Miles of Life ~ My life as a donut Kylie Donia

Archive for the ‘adventure racing’ Category

hi again

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

I’m alive, Utah was awesome, I have pics, and I will post them. I’ve been in an odd state of semi-existence since I got back. I put in over 70 hours at work last week (yes, in one week) because things are a bit down-to-the-wire and hectic here. That combined with a vacation (very needed mentally, but not physically) means that my training is thrown way off. I no longer even check the schedule I was using as a guide. I’ve been going more with an “if I have the time and energy and desire just go do it” approach. In fact, I heard BBB while I was lying in bed this morning (yup, even though I’ve never heard his voice). It was telling me not to think, and to do. So although it was only 30 minutes, I got a run in. And then back to work. Cause you know, those whole 6.5 hours I had off (yes, including sleeping, running, etc) were all I had time for.

Vineman is going to be tough, and I’m going to hurt.

I never really have gotten the run volume up to where it should be. I was doing great, then my running slacked off when I got a plan from a coach (and I only did what was on it). And then the knee soreness and foot issues, and it’s life. These things happen. I’m in an odd place right now. I’ve accepted it, and I’ve moved on. It is what it is… I’m not whiny or really upset by it, but a bit disappointed. Some in me, some in the coach. But more, I’ve lost my love of it. I haven’t been craving time out with my running shoes like I used to. It feels sorta like IM-blues, but I’m still pre-IM. It feels a bit like depressed, or a lack of motivation, but really is just a lack of enjoyment. I used to just make myself go, and afterwards I’d have this feeling of contentment, like things were right in the world. Now I feel like I’m going through motions. Even after, it is done and I’m glad I did it, but don’t have the same feeling in my heart. Part of me thinks I’m just sick of pavement, part of me that I’ve just kinda given up on getting better right now, and I almost feel like with each run I disappoint myself or let myself down.

I haven’t been blogging because of the desire to be away from the computer when I can (I’m stealing a break at work now) but also because I just don’t know how to put into words what’s in my heart and head. Something is off — the training, my usual love of life and ability to do any of this, even my desire to fix the whole issue.

I’ve had a great training day — my 100 mile brick in 100 degree heat. Sunday I got up, and just made myself get on the bike. No commitment, no goal, supplies to be out there a while if I neede them (and knowledge that a long day would bring me past home to refuel as well). I started saying I’d at least do my 45ish minute ride that I think of almost as a time-trial. Mostly flat, few stops. I got to the out point, and didn’t come back. Instead I figured I could do a loop or so of Bonelli, so I headed there and did so. It was really busy though, so I wanted to leave. So I did, and I climbed up San Dimas Canyon to where it ends. Which was not as hard as I had thought it might be, which was good since it somewhat matches the main hill in Vineman (which you hit at 45 and 101 miles) and I hit it at about 40 miles. Then I stopped and refueled. Confusing my roommate when I said I’d be back in about 3 hours. And just kept riding. Went out toward Rancho and did the Banyon ride, and rode around heritage park. Then my GPS was getting low on battery (charged when I left — I think getting old) and I’m a numbers geek, and was over 80 miles, so I headed home and made it at about 95 miles. Grabbed running shoes and a tank top and hit the streets for a tough hour and around 5.5 miles. I was feeling good off the bike. Not the same kind of content as I used to, but less empty than I’ve been feeling lately. And the run I lost that feeling. Got to feeling distracted, and somewhat bored. But I finished. Stretching then felt great! And a cool shower, ending with an ice-free ice-bath for my legs, and I wasn’t sore from the day. Great in terms of training, deposits in the IM bank account, etc. But the after-feeling and wholeness is used to bring never came.

So Vineman… it will be tough. I will live, but I’m not expecting to run as well as I did in AZ. I’m curious about the bike — I could see that going either way. And the swim will probably be about the same, depending on my sighting abilities. And I’m ok with that. I won’t be racing for a PR, because I don’t feel in my heart that I should have that kind of a goal. Right now, I think I’m racing because I’m stubborn — because I finish things I start — because I’ve never DNSed a race I’ve paid for. I’m racing it almost as a training day — being there and getting the time in. At least that’s how I see it right now. I want to enjoy the experience, and I’m sure I will once it is here. I’m racing to have a smile on my face, and to not hate everything tris a week after VM. Although I think I will focus more on AR stuff after it… something about the call of the dirt over the call of the pavement. But we shall see when I get there.

