Friday, November 29, 2013

Warding off the grinch

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

Cue the season when the effects of no training schedule + too much food + social events non-stop + societal expectations all get wrapped up into a giant ball of stress.  It happens every year, despite best my goal this year is to ward off that grinch. Simple.

In the spirit of no-humbug, not taking myself too seriously and focusing on the things that really matter (like happiness, family and chocolate), I've created my own advent calendar to ward of the grinch. Let the countdown begin!

1. Make bike riding a social event. #offseason #noneedforspeed

2. Put up a real Christmas tree in my living room. Don't get upset when Bogey mistakes it for an outside tree.

3.  Wear an ugly sweater, to work. 

4.  Reduce consumption of $5 soy lattes for the month, and donate the amount saved to charity.

5.  Avoid overcrowded stores, shop early and give gifts from the heart. 

6.  Go for a Christmas jog with a client instead of Christmas nog.

7. Smile at strangers…on the street, in Whole Foods and at work. Smiling is contagious! 

8. Embrace the season, and the rain! Forget about tempo and pace, hit the trails for a slow run and mucky fun with friends.  #losetheGPS #runnaked 

9. Take Bogey to the beach, even if he does need a bath after.  

10. Spoil my niece and nephew. #thelouderthetoythebetter 

11. Write some Christmas cards instead of e-mails. Or, even better, just call! #refusetosendecards

12. Make popcorn and watch Love Actually for the eightieth time. 

13. Support a local, organic restaurant and spread the word about how good it is! 

14. Eat brunch and watch football with my favorite NFL fan. #lazysunday 

15. Renew my yoga pass. 

16. Tell someone how much I appreciate them. 

17. Skip swimming…and catch up on sleep! A rested heart is a happy heart.

18. Contribute to a family Christmas hamper. 

19. Wear red, and lots of it.  Refuse to wear sequins.

20.  Raise $2,500 for the Ride to Conquer Cancer before December 25th!

21. Tip generously. 

22. Attend the holiday functions that I always find an excuse to skip. 

23. Dream big dreams for 2014! 

24. Drink wine on Christmas eve. 

25. Avoid shopping chaos and spend the holidays with family. No boxing day sale can ever replace quality time with loved ones.

Try it!  You may just find your heart grow three sizes!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Norseman, baby!

It is absolutely possible to feel really, really excited...and really, really terrified at the same time.  And, so you know in advance, my current state means that the remainder of this blog post contains more superlatives than most would deem necessary.  Trust me, the words epic, formidable and legendary are entirely appropriate here! 

Planning for the 2014 race season took an incredible turn yesterday, when I received the news that I had been selected as one of five female elite athletes to participate in the Norseman in August 2014, and the sole Canadian elite athlete (men or women).  A journey to the Land of the Midnight Sun is in the cards!

The legendary Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is an exclusive, spectacular, no-frills beast of a triathlon.  Same distance as an Ironman, but ideologically miles apart.  Athletes are required to furnish their own support teams, and you are racing for one simple prize:  the iconic black finisher t-shirt.

Photos of past years are haunting and intimidating, but unquestionably breathtaking and intriguing.

The race starts at 5am, by jumping off a ferry for a 3.8k swim in the dazzling (and quite possibly, cold) Hardangerfjord.
Photo from
Photo from
This is followed by a 180k ride through the formidable and stunning Hardangervidda mountain plateau.  What race could possibly be complete without five mountain passes of up to 10% grade and an aggregate elevation of almost 5000m?
Photo from
And the icing on the cake is the 42k run (hike..scramble...walk?) that includes a 1400m climb over the last 17k to the finish line atop Mt. Gaustatoppen.  Oh, and if weather conditions turn, you get to walk back down :)
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By the time the enrollment window for 2014 had closed in late October, 1954 athletes from 54 countries had entered for the chance to participate (there are 250 lottery entries + 20 elite slots) .  Despite its physical demands and its remote location, Norseman is an elusive and sought-after triathlon experience.
The AG lottery stats from Norseman's facebook page.  It is one tough ticket!
Reaction from friends and family has been interesting.  There are those who totally get the allure...and the exact opposite.  The best response, from my father, literally made me laugh out loud:

"Uh did you read the info ? Is this something a father wants to know ? Were you unable to get on an Everest climb expedition?  Luv, Dad"

The following tip from a Norseman finisher, contained in the acceptance e-mail, fully epitomizes the ideological attraction of this race and helps explain why an entry is so desirable.  Simply - it's the mindset of the athletes, and of the race organizers, to celebrate the journey, to embrace the surroundings and to test the limits of the human experience.  It is accepted fully as an arduous journey over stunning but unforgiving terrain, to a finish line you are required to reach as a team.  There is no PB and no fast times, but you can absolutely forget the word "impossible" doesn't reside amidst the Norsemen.

Celebrate the sport, 
Love your support,
Enjoy your surroundings,
and have a great race.

Jumping off ferries.  Cold is the new hot.  Channel the inner Canadian polar bear.  So many possible themes abound.  Most of all, I am incredibly honored to be chosen for this epic adventure...and absolutely bursting with excitement!!

2013 race log

  • First Half half-marathon - 02.10.2013
    Sunshine Coast April Fool's Half - 04.07.2013
    Vancouver Sun Run 10k - 04.21.2013
    ITU Long Course age-group world championship "triathlon turned into a duathlon" - Belfort, France - 06.01.2013
    Ride to Conquer Cancer - 06.15-16.2013
    Axel Merkcx Gran Fondo 160k - 07.08.2013
    Subaru Vancouver half-iron - 07.14.2013
    Sea Wheeze half-marathon - 08.10.2013
    Glotman Simpson Cypress Challenge - 08.17.2013
    Ironman Canada - 08.25.2012
    Vancouver triathlon (Olympic) - 09.02.2013
    Ironman World Championship - 10.12.2013

Friday, November 1, 2013


Chasing new adventures and challenging one's fears becomes a rather addictive pastime.

One race on my "must do" triathlon list is Escape from Alcatraz.  I've just never had enough fortitude to actually take the plunge.  Don't be a chicken, Richele!

How apropos that shortly after midnight on the scariest of eves (Halloween), I should receive the e-mail that starts to bring together my plans for 2014.  My *lucky* pick from the lottery means I will be escaping the Rock on June 1!

Ironically, the first Escape from Alcatraz was proposed by a guy named Joe Oakes after he participated in the 1979 Hawaiian Ironman, and was held two years later.  Guess he liked being challenged too!  The race that exists today is a "tamer" version of this original race (it does not include running the Dipsea, yet another to-do on my list)...albeit the current version does involve hurling oneself off a ferry into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay followed by a hilly ride through the Presidio.  Sounds fun, right?

Not so sure I will be diving in quite so gracefully.  Cannonball!!
Scary?  Of course.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  :)