what am I thinking?!??!

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

cake day!!

Friday is Marlene's birthday, which makes this her birthday week. She said she wanted cake, so tonight we had cake. Jonathan and Sheryl, Marlene and Will and Kathy all came over. We ordered pizza and then had cake (Orange cake with lemon cream cheese icing. yum). Some photos:

Monday, May 29, 2006

guts n' glory race report

The Guts n' Glory is known as a difficult race. It's a long course, 22 miles of mostly singletrack. The course is two loops, passing through the pits at the half way mark to make a sort of figure eight. The upper (second loop) has more climbing and is a bit more technical. You can choose to stop at the pit every half lap if you're riding solo, or you can just keep trucking for the 22 miles.

I got to the race venue on Saturday night and found the usual suspects. The race is actually an all weekend event, with bands and kegs on both Saturday and Sunday nights. We stayed up and chatted for awhile while keeping our eye on the approaching lightening before going to sleep. It did rain a bit in the night, but I was seriously cozy in the Esper-mobile.

Sunday morning, the race started pretty casually at 8 am. This is a low key event. You sign yourself in and out on the time sheet, and you can start and stop whenever you want. Many people just do a lap or two, and there are a few handful who keep riding around and around.

My first lap felt great. It was cool-ish, and I was just doing my thing. My thing being to pay some attention to my heart rate and try to keep it in the right zone for a long ride. It's always high on the first lap, so I give myself a bit of leeway. The course was slightly damp, so some of the rocks were a bit slick, but I was happy with the lap, knowing that I would clean the few places I walked when it dried out a bit. I came through after my first lap, refilled my bottle and headed back out.

Lap 2 was great. I was riding faster, my heart rate was lower, and it was fun fun fun. Until I flatted on the back half. Oops. After that I slowed down a bit for fear of flatting a second time and being stuck without a tube. The problem with a long lap and not a huge number of riders is that you could be waiting awhile for help. At the same time, you also know that if you need help someone will stop. But I didn't flat again, and finished my second lap feeling good. It was still cloudy and there was a nice breeze.

Lap three was uneventful. As in, I don't remember any of it except thinking that I would have time to do five laps and that sounded alright.

Lap four sucked. The first half seemed to go forever. I didn't see anyone on the trail. It was hot. I was bored. boohoohoo. I came in at the half to fill up on food and drink and to see what was happening in the standings. There was a guy ahead of me finishing his 4th lap, and I was in second overall. Alright, may as well finish the fourth lap and see how I feel. The second half was better, but still getting boring.

I came into the pit after lap 4 and I had plenty of time to do a 5th before it got dark. But they told me that it was totally unnecessary and wouldn't change the standings at all. Well, that's not very motivating, is it? And I could have a hot shower and a hot meal instead. hmmm. So, I hung around for awhile and then packed it in. I ended up doing 4 laps, 88 miles, got 2nd over all (1st place woman) and had a hot shower and some great chicken enchiladas.

Kyle and Dave put on a great event. There was tonnes of swag from sponsors, and it was just a great time. Thanks to everyone who helped make it a great weekend.

Friday, May 26, 2006

the joy of lists

Lists Lists Lists. They are so lovely. Tonight I made two: Things to do in the next three weeks and Things to do tomorow. You might think that seeing it all laid out could make it more overwhelming, but instead it makes it all seem manageable. I'm planning on a super productive day tomorrow before heading out to Comfort for the 12 hr Guts and Glory race.

Originally, Graeme and I had been planning to go to New Mexico this weekend. I wanted to have another weekend of training at altitude, and the long weekend seemed like a good time to go. But Graeme had meetings today and a conference on Tuesday, so he couldn't quite swing it. I've done the drive by myself three times, and it totally sucks. So, we are both home for the weekend. Since I'm missing the altitude training, I thought I should do something else to take it's place. So, the GnG. 12 hr mountain bike race on somewhat technical trails in 90 degree weather with no shade. Perfect PQ training, in other words. Should be fun. Check Monday for a race report.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

freaking out a bit

One month to go. That's, like, five weeks, right? No, just over four. Well, that's not so bad either. Until I looked at the calendar and saw that I'll actually be leaving my house in 3.5 weeks. Shit. 3.5 weeks. I still have a lot to do. A lot. It's time to make lists. Lots of lists.