So hi. I’m alive, Utah was fun, and I have pics. I will post them. I promise. There were fun times that I will share.

Ok so here is a teaser pic:

one of the views during my birthday ride through

Michigan Coast 2 Coast

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

Another adventure race is underway… and Team Sole is doing great!!

Right now they are in the lead! So awesome!

Looks like Paul is having fun 🙂

pushing it

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Well… I can tell I’ve been pushing it lately. Which is odd, since I feel like a slacker. I think it’s mostly from the race. Although I worked from home the day after, and even though I had only 2 or 3 very light workouts last week, I never really got in a good sleep session. I felt it on Saturday. Went out for a ride, planning to do 60 – 80 miles on the bike. The LBS ride ended up being about 30, and I was just exhausted. My knee was sore, and not in a good way. So I called it a day. Home to food, ice, and sleep. Wow. I think I slept almost all day. Reading and sleeping on the couch, and then had dinner and frozen yogurt with some friends. Felt much better after that, which was good.

Sunday was the long run. I went a bit over 15 miles (the plan called for 15-18), but the knee was not happy (from around the midway point, but it was a big loop so I just sucked it up since it wasn’t awful). The end of the run felt really good though. Stiff and tired muscles, but they were happy to be moving.

Then it was more ice, and then shopping and food with friends. I got a very cute bike skirt. Yes, bike skirt. It’s blue and has bright flowers on it. I’m excited :). Also got a new swim suit, although not one I plan to race in! First year in I don’t know how long that trying on swim suits didn’t make me feel completely awful (as far as body image) for the rest of the day. So that was a nice surprise.

This is another light week, trying to keep the knee happy. I think I figured out why it was sore. My cleat placement had been a bit off on the bike shoes, and commuting with them that way made it a bit achey. And then I remember that I did slid at one point in the race last weekend, with that leg being the one that ended up bent back and under me. So I bet it was the combo. Some tiger balm last night, and swimming this morning, and it is a lot more comfortable than yesterday. Yesterday it inspired a bad dream, and had me work from home since I drive a manual.

Right now I’m hoping to get back into the workout pattern again. Adventure races always seem to throw it off a bit for me. They are great fun, and I wouldn’t give them up, but that’s the truth. I think they also make me stronger though, so it’s a trade-off.

Oooh… and got a raise at work! It’s always great when it is made clear that you are appreciated and the stuff you do doesn’t go unnoticed. It may mean new-toy-time. Or a fun race or other outdoorsy trip. We’ll see! Now to do more of the working part.

another race pic

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

This was after the first part of the pack raft section.

getting out of the pack raft

Explore the West Southern Nevada Adventure Race Report

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Explore the West Southern Nevada
5/13/2006
Boulder City area (Bootleg Canyon, Lake Mead, and the Colorado River)

I explored Southern Nevada with
Explore the West.
100 plus miles of biking, paddling, running
with my map and compass —
around Bootleg Canyon;
through Lake Mead;
up the Colorado River;
Black Mountain;
Red Mountain;
hot springs, canyons, streams,
cactus, snakes, big horn sheep and carp.
It was hard as hell, hardly fun at the time,
brutally hot…

‘It’s times like this we learn to live again.’
foo fighters

This race would prove the shirt wrong — it made it sound too easy.

Our team journey started Friday morning. Packing was finally done, and it was time to head out. Paul picked me up, and we headed out to Boulder City, NV, ending with our fingers crossed that we’d make it into town. Although he knew he could make it to Boulder City with a quarter tank of gas left, that was off a full tank from Barstow. Not a full tank from Claremont. “32 Miles from Boulder City”, the sign said. A few miles later, the gas light was on. With a light load, the truck gets about 40 miles from the light coming on. Yet today we had the truck packed and overflowing — stuff for us during the race, and a few things the race directors Paul and Karen asked Paul my teammate to bring out for them. The gas light on, and the needle past empty, we glided into Boulder City and Paul put more gas in the truck than he ever had before. But we had made it… one situation down, and into race mode!

