Tuesday, December 27, 2011

noel blanc, or, eat your fruitcake


I'm up on Mt Washington, happily staring out into a big white blizzard and drinking tea after a mid-day cross-country ski to re-acquaint my legs with things that slide.  I'm a happy girl.

Without sounding like a debbie downer, I had a rash (no, not a real rash) of unfortunate viruses that have plagued me for most of November and December.  When I had finally recovered & refound fitness after the first quite unpleasant smack in the face, I turned the other cheek, and I was delivered a Bjorn Borg backhand that knocked me entirely off my feet.  I got the flu.  It's no joke.

Luckily, I had gone through the stage of frustration, exercise withdrawl and unrealistic notions of fitness lost through the first virus, and I was also so sick the second time around, I really didn't even care that I couldn't swim, bike or run.  I was just happy I wasn't coughing, worrying that each cough brought me closer and closer to the Crowie Cracked Rib scenario.  However, with the passing of time, antibiotics (my bugs needed drugs), inhalers (my virus gave the gift of asthma this holiday season), and quite a few holiday movies, I pulled through.  Hooray.

Although I was only home for about a week to try some things out, I managed a few swims, 1 bike, and 1 run.  I definitely noticed the distinct sharpness of losing my breath when I tried to use the majority of my lung capacity, but that will come back as things continue to heal.  Instead of being mortified, I was somewhat amused at the amount of ache my legs held after my first run (after 15 days of no running).  Doing 50 squats (something I don't usually blink an eye at) brought laughable leg burn.  Swimming was really the only thing that felt normal.  It made me wonder, will I eventually become a swimmer?  As in, how I was once a runner now triathlete, would I be a once a triathlete now a swimmer?  Scary thought, as I always thought of the varsity swimmers across the hall from our varsity soccer team, as aliens in spandex who were always way too friendly with each other.  Times have changed.  Now I look much more like an alien in spandex.  Thankfully, I'm still not very friendly.

Credit: Teresa Nightingale

In the meantime I've been transplanted up the mountain and couldn't really ask for a better distraction than the fun, sliding sports that I have access to.  Time away from the others only wants me to do them more, so that's not a negative in the least.

The other benefit of having the downtime of an illness is the mental energy you have to give to yourself to better understand the 'big picture'.  I will eventually sit down and wrap up my thoughts for the year on paper but I'm not quite ready to do that yet.  Having the end of my year coincide with the holiday season has given my year new depth and perspective, in the vein of what really constitutes a 'gift', and what is really important in life, and what we hold most dear.  These things changed for me this year, and it's been interesting to take notice this December.  But, for another post, as I can't quite wring my brain out of it's tidings and joy.

In the meantime, if you have the chance, I strongly suggest you take a break from your normal routine and enjoy some of the things that only come once a year.  Or don't, and have a mid-season burnout and breakdown on the side of the road (but that would never happen to you....right?).   Fruitcake, I suppose also fits into that category but I don't think that's a 'must-try' of the season.  XC skiing, on the other hand, is an unbelievably nice activity if you've never tried before.  So is snow-shoeing, whether you run or not while you're on them is up to you.  It's just about having fun.  Snow and surviving the cold to come into warm tea and a sugary treat is what winter's about.  Don't skip it this year, embrace it.  You'll be glad you did.

More tales on how I'm going to ski my body into fitness to come.  The benefit of bad technique is that you really must make up for it with more fitness.  This is directly related to the case of the poor swimmer, of which I certainly fit the bill 2 years ago.  Now swimming seems so easy and effortless - I can't wait for the day when xc skiing feels like that.  Until then, it's all madness and double poling like a european until my arms give out and I fall on my face, laughing all the way.

May the snow be with you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

2011: behind the scenes

People never fail to surprise me with generosity and enthusiasm - and this group of people that I have got to know over the past year are no exception to the rule.  I wanted to give people a little snapshot into the lovely people that have helped me however big or small throughout the year.  The one thing I never understood before I started triathlon was how much STUFF you have to get and how much STUFF you use up doing thousands of kilometres and 100's of thousands of meters of activity.  As a snapshot, if I take a peek into my workout log, I get a few totals for training:

Swimming: 312,800 metres
Biking: 4921 km
Running: 1784 km

Now I'm not being a nerdy competitive data geek - I'm sure you've done more mileage than me and that is super duper - my point is that you can't do that many kilometres naked or shoeless (well, the neanderthals may disagree)

These great people agreed to help me out and although you might have heard me raving about their products, it might be nice to get to know who these people really are!  Healthy businesses are happy businesses!  Alphabetically, here's the scoop.


