Saturday, September 10, 2011

How I Went From "You Can't Run" to "Northwest Alberta Zone Champion"

Ever been told that you can't do something? If yes, then read this...

I recall a time when I was in Grade 5, in Russia, and my physical education teacher had the class run about 3km every day. That was brutal back then. When I was really young, I was one of those kids who hated running and everything to do with it. So in gym class, I would be the kid who would be lagging behind the majority of the class hating every minute of it.

My teacher would always say to me "Yana, you can't run or play sports, so I am glad that you are good at math and science, because we need people like you out there too. I hope you never have to be involved in a situation where you have to demonstrate athletic prowess, since you really have none."

Of course, she is the one who would use derogatory terms to try to get us kids to comply and there were no rules against it, so I didn't take much of what she said seriously although I admit that it was hurtful, especially for a young kid.

Luckily for me, I moved to Canada right about at the end of Grade 5. Oh, and surprisingly enough, when I came to a Canadian school...guess what day it was? You got it..."Track & Field Day". The first thing that I had to do the first day that I got to a Canadian school was run 400m, then the 800m. All of a sudden, running seemed easy compared to what we had to endure back in Russia because I didn't have a nasty teacher to ruin the experience.

Fast forward to Grade 7. I still remember my very first track & field race like it was yesterday. It was the 1500m. I figured that if I run, then I should run long because I am certainly not fast.

But, I was S.O.L. that day too. Since it was a city championship, I was competing against other schools, who would be sending their best runners to the track meet. Of course, at my school, no one wanted to do the 1500m so that was how I ended up there in the first place.

I was willing to take a chance at the possibility of embarrassing myself in front of other track athletes, people's parents, and the athletic coaches who would all be watching the events. Guess what happened next? Yup, you got it...I embarrassed myself. I ran the 1500m in 8:30, probably the record slowest at a city track meet. All the other people seemed to have finished it in about 6:30, so I was about a lap and a half behind the rest of the competitors.

One of the coaches even said to me "You didn't quit when you fell so far behind. That shows a lot of courage to be able to lose with such grace." All I said was "Thanks. I will see you at provincials when I'm in high school." I knew that when I said this, I had no idea what provincials were other than that its a high school championship where the best runners from each Zone (not city) compete. I don't think I even believed it myself, to be honest with you.

I thought to myself, "This is the last time that I will lose this badly in front of this many people".

Between the end of grade 7 and the start of grade 8, I was very focused on trying to at least improve my time by one minute, so that the following year, I wouldn't lose as bad. Many people, after losing this badly, would get very discouraged with themselves, whereas I took that as a learning experience and found out what it is that I didn't want out of my "school athletic career".

I ran almost every day in order to build a base, which would make me physically fit enough to be able to withstand more advanced training sessions with coaches. Having your "base" is very important as a runner, because it is the foundation for building up your stamina and speed. I think that it's best to start with building your stamina, and worry about the speed later if you are a distance runner.

In grade 8, I took part in as many races as I could. Although I didn't have stellar results that I wanted to brag about, I got addicted to running (didn't think that would happen) and I also got hooked on the possibility that one day I would/might win a race. What I also noticed, which really motivated me to keep going, was a relatively large improvement in my times for all races. At that point, the longest race I've done was a 5km cross country race.

I also took part in the Terry Fox Run, because I was very adamant about running for a good cause as opposed to trying to win. I did other charity runs as well. Such runs also helped me build my base and gain experience as a runner.

I continued to train alone, and I ran about 5 days per week. I would do a combination of sprints on the track, long slow runs on the trails, as well as middle distance runs. I timed myself very frequently when I ran and felt an inner victory each time that I saw an improvement. I knew that before I could win while racing against others, I had to learn to race against myself (and win).

Racing against yourself, and beating your own times when you are the only person on the track is far more difficult then having the privilege of other people pacing you and pushing you to keep up. In addition, I would be the one keeping track of how many laps I have left to go, as well as what my pace was per lap.

Sometimes when I raced against myself, I would visualize being in a race and picturing what I would do if I had other people running against me. There's only so much you can do when you are by yourself.

Grade 9 marks the year of my first victory in a cross country race; it was 2km. It took me an embarrassing moment, 2 years of hard training, an attitude adjustment, and a belief that I could win if I pushed myself just a little bit harder to come out with a victory. I believe that it was a turning point for me as well, because I saw the results of my hard work. Also, when you win one, you start believing you can win the next one, and the one after that.

In grade 9, I also made it to the Northwestern Alberta Zone Championship (that's where you go after you win the city championship) in the 400M Dash. It's not my favorite race to run, and I finished 5th, but just to be there was a great experience that I wanted to relive again.

