Friday, June 27, 2008

Altitude Aspirations

Yo. How you doin [head nod]?

Fridayyyyy. Mucho intellectual suffering this week (very little physical unfortunately)... but it is the weekend now and that means I get released from my cage and get to go fly around for awhile.

I am very excited that the weekend is here because tomorrow we are going to climb Humphreys Peak. For us lowlanders, ascending from the 1200 foot above sea level in Phoenix to 12,300 foot summit of Humphreys is an exciting challenge indeed. Humphreys is the highest peak in Arizona and I am told still has snow patches on the top.

I am doing a research paper on altitude sickness for my anatomy class right now and I am interested to see the effect that it has on us. A 11,300 foot rise in 5 hours (2 hrs drive, 3 or 4 climbing the 4k foot trail) is guaranteed to give us headaches, dizziness, etc. Very cool. Let the real anatomy lab/research in action begin!

I will bring my GPS and plan to record changes in my body for every 1000 feet we ascend. The things I am forced to do in the name of science and getting an A...I tell ya.

Well kiddies, gotta run. Physical therapy on tap for this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Adventure Racing.

Primal Quest has started. I am so addicted to reading about expedition adventure races. I don't have time but I just don't care. More info here. There is also a really cool tracking site that allows you to follow teams real time due to satellite feeds from SPOT devices. My advice, pick a team and start cheering. It seems like the big dog teams are at the front so pick the one's with the best bio to root for.

In other AR news, I will be toeing the line at the annual summer Extreme Heat Coon Bluff adventure race on July 11th. Pretty excited... Now I KNOW I am going to be very slow. And I KNOW that I will not be running down loose mountainsides like last time. But who cares, I am just excited to be doing something! Only problem is, my taper started way too soon in the form of "damn it I have no time to work out...ahhhh crap".

But I figure that I will near my knee brace so that everyone knows I am a gimp and doesn't wonder why that athletic looking chick is so freaking slow. By the way I got a new even more bionic knee brace which is meant for "bikers" so that means I really committed myself to the to the sport. Hah. A thousand dollar commitment (thanks insurance) means nothing in the biking world...did you know bikes cost a lot?

Well off to ride in the 113 degree balmy evening. This Tuesday is my only night off for two weeks so I am pretty pumped to get to ride.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


So I am really looking forward Thursday when temperatures will dip back into the balmy 108 degree range. This 115 degree stuff is killing me. Joking, I love it. Joking again. I am also really excited about that one day of "partly cloudy" next Saturday... oh wait, it will still be 112 so never mind.

Seriously though, it is beyond hot for June. We were ten degrees above normal for this whole week as you can see by the 10 day forecast below, we are going to remain hot for indefinitely. We call shall call it global deep frying.

I rode my bike for about an hour at 6:30 pm tonight, but weirdly enough, even though it was probably easily well over 110, I just felt a little dry but not hot. You don't even feel sweat at these temps, just some thirst and a little queasy. I think that sometime I might just keel over and not see it coming. So now is when I most need to be independently wealthy so I could move to my summer home in Colorado and laugh at all the poor Phoenicians who are stuck working in the hot hot city.

Phoenix Ten Day Forecast:

Jun 23
Sunny 112°/78°
Jun 24
Sunny 111°/78°
Jun 25
Mostly Sunny 109°/76°
Jun 26
Sunny 108°/78°
Jun 27
Sunny 111°/81°
Jun 28
Partly Cloudy 112°/81°
Jun 29
Sunny 111°/80°
Jun 30
Sunny 110°/80°
Jul 01
Sunny 109°/80°

I have another killer week coming up with 4 tests, a gazillion homework assignments and some stressful work stuff. Wake me up next weekend from my self loathing induced coma. At least I got to float down a river on Saturday. It was nice. And hot.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It is already Thursday.

Longest week ever...fpppph...since last week.

Seriously, between three tests, two labs, a million homework items and flying to Oregon and back for a 14 hour day, me is ti-ti/in need of a nice glass of merlot.

