what am I thinking?!??!

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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

packing, planning and panic

I've gotten most of my packing done for the race this week. I leave on Tuesday to pick up Ernie and Charlie at the airport in Dallas before heading up to Haskell. There are a few things left to pack, like shoes (better not forget those!) but most things are in. I am trying to figure out what clothes to take. The short crisis has left me in a bit of a spot (a chafed spot, to be exact). I was hoping some other shorts would arrive on Friday, but it looks like I won't get them until tomorrow, not leaving enough time to really try them out. It's risky to race in brand new shorts, but I guess I'll risk it. Don't worry, I'll report back.

It's hard to figure out how to handle the clothes. This is a 72 hr race, as long as the first leg of PQ might take. During a leg at PQ, we don't be changing clothes, but this isn't PQ. hem ha. I'll probably take a few extra pieces of clothing and see how it goes. Boy, this adventure racing thing is complicated.

The panic was when, yesterday, transportation was up in the air. I need to take three bikes, three people, two scooters and gear from Dallas to Haskell. We own a Honda Civic. So, you see the problem. I was hoping to use Howard's Jeep, which has been for sale for 6-8 months and is an extra vehicle for them. Yesterday I found out that there is a potential buyer and the Jeep might not be available. Yikes. But, as it turns out, the panic was not necessary. Although someone is buying the Jeep, they aren't taking possession of it until the Tuesday after the race. Phew.

Here is a picture of Marlene from the third night of last year's Haskell race. It's one of my favourites.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

random thoughts

My day started out poorly. I was greeted at work by a cranky email and it put me in a cranky mood. I am seldom seldom cranky, and I find being cranky, because I'm not used to it, makes me cranky. If that makes sense.

Anyway, I decided to close the shop early after delivering a bike, just to take some time away. A mental health afternoon, so to speak. So, I've gotten a lot less cranky. And we're going out for bbq tonight, so all is well in the world.

I have been resting more this week than I had originally planned. Chris and Corinne are visiting from Seattle, so that forces me to rest. And, as one of my wise teammates said earlier this week 'There aren't many things that will make you faster in the week before a race, but there are a lot of things that will make you slower.' So, I'm trying not to stress about resting, even though I'm stressing around resting.

Our houseguests:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

i can see!!

This morning I went to the eye doctor to figure out how I'm going to see my way through Primal Quest. I've been wearing my last pair of two-week contacts for about 5 months. (As expected, the doctor scolded me and tried to scare me with stories of eye infections. But, if I've been neglectful for the past 15 years of contact use, including not washing my hands before putting them in or taking them out, don't you think I might have some sort of natural immunity? Or at least a very strong constituion there in my eyeballs? I'm going to stick with the not-broken theory.) I'm going to try extended wear contacts for the race. I was in a clinical study for them 10 years ago and I thought they were da bomb. (Yes, I really just said that). For the first time since I was 6, I could see the clock when I woke up in the morning.

I have two pairs to try out, so I'll take them to the three day race next week and see how they do. I've got my hopes up.

happy birthday, sheryl!

It's Sheryl's birthday today. Yay! It means I'm eating far far too many cupcakes.

Monday, April 24, 2006

short crisis!

No, that's not a crisis that doesn't last very long, but a crisis regarding shorts. Tonight was the usual Monday night trek. I decided to ride my bike down there rather than drive (it didn't take much longer on the bike), so I was already sweaty when I arrived and it was a pretty warm evening. I was wearing my favourite bike shorts, which I have used in many adventure races for bike/trek sections. I've had no probem in them, even after stream crossings and many hours of wear. But tonight, after only an hour or so of trekking, I noticed some chafing. By the time we were done 2.5 hours of walking, my ass was unhappy. I ended up with two big chafed spots. The three day race is in a week, and suddenly I have to find a new pair of shorts and try them out. A definite crisis.

No, no pictures of this one.