We headed to the race start, where we met up with Mark, our other teammate. He raced Baja Travesia with Paul in December (a 3-5 day race), but I’d never met him. Another issue was brought up at this point: how were we transporting boats? Paul’s car had no rack on it, and Mark had one boat spot. But we had 2 kayaks (a double and a single) that we had borrowed from Paul and Karen. Our support crew of one person (Geoff) was planning to drive Paul’s truck, which would fit the 3 bikes (which Mark’s XTerra would have trouble fitting)! We were too early to check in anyways, so we headed to Desert Adventures to check out our boats and see if we could work out a deal to get them to transport them for us. They were already doing transport for all the boats rented from them, and our boats were already at their store. We didn’t get a really solid answer, since there were a few factors left to be determined, but we crossed our fingers and waited to find out on race morning.

Talk was centered around course guesses, and Paul was constantly looking for clues. When he got the t-shirt, it was no exception. “Up the Colorado River?? Over 100 miles?” We had a guestimate on how the course was going to go, and although this still fit most of our guesses, we started to wonder how long the course really was — it claimed to be 12-24 hours. But if that was a Paul and Karen 12-24, we should be ready for a few days out there!

Talking to Karen at Registration

Registered we headed back to the kayaks to wax them. Uhh… yeah… great idea… wax kayaks (where I was rubbing it off) in the heat of the day, in the sun, the day before a race. I was being soooo good to be hydrated for the next day, and I think this mistake caused most of my heat and hydration issues the next day. While waxing I could feel energy draining to where I finally had to stop, and just sat in the little shade the boats provided. I didn’t feel that awful, but I’d remember the feeling very quickly during the race!

We then found and set up our campground and did some basic race packing while waiting for our Team Mom support guy, Geoff. We got packs with pack rafts ready, and then figured out the easiest way to attach our paddles: put them in the large mesh swim bag I had and they attached to his pack in an outside pocket with straps through the mesh bag straps helping hold them there. It was going to be my paddle and Paul’s on his pack, with Mark having his own similar set up, but when we got to the section it turned into having all three sets there as Mark’s bag had been left in his car back at the start. Tired from a long day, I soon crawled onto my sleeping bag in the back of the truck. Paul gave Geoff a final call with directions, and we hoped he’d show up in the night. Around midnight he did pull up, and I told him to go get in the tent with Paul and rolled over and went back to sleep.

We were up bright and early, did our last minute packing, and heading to a great breakfast at the Coffee Cup, one of the race sponsors. Then off to the start for last minute organizing and the race meeting. We found out the planned course, and our guess had been pretty close! We ploted part of the course, and then hurried to get on our bikes for the start.

last minute packing right before the start
Our mountain biking started with a fire road climb — nothing too exciting, but it spread the pack out. I was definitely the limiting speed factor for my team here (as I was for much of the race). But I was feeling pretty good. It was a gorgeous morning, and great area! We turned onto the single track, and although a bit nervous with my limited mtb skills, it was a very fun course. One of the straps on my pack broke about 45 minutes in, so there was some knot tying, and it was not staying in place well the rest of the day. It threw off my balance a bit, but was nothing compared to what was to come. We got CP1, and continued on. Within about an hour or hour and a quarter of starting the race, I started to get very very overheated. I was drinking fairly constantly, so I think it was mostly a heat issue. Oh and those kayaks that we waxed the day before? Yup, it started with that same feeling, and remind me of them. “They better fly after all that,” I thought, struggling to steer my bike and fighting with very slow reaction time. CP2 was found, and we were heading to CP3, which was also TA1. I kept drinking — water and gatorade — and took some eCaps. It got a bit scary once I was getting cold. Goosebumps and everything, and shakey. Not good with a full day of sun ahead! For the last part of the ride, my whole focus was on getting to the transition and dipping my hat in the ice chest. I don’t even usually like or wear hats!

We made it to TA3 at last, and found we were in 14th place. We’d thought we were dead last after our slow bike leg, so that was reassuring. We got filled with more water, and added some water bottles with our packs as well, knowing this next leg would be hot hot hot, and long. Oh, and I did get my hat dipped in ice water and filled with ice. I did so a few times, actually. And then it was time for a trek from Bootleg Canyon to Lake Mead — around 15 miles, no real trails, no shade. A race meeting predicted time of 3-5 hours, it was going to be important to have enough water. Starting at 11:20 am, it was only going to get hotter.

