what am I thinking?!??!

my preparations and thoughts as I prepare to compete at Primal Quest '06

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

on hiatus

This blog was started to talk about the journey to Primal Quest. Since that is done, it seems like the blog is done too. At least for now. I'll probably post race reports over the next few months, but I won't blog on a regular basis. The next big thing will probably inspire it again. For now, Graeme and I are about to go on our summer holidays, and I'm really looking forward to spending two weeks with him.

Until later. Bye.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

more race outline/report

Last we left our fearless racers, they were about to embark on Leg 10, the mountain bike. But before then, remember that horrible walk from TA7 to 8 I described? Here is a picture that well captures it:

Can you feel how hot it was?

Leg 10: mountain bike - 60-something miles. We started out on this leg in mid-afternoon after I got my eyes irrigated and numbed. I had no glasses or contacts at this point, so my plan was to just ride behind Pete for the whole leg, even knowing that there would be technical sections. I've ridden with Pete enough to trust his riding. In fact, he's the only person I would trust enough to follow like that. The leg was long. We were fortunate enough to be out on Golden Spike/Porcupine Rim in the dak when it was less hot, but that also made following the trail much more difficult. The leg had a super fun rappell/bike zip at the beginning.

And there was lots of sand. Part way through the leg, we had to pass through Moab. As most teams did, we stopped at Denny's to eat. This was also a continuation of our drama day. Lots of drama on day 5 - that seemed to be true for other teams as well. I guess sleep deprivation starts to get bad at that point. We did have a nap after eating and setting off for Pritchard canyon and the second half of the ride. Long, sandy, hot. Typical, actually.

Leg 11: mountaineering - 40-something miles. We were so excited to get to TA9. Jonathan and Sheryl were there, and it meant some time away from the heat. Kip was also there for an unexpected visit. The leg took us 41 hours, but included two naps totally 7 hours (more than half our total sleep for the race). Serious shale, lots and lots of climbing up peaks. More cursing Don Mann. Gorgeous aspen groves.

Leg 12: bike - ??? miles? Fun descent down road from TA10 (after a good transition). Long ass climb back up to next valley where we got views of where we were eventually going to end up. This was a good leg for us.

Leg 13: trek/ropes - miles?? (i can look up the mileage on the PQ site, and I'll fill these blanks in later) We got wrong information on how long this leg was going to be. Unfortunately, we had it in our heads that it was a short leg and we would be done. I was super cranky on this leg as it stretched on and on and on. We had a quick (20 minute) nap on the endless approach to the ropes. We all woke up once we got to the rock. The rope section was amazing. Truely amazing.

After the climbing, rappelling and zipping, we had to follow the ridge on a 'trail' down to the valley floor and then had a very hot walk to the river where we got in the inflatables for the paddle to the finish.

9 days, 13 hours of sleep, not nearly enough food or water, great teammates. Yep, I'd do it again. But maybe not in Utah in the summer.

Monday, July 17, 2006

a race outline

I'm finding that I'm getting foggy about parts of the race. OK, I admit that I was getting foggy before the race was even over. By day 5 or 6, I would think of things that happened in the first two days and wonder if it was the same race or a different one. Trust me, sleep deprivation does crazy things to your brain.

So, for my benefit as much as anyone's, a few brief notes on the various legs.

Leg 1 - horse trek, 23 miles or something close to that. Our horse was named Kimmy and she was pretty lazy. And she broke Pete's rib, so that's not very nice. But she was pretty sweet, and after hearing about some other team's horses, it seems we did pretty well in the horse lottery.

Leg 2 - trek, another 20-something miles. Hot Hot Hot. It can be summed up by one word: SHITTY. Heat exhaustion, extra water stop, long way around, navigator getting turned around momentarily, TA that would never come (ok, that was true of most legs), feet that felt like we'd been racing for three days already, not just one.

Leg 3 - bike, 60-something miles. Fun first section on the road with deep sand. Less than stellar scenery and then long pavement section after water stop to get to Green River. Lunch at Blimpie's.

Leg 4 - white water swim, 8 miles. Nice because it was short. With transitions, about three hours. And cool water. And not terribly strenuous.

Leg 5 - paddle, 40-something miles. Nasty mosquito infested portage. Mostly in the dark. Watch out for gravel bars! Pretty uneventful overall.

Leg 6 - canyoneering - ?? miles, whatever it was, it seemed endless. First time to see the food box since the race start. We had to swim across the river from the TA to the start of the trek. We had a hard time finding the road on the map so lost a bit of time finding the first CP of the section, but after that we just moved along steadily. The path after the first TA was over a huge mound of slickrock that was just amazing - the first really stunning part of the course. Also the first ropes section - a rappell down to the river and an ascent out of the first canyon. The trek from the top of the ascent to the water station was unbearably hot. This is where my hallucinations really started, as I imagined the water stop 4 times before we actually reached it. The canyon we hiked out of was unending sand that crushed our toes and sucked our energy. We had a short nap in the only shade we could find. True suffering on this unending leg. But the slot canyon section was amazing - beautiful (except for the wag bag smell. Yikes). Another river swim back to TA and the food/gear boxes.

Leg 7 - paddle, 40-something more miles. Even with a nap before the leg, we sleeppaddled through most of the leg. Definitely made it take longer to be sleeping most of the way. I mastered the art of peeing into a sawed off gatoraid bottle.