No, I won't subject you to them. I might just be freaking out a bit more frequently.

someone give that woman a cup of tea

The headache is gone, but I just feel cranky and irritable. And a bit foggy. I hope things are better tomorrow, or I might just start drinking tea again. And it's just tea! Really, nothing to be whining about. But, I did mention the crankiness.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

quote from ernie

From an email this morning:

"31 Days to go...Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkk!"

wednesday already?

How did that happen? Although the week seems to have flown by so far, today is crawling. I am trying to reduce my caffiene intake (I only drink tea, but usually 3 or 4 cups a day) and I have had a headache since 6 pm yesterday. I feel crappy. And I even had a cup of tea this morning (trying to cut down to two). Ug.

The weekend was really great. We did a lot of training. And eating. In fact, the weekend can be laid out like this:

Even so, a weekend isn't enough time to go to all the great eating places in Austin. Pete will just have to come back for another visit.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

real time blogging

Dinner is cooking as I post:

for erika

Friday, May 19, 2006

day with pete

We had a good day. (No, I didn't really take pictures. Just a few this morning on the porch. I'll try harder tomorrow. The problem is that we don't have a small little camera, just a big one that I don't want to lug around.) We got Upper Crust cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and then went up to the shop and got breakfast tacos (you'll see a theme soon). After that we went riding slinky on full stomachs, which wasn't that great an idea. It was a hot day (bring it on! it's the PQ texas training advantage) and the full stomachs were killing us. So, we didn't ride for too long, and showered and then went to Shady Grove for more food. The thing we had to get done while Pete was here is to go down to San Marcos to do a paddle cert. We had arranged it to just do it this evening so we have the rest of the weekend to train and hang out and eat some more.

Now we're home, it's late and we're still waiting for pizza to be delivered. More food. It's the theme of the day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

pete's coming to visit!

Pete is coming to visit this weekend. It's hard to balance a lot of training with also showing him Austin. He was here once years ago for the Ride for the Roses, but not since we moved here. (Please note that we have lived here for nearly two years, and he hasn't come to visit yet. You know, just to note it.) I want to show him all my favourite places and ride my favourite trails, and eat lots of good food.

And I'll take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

ride of silence

Today is the Ride of Silence to honour cyclists who have been killed or injured on public roadways. If you ever ride a bike on the street, I encourage you to find a ride to join this evening.

This year, Chris's mom was killed by a driver, I was hit by a car (very minor injuries) and Jennifer was hit and ended up with a broken leg and thumb. Additionally, a woman was killed here in Austin a month ago. I encounter hostility from drivers every time I ride to work. If the Ride of Silence makes a difference for one driver and helps them see us and think differently about bikes on the road, then it will be a sucess.

Monday, May 15, 2006

back on the wagon

Or is that back off the wagon? I've never really understood the wagon analogy, to be honest.

But I digress. This week it's back to the usual training regime after slacking all of last week. That means the usual 3 hour Monday night trek (which I'll ride my bike to and from) and a trail run and ropes practice tomorrow. The usual training regime is pretty tiring, but I'm looking forward to it anyway.

Ask me if that's still true on Thursday.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

happy mother's day

I meant to call my sister today to wish her a happy mother's day. It's too late now to call, so Happy Mother's Day, KK. I hope Emily gave you some nice prezzies.

Mother's Day has always seemed like a Hallmark holiday to me, and I tend not to support those kind of holidays. Since my mum died though, Mother's Day suddenly has more meaning than it used to. So everyone, give your mum a hug for me.

race report - part 4 of 4

Finally, the last bit of the race story from last weekend. I certainly know how to drag it out, don't I?

We were woken a number of times from our sleep under the shuffle board tables in the lodge at Crooked River Lodge to get weather reports. Still raining, but tornado warning lifted. Still raining apparently meant 4"/hour, so we decided to sleep a little longer. Then came the report that the rain had stopped. We woke up and headed out pretty quickly since our stuff was all ready to go. We left at the same time as Nike, but we got separated pretty quickly in the dark as the landscape looked different now that there was water everywhere. On the second or third CP, we met up with both teams that had spent the night out in the storm. They were both looking pretty rough. We were very glad we had spent the night in a dry place.

