, I could barely stand, tripped, almost fell over, and when I finally got my balance, I heard “Go for it, Ellen! You can do it!” I looked up and saw my friend, Donna P. We were part of the same tri club and there she was cheering me on as if I was winning. Not only that, everyone else was too. I was so inspired by everyone encouraging me. It made me feel really good. With a sudden burst of energy, I ran by everyone and saw my dad standing by the fence where my bike was stationed, cheering me on, too. I did not finish last in that triathlon. I came away knowing that swimming was a real weak area for me and that triathletes are awesome. I spoke with my dad recently and told him I was writing about swimming. He said, “I hope you are better at it now than at the triathlon I saw you in! You swam 20 minutes after everyone else finished” “It was 11 minutes and I hope I can swim better now, Dad.”

When I swam in the lake with Colleen three years ago, I was scared. But I could see that she enjoyed it and obviously others did too. Last year, I spent nine months of the year pool running recovering from a knee injury and got used to being in the water. I took beginner lessons for 6 months and this winter participated in a triathlon swim course at Ladysmith sponsored by the Ceevacs. When another friend, Sheron asked if I’d like to swim at Fuller, I thought “This is my chance to get out there and try again.” That day, I found out that I could swim 75 meters and was not too nervous or afraid. Well, not as afraid and I came out smiling! I wasn’t upset, no heart racing and not breathless. Those indoor lessons do work!

Some people are not ready for an 8am swim but Sheron and I are like the Eveready bunny; charged and ready to go. We had a mission to swim and can’t resist a bright and sunny day. Determined to have another good swim, I arrived early, walked down to test the water and determine if I needed a wetsuit. I decided not to take any chances. Wetsuits are protective gear that keep you warm and have some buoyancy.

I noticed a woman nearby watching someone swimming past the fishing dock. I greeted her asking who she was watching. It turned out her daughter missed going to swim club and was swimming along the edge of the lake. Sheron and the daughter arrived and both mother and daughter, who is a soccer player, were very interested in the Ceevacs Running Club and wanted to connect. Thank you, Brenda for getting those Ceevacs business cards. Too bad I didn’t have any on me… Neither did Sheron!

Not long after, while preparing to get our wetsuits on, Colleen and Danna, mutual friends arrived for a swim. When they swam off, Sheron and I took a bit more time to get ready. It takes effort to get into a wetsuit. We tugged, pulled, yanked, held our breath and finally got zipped up. By the way, wetsuits don’t agree with long nails. I wear socks on my hands or something to protect that suit against my nails. I also cut my nails pretty short. Glue for nail tears can be found in any diving shop and I use Glide liberally on my body which makes life so much easier to get the suit on. Socks on my feet helped too.

For the second time in four days, Sheron and I found ourselves in the water. We didn’t swim past the orange buoys and avoided the fisherman and their lines. Sheron found the distance from the water’s edge, around the buoys and back by using the Link to google gmap of Fuller Lake: It was 150 meters. My watch says 3x around the outside of buoys is 1000m. Please note that there are No Lifeguards; you are on your own. Sheron and I kept a 6 feet distance from each other and the others at the lake. The swim around the entire lake is about 1500 – 2000 meters depending on what you call swimming around the lake! Swimming across the lake, to the gazebo is, is about 700 meters. Occasionally we would scan for Colleen and Danna’s kick splash as they swam the lake. “We are going to do that someday, Sheron. Right?”

We continued swimming poking our heads up to see where Colleen and Danna were and carried on with our own effort’s ending having swum a total of one kilometer and feeling good. I got home energized, just like the Eveready bunny. It didn’t help though when my husband beat me in a game of cards later that day!

Now, here I am swimming in open water and having finished swimming one kilometer and feeling good about it. Swimming is fun and swimmers are amazing, and often crazy people. Driven for sure. Triathletes are the same. I mean how many people can swim in a lake in April, bike and run all in one day! In the future, if you are interested in triathlon, contact Rob Grant, Ceevacs Triathlon coordinator at and ask about Ceevacs Cowichan Challenge Triathlon. You will find triathletes have fun, train hard, do the best they can, and they are there to support you too. At least that’s the way it was and is for me.

For health and safety reasons, we can’t do anything as a group. When I go swimming, I do swim with a buddy about 6-10 feet or so apart. The good thing is that I’m too busy trying to swim, so I don’t talk making globules less likely to be transported to anyone. I hope my story helps to inspire you to get out to try the open water swim experience and maybe a triathlon in the future.

Smile, swim safe and keep on moving!

Spread the word amongst Ceevacs members about the Ceevacs Connect blog and if you have questions or want to contribute, let me know at connect(at) I’m here to help support you. Watch for David’s story coming soon. E

“Who is this swimmer?”