Right from the source, Togz Australia, owner of Aquadiva Swimwear:

A little bit about us...

Togz Australia, a proud Aussie business, was founded by Allison and Ross Appleby in 1993, and since has grown into a strong company built on a strong foundation of quality products, excellent customer service and exceptional manufacturing standards. 
All Togz orders are processed, designed, manufactured and produced 'in-house' at our Gold Coast facility by our fantastic team of Australian employees. They are paid fair wages and are provided with safe, comfortable and modern working facilities. Togz Australia, like all other Australian business, provides support for our economy by providing jobs and helping to ensure a prosperous future for future generations.
The Togz Australia team have spent many years developing swim wear and sportswear garments which consistently provide excellent fit, extremely high quality, value for money and outstanding durability.

We also have an extensive range of fashion sports swimwear that can be found at


I stumbled upon these girls' shirts after I saw Chrissie Wellington holding up one of their shirts after dominating a race.  I immediately loved it and had to order one right away - one year later I was so happy to be chatting with these girls and helping them promote their line of clothing.  Here's their story:


CHICKED focuses on empowering women athletes, professionals and life-livers to get out and compete in all aspects of the Game of Life. With a spirit of female camaraderie and a bit of competitiveness, we announce our strength. We know we can do it and we are assuring the people we pass along the way are well informed!
CHICKED started in Minneapolis, by two “chicks” – Jennifer Martin and Gretchen Heim, has taken off and is proud to be empowering women with attitude-inspiring athletic wear.


Let’s be honest, you don’t need us to motivate you to finish well. We are simply giving you a billboard to wear. So while you’re concentrating on the road, the trail, the game or the finish line…those behind you are well informed.

CHICKED gives a portion of their proceeds to the Women’s Funding Network to empower others to “chick” in all ways and walks of life.

Such a great story and Reflect Sports just seems to get more and more popular - I couldn't be happier for these great women and their Reflect Sports team!

"We are committed to providing custom quality products for women with active lifestyles," stated Jena Schuster and Laurie Mellott, owners of Reflect Sports. The two women balance a life of family, work and fitness.
Jena and Laurie met swimming laps at the Ladera Ranch Community pool and instantly developed a friendship when they discovered they were both working moms who have a passion for maintaining an active lifestyle. They planned workouts together and continue to be a great support system for one another. Countless hours at the pool, in the gym,cycling, and running led them to promising ideas about products specifically tailored for women. There was no doubt in their mind where they would begin...a salon quality hair care line for swimmers and an anti-chaffing exercise cream were both immediate personal needs of theirs....

Jena said, "True salon quality hair care for swimmers and playtime in the sun is what I needed and that's what we created."

Our flagship product is an anti-chaffing skin cream. "All the creams on the shelf are designed for men or are generic in their use; women have different parts and I wanted something that is specifically for me and my girlie parts. We actually had to use our husbands' nut cream for a long ride because we couldn't find one made for a woman," stated Laurie.

"We knew it was a risk to start a new business in the middle of a recession, but we were both so passionate about the reason and immediate need for our product line that we whole heartedly agreed it was worth it," stated Jena and Laurie.

You may have noticed a very female theme for my 2011 sponsors & supporters!  I think that is so cool, although I never sought it out to be that way.  These women were all open and ready to listen to the athlete, not just the results or promised potential (for me or for their business).  For a new athlete in the sport with no results, that was really heart-warming!  And lo and behold, I got a few good results throughout the year.  Far beyond any product these great groups of people could ever give me, they've been wonderfully supportive, enthusiastic, and so great to have 'in my corner'.

I'm willing to be next year will hold new and exciting adventures for me - although I don't know what they are yet....they may just include a non-female sponsor!  Just to keep the tables balanced.

Stay tuned and happy training - if you have followed along on my bid to do core strength each day it rains, you can officially thank me, as the continual December sunlight shines on.  I have now accepted that core gets done, rain or shine :)