The trek was relatively uneventful. There was a lost checkpoint that caused some delay, but effected all four lead teams. We all ended up in the same meadow searching for a CP. STAR had spent an hour on it earlier in the night, but hadn't found it. Eventually, by just scouring the meadow, it was found laying among some cactus. STAR discussed what to do, and decided to tell everyone about it since it was misplaced. That was the last CP needed for both STAR and Tom's team. They headed back to TA while we and Nike continued the leg. We managed to put at least 1.5 hours on Nike over the rest of the leg by just moving steadily. It was a long leg, but most of the travel was on (sloppy) roads. We were wondering if it would be the last leg, since they certainly couldn't send us out on bikes under those conditions and we'd already been on a long trek. When we came into TA though, we found out there was one more trek to go.

STAR had left TA about 1.5 hours before we arrived, and Tom's team was still in TA after having had a nap. We did a quick transition and left about 15 minutes after Tom's team and less than two hours behind STAR. The checkpoints were relatively spread out, giving us quite a bit of distance to cover, but also allowing us the time to catch at least Tom's team. We had gotten more rest through the race than they had, so we were hoping that we could travel faster than they could.

We didn't help our cause when we had trouble with a point, overshooting an old road that would have taken us up the mesa where the point was. We lost some time to Tom's team, but saw STAR long the way, so we now had them in our sights too. We realized we would have time to get all the checkpoints (it wasn't clear at the start) if we ran between the last few, which were widely (many kilometers) spaced along a gas pipeline and an adjacent fence. I handed off my pack to Charlie (and later Pete) since I'm the slowest runner and we started to run. We ended up running the last 2.5 hours of the course, but although we hoped we'd catch a team on the final run into the Lodge, we didn't see anyone on the course. When we crossed the finish line, we found out that Tom's team had finished about 10 minutes before us, and that STAR had only gotten a few of the CPs on that leg and then packed it in. The lack of sleep and the storm the previous night had caught up with them. We also found out that Nike was at least 3 hours behind us.

We knew we had more time credits than Tom's team since we had been ahead of them at the two spots where we had been officially held (both on the first night of the race). We wouldn't find out the final placing until the awards ceremony. Before that we had time to shower (ahhh, nothing like that shower) and eat a free all-you-can-eat texas bbq dinner. So, in a food coma, the results were announced. We were totally shocked when we found out that we had won by less than 15 minutes.

The Haskell race is super fun - a small field but it was really competitive this year. The course is great, it's got a small family reunion feel to it, and you won't find a harder, but more fun, race around. Some one commented to me the next day that now that we've won it, we don't have to do it any more. But I love that race, and I'll keep doing it as long as they keep putting it on.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

race report - part 3

Goodness, we're only heading to the ride/trek at Circle S. Talk about long winded. And Erika, my sister in law, said that it doesn't sound like it was much fun. That's because the interesting parts aren't terribly fun. It would be even more boring to tell you about walking along just talking or joking or finding CPs one after the other with no nav mistakes, wouldn't it? In fact, even the bad weather was fun. The whole thing was fun. Ok, not true. This next part wasn't much fun.

We arrived on the bikes at Circle S ranch and entered the south parcel. It became obvious pretty quickly that the roads on the map did not match the roads on the ground. We took a bit of time to get oriented and then quickly started finding check points. There was one confusing section due to that problem of mis- or un-marked roads, but we didn't pretty well finding most of the CPs in the northern section of the ranch. The idea was that we could ride as close as we could to the CP and then walk to find it. Bikes could be used on existing roads and trails. We did carry our bikes through some areas to cut down the distances between CPs. Things were going well. We'd passed Nike, so we were in third and making good time. Until. the. flats. 9 (maybe. I lost count) flat tires, 1 torn side wall and a broken chain was the total of our injuries. Unfortunately, we only had 5 spare tubes, and the slime tubes that were leaking don't patch well. We calculated (from when Nike passed us to how much earlier they arrived at the next TA ahead of us) that we lost 2 hours to bike issues.