Leg 8 - canyoneering, 20-something miles? maybe? The infamous Hell Roaring section. We started out at the hottest time of day and walked up through the boulder field to the base of the rappell, passing 7 or 8 teams along the way who were taking advantage of the shade. Up the ascent, along the marked path to the HAMBURGERS and COLD COKE!!! The route led us through a campground where the hosts were taking advantage of the hungry, parched racers walking by and set up shop selling hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken. And cold pop. Oh My God. It was amazing. On to the rappell, and out hell roaring in the dark. This was our drama night. Conflict, sleep deprivation, and the start of my serious eye problems. A typical leg.

Leg 9 - Damn Don Mann to Hell. We had to carry all of our paddle gear, swim gear and trekking stuff from TA 7 to TA 8. Only a two mile walk. But 2000' of elevation to gain. Did I mention we were carrying everything?!?! Much cursing.

OK, this is turning out a bit longer than I expected it to be. I'll finish in a future installment. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

some random things

It is really hard to try to write a race report for a race that took nine days. By day five, it seemed like the things that had happened the first day were part of another lifetime. I just don't know how to tell it all. So, more pictures and a few random comments.

Sand sucks. Shoes designed to be lightweight and breathable really suck in the sand. When you get about 1/4 cup of sand in each shoe, your shoe is essentially a full size too small. Nevertheless, with good foot care, you can come out of it with minimal blisters.

Try to avoid scratching your corneas. Try harder to not get those scratches infected and develop an ulcer. Who knew you could have an ulcer in your eye!?!

I didn't take a single painkiller for the entire race. I didn't take any after the race either. It wasn't really a plan, but I did decide that if it wasn't hurting that much, that I would just deal with it. I knew once I took something, I'd have to keep taking it until the race was done. The brain deals with pain in funny ways.

I can ride while sleeping. I can paddle while sleeping. I can walk while sleeping. None of them are terribly efficient while sleeping. I can sleep anywhere.

The view up to a traverse line that is 2000' above the desert floor is a very intimidating thing. Once you're up there though, it's not nearly so bad. And, as I turns out, it's super fun to fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


It's about time I got around to posting. I have so many excuses though. Like, I was really really tired. Which I was. Only last night did I finally decide that it's time to stop sleeping 10 hours a night. I'm caught up. I kept waking up last night, which I think proves that I'm rested.

Thanks for all the great messages on the team guest book. We were given a print out at TA9, and it was so great to get messages from home. Thanks to everyone who obsessively tracked us. It was motivating to know that if we stopped too long, people at home would be wondering why we hadn't moved.

I have lots of stories, but I'll at least start with some pictures.

Getting cleaned up before the mountaineering leg at TA9:

Pete putting his shoes back on - always painful:

The team after the finish:

Saturday, June 24, 2006

it's almost time!

We're less than 24 hrs til start. We finished our skills testing yesterday after finding our missing teammate. Skills/gear checks went well - we weren't all set and ready to go, but since we weren't in our scheduled stop it didn't really matter. we took breaks to go fetch gear or to have lunch. We got through it all without a hitch other than waiting at a few stations. It's great to have it all done so that today we can finish packing the gear and food bins, and take a nap before they bus us to the start at midnight.

Yep, midnight busing for a dawn start. Why let us start rested? What would be the fun in that?

You have no idea how great it is to know that there are a bunch of people who will be watching our progress through the race. Thanks for all the good wishes!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

at race headquarters

We're here! Ok, we're mostly here. Charlie's flight was delayed for five hours yesterday, so he missed his connecting flight. He called at 7 am from Minneapolis, when he should have been boarding a bus to get from SLC to Moab. Instead, he's taking a shuttle as I type to Moab, where we'll pick him up in a couple of hours. It means that we are missing our skills testing slot, but that's fine. There is enough elasticity in the system that we can do it in the morning.

Instead, Pete, Ernie and I have been doing some organization and just relaxing. We went for a river swim through some fun rapids just outside the lodge. Very fun. We'll head into town pretty soon to pick up Charlie and have dinner.

Tomorrow - skills testing report.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes on our PQ guest book! They mean a lot.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

leaving for moab in the morning

Pete and I leave for Moab tomorrow. Our skills testing day is on Thursday, and continues for other teams on Friday and Saturday. Race starts on Sunday morning, early.

So, once the race starts, you'll be able to track our progress on the Primal Quest website. Our team name is 24seven. Pictures of us will appear here. That's also the place you can leave us messages, which may be delivered at some point during the race.

To track us, go here.

Wish us well!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

the adventure has begun!

I've made it to Los Alamos. Sheryl, Jonathan and I drove up here today, and 12.5 hours later, we made it safely. All my gear is here, and it's a relief to not think about packing any more. That's not to say I have everything, since I don't.

Now is the time to give a huge huge thanks to the people who have helped me get here. Who said the race is unsupported this year?

Karen & John
Kelly & Jocelyn
Debbi & Stephen
Sharon & Nick
Sheryl & Jonathan
David & Katherine
Cody & Lynette

Saturday, June 17, 2006

relaxing saturday

Since the packing is done, I thought I would have a relaxing, yet busy day. I have a massage at 1:30, and I was planning to Westley to the dog park and also do the neighbourhood home tour. Instead, it's raining. I'm not complaining about the rain - I don't remember the last time it rained, and it does give the yard a fighting chance of surviving til I get back - but it does put a damper on the dog park and the home tour. The dog hasn't even left the porch. He'll have to pee eventually but right now, he's decided that it's Too Wet.

(yes, his legs are that long)