what am I thinking?!??!

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

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The lurking blogger

(this post is brought to you by a guest blogger, Marlene...)

So, I'm one of those people who loves to read Beth's blog, and has even posted a couple of comments here and there, and in fact I've even been mentioned a few times. I'm sitting here recovering from hand surgery and I'm dictating this entry (to Beth, of course). Beth just had a breakthrough in asking people for stuff. She realized that she needed to expand her REI gift registry. I explained to her how frustrating it is to go to a wedding registry and be limited to the $3.99 vegetable peeler and the $250 down duvet. Where you just sort of cave and end up buying a gift card (not that that's not an option at REI!). And so I kept asking her and expanding her thinking - "What else do you need? What else can you use?" Imagine that - we came up with a bunch of new stuff. And then there are the lurker shoppers, who buy something off the list and don't let Beth know, so it comes as a complete surprise when it shows up at her door. It's so cool. The best surprises are the ones you don't know are coming.

I'm in amazement about this whole undertaking. I've done big things - I've ridden my bike across the country, but having done a 3 day Adventure Race last May, I am left speechless by having to do that for ten full days. I'm very amazed at what it's taking and what Beth is going through, and yet, somehow she still maintains a social life! (oh so important for a social animal like Beth!) And she isn't in any way overtraining and becoming irritable to the people around her (editors note: that depends who you ask!) I'm even amazed at Sheryl and Jonathan who are donated two weeks of their vacation time to volunteer at PQ. It doesn't seem like too much of a vacation to me. Of course, I'm about to ride my bicycle across the country again, and many people would question that as a vacation, so who am I to say?

I had an interesting breakthrough that might make a difference to people who might take on huge things like this. In regards to my hand surgery, I've already had my hand in a cast for six weeks because of a broken wrist (motorcycle accident). And the bone shifted just enough that it severed a tendon (but only after 5 weeks, of course. Just when I was getting excited about having my hand back). Now I have to have my hand in a cast for another six weeks (although I am training through the whole thing) for quite some time, it was occurring for me as going back to prison, since I had just gotten use back of my right hand (and of course, I'm right handed) and now I'm losing it again. But I got some coaching from a good friend who showed me that, yes, it's painful, and yes, it's inconvenient, and he wasn't minimizing that. But there is a difference between those things and suffering about it, and I had collapsed those two things together. Once I could separate those two things, this whole situation could be a pain in the ass but I didn't have to suffer over if I didn't choose to. Which goes back to the whole training and racing thing. A lot of endurance people train to see how much we can suffer. And that maybe it's possible to have a different context. I think the big difference is that it's physical suffering, versus mental suffering. But sometimes in the other areas of our life we collapse those two together, don't we?!

I will look forward to posting again - this was fun!

it's like christmas

When I got home from work today, there was a box outside our door (yay for porches). My sister got me something off my REI wishlist! And she didn't say a word! Thanks, KK. I totally appreciate it!

Today and yesterday have been much better days in terms of my mood and training (hmmm, could they be related??). Yesterday I went to the gym in the morning when it became clear that it would be another soggy ride to work. But then I did ride to book club (I love my book club. They are amazing women and I really enjoy spending time with them.) And I rode to work today. Nothing is good for my soul like riding a bike is. I get cranky and critical when I don't spend enough time on my bike. That's how I was feeling earlier this week.

I guess I need to remember to just go ride my bike when I'm feeling so self-critical. I'll add that to the list of things I'm learning along the way.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

a soggy tuesday. not just the weather

I didn't do any training today. Another rest day. But it was unplanned. I had planned to ride to work, but there were serious thunderstorms this morning so I drove to work. I thought I would take my running stuff so I could go for a trail run on the way home if the weather cleared up. Which it did, but I forgot my shoes. So, no training for me. Which isn't the end of the world, but I hate to miss a day when there is only three months left. Three months. It's scaring me. But apparently, not enough to not miss a day.