I was feeling tons better just by cooling down, and we started our next leg at an easy jog. With a jog/walk combo across the trickier footing areas, we headed straight at the peak where we thought we’d find CP4. We found the volunteer’s truck for it, and although we first picked the wrong hill, we did find CP4 just over that one, and it wasn’t a bad climb across to it. However, again we had been in the sun long enough that I was started to feel the effects again. This time never to goosebumps, but my hands were alternating between throbbing, pins and needles, and being numb. I could barely move my fingers for much of this leg, and hoped it would go away quickly once the leg was over since the kayak was next! But first things first… we have to finish crossing this leg of desert. So I had a new goal: making it to the lake, and again water and cooling down. We scrabbled down a fun canyon (complete with a dead and stinky big horn sheep, many lizards, and a ground squirrel). Reaching a patch of shade, we took a quick break, and I got down some food and ran out of water. Uh oh… we had some water left in one of the camelbacks, and 2 or 3 bottles with a bit of gatorade left in each one. Time to just keep moving.

Across more desert, to an old road, and across the new one. Paul took my pack, helping me keep cooler. We found a picnic area, and used the map to double check where exactly we were. While doing so, a couple turned into for a picnic. As there was no water fountain at the site, we ended up going over, telling them what we were doing, and see if they had any water to spare. Not only did they have water, but they had ice! So more ice in my hat, and ice in waterbottles, and we felt somewhat alive again. To make it even better, the lady’s name was Dora. Great since one of my AR mantras is “Just keep swimmin’!” from Dory in Finding Nemo! After they were our waterheros, we crossed the main road again, back to the old road, and followed it right down to where the boats were at CP5/TA2, arriving right around 5:15 pm. To our surprise, we arrived in 8th place! It was a tough course for everyone. “Anything can happen in an AR!” as Paul said.

almost to the kayaks
After those 7 hours of sun, it took a bit more to really get cooled off again. That shirt I was using to wipe wax off of boats the other day became a friend as I laid it over me after it was dipped in the cooler. With a buff also dipped in the cooler, and hat, and a sandwich break, it was time to get moving again — now in 7th place as some teams were taking longer in transition. We decided to put the boys in the double and have me in the single, towed behind. This ended up working really well. At times I even kept some slack in the rope between us, which is great for me. We moved fast, although not as fast as the team that left about 15 minutes before us! Team Kayak Lake Mead knew what they were doing in this kayak section on Lake Mead. Their name comes from the company they run… and padding is definitely their thing! They did an awesome job, getting to CP6 about 50 minutes before we did, and we didn’t see them again during the race. During the kayak trip to CP6, darkness fell and we broke the glowsticks on the front of the boats. There was a full moon, which we were thankful for, as it meant there were still mountain and shoreline features visible. One of the fun parts was that Lake Mead, often smooth as glass, was instead a bit choppy — we got to face about 3 ft swells and headwinds of about 20 mph! But happily I didn’t turn over the boat, and our bailer was not needed. Although in a cockpitted boat, I didn’t have the spray skirt on but behind me, and when it was getting really choppy it was a concern for a bit that too much water was going to get in.

sunset tree

We made it to CP7/TA3, where Geoff had Jumbo Jack burgers waiting for us! Wooo! It was about 11 at this point, so our guess of 8 or 9 pm meant they were a bit cold. But they were still good, and we watched the glowsticks of a few teams behind us cruise into the bay as we ate. We knew the teams were a bit bunched here, so we got the rest of our plotting done, set up the paddles on the packs, and grabbed our packs full of pack rafts as we headed out on the dirt road. The 2 teams next to us were dropping out of the race, and although part of me was envious that they were done, I was excited about the upcoming pack rafting, and knew I would be unhappy with myself if I stopped after all that. Besides, it was dark now, and although not cool by any means, it wasn’t as deathly hot.

We had our only real navigation error on this trek: a misreading of the distance to the turnoff. So while we thought it should be about 6 miles, really it was more like 3. We went past it, and had to retrace until we found a spot that was either the one we were looking for or at least was one that would take us to the same place. We saw a few teams just over the road from us, and knew we were close to the checkpoint. We saw a light off to the left, and while decided if we really thought that was it, we found it was by talking to the person at it and then hiked our way over.

From there we caught up to the 2 teams we could see ahead, Team Stride and a solo racer Ramon. We had picked a great line over to the other side of the highway, and the drainage ditched we crossed under the highway with was just about my size… I only had to hunch a little. Our three teams stayed together for a good part of this section, helping each other find our way down the canyons (with only a few falls and crashes, and luckily none serious). Here we were also with Paul (the race director one) part of the time, as he set ribbons to help teams through some of the sections. It was still somewhat a guessing game though as it had been Karen who had figured out this section of the course! We came to a few deadends, a few cliffs, and a few uncrossable areas. As one ended we figured out we needed to be a canyon over, and crossed over into it. At this point my feet were starting to die, and the other two teams pulled ahead.