The trek was great though. Especially because with the rain last week, the creek was running and we stopped before the last climb out to go for a swim under the falls. The fire flies were out, the water was awesome. It was perfect. Except for the stinging spots on my ass.

my teammates

Pete agreed that I need more photos on here. So, I present my teammates, the members of 24seven. What is the point in a blog if you can't post embarrassing photos?



Charlie (No embarrassing photos could be found. Yet.):

Sunday, April 23, 2006

rope work

Yesterday I joined with Dynamic Health Racing to practice rope ascending and rapelling. We set up on both the high and low walls.

Me, ascending:

Gayla, ascending. With a view of the high wall:

Richard, ascending:

Robyn, rapelling on the small wall:

Saturday, April 22, 2006

race location

We finally got newsletter #4. The race will be starting outside of Moab, at Red Cliffs Lodge. I have to admit (although I feel silly for it) that I'm disappointed in the chosen race location. I just feel like Moab has been done. EcoChallenge was there years ago, and Adventure Xstream has had an expedition race there for the past two years, as well as 12 hr races. I wish they could have chosen something new. I'm sure I'll get over it, but right now I'm disappointed.

There were lots of interesting things in the newsletter, including how our gear will have to be organized in our gear boxes that makes my new fancy small-bins-in-bin organization completely useless. We get a bin for mountaineering gear, one for food and one for other gear. That's for all of us. Not sure exactly how that will work, but I guess we'll figure it out. Seems like it will be tight. Oh, and the first leg will be 36-72 hrs long. Ouch.

So, Moab in June/July. Suddenly I'm really excited about the hot weather here in Texas. It will definitely be to our advantage.

Friday, April 21, 2006


You know what this blog has been lacking lately? Pictures. So, I took a couple this morning (while deciding how to get to work. The roads are drying, so I could ride, but with paddling rescheduled for tonight, that's always tricky. So, driving is probably best. But I've driven two days this week already, and I hate driving to work. Sigh. I'll end up driving because it will make things less complicated. Sigh again).

My gear box, with new organization (thanks to Sheila for the vision). There is still a bunch of stuff to get in here. It's going to be tight. I may rig something up to attach some stuff to the underside of the lid.

And here is a picture of a paddle blade. It doesn't really show just how pretty it is.

Tomorrow I'll be out with Team Dynamic Health doing ropes practice. I'll take my camera and have lots of photos to post. I'm going to try to post photos more often.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Today was a banner day, of sorts. After my tiredness, the thunderstorms and hail that cancelled paddling were welcome. I got to spend the evening with Graeme, celebrating his winning of a new grant. Yay! I'm totally proud of him.

And my new paddle arrived, which is super beautiful. Thanks, dad for getting it for me, and to Rebecca for floating it temporarily.

tired and sore

My legs are sore today, and I'm tired. The alarm went off at 7 am and I was not done sleeping. If the race weren't in 9.5 weeks, I probably would have kept sleeping. I was also supposed to be meeting Howard to go mountain biking. He called at 7:30 to cancel, so I took Westley trail running instead. I feel like I'm not putting in enough time running (because it's hard to do the thing you like the least, even when it's the thing you need to do the most).

It was beautiful outside, but now I'm sore. I went to the gym yesterday, and with not having a rest day since Friday, it's building up. And I eat All The Time.

Next rest day isn't going to be until... I don't know when. sigh.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


For the past week or so, I've been having some text from an old Nike ad rattling around in my brain. I used to have the text posted in my dorm room in university. I nearly had it memorized from reading it every day. It's been repeating through my thoughts lately, so I went looking for it tonight. I couldn't find the old piece of paper, but through the miracle of google, I found the text. It has nothing to do with who originally wrote it or what they were trying to sell, but everything to do with going to Primal Quest. And everything to do with living.

All your life you are told the things you cannot do.
All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough.
They'll say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve that.
THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no until all the no's become meaningless.
All your life they will tell you no.
Quite firmly and very quickly.
They will tell you no.