I'm very hard on myself. I'm not sure how to turn that into the motivation not to miss a day though. Sigh.

a three hour tour

the weather started getting rough
the tiny ship was tossed
if not for the courage of the fearless crew
the kayak would be lost
the kayak would be lost

Ok, maybe it wasn't that bad. On Saturday night, Sheila and I went out to the Too Cool race to help out. We spent the night waiting for teams to coming into the Transition Area (TA) to give them the next leg, and to check their gear before they headed out again. The teams finished with a 10 mile paddle leg on Lake Sommerville. We set out at 8 am, when all the teams were back to pick up the checkpoints.

The lake was very calm as we set out with our map. But no compass. Yep, two experienced adventure racers, but not, however, navigators, set out to find CPs without a compass. No problem, we thought. We'll use landscape features.

The lake was a bit foggy, but cleared up really quickly. As we left the beach, we noticed a line on the water. It was the wind. Which just got stronger and stronger and stronger. By 10, it was sustained at around 30 mph. Not ideal paddling weather.

A compass would have been useful. We didn't really know the scale of the map as it related to the features around us. And, it turns out, we are much faster paddlers than we thought. What that means, is that we nearly paddled off the map on our way to the first checkpoint. Once we determined where we were, we set out for a different CP, and found it very quickly. So, into the wind we headed to get the one we missed. But we made another mistake and our bearing was totally off (that compass would have been really handy) and we crossed all the way over the lake, taking on water from the big waves, and completely exhausting ourselves.

It took a little while to figure out where we were when we didn't find the CP on the island we expected it to be one. Instead, we stumbled on the third CP. From there, we were back on track. The last four CPs were navigated to perfectly, in spite of the crazy water and waves.

As usual, we learned something from our six hour tour around the lake. 1. Take a compass if you plan to navigate. 2. Understand the scale of the map. 3. Wear waterproof sunscreen when paddling. 4. Nothing is better after paddling for 6 hours than Texas BBQ.

Friday, March 24, 2006

a much needed rest day

It's not that I trained more than normal this week, but for some reason I was super tired yesterday. So, today is a total rest day. Yes, Marlene, really. Total rest. (I sometimes try to pass of days when I just ride to work as rest days. Riding too work isn't that big a deal. But I guess I can't count riding to work a rest day and then the next day count is as a workout. hmmm. I may have to rethink this.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

my stellar sister-in-law

Erika found out last week that she got a placement for her residency. She has had a really tough year-and-a-bit after not getting a residency placement in Canada when she finished medical school. She stuck to what she wanted to do and went to Michigan to work while studying for and writing the US medical exams. The placement she got was her last choice, and she was feeling pretty bummed about it when she found out. But I'm proud of her for sticking to it, going after what she wanted, and not listening to the voices in her head. There were a bunch of times when it would be have been easier to give up, or change to general surgery rather than going for the specialization she wanted.

Erika, you're going to be a great surgeon, regardless of where you do your residency. I'm totally proud of you.

thanks, alex!

My gear box has arrived and it's HUGE. PQ specified a locking 48 gallon box. That sort of narrows down the options. So, here it is. Obviously, I am smaller than 48 gallons.

Alex bought me my gear box, so huge thanks go out to him! The gear box is pretty unglamourous, as far as gear goes, but it holds all the other gear, so it's sort of like... like... ok, I've been trying to come up with a witty analogy all day, and I got nothing. nothing. So, I guess it's like a gear box, full of cool gear. Anyway, thanks, Alex!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

the smellin' hellion

My sweet, smelly dog. Be glad you can't get smell over the internet.
(photo by Kelly and Jocelyn)

not a good start to the day

Tom and I had plans to paddle this morning at 6 am. I set the alarm last night and tried to go to bed early. When it was still dark out, I heard my cell phone ringing from the living room. I jumped out of bed, and saw on the kitchen clock that it was 5:49. Shit! It was Tom calling to say he was on his way. Thank god he called. I made it to the boat warehouse just after him, but in my rush I didn't check the weather. I was woefully underdressed and was a shivering mess by the time we were done paddling. 20 minutes in a hot shower did little to warm me up.

After the scalding shower, I took Westley for our usual morning walk. On the way back, he rolled in the nastiest smelling pile of something's shit I have ever smelled. This seems to be a distressing new habit. He did it last week in an although less horrible, still stinky pile. I kept him outside when we got home until I had the bath ready. In he went. Now he smells good again.