Right around 5:40am the sun started coming up, and as it was daylight we broke out of the canyon and found ourselves on a small beach directly across from the checkpoint! We were in the perfect canyon for knowing which way to head once we got to the river. The other 2 teams were no where in sight, and we soon found out they had carried one of the battery powered pumps that made boat inflation a breeze. Our foot pump took us some time, but while one person pumped the others made sure we were drinking and grabbed some food. Soon our pack rafts were inflated, and we paddled across to CP 9 and headed off up the river for CP10, with Karen kayaking a bit next to us. While paddling up the river, we saw Team Paddle Me exiting a canyon, and helped direct them to the CP which was a bit down stream. The pack rafts moved SOOOOO SLOWLY! The 1.5 miles seemed to take forever. At times I was defintely tempted to jump out and swim with mine, but since the river was about 54 degrees I just stayed in the boat and kept working at moving. Eventually we reached the spot for CP10’s canyon, and climbed out of the rafts. After a bit of a climb up the canyon we came to CP10, which was a warm springs and had a required 15 minute break. The warm water was nice and soothing, and washing off some of the grime felt great. While we were there, Karen let us know of some course modifications: Only one team was doing the full orienteering section, and one team did part of it. It was cancelled for the rest of us since the whole course was just taking too long for teams to get through! We were relieved, as after the pack rafts I had mentioned to the team that it might be smart of us to just take the full penalty for missing all the orienteering points and just move on. This eliminated us having to make that call, as well as the up to 11 hours in penalties we would have gotten! After the break in the water, it was just going to be a hike to our bikes at CP12/13 and a short ride to the finish line.

hiking out of Goldstrike Canyon after the warm springs
The sun was up again now though, and the day was working on getting warmer. Since we had left in the dark, and it had been hours earlier, we didn’t have sunscreen, so part of the hurry of this leg was also to avoid getting too burned. Here Mark grabbed my pack — complete with PFD strapped on the outside — and again my feet were greatful for less stress. About an hour later we reached the top of the canyon, and then it was a 4-5 mile walk (I tried to run, but my feet were having none of that) down a dirt road to CP12/13. During it Team Stride and Ramon passed us again… where did they come from? Turned out they had gotten a wrong canyon on leaving the hot springs. We got to TA4/CP12/CP13 around 10:45 in the morning, having hit our 24 hour mark while climbing out of the canyon.

TA4 was a faster one for us — we could taste the finish! I put my manditory gear in my bento box on the bike and in a small hip pack, grabbed a water bottle, changed to bike shoes, and we were off. Ok so the change to bike shoes involved a few colorful and choice words as I crammed all the blisters into a new jail. But it was great to have no pack for this part, giving airflow over my back without adding more burden to either of the boys. Although a short ride, it was still hot! Here Mark showed awesome strength as he towed me up the few hills we had to climb to get out of the area the TA was in and back to the pavement. Once we hit pavement we flew… right to the finish line, up over the curb, and we were done.

26 hours and 24 minutes from when we started. The last team to cross the line, but, as announcer Paul said, “last but definitely not least”. I sat down, and off came the bike shoes and socks. Man that green grass felt great on my feet!

free and happy feet at the finish
A hard, tough race. I really didn’t know during parts if we’d be able to finish as a team. It was one of my toughest days ever, and I was lucky to have awesome teammates that helped me pull through it. Temperatures got over 105 during the race! My muscles aren’t too sore today, but my feet sure were after it (although much better today)! I have some blisters in odd spots… Unfortunately (and fortunately) the blisters are a reminder that I’ll have to skip one of the races in the series that I was really looking forward to: the Baja 24 hour race. It’s the week before Vineman, and feet and body won’t need such a pre-race weekend.