Monday, April 17, 2006


The news just reported that a woman was killed on her bike on a popular bike route here in Austin. It's a busy street, but bikes use it all the time, and on Sunday mornings there are usually more bikes than cars (if only that were always true). She was clipped by one car, and a second car hit and killed her. The first driver stopped. The second did not.

I feel ill. My thought are with her friends and family. Be careful out there if you're riding on the road. And be very careful if you're driving.


I felt like I was posting pretty frequently here, and this morning I wandered over to see if I had any comments (no. :( ) and found I haven't posted since Wednesday. Really? Wednesday? What happened to the week? For that matter, what happened to February?

I had a good weekend on my bikes. I went for a fun 3-hour Greenbelt ride on Saturday and a 70 mile road ride on Sunday. I rode with Tom, who was riding his old road bike complete with downtube shifters, rear rack and 6 speeds on the back. Of course, he did fine. That's when you are reminded that it has nothing to do with the bike.

I also owe thanks here to Marlene. She got me a present for PQ last week, and I didn't post thanks. I realized I hadn't done that because I thanked her in person. But, not wanting her to feel left out - thanks, Marlene. You're a dork.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

more thanks

I have more thanks to send out. This week I got more boxes on my door step. Thanks to David and Katherine, and my peeps in Seattle. I totally appreciate it.

This experience of asking for help has been really interesting. I think we (I'm not totally clear who I mean by that 'we') were raised to be independent and that asking for help should be avoided. But I think that's wrong. Asking for help allows other people who support you in what you're doing, in whatever way works. Asking for help shows strengthens communities. I am remembering the support network I have from all the places I've lived. It's really cool. I'll be at PQ knowing that you're all tracking our progress through the website, and that will motivate me through the hard parts.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

10 weeks

I was just talking to Rebecca about the race and I took a look at the calendar. 10 weeks. That sounds waaaay scarier than 2.5 months. Shit. 10 weeks.

perfect day to ride to work

It was a perfect morning to ride to work. Slightly overcast, 60 degrees, slight tailwind. Perfect. The wind has been picking up since, so I'll probably have a fiercesome headwind on the way home, but it doesn't change that it was a perfect morning.

Monday, April 10, 2006

weekend recap

Driving. Way Too Much Driving. This weekend totally violated the rule that:

total drive time < total ride and/or trek and/or paddle time

Instead, I drove for 22 hours for a 12 hr race. But, I don't regret it at all, because I had a great time, got to see friends and rode my bike on a fun course.

The race course was excellent. All singletrack (12.5 mile loop) including some technical features that would NEVER make it in a usual endurace race. Tight switchbacks with real exposure (and serious consequences if you don't make the turn). They had a rule in place to make sure everyone was off the course by dark, since those switchbacks would have been dangerous after dark. The event was well run and great fun.

Oh, and I came in second.

Pete and I rode together the whole time and finished 7 laps. Adam did 5 laps on his singlespeed (yay, Adam!). I also got to see Marcie and the kids in Albuquerque before heading to the race course. So, even though the rule was broken, it was a great weekend.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

shout out to italy!

Thanks go out to Scott, in Italy (!!!) for the REI package that just arrived on my door stop. Santa strikes again!

Scott and I went to school together for undergrad. Soon afterwards (although not before suffering in West Texas) he took a job with Ferrari in Italy. He packed up and moved across the ocean, not knowing a WORD of italian, and has made a life there. Graeme and I visited him a few years ago on our whirlwind pass through Italy. I was so super impressed with Scott. He was speaking italian, travelling around europe and just living there. Scott, I'm totally proud of you. It takes more guts than most people have to do what you've done.

racing this weekend

I'm off to New Mexico tomorrow for a 12 hr mountain bike race . I'm super excited, since Pete and Adam will be there too, and it's an all-singletrack course, which is nearly unheard of. The plan is to leave super early tomorrow and drive to Albuquerque, meet Pete and Adam and head out to Gallup. After the race, Pete and I (and Adam?) will trek through the night. If we don't do that, the whole thing will violate my rule that a race/ride/training has to be longer than the total drive time.