I can think of better ways to start the day than freezing my ass off and then washing shit off my dog.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

the little voice in my head needs to shut up

We all have little voices in our head that tell us things. Things like 'He's cute, but he would never like me', 'I'm too old to do that', 'But I don't know how', 'I really shouldn't eat this cookie', 'Educated people don't use those kind of words' or 'When I have more money...'. The voice in my head commonly says 'I'm not good enough', or some variation of that. The voice usually sounds like it's speaking the truth. But have you ever thought about what other people would think if they heard your little voice? They would probably think it was ridiculous.

My little voice often says, in a variation, 'I'm not fit enough'. When I told Sheryl and Marlene about this voice's comments, they looked at me like I had two heads. Yep, it's competely ridiculous. Fit enough for what? If I'm not fit enough, is anyone fit enough?

This came up again on Sunday, when I realized that I am critical of myself because I somehow think that I don't look like someone who does PQ. That I don't have the right body type. I told Marlene this, and again the voice of reason rang out. 'What does someone who does PQ look like then? What should you look like?'


remarkably, it's not all about me

Marlene went to the doctor this morning, and she has to have surgery on her wrist. This totally sucks. She broke it 6 weeks ago, and although the bone has healed well, there is tendon damage that needs to be repaired. 6 weeks in a non-removable splint. I would be sooooo cranky if I had to deal with that. To make it all about me, this means another 6 weeks without my road riding partner.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

loving my new bike

Yesterday afternoon I closed the shop an hour early to go riding with some of the guys that I haven't ridden with in ages, and to ride a trail I haven't ridden in ages. On Sunday, I finally felt like my new bike was clicking - I knew how it would react, and didn't hesitate to ride the technical stuff. That feeling continued yesterday. I can't say I've got it totally figured out yet, but I'm getting there.

Our friends Kelly and Jocelyn from Seattle are coming into Austin today for a few days visit. We're really looking forward to seeing them. Hopefully Kelly and I will get to ride a few times while they are here. So much for doing more running this week.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


No, not to train, to work. The shop is crazy busy and I have a huge amount of work to do, but I'm having trouble getting started. I know everyone has those days. I just don't have time to have one.

Monday, March 13, 2006


I've been waffling about whether to ride or drive to work today. I don't like driving to work, but lately have been doing it more because other things come up that require it. I have to drive tomorrow because I need to pick up Graeme from the airport in the morning. I had planned to ride today. But I paddled at 6 am this morning, and I have a three hour trek tonight. Riding to work would make it very hectic tonight to get home and eat before going to the trek.

And shouldn't an hour of paddling and three hours of trekking be enough for one day??

This is where the thing about being compassionate with myself is supposed to happen.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

the list

I know I have a shitload of stuff to do in the next three months (apart from training. I'm well aware of that part) and I'm having trouble keeping it all in my head. So, I thought I should make a list. Which I have. And it's scary. There is still a lot to do and a lot of gear to get. yikes.

So, here it is. The LIST.

To do:
first aid cert
horse cert
swimming cert
eye exam/contact lenses

To get:
ice axe
gear box
kong skarab helmet
new shoes
gear box
new headlamp
extra space blankets
rapelling gloves
lightweight/small packing sleeping bag
knife with sheath
mesh bag for paddling gear
swim fins with tether
swim board/boogie board
neoprene gloves
rain gear/shell
bike shoes - regular and larger size

I'm sure that's not complete, but at least I have it written down so I can see it. Even though it makes it scary, it also makes it manageable.

(If anyone wants to buy me a piece of gear, however small, I have a gift registry at REI. You can just search for my name and find it. I'm learning how to ask for help and accept graciously. Marlene says it's good practice. Marlene is always telling me that hard things are good practice. It's reminicent of my parents telling me that things I didn't like would build character. At some point, I think I had enough character.)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

too tired to sleep

Do you ever get so tired that you can't even get off the couch to go to bed? That's how I feel. We did the kayaking certs today, and it was a LOOOOONG day. I got home about 14 hrs after I left (although that did include breakfast before heading down to San Marcos). I ended up having to call Sheryl to check on the dog since I was out so much longer than I had expected.