I continued to train, and in the beginning of my grade 10 year, I was introduced to a great coach, Bill Corcoran of The Wapiti Striders. When it comes to running, that man is a genius! If you are in Grande Prairie, and you want to learn how to run, he is the person for you to know. Several of the athletes he has trained in the past have gone on to win major championships, and so much more. He has over 30 years of experience as both a runner and a coach. He has completed 23 marathons, and has had some impressive personal bests. Check out his profile HERE.

When Bill took over my training routine, I never looked back. Also, when I wasn't training with Bill, I would be out running by myself or on the treadmill.

I went on to win the North Western Alberta Zone Championship in Grade 10 in both the 1500m and the 3000m. I broke 6 minutes in the 1500m, whereas my first time running it in grade 7 was over 8 min. I went to the Alberta Provincial Championship because I won the Zone Championship, just like I said to one of the coaches back in grade 7 that I would. I guess I really do stay true to my word.

Provincials is where the winners and 2nd place zone finishers battle it out for the ultimate victory in high school athletics. And I was in the "girl who was told she couldn't run, who was 'athletically under-developed' (whatever that meant), and who was the epitome of the ultimate loser at the city championship in grade 7".

Best of all, I maintained my winning streak throughout Grade 11 winning both the Northwest AB Zone Cross Country Championship (4k), as well as the 1500m and 3000m in track and field. I went to provincials for the 1500m and 3000m once more and finished around the middle of the pack, which I thought was pretty good.

When I was in Grade 11, I was training with Bill and the rest of the GPRC cross country running team. It felt amazing to be able to run with and even keep up with some of the college runners.

I also went on to run the Emperor's Challenge Half Marathon (up a mountain), and I placed 4th in the women's category. I was happy just to finish, but being 4th out of 160 or so competitors was something that I am to this day proud of.

The moral of my running story, and why I wanted to share it is because I want those of you who are reading this to never give up on whatever you're pursuing. Making it to provincials was not my ultimate dream at the time that I started, but I guess I wanted it bad enough to keep training even when the going got tough. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and I did.

I believe that once you stop letting people tell you that you "can't" do something, you "will" do it. Don't take other people's "You Can't" as an excuse for you to sit back and not try. Try it for yourself, because after all, you owe it to yourself to personally find out what you can do in your life.

I wish you all the best in all your endeavors, athletic or otherwise.

Monday, May 30, 2011

To Drive or Not to Drive?

Many students in university LOVE the idea of having their own vehicles to drive. A vehicle offers convenience and the ability to get around without public transit.

However, when you own a vehicle, there are many things that you have to consider:
~The number of people who will be your "friends" so they can get a ride from you for free.

Having a vehicle could cost thousands of dollars per year. You have to ask yourself "Is the convenience and comfort of having my own vehicle worth the price?" If you say "Yes", then more power to you.

Realistically though, no one died by not having a vehicle. Sure, you have to wait around at bus stops and walk a few extra blocks once in a while, but that is not the end of the world (not to mention that you get a little bit of exercise when you can't afford a gym membership). There is also the option of borrowing your roommate's/friend's vehicle if you really need to (just pay for gas though).

When you are in university, it's important to focus on your studies, and not worry about having to work more hours than you can handle just so you can pay for all the expenses that come with a vehicle.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to Find the Right Scholarship for You

Scholarships are amazing because they usually allow a student to write an essay, get some references, and fill out an application form in order to receive money towards their tuition and other university/college expenses.

I would not call scholarships "free and easy money" though, because you, as a student, have worked very hard to be able to qualify for them. It takes effort to apply to scholarships, and well-written and well-thought out applications are usually the ones that get the best results.

Here are a few ways how you can find the right scholarships to apply to. Every high school/college achiever does not qualify for every scholarship out there, so it is best to pick the ones that you have a higher chance of winning.

1. Look at the activities that you have done in high school and college. If you were on the school council, ran the recycling program, played sports, volunteered, did other forms of community service and extra-curricular activities, you may be eligible to apply for scholarships for your participation in such activities.

2. Look at the involvements/background of your family. If your family was in the Rotary Club, or belongs to any special work/volunteer/community organization, there are scholarships associated with that. Ask your family if they were in any community clubs.

3. Talk to people whose job it is to provide you with information about scholarships. For example, your financial aid office at your college/university, your high school counselor, and other student advisers. It is their job to help you succeed, so don't be afraid to walk into their office and ask questions. They like that :)

3.Do some online research. For example google "[Your Desired University Name] + Scholarships" or "Scholarships for [insert activity/club/school/university/college here]. After you find a website that gives you information on scholarships and awards, google "website name + reviews" or "website name+scam" to see if anyone has reported that website to be a scam or information mill. You should not have to pay to join a scholarship site, because after all, the mere access to information regarding scholarships should not cost you money.