Finally we got rolling, and by this time the weather was turning bad again (surprise!) and we were out of water. We started the ride out to Crooked River Ranch, which would serve as TA for the rest of the race. We stopped at a house along the way to ask for water. Bad idea. Scary dogs, scary people. No water. They said all their water was bottled and they couldn't give us any. That was the first time any of us had been refused water. So, thirstily, we continued our ride to the ranch.

When we arrived, we found out that STAR and Tom's team were already out on the trek. Nike was in TA and getting ready to leave. We were determined to be right behind them, so quickly got ready to head out. As we were getting close to ready, Jim came by to tell us that there was a tornado warning in effect and that we would have to stay for at least 1/2 hour. Nike put down their packs and sat, while we keep getting ready so that we'd be set to go as soon as we were given the OK.

The OK didn't come for 5 hours. Hail, heavy rain and tornados made us stay in TA. We were well fed by STAR's support crew, got everything ready to roll and then went and slept in the lodge until the weather cleared. It's amazing that we managed to be in TA all three nights when the weather was bad.

(Part 4, the final installment. Last two trekking legs and the dramatic finish!)


I've been resting since the race ended on Saturday night, and yesterday I started to get antsy. I'm not very good at resting. I was feeling really good, so I rode to work today. Ug. My legs felt heavy, they just had no jump to them. So, maybe I'm not as recovered as I think.

On the other hand, if I don't start moving, I'll be unbearable to be around. I'm hoping my legs will work themselves out.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

race report, part 2

Last we saw our heros, they were waiting out the first night's storms in the cold bathroom...

I had been awake for awhile trying to stay warm because the floor just wasn't that comfortable. The sky was clearing and the rain had stopped. Just as I was waking up my team, Leiza came by to tell us that the race would restart at 6 (it was 5:50). We were all set to go, and were the first team out on the water. There were four checkpoints to get. It was a relatively uneventful leg, except for the beer drinking (see highlight post). We were paddling sit on tops, very slow boats compared to other teams, so we were third off the water.

Next leg was to ride to L&M/Circle S ranches. There were a number of trekking points on the two ranches, and we could choose to ride to the entrance at either ranch. The question was whether it was going to rain again, leaving the dirt roads impassable. We decided to risk the bad roads and we went in at Circle S. I got pretty sleepy on the ride out, so started a rousing game of 20 questions, which worked pretty well except for how long it took us to finish a round. When you're tired, you can drag out a game for a very long time. It was a relatively straightforward trekking leg. We had a few nav errors, but otherwise we were doing well. A few teams passed us, but we were still in 4th (3rd?) when we got back to the lake for the second paddle.

There was yet another storm rolling in as it got dark, which was becoming a theme for the race. Two teams were out on the water already. We were allowed to go out, but were told the storm was about 45 minutes away. We decided to wait it out and have a nap for 1.5 hours. We once again settled in to the bathroom, but this time we learned from homeless people that cardboard makes a huge different in how cold it is sleeping on concrete. It is amazing how much better we slept.

After 1.5 hours of sleep, the storm had totally blown over and we headed out for the last paddle leg. It was pretty uneventful, although definitely more difficult to do the nav in the dark. We had one problem when we paddled right past a point, but led another team right up to it and then spent about an hour looking for it again. Once we got that sorted out, it was back to the TA to head out for a ride to a ride/trek at Circle S. We were in 4th place.

(part 3, coming soon)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

race report - part 1

It's hard to know how much detail to give in a race report. The people who read this who also adventure race, and especially those who have done this race before, probably want lots of details. Other people would probably find that boring. I'll see if I can find a happy balance. Pictures would help, of course, but alas, I don't have any.

The whole race experience started by picking up the NC boys at the airport. It became clear why I'm not a navigator after circumnavigating DFW airport a few times trying to find my way to the gates. Finally I noticed a very little sign that had been eluding me. Then I circumnavigated Terminal E three times looking for Charlie. Once we realized that I was looking on the arrivals level while he was waiting on the departures level, everything went smoothly. Picking up Ernie was uneventful and we were on our way.