We headed back to our campsite, and sorted what we could of our gear. And it was off to the airport, where I got on an earlier flight. Once on the flight, I fell asleep before it took off. And the turbulance woke me a bit, but I felt it was nothing and just went back to sleep. That 35 minute nap was awesome! I then made it home 15 minutes before Adam, who I was supposed to pick up at the airport… luckily Holly was free and came and got us since my car was at home. I then got to make the weekend a bit longer by driving Adam out to 29 Palms since he had to work in the morning… but it was only a 2 hour drive each way, and even on that little of sleep it wasn’t too hard – especially not compared to that race! It was a long weekend for sure… but an awesome one! I’m so glad I did that race… awesome team, challenging course, and great people at every CP and TA and along the course.

[[thanks to Ted Schredd of DiscoverFun for the wonderful photos, and to Karen for the Goldstrike Canyon photo]]

still not the real race write-up…

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

… but a race write-up. This one is from the race directors, and is currently the news on the front page of the race website (yup, it’s my team in the picture… I’m in the middle):

Team DART/NUUNCyril Jay-Rayon, Jen Segger and Ryan Van Gorder win the Southern NV event and take the lead in the Explore the West race.


Team Bullmoose negotiates Goldstrike Canyon

Mother Nature seemed to know it was Mother’s Day and she was in command as temps hit over 105 degrees for the first time this year. The difficult terrain combined with the high temps took its toll on teams as they made their way toward the cool waters of Lake Mead where Mother Nature continued her wrath turning the gentle waters into a 20 mph headwind and 3 foot swells.

As the sun set, teams felt a bit of relief as they headed toward the Colorado River with packrafts nestled in their packs. Here, timing was everything as some teams were forced to paddle against the strong release of water from the Hoover Dam while others got to paddle easily toward the famous Gold Strike Canyon hotsprings.

A mandatory 15 minute stop to soak in the hotsprings was a welcome relief for the teams that made it thus far before the last big climb that would return them to the quaint little town of Boulder City. Additional reports and pictures available on sleepmonsters.com. Complet detailed results coming soon.
COED – 3 person
1 – DART-NUUN, WA/Canada
(Jen Segger, Cyril Jay-Rayon, Ryan VanGorder)
2 – Kayak Lake Mead, AZ/Canada
(Robert Finlay, Druce Finlay, Jen Winiarski)
3 – Team Stride, Canada
(Tom Taylor, Jen Silverthorn, Andrew Fairhurst)
4 – Bullmoose, CA
(Paul Ablett, Mark Henderson, Kylie Evans)

2 person
1 – JBDK
(Jake Bencke, David Krosch)
2 – Feed the Machine
(Christian Burke, Ryan Ognibene)
3 – Ruination
(Jane Larkindale, Jim Holmes)

Solo
1 – Ramon Rivas, Mexico/MA

alive

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Yup… alive. Tough TOUGH TOUGH race.
awesome weekend
pain, heat, more heat, and then some heat to go with it. Oh, and some sunshine.
I now <3 ice
And I cursed the sun and was thankful for a headwind on the bike.
but I’m alive
will post full report later… beware: it’s gonna be a long one =)

procrastination & anticipation

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

Ahhhhh I’m way too good at procrastinating. I leave in the morning (8:30ish) for Nevada for an adventure race and I haven’t even really started packing! We even have to make stops on the way there to have a pump for the pack rafts we need… else they aren’t going to float too well.

I’m starting to stress a bit… my shoulder was sore earlier this week, and my knee, and my foot is being all funky again (maybe I should just suck it up and get the MRI done…). It’s all on my left side. Feels fine now, but we’ll see how it feels 18 or so hours into the race. I’m nervous… it’s a new team. Seem like really cool guys, but after a bad team experience it’s harder for me to trust my gut about teammates. I don’t feel prepared for this race. I haven’t been on the mtn bike in way too long, I haven’t paddled in almost 100 days if my trifuel log is right, and I’m afraid that it is. I’m worried that I’m going to let the boys down.