For all of those Ceevacs Gardeners out there

For all of those Ceevacs Gardeners out there

A visit to Bill and Wilma’s garden

One of the hardest days for me to get outside is on a drizzly, foggy, rainy day. I had planned on cycling but when I got up at 6 am, the rain was already coming down hard. Now, what do I do? I did some sewing on a jacket I designed for my dad of 89 years. His favourite, worn out and disintegrating jacket is at least 40 years old! I love him so much and wanted to get him a new one but there was nothing like the one he loved. Hence, the new jacket being sewn by yours truly. Unfortunately, sewing was just as hard to proceed on as was the cycling I had to abandon. I picked up a book I’d begun reading on Ikigai, and I was reminded of Bill and Wilma Adair.

My mind began to wander until I remembered my families visit to Bill and Wilma’s home. Bill Adair is the Past President of Ceevacs Roadrunners Club and absolutely loves to run. He runs several days a week but always on Wednesday evenings from the Sportsplex and on the Saturday runs he’s organized for over 10 years.
In May, Bill had graciously agreed to giving me a virtual tour of his garden. I watched on my cell as he walked about his garden sharing stories of the Mason bees nesting in their little houses. Bill introduced me to his Snowball tree which was heavy with flowers and he disclosed that, “the miniature iris’s lead into late May, when the tall Bearded Iris’s put on their show.” Well, they looked pretty nice already on his cell. I could hardly wait until end of May. This was a wonderful virtual garden tour!

In the beginning of June, Bill texted asking if my family wanted to see his garden. He had some flowers we must see. “We try to have some colour in the garden all year around, but there is no doubt that the spring is my favorite time of year” said Bill. I cannot describe the beauty of the flowers, but I’ve included some photos that Bill sent so you can enjoy them as much as we did. Bill reveals “We have well over 30 different colours of iris.”
Seeing the garden in person is truly a treat. We entered from the neighbour’s driveway and were met by Wilma as Bill showed Robert, my husband where to park. Liisa (our daughter) and I walked into another world. The immaculate lawn with the flower garden surrounding and the carefully tended flowers showed themselves in all of their brilliance. Liisa began driving her power chair about on the lawn leaving track evidence of her having been there. Bill piped up that his mom uses a wheelchair and the tracks were no problem dispelling any worry about ruining their lawn.
Bill and Wilma had invested a lot of love and energy into their garden. Tranquillity was our immediate feeling and I think Liisa felt the same. She was so happy to be in this spacious garden so full of colour and fragrance. Her asthma had been so bad on the trip over, we had decided not to get out of the car and instead look from the driveway. But Liisa perked up, breathing easier. What a surprise, when we entered this wonderland of flora and fauna. Bill and Wilma were pleased because now we became a part of their garden rather than viewing it from the lane. It was so peaceful with the birds chattering and watching us from the rooftops. Life became serene.
As we looked around, Bill gave us a sense of the timing of when the garden bloomed. The Mason bee season was now over having completed their job; “they are the main pollinators for fruit trees” that happens in May. “Next the fruit trees begin to bloom. We have 2 cherry, 2 plum, 2 apples, a pear, and a fig tree. We have 5 different varieties of Peony which are in various stages of bloom right now. Next should be the lilies but the deer decided that they like the lily flowers this year, so we won’t have the tall ones for sure.” Wilma stepped up and showed me where the deer had eaten the lilies. So sad, but at the same time, Bill and Wilma are proud to share their open garden with the birds and animals. “We also have blueberries and concord grapes which we feed to the birds and the racoons. Oh, they get most of the cherries too. Argh!!!! I’m all over the place when it comes to summer colour. This year it’s going to be Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia)” Bill states enthusiastically.

Wilma is well known for her baking and preserves. “We grow a few varieties of raspberries which supplies us with about 45 liters of jam. We also have kiwi vines which will be the next to flower and we manage to can a few liters of kiwi jam every year. The only vegetable that we grow is rhubarb, and about 60 Garlic.” Wilma and I counted and there were well over 100 garlic plants thriving in rows at the side of the garden.

As we were leaving, Bill directed us to the front of the property to view the rock garden. “Wilma said her favorite flower is the daffodil, so I planted about 1000 of them: in the attached photo you can see about 800.” This photo was taken early this spring. Fantastic, Bill. We could see why Wilma loves them so much.

What fun it was hearing Bill and Wilma’s stories and taking home some of their precious flowers, preserves made from the garden and Wilma’s famous banana bread. “My first love is Wilma, and family. My second love is Running followed by my garden.” Bill says. I wondered if Wilma’s passion is Bill and family, flowers and fruits and then preserves and baking?

Someone talked about loving the Black Iris on Facebook. Bill remembered Kim said she loved the Black Iris photo on Instagram. Danna posted her Black Iris on Facebook on May 29 “Love my black irises and big bright orange poppies!” Donna P. responded with “Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen black Iris’- they’re gorgeous!” Danna responded, “As a side bar: Nothing grows in my yard that isn’t self-sufficient…if it needs care it won’t survive…so these beauties are really special.” If anyone is interested, Bill says September is the best time to transplant irises. I say watch for Black Irises next year, late May. Breathtaking.

