My Multi-sport Commute


I felt like I was in a Multi-sport race today. Actually I was just on my way to work. But there were startling similarities.

Event one was the kayak ride from the houseboat to the dock. I had a stiff breeze from the south blowing me to shore, and it was a quick and easy paddle. After tying up the boat at our dock, I entered my first transition point. This is where things started to get a little crazy. Multi-sport events require lots of gear and some logistical planning, but my commute has an added layer of complexity.  Firstly, the whole thing falls apart if I forget certain critical elements, which I often do.  If I don’t remember the keys to the bike lock or the car, or even the bike itself, I have to change my entire strategy.  If I forget something not entirely critical, like a life jacket or cycling helmet, I can still manage.  I certainly received a few strange looks at my transition point – the walk from the boat to the car. There I was, walking along the street wearing this: a bicycle helmet and a snazzy blue life jacket over my professional (trust me, I’m a doctor) attire, including sensible dress shoes and lipstick.  I was also carrying my kayak paddle, and my work bag, while wheeling my bike alongside me.  (Extra points for the lipstick!)  After stashing the paddling gear in my car, with a short detour to move my car from its illegal parking space to a nearby legal one, I was ready for event 2, the cycling stage.   By this point I was running quite late. Fortunately it’s a short and delightful bike trip from the dock to the hospital, as most of it is on a fantastic trail alongside Frame lake.  Certainly my multi-sport commute is picturesque, between the bobbing ducks and sailboats of Great Slave Lake, and the birch forest and marshy beaches along Frame Lake.

Transition Point 2, the switch from dirt bag houseboater to professional doctor is fast, and so there I was, sweaty and a bit breathless, but on time for event 3. This is the most challenging part of the multi-sport event, the 8 hour shift in the ER (in my capacity as an emergency medicine doctor).  The ER is an interesting work environment.  It is of course a completely unpredictable place, as anyone with anything can come in at any time.  That is one of the things I like about my job – I love the variety.  But it is also a great challenge – while the patients and their problems and the volume and severity of illness is variable, the staffing levels are not.  We have, barring all out disaster situations, to deal with whatever comes through the door with our usual resources.  I hate the idea that people are waiting for hours in the waiting room to see me – even if their problem is not severe, or urgent, it was important enough for them to come to the ER, knowing there would be a wait.  So I find it hard to take a break for a meal when I’m at work.  It really does feel like an endurance race some times.

About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
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9 Responses to My Multi-sport Commute

  1. What a great commute! Most people around here are trapped in a traffic jam both coming and going. Must do a lot for dispositions.
    ER work must be gratifying. My visits have usually taken place in the dark of night which covers my hasty wardrobe, although I spent last year’s birthday in an unfamiliar hospital. However they posted a large sign wishing me a Happy Birthday which helped somewhat. A fun post.

    • Tandi says:

      Well, I’m glad you were treated so well, but a hospital visit on your birthday is not recommended.

      Your comment reminds me of a colleague of mine. I called him once in the middle of the night to come in to the we and help me out. He had two different shoes on. When I pointed it out, he said “I have another pair at home just like this!”

  2. Leah says:

    Great story, Tandi! Love it! And “get it”! Leah

  3. shoreacres says:

    I think I can say with 100% certainty that, if you had time at lunch, you wouldn’t be spending it in the gym! At least you don’t have to sit in traffic for an hour and a half, as many Houston commuters do. If Dante had seen our rush hours, they would have ended up in the “Inferno.”

    When I worked at Houston’s county trauma hospital, the ER always was an experience. I really enjoyed my occasional forays into that world. It could be crazy — it was urban, after all, and served a huge population — but it never was boring.

    I’ll bet you’re a great ER doctor. Are you able to evade some of the creeping regulation and top-down craziness that doctors here are having to deal with? I hope so.

    • Tandi says:

      I have a great job. It is definitely not the same as a southern ER. The problems are very different, and the population in general is quite young. We do have less beaurocracy I think as well, however it exists here too. What did you do at the Houston hospital?

  4. Love it! Inspiring indeed! I’ve recently had a bike rack installed on the back of my new car to facilitate my own “multi-sport” trips to work (phase 1: road rally on twisting rural roads in sports sedan, phase 2: 30 minute bike ride to hospital.) And I definitely agree with the characterization of a work shift as a sport as well. I’ve started to refer my “on call” days as an extreme sport: a test of mental and physical toughness, requiring proper hydration, nutrition and sport-psychology-like mental preparation. I’ve taken to carrying water and snacks in my doctor bag and have been forced to ditch my fancy shoes for a pair of high performance sports sandals. The next step (only the click of a mouse away) is to get a fitbit to record METs attainment while on the job!

    • Tandi says:

      I agree – your work shifts are an extreme sport. And not for the faint of heart. But so sad that you have to wear practical shoes…

  5. Natalie on the rocks says:

    Great post! Glad to have stumbled across a fellow northerner’s blog! I look forward to reading more about your doctor and houseboating adventures in Yellowknife 🙂

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