At the same time, I like knowing a general idea of the plan. As of now, I’m not even positive how I’m getting home. I might fly, might drive. A boy (yes, so often it’s for a boy) is coming into town, and I really want to see him… so I might fly back to have more time with him. And could even end up on his flight from Vegas to Ontario (which is the opposite direction leg of the flight where we met), and that would be good. But of course I’m just feeling apprehensive about all of it right now. *SIGH*

It will be an awesome weekend. Great course, fun people. Good challenges and plenty of heat (should be over 100 Saturday!). Sweating and playing in the dirt. Biking awesome trails, paddling, and the joys of inflatable boats. I am looking forward to it… now to focus on that. Oh right… and to pack…

Between 2 Continents, between 2 Oceans: Race is on

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Wow… a week long SOLO adventure raceis going on now in a Costa Rica near you! My friend Paul (of Team Sole) is racing… and his son and Karen are there as his crew! It should be fun to keep track of how he is doing, and I can’t wait to hear what crazy stories he has after this one =)

AWESOME day of AR

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

Explore the West Southern CA Sprint (1st race in series)
April 8, 2006

After being strongly encouraged onto a team for the second race in this same series, and craving navigation practice, and missing my mountain bike, and missing seeing AR friends, I decided Friday afternoon to just sign up and get out there. I left work early Friday, wanting time to make sure the bike was happy while the bike shop was still open. I climbed on, and rode to the track. The ride was fine — I’m ashamed to admit there was actually a spiderweb in the spokes! But it shifted smoother than I remember it doing last time I rode, so maybe it has a self-tuning superpower. At the track I proceeded to do a heartrate test, which might have not been the best idea the night before the race (I knew though that it wouldn’t happen this weekend after the race). Either way, the run was done, and yummy In ‘n Out was had for dinner (probably also not a great refueling after that run and before a race). Then I stayed up way too late packing and double checking my packing… but hey, I was excited for the race, and I had missed that feeling. It would be my first race of the year, my first solo AR, my first AR all in daylight, and my first time as the team navigator!

My alarm went off nice and early, and I drove to the race which was about an hour away back in the hills near Irvine. I arrived right about when I wanted to, and got to see Paul and Karen, and Barrie, again. Damn, it had been too long! I checked out the plan for the day. It was a marked run course (about 3.5 miles and over 1500 feet of climbing, which we were told would be mostly in the first mile and a half). From there it would be a quick white (beginner) level navigation course, and then onto the mtn bikes for another marked course (which Paul said would be about 11 miles, “plenty” of elevation gain, and a combo of double and awesome single track). About 300 meters from the finish we would be told to drop our bikes and run in to the finish. I was definitely a bit nervous — I haven’t been doing any hill stuff at all as I was still doing base training, and I hadn’t done much nav ever. However, I reminded myself that I knew all of that when I signed up as well. That I was there for those reasons — to get in the practice, to see the people who are like some funky huge family, and to just have a good day with my bike and trail runners.

I got my TA (transition area) set up. It was really not hard at a race this short and without rain or any water event — basically meant making sure I had some water to refill with, and a few snacks to grab if I wanted them, as well as a helmet and biking shoes and a bike. I ran into Dale, who I’ve met at a number of ARs, and we realized we live within 10 miles of each other, and should train together sometime. I got to talk to Karen of Wellsport, who I’ve read some about and who was really sweet and friendly and human despite her amazing abilities on the course (it must go with the name). I also said hi to Jordan, Paul’s son, who was setting up a snack booth to raise money for his mountaineering adventures. Talk about a cool kid! He knows tons of facts, and will happily share stories with you. Check out www.jordanromero.com if you want to learn about his journey to be the youngest person to climb the 7 summits.

Then it was time, and we toed the finish line, and were off. I could quickly tell that the hills were going to hurt, and accepted that and moved at my own pace. I knew it would be a long day, and there was no reason to push too hard on the run climb, which I knew would be on of the tough parts of the day for my physically. I just kept moving… no matter how fast or slow, one foot went in front of the other. Up, up, and then up some more. Of course, here a group of us (there were now a few breaks in the field) did manage to make a wrong turn. Yes, in one of the marked sections of the course. However, it just meant we ended up taking a less steep but a bit longer path — we could see racers ahead and knew what had happened, and that we would end up meeting up with them (at least we hoped so, and then we did in fact do so). I made it to the high point, where the CP (check point) was, and got the word to put on my passport (“super sweet”, which the course was). Then I started the mostly down section, and my legs fast felt like jello. I felt the lack of sleep the most here, as I had gotten a bit ahead of the small group I had been with and had to pay close attention to the course markers and rocks and gullies. I got a bit out of control a few times, and distracted by the gorgeous view of the valley’s around a few times, but made it down in one piece, and back to the TA, where I got my trekking passport and headed out.