I rode my mountain bike this morning since I thought it would be a good idea to make sure it's working before riding it for 12 hrs. I love my new bike. Love Love Love.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

reality check

This is stolen from the PQ website. In case I wasn't scared already.

"Primal Quest is not only the last of the great expedition-length adventure races, it is generally considered to be the most difficult endurance event in the world. Beginning on June 25th and lasting up to ten days, ninety co-ed teams of endurance athletes will battle raw, dramatic landscapes unlike anywhere else in the world - from high-altitude passes to rugged terrain stripped bare by the powerful forces of nature.

Foregoing sleep, they will navigate through 500 miles of desolate landscapes via trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding, canyoneering, mountain biking, whitewater swimming, paddling and day and night navigation. Daytime temperatures of over 100 degrees will test the athletes, as will the nearly six miles of climbing and descending fixed ropes on vertiginous cliffs. Primal Quest is - simply - a monument to fitness, teamwork and backcountry skills, and currently represents the outer limits of human endurance."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

go, tom, go

If you look in the dictionary next to the word 'unstoppable', you might find a picture of Tom Lane. Tom is my favourite Austin racing partner, and was part of our original team that tried to get a PQ slot. Since we disbanded to try to find spots on other PQ teams, Tom has been training as if he was going to PQ, while talking to teams who were looking to fill their rosters. Tom got all his certs, and was talking about showing up to PQ even if he didn't have a team, in the hopes of replacing someone at the last minute. I would not be able to keep up the motivation to train if I didn't have a team set up for the race.

Today, Tom found out that he'll be racing PQ with Team Ultimate Adventure. Go, Tom, Go! I'm really excited that he's going (although it was never actually in question).

Monday, April 03, 2006

tonight's trek

Mondays mean a three hour trek after work with the other people in Austin who are training for PQ (there are six of us). We alternate between a trail trek and walking on the roads each week. Tonight was a road walk. The time change means that we had light for half of it, and it was a beautiful evening.

I was trying out some new socks that I got at REI this weekend. I splashed around in some puddles so I could do the real, wet feet test. I'm not sure I like them. I got a hot spot under one foot, which is odd for me. I'm not sure though if it was the socks or the old shoes I was wearing. I'll try them on a trail hike and see how they are. I'm sure you'll wait with bated breath to find out the results of the sock test.

Will the excitement ever end??

Sunday, April 02, 2006

the weekend in review

It's been a busy weekend here. Marcie arrived on Thursday night late late late. I had to go to work for awhile on Friday, but left early to hang out with her. We went to the tattoo place, since she wanted one, and there is one I've been thinking about getting for about 6 years. I signed the forms, was all set to go, but then I read the waiver. "No swimming for however-many days". Oops. My swim certs were scheduled for Saturday, so I had to defer until later. Marcie got hers though. After she got her tattoo done, we met up with Graeme and went out for dinner and margaritas. Yum.

On Saturday, I got up and went for a walk with the dog to pick up some cinnamon buns from Upper Crust Bakery. After breakfast, we did some errands before my swimming cert. I did the swimming down at Barton Springs Pool, which is the jewel of Austin. We had to do a 1 mile swim, and then 10 minutes of treading water. I was dreading it a bit, since I haven't swam a mile in 10 years, probably. But it actually wasn't too bad.

After the swim cert, we had been planning to go back to the tattoo place, but we were running very short on time. There was a surprise party planned for Jonathan that we had to get to. (it was a total surprise. brilliantly executed). We did try to do the tattoo thing after the party, but got to the place 20 minutes before closing. Strike two.

Today, the plan was gospel brunch at Maria's Taco Express, and then attempt three at the tattoo, followed by frisbee golf and then dinner at the Salt Lick. I would call that a perfect Austin day.

Three time's a charm for the tattoo. Here it is. I love it.

(oh ya. I didn't train at all. oh well)