Wednesday morning was sunny, with no traces of the lightening storms we'd been driving through the night before. The forecast had a low (40%) chance of rain that evening, with a higher chance on Friday. We were still optimistic that the weather would be better than the previous year.

The race started, as it usually does, with a prologue around town that could be done either on scooters or rollerblades. I'm competely useless on rollerblades (you might think I'm exagerating, but I'm really not. Useless. Dangerous to myself and others.) so I chose the scooting option, as did Charlie. The prologue was longer and more difficult than previous years. It involved solving some puzzles and then heading around to various houses looking for words to resort into a phrase. In the meantime, storm clouds were moving in.

We finished the annoying scavenger hunt and jumped on our bikes for the ride to L&N Ranch. Fortunately, it hadn't rained yet and the roads were totally fine. We thought we were waaaaay behind after the hunt, but we arrived at the ranch and there were only two sets of bikes there. We had to run out and get two check points, about 12 km total running. We ditched a bunch of gear and set out. We managed to catch the one team ahead of us and put some time in on them before the wind suddenly changed directions and the temperature dropped 15 degrees. It happened in an instant and that is never a good sign. The rain started with about 2 km to go, and with about 3/4 to go, it really started. Cold, horizontal rain with some hail mixed in.

We got to the bikes and dug for our rain gear. Through the wind and rain we heard someone calling us. Leiza made us crawl into the truck to wait out the storm warning that was in effect. It was 11:37 when we crawled into the truck. The warning was lifted at midnight. In the meantime, Tom's team had joined us in the truck and soon after that, the 4th place team (Nike) climbed into the second truck (STAR was leading and was already on their bikes somewhere). At midnight, we were told we could go, but we were still eating and hoping it might lessen a bit more. We were also getting sleepy. Nike headed out right away, and we finally got motivated about 10 minutes later to make the ride to the lake (on paved roads).

On arrival at the lake, we were told no one was going out. The two teams ahead of us were here, and we were to just hang out until it was safe. We ended up spending the night in the bathroom at the park. We were soaking wet, the concrete floors were freezing, and it may be one of the most uncomfortable nights I've spent. Obviously, we didn't get much sleep.

(long winded part 2, coming soon)

Monday, May 08, 2006

quick highlights

I'll write a full race report a bit later when the fog in my head clears, but for now, a few race highlights.

- Ernie finding an unopened can of Bud Lite on the beach during the kayak leg. And drinking it.

- Timing TAs perfectly to miss the worst of every storm.

- Sleeping under the shuffle board table at Crooked River Lodge during the tornado warning (see above)

- Bacon. Everything is better with bacon.

- Winning by 11 minutes.

- Having an amazing team and being even more excited about PQ because I get to race with them again.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

off i go!

I'm just about to head out to the race. The jitters have mostly been replaced by excitement. This is a super fun race, and I'm excited to see how the team gets along. The weather is looking pissy, with 60% chance of scattered strong storms just after the start of the race, but let's hope we fall in the 40% instead. The dirt roads up there totally suck in the rain (last year's 1 hr ride turned into a 4 hr bike slog).

I'll be back Sunday and will post a race report soon afterwards. Wish us luck!

Monday, May 01, 2006

to the gills

It's going to be a tight fit in the jeep from DFW to Haskell tomorrow evening. The back seat isn't split like I thought it was, and my ENORMOUS gear box takes the whole back when the seat is up. That leaves some space between the box and the hatch, and the extra bit of back seat for all of Charlie and Ernie's gear. Oh, and the one scooter that won't fit on the rack with the three bikes. Oh, and the front wheels. Thank god there is a roof rack on the thing. If all else fails, I can strap Charlie up there.

This is where I really need a photo.

pre-race jitters

I can only imagine the jitters that I'll have before PQ. I'm nervous before every race, but this time I'm nervous because I'm meeting new teammates. I am plagued by self-doubt (ok, plagued might be too strong a word). I'm worried that I won't be fast enough, or that they will think they made the wrong decision by choosing me for the PQ team. It's silly, because I'm definitely ready and I know it will be fine, but there is that one part of me that never thinks I'm good enough. That parts needs to be quiet.