So my name is Leah I live just outside Vancouver British Columbia (Canada) and I am one of the minority who was born in Vancouver and lived here basically my whole life. I'm a small animal Veterinarian and I own one clinic and am in the process of opening a second clinic. When I'm not playing Veterinarian I get my mental & physical therapy by riding bikes. All kinds of bikes - just as long as they're human powered. I started mountain biking relatively late in life, I took my first women's only "Learn to MTB course" 16 years ago. I don't think I ever considered my self a "daredevil" or "crazy adventure person" but I am also one to not back down from a challenge. I think that happened growing up in a small family with one sister and my Dad never treated us much different because we were girls - we were expected to do "blue" jobs like cutting the lawn and loading firewood and hauling heavy back packs up the 101 stairs to our summer cabin.
How did you start in Adventure Sports?
I took that first course because I wanted to learn how to hop up on a curb. I was commuting to work by bike and I had a really nasty crash and right after that I saw the course advertised and one of the lines was "learn to get up over curbs and logs" and I thought that was EXACTLY what I needed. It really snowballed from there!! I rediscovered a love for biking and met lots of great people, several who are still really great friends. I entered a local race - the Test of Metal in Squamish - then after that I got a road bike to train better. The guy at the bike shop made an off-hand comment along the lines of "you could do a triathlon on this bike if you wanted" and that planted a tiny seed in my brain. That fall I started running with a local shop and did my first 5k race that spring. The biking & running were progressing in parallel - taking more advanced MTB courses & doing more challenging trails and also doing longer run events. You know how it goes - saying I'm happy just running 5k and then you've signed up for a 10 then the next thing you know you're doing a half marathon but you'll never do a full because that is just STUPID and then before you know it you're doing 3hr long runs on Sundays.
What inspires you?
I think I was just inspired by the challenge in general. I don't consider myself to have a typical bike or runners body but I am really strong and I like to surprise people. I keep finding new things to try because I have a bit of a "been there done that" attitude so I tend to slack off on the training the second time around for a major event. Let me tell you that doing an Ironman when your longest bike ride is only 3 hours, that's not a fun day.
Did you get any help along the way?
When I was training first for triathlon I was lucky enough to find a website called BeginnerTriathlete.com. I connected with a couple of local beginners and we joke about how we met online. Mostly I would do open water swims with them at a lake close by my house. So anyway I trained hard & did Ironman Canada in 2008. I was also trying to keep up with the mountain biking but that was hard because of the fear of injury. After a couple years of triathlon training my shoulders were very unhappy with the swim volume & found I was much happier on the bike anyway so now I just ride & do trail runs. Finding the time to train for an Ironman distance was a big challenge, and I don't know how people with kids and a full time job do it.
So what's the craziest thing you've ever done?
Trying to decide what the "craziest" thing I have ever done .... "crazy" is relative I guess. Some people would consider Ironman crazy. I did the Goofy Challenge in Disney World - half marathon on Saturday & full marathon on Sunday - lots of people said that was crazy. Riding over 200k in 7 days travelling around the province in the BCBR could be considered crazy. Jumping off the boat doing the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, even I'll admit was pretty crazy. That's the only time I've been genuinely scared though - not jumping off but the swim from Alcatraz to the mainland. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get eaten by a shark or drown, but I wasn't all that sure I was actually going to be able to hit land before going under the Golden Gate Bridge.
I'm not big into the idea of bungee jumping or jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, those kind of adrenaline junkies are truly nuts. I'm not really sure what my next "big" thing will be - maybe a 24 Hr mtb race solo, if I can find a pit crew willing to help out.
Not sure anyone would really want to be like me, but what keeps me being able to do what I do is I try to surround myself with the right people. At home, my man understands my need to go do physical things and doesn't whine (too much). And we don't have kids which is a HUGE help. At the clinic I have a fantastic team of doctors & support staff who I have to trust to keep things running when I'm not there. I have strong friends I run & ride with & we push each other to be better, braver, faster. But mostly I think you have to find what you love. Nobody is paying us to do these events - and typically we pay big bucks to do them - so if you're not having fun, then you need to find something else. Having a career/job you really love definitely helps too, not that it's not stressful but usually I don't feel dread going in to work.
Why did you join adventurefreak.com?
I signed up because I was interested in how other people have managed to find or get closer to what they consider "work life balance" - which I guess is different for everybody