A lot of the information was from a website called, as well as from personal experience.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Featuring Aardvark Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning in Victoria BC

Aardvark has been in business since 1992 and continues to grow every year.Feel free to call and inquire about your own specific needs and pricing at 250-216-1232

Using the Ninja, the worlds most popular carpet cleaning machine, Aardvark follows the guidelines set in "The Standard for Carpet Cleaning",which ensures that your carpets are left in the cleanest condition possible and residue free.

Many companies do not follow these guidelines and attempt to use a plain water rinse only. Water alone cannot rinse your carpets and leaves them in a state of high PH and also leaves in the cleaning agents used, creating the condition where your carpets actually attract residue.

ALWAYS ask your carpet cleaner if they use a instead water, not to do so is considered unprofessional by the industry and is also HARMFUL to the life of your carpets.

A proper rinse neutralizes the cleaning solutions in the fabric, balances the PH (crucial) and conditions the fibers. To not do this is extremely irresponsible and unprofessional and this "style" of cleaning should always be avoided as it can literally ruin your carpet in a very short period of time.

We only use pro grade solutions to treat your carpets and ensuring that they are left with a "soft hand" ,PH balanced and residue free.

All jobs are individually priced because most residences have different needs.
Pet stains and odors
Fabric protection available upon request
NO up selling as we have respect for our customers

You can check out Aardvark's Facebook page and keep up with discounts, deals, and more!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Types of Business Organizations

In introductory accounting, we learned about the 3 main types of business organization: proprietorship, partnership, and corporation.

Each of these organizations has it's own benefits and drawbacks, and before deciding how you are going to organize your business, it is helpful to review what those are.

I'll make a very quick summary of each of the business organizations...

1. Sole Proprietorship.
This is perhaps the easiest way to start a business, and usually does not require a lot of cash up front. You are the sole owner of the business and you are liable for everything that happens with the business, including debt, losses, and profits.
Many of the local mom & pop shops, such as small clothing stores, hair salons, and spas are sole proprietorships.

2. Partnerships.
A partnership is a business with more than one owner. However, all partners are responsible for everything that happens with the business (which is different from a corporation). This means that partners are not separate economic entities, and that they may have to make personal financial sacrifices to repay the debts.

The biggest advantage of a partnership is that 2 (or more) heads are better than one, so if one person is good at one thing and another person is good at the other, then the business will be much stronger than having just one sole proprietor do all the work.

3. Corporation.
In a corporation, the owners (people who invested the money) become shareholders. They are not liable for anything that happens to the business because the shareholders' personal assets are separate from that of the corporation.

Hope this was helpful,

"Start Something with Alesse" Final Results

A couple of months ago, I took part in a very interesting competition called Start Something with Alesse.

The objective of the competition was to submit an idea that you would like to start (busines, personal project, or charity)in the near future. Then, the judges choose 6 finalists and the 2 winners are determined by online voting.

I didn't think that my idea of "YOUNight for Compassion and Fashion" would ever be chosen as a finalist because there were hundreds of entries, the chances of my entry getting considered were slim, just by the nature of probability.

The results:
I was not an official winner, and therefore first and foremost, I would like to congratulate the 2 winners, Sheyla Abdic and Sedina Fiati. Congratulations, ladies!! :)

Second, I am very happy to have taken part in the competition because I had the chance to look at some of the other great ideas that were chosen as finalists, and I think that all the finalists did a great job.

Third, although I did not win, I got a chance to talk to some great people from the local community and got to meet people that I would not have had the chance of connecting with if it wasn't for the competition.

Fourth, I believe that the fact that I did not win this does not mean that I cannot pursue the idea. The idea is for a great cause, and therefore, with a good team and a little bit of pounding the pavement, it can still become a reality.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Yana Hempler: Finalist In National "Start Something With Alesse" Competition

Hi everyone!

I'm very happy that you are here. :)

The campaign is called "Start Something With Alesse" where young women present an idea of a business/social enterprize/project/etc and have a chance to win $5000 to put towards the project, as well as mentorship from powerful business people.

I am honoured to have been chosen as one of 6 finalists from hundreds of entries to take part in this contest. My project is called YOUNight for Compassion and Fashion, and it is designed to help the homeless people in Victoria. If I win, I would like to donate some of the prize money to a non-profit organization to continue/extend their operations, as well as produce the fashion show as a fundraiser.

I am the ONLY finalist from Western Canada, which makes it even more exciting for me.

Image: Screenshot of website

Homelessness is a big issue, and many of the people who are homeless had to face terrible circumstances beyond their control.

I want to help them because I do not believe that other human beings should suffer.

Please go to the website and vote for me if you believe that helping someone live their passion while making a difference in their community is the right thing to do. Voting is open until March 4th, 2011. Voting is easy when you sign up with your Facebook account.

Thank you in advance for your support,

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed here are my own and not those of sponsor of the "Start Something With Alesse" contest.