Endings and beginnings

December 31st already?

Tomorrow is the day of renewal. Time to get motivated and get all those things done that we have fallen short on in 2014. It sure is a good thing we have these built-in turning points in our timekeeping system, because it’s awfully easy to plug right along, not paying any attention to the days and weeks flying by.

As such, to motivate myself and others, today’s post was going to be a recap of what I did in 2014 and a preview of what I plan to do in 2015. However, these things can seem somewhat trivial in light of the things that matter most.

I would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to an athlete and community member who I think had a bigger influence on my life than I knew at the time. When I was in high school, and for a few years thereafter, Deborah Swagerty Rarrick was the city of Colville’s recreation coordinator. She was a triathlete, runner, cancer survivor, all around inspirational person, and, as it happened, the race director of the first triathlon I ever competed in.

While others’ memories of Deborah are more varied, my interactions with her were largely limited to athletic events, where she delicately balanced the role of stressed-out organizer with the happiness and satisfaction she clearly got from being able to share her passions with the community. Since my high school days, she always had a strong presence in Colville, especially when it came to helping people get out and be active. She had the opportunity to increase that influence when she was elected mayor in 2011.

Deborah passed away last week after numerous ups and downs in her battle with cancer, but I hope that the people of Colville, and everywhere else for that matter, live out her example of caring so deeply about the well-being of their communities. These are the things that are important, and the reasons we should try to be the best we can be in 2015, and every year thereafter.

You can visit Deborah’s online memorial to learn more about her story and be inspired by her as so many others have.

‘Tis the season for family fun

‘Tis the season for family fun

The big block of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (collectively known as “The Holidays”) is a wonderful time for visiting family.

This past week, Kailee and I (along with my mom) had the chance to make a short foray into the warmer climate of Bakersfield, California, where we visited with my sister, her husband, and my three darling nieces.

So, of course, this is what we did:

I mean, what else do you expect?

Above we have the twins, Zoey and Abigail, who are two and a half years old. Little Amelie (14 months) was a bit more content with the scooter for now, but her bike is ready when she is:

Keepin' up with the sisters!
Keepin’ up with the sisters!

After a wonderful visit, which included a trip to “Christmas Town”, the most over-the-top display of Christmas cheer I have ever seen, we headed back home to find all the snow had melted. So much for skiing, let’s go ride bikes, right?



My next day off is Sunday, so I’m hoping that either the rain holds off, or it gets colder and turns to snow. I will plan my activities accordingly.

As of next week, Monday and Wednesday night trainer rides will be happening. Monday, 7:15pm at The Runners Edge, and Wednesday, 6:15pm at Missoula Bicycle Works. Come join in! If you don’t have a trainer, just bring your bike, we have a few nice loaners, courtesy of Cascade Fitness. I’m looking forward to rebuilding the bike fitness before next spring. Zoey and Abigail are clearly training hard, and I don’t want them to pass me up just yet!


Winter training. It’s hard. It’s also awesome.

Winter training. It’s hard. It’s also awesome.

November has come and gone, and now it’s that season where I pile on the following layers before stepping outside, or opening the door to let the dog out:

  • Baselayer
  • Shirt
  • Hoodie
  • Light jacket
  • Heavier jacket
  • Wind shell
  • Maybe a couple more random ones for good measure, just to be sure

These days, I don’t leave the house unless I’m ready for anything and everything!

So here’s the question this time of year: does trying to stay upright on my bike while riding across town count as training?

It’s tough to get out and do any real training this time of year, which is fine, because I don’t have any races for about 4 months, but getting out in inclement weather can be its own reward too. Some of my favorite things about triathlon training in the winter:

Bundling up for cold outdoor rides instead of riding the trainer, simply because it makes hot apple cider taste better than ever afterwards.

The thick layer of ice formed on the inside of the doors by the pool deck, and watching the cold blue-yellow sunrise while swimming laps.

The sheer happiness on my dog’s face when I get the leash out for an early morning run when the wind chill is 20 degrees below zero.

Post-holing through knee-deep snow on the way up Colville Mountain back in my high school days, only to bomb back down as fast as possible with reckless abandon. It doesn’t hurt much when you fall in 3 feet of fresh powder.

Trainer nights, getting to do a hard ride together with teammates of every ability level, and no one getting dropped or having to wait.

When I was in high school, one of my cross country teammates took a photo for his photography class. It was a detailed close-up of the imprint of a running shoe in the snow, the angle of the tread and disturbance of the snow suggesting forward motion. It was titled “Runner’s Sole”, a play on words that, like many others, is both overused and poignant, depending on who you talk to.

So much of who we are as athletes is defined when it is most difficult to keep doing the things we do. I wouldn’t have it any other way.