Earlier, I referred to the book I was reading, Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. In it the authors list the ten rules of Ikigai:

1. Stay active; don’t retire.
2. Take it slow.
3. Don’t fill your stomach.
4. Surround yourself with good friends.
5. Get in shape for your next birthday.
6. Smile.
7. Reconnect with nature.
8. Give thanks.
9. Live in the moment.
10. Follow your ikigai (pronounced E-key-guy) – “the passion inside you…which gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the very end.”

I believe that Bill and Wilma are living Ikigai and its 10 rules each day. Thank you, Bill and Wilma for thinking of us and sharing your lovely garden with us. Liisa sang all the way home expressing her happiness with the visit to Bill and Wilma’s sanctuary.
I hope you enjoy the nature in the Cowichan Valley, stay safe and smile. Ellen

Spread the word about the Ceevacs Connect blog and if you have questions or want to contribute, let me know. I’m here to help support you. Coming soon is a story on swimming.

The email address is connect(at)

Smile. Run. Be safe.

Lock-Down Relay Saturday, May 30, 2020

Lock-Down Relay Saturday, May 30, 2020

Lock-Down Relay Saturday, May 30, 2020

Wow! I just finished the Lock-Down Relay and am so glad I ran it. When I saw Sheron’s email about the relay, I wanted to be sure I could run close to home. At the same time, I got a text from my running friend, Bill who asked if I was running. “Yes! Of course!”

One of the things I most like about Ceevacs members is that, for the most part,
we like to get out there and run. Just about any excuse works. And I’m lucky. My husband
has no problem with me getting out for a run. He says, “If you are happy, I’m happy.”

The good thing about the ideas Sheron comes up with is that it required me to sign up and that’s it.
But this time, when I signed up to do the relay, I asked to be partnered with Bill. I got my route from Sheron late Friday afternoon, connected with Bill to arrange a meet and it was…..That easy.

Saturday morning, Bill met me near the Crofton ferry. We decided to walk from there to our START at Crofton and Chemainus roads. It was a great warmup because we had to pass by
the Crofton Mill which is where Bill worked for a long time. He regaled me with a few stories about the runs he organized for over 10 years, stopped to find an old rail line, but didn’t find it, and finally we met Michelle and Kim.

Running from Henri Road in Chemainus, Michelle and Kim had first met up with Angela who ran from Ladysmith to meet them. Apparently, Angela wanted to run as fast as possible while, Michelle and Kim were a little more laid back about the relay. After all, this was a Saturday fun run made exciting by a relay. Hey, Angela, you were not alone. Talk to Kristin as she had a very fast 5km run.

Many of us hadn’t seen one another for 3 months. While this was a relay, it was not a timed race. We were running for fun and distance. We danced, jumped up and down and told a few good stories and finally turned and ran to our designated routes. On our way, Bill and I saw Jake and Colleen drive by and who were on their way to their boat. We ran into Sheron, who was to meet us at Babine St. in Crofton.

Now, when Bill and I are running we tend to have a continuous conversation. We’ve run on trails, roads, through pastures, forests, mucky construction sites and basically through anything that happens to be in our way. Yes, we’ve run creeks and mountains! On this run, our conversation
began way back to the beginning of COVID and tracked our lives since then. So much has happened for both of us and I was glad to have a chance to have this “in person” contact. Great conversation, great companion, great run! Who can beat that?

The hardest part about the relay was that we had to run at least 6 feet apart making it difficult
to hear everything. So much for continuous conversation. However, there is nothing like running down York St in Crofton and up the hill towards Babine St, to see far ahead someone running around in bright orange. What a surprise to see David and that Berlin marathon t-shirt of his with Sheron who was moving around excited as she does with that cell phone camera of hers. And Bill’s first words to them were “The tire stores don’t like me very much!” He chuckled with a smile and held up a nail and a wood screw that he found on the ground.
You’ve only heard my end of the story but there were 18 of us running the relay. If you think of a bicycle wheel, with 3 spokes of about 30 kilometers each: The first two spokes (teams) were The Cobble Hill runners (Brenda, Teresa, Kristin, Lauren, Robin) and the Chemainus runners (Angela, Michelle, Kim, Ellen, Bill, Sheron, Alison, David) finished at the Sportsplex, while the third spoke, the Cowichan Lake crew (Ben, Wendy M., Louise, Danna, John) ran to Coffee on the Moon. A total of 90 kilometers. What fun!

It was over so fast! I was elated and so happy to see a few of the people I care about. It was so nice to connect. Thank you Sheron for organizing the Saturday Lock Down Relay. I look forward to running more of them. Next time, we want coffee Sheron!

Watch Facebook and Instagram (Bill) for pictures and stories. If you have questions or ideas of what you want on this blog, please let me know. The email address is connect(at)

Smile. Run. Be safe.