The day went really well. The biggest thing I got out of it was paddling technique. I have always just paddled. Today we were filmed paddling at different speeds, and our technique was critiqued. I do things that I had no idea about. My technique is pretty good at a sprint, but gets worse as I slow down. I worked on it through the day and noticed distinct improvements in speed and efficiency. I'm excited to work on it later this week.

I was supposed to be helping out with some trail building tomorrow, but I just want to sleep until I'm done and then take Westley to the dog park, and then practice some ropes work before going riding later in the afternoon. I just need a mellow morning. Especially with the new schedule of paddling with Tom at 6 am on Mondays. yikes.

On that note, I'm going to bed.

Friday, March 10, 2006

the week in review, and the weekend preview

It's been a pretty mellow week around here. I decided it should be a bit of a rest week after the weekend altitude workout. So, I totally rested Monday and Tuesday, went mountain biking on Wednesday morning, rode to work Thursday and went to the gym this morning. And I'll paddle tonight. It's unbelievable that I consider that a rest week.

Tomorrow is boating certification day. A bunch of us will traipse down to San Marcos to play on the river. I'm looking forward to it - it will be perfect weather and a day of whitewater playing is always fun.

Graeme is away this weekend, so I'll spend most of my time frolicking in the woods. Sunday will be trailbuilding and riding day. And maybe I'll squeeze a trek in on Saturday evening.

Wow, my life is so exciting.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Salt Lake City!!!

We got the third competitor's newsletter today which announced that the host airport for PQ is SLC. So, we'll be racing somewhere within 2-3 hrs of there. Looking at Google Earth, it looks like the only spots around there that are above 12,000' are the La Sal mountains and the Wasatch Crest. I'm hoping for the Wasatch, since I've spent a bunch of time aroudn Moab already, and there have been a bunch of races there already.

Either way, I'm really excited.

back from new mexico

We had a great time. The extended weekend included sleeping, eating great food, watching movies, hiking, riding, horseback riding, soaking in the hot tub, eating pizzas, drinking wine and good friends.

We arrived pretty late on Wednesday, and settled into the house. On Thursday, I rode my bike into town to collect some maps of the hiking and biking trails in town. After lunch, Jonathan and I went and did part of a trail outside of town. We hiked up to about 9300' before turning around. We took some time exploring an old mine from the 1900s and Jonathan faced his fear of hillside trails.

On Friday, everyone else was planning to head to Carlsbad to see the caves. Graeme and I had been there a few years before, and Pete was on his way down for our training session. He arrived just as they were heading out. Pete and I got packed, went grocery shopping, and headed out on our bikes.

We rode the trails around town, including a super fun downhill run with beautifully made jumps that I just couldn't resist. There was also included the steepest hike-a-bike I've ever pushed a bike up. Post town trails, we made a quick stop for pizza in town before heading up the long climb to the ski area. It was a long, painful, ugly climb. We got to the top right around dusk after 8 hours on the bikes, rode up the trail a bit and ditched the bikes for our trekking shoes.

The wind. Oh, the wind. It blew all night. 40 mph. It nearly knocked me off the mountain. And it was cold. And we lost the trail. In other words, it was perfect adventure race training. In the end, we trekked for 12 hrs, rode for 10 and were totally exhausted at the end. More than half of the 22 hrs were spent above 10,000', and probably 6 hrs were spent over 11,000'. I felt really good about how I handled the elevation, with only a bit of a headache. Of course, I got out of breathe quickly, but I also recovered really well. That was encouraging.

Once we got back to the house, we ate and slept and ate and slept and ate and slept. Then Pete went home.

On Sunday, we went horseback riding.
We have to ride horses in PQ, so it was really good to spend some times on one. I hadnt been riding in at least 15 years. I still have to get certified for the horses, but at least I feel totally comfortable on one now.

So, it was a great weekend. Time spent with friends, time spent training, time spent with Pete. Perfect.