I started with a few other people, and we grabbed the first CP together, and the second, but then I decided to go a different way than they did. For one, I wanted to have to rely on myself and my navigation. And for another, I wanted to get the CPs in a different order than they picked. So we split ways, and I stopped to figure out if I was indeed at the trail that I wanted. While stopped, Paul came by. “Orient the map” he said in typical Paul fashion. I’d been hearing his voice say that in my head, and I smiled to hear it really say that as I did so. “Where are you?” he asked, and I pointed to the right place. In big brother fashion, he made me do it all myself, and I had been right, but now believed it myself. One big lesson in nav: trust yourself. Else you can doubt for hours and never get anywhere! I headed off, and came right to the CP I had been looking for! I continued up the trail, making my way to exactly where I knew the next CP would be. However, I knew it would be just off the right of the trail, and hadn’t realized that it was a bit of a drop there. A few other racers were there as well, and we slid down, and got it. Then I headed to the next point, and along a trail I remembered from volunteering in this area once. I knew exactly where I was on the trail the whole time, and knew when it was too far, and even used elevation lines and the compass to double check where I was and that I should be right by the CP (yup, I was proud of my mad navigation skillz). However, I wasn’t seeing the CP. Again, it was just to the right of the trail, and from down the very brush-covered hill, the group of us looking heard “it’s here!” from below. Instead of sliding down this hill, we retraced back a bit and then got to it. It also ended up being much easier to get to (elevation-wise) from the lower section of road. Then it was up the hill to the next 2 points, and then past the 3rd one along that road. However, I quickly knew I was past it and went back and found it. Here I again ran into a few people, but like the other times I never really stayed with anyone on this section. I just did it at my pace and relying on me. I ran past the TA to grab my last point, and then into TA, onto my bike, and out for a bit of climbing!

mmm mmm mountain biking! Ok, or mountain bike walking ;). My legs were definitely tired from all the foot climbing, and I just couldn’t make it up all the hills. So I walked some, talking with Angie and Raffi on some parts, but soon we separated as well. It was a marked course, but that in no way made it easy — there was single track, and fairly loose ground, and plenty of elevation gain, as Paul had promised. I enjoyed it though, except for the blister I could feel growing on my heel part way through. Oops, I never put duct tape on my right heel! It tends to blister when hiking in my bike shoes. I made it down some single track that I almost didn’t dare to ride (and yes, didn’t make it down parts of it and instead made friends with some bushes along the side of the trail — hey they looked lonely!). I didn’t trust Paul when I came across him and he said it was “just a single track climb and then downhill to the finish”. He was sorta telling the truth… it was a single track climb next, but it also included some single track downhills and then more climbing to regain ground lost during them. But I LOVED that section. I managed some of the more technical climbing bits on the bike, even some of the turns! Since much of it was a trail cut through brush-type stuff, and not with cliffs, I tried almost all of it. I think for that part I even rode every bit of the downhill parts — awesome for me since my mtn biking skills are still very beginner. Soon I saw the CP flag which I knew I would find Barry below, and I rode up and over the last crest and to him. Paul pulled up behind me (he was riding about the course on a motorbike) and they told me it was a single track downhill that would put me back on fire road, and that road would basically take me to the finish. 8 minutes, they said. So in 20 minutes I figured I’d be done, and I started off with a smile on my face — that previous single track section had been wonderful for my self-bike-esteem. Again, I managed to ride almost the whole thing! A few hairpin turns had me put a foot down, but I cruised most of it, and down the final fire road. I dropped my bike at the marked spot, and ran into the finish, tired but oddly refreshed, and definitely pleased with how my day had gone. Oh, and it did end up being about 8 real minutes, instead of 8 Paul Minutes.

The day was awesome, and I felt great! Tired in a wonderful, accomplished way. As for my goals, I met them all. I got in some awesome practice, including greeting a few bushes on the mtn bike section, sliding down a few hills on the navigation (yup, some on my butt). I saw some great people I had missed, and some new faces of people fun to meet. I enjoyed the day (because even moments of self-doubt can be enjoyable looking back), and my quads are sore, and my shoulders a bit stiff. I haven’t been sore in a while… and yes, I love this feeling. I learned a lot for nav, and I definitely got inspired to get out on more technical mountain biking! As a bonus, I won the women’s solo division! Haha… my second division first place ever at a race… and my second race at which I was the only person in my division :). Paul and Karen put on a great event, and the ranch was beautiful and difficult all at once. Now I’m even more excited for the next event, where I will have a team and not have to just listen to myself the whole day!