The workouts this week were very weak. It's hard to get any sort of real workout crammed into an hour lunch break. I tried to run outside today and I just felt like crap: knee hurt, very hot, feeling burnt out physically. But I do have a super cool bruise the size of a grapefruit on my left quad.

It's a funny story really. See I went for a bike ride last Sunday morning. We started way too late and it was like 9000 degrees out at 9:00 am when we set out on from the Dreamy Draw Park in the Phoenix Mountains. We took a new trail, it went straight up the mountain which ended up being a lot of pushing, and then came straight down the mountain. I am still be a big chicken, so I was doing a lot of yelling as we descended with my butt way behind my seat. Something about loose dirt and rocks with turns marked by big cactus makes me nervous.

Anyway, we reach the bottom successfully (yeah!) and decided for our own sake that we would take the road back to the car because it is blazing hot and my friend was late for something already. We were cruising along the sidewalk when all of the sudden, a big evil trashcan appeared out of nowhere. I swerved around it, but due to the pricker bush sticking out on the other side, I got too close to it and caught my my handle on it, and somehow my bike stayed nicely put while I did not. It was a full-out superman over the handlebars. Sidewalk biking = dangerous.

I did not get hurt at all, other than a nice leg bruise. I always wear my knee brace when biking to keep my knee in it's rightful place. And no I do not do this stuff on purpose., I just have bad luck and I am am clutzy (and forgetful - unrelated). Anyway, I have always liked good looking bruises. My body has been extra bruise free since the end of my rugby days and my blood is all like "really, I am getting tired of just pumping around your pulmonary and systemic circuits already, give me some action!".* So I was just trying to comply.

*I had a test on the heart this week so I am up to date on daily blood voyages.

One last photo from Christopher Creek:

See the tiny person on top of the falls? She is small in general, but really, this unexpected water drop towards the end of Christopher Creek was quite large. Needless to say, we did NOT jump this falls, but instead climbed up to a ridge, traversed across and then scrambled back down. It looks like a sweet place for a rappel though and there was already a secured ring for it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Trekking the Chistopher Creek Canyon

Temps hit 110 on Saturday, so as a reward for surviving another week, I jumped in a car with my ladies of TEAM ODP adventure racing for a hike at Christopher Creek about 25 miles east of Payson. I had done zero research of the hike or area and thought we were doing an easy day hike to some water. As usual with these two, easy is all relative.

Christopher Creek turned out to be a 2 mile canyon with about 50 waterfalls cascading down the length of it. Apparently, they advise bringing rope for a couple of 60 foot falls towards the end (sadly they are not jumpable cliffs). When we saw some other folks with rope, we wondered if we could do it without. Since I am alive to write this blog, lets just say that that you can do it without rope. Can and should are two different stories.

When we pulled off the road to the parking lot, I was pleasantly surprised by all of the high trees and non desert feeling of the start of the hike.

An easy 1 mile hike down to the creek led to the popular box canyon. Most stop here and return the way they came (by most I mean all). After leaving this first box canyon, we didn't see anyone for five hours until we made it to a highway.

In the first box canyon, there were some ropes tied up to help you get out of the canyon.

I also had to accept a challenge to climb this wall over water since Sarah attempted it and failed. I love being in the middle of something and being told "I wouldn't fall right now if I was you."

We decided to press on and by doing so, knowingly left behind the ability to go back the way we came from. When you jump off a cliff into a deep pool without a rope, that is the reality of it. Sarah had done some research and thought that although they advised the use of ropes, they claimed that you could make it without them, so on we went. Adventure, here we come!

Compared to Salome Jug, this canyon had much larger falls, with less natural slides. It is also more of a box canyon than a slot canyon so it did not have the narrow steep walls on either side. We thought it was only about 2 miles long but it dropped an amazing elevation in those two miles. Most of the falls either required a steep down climb (~15 ft) or just jumping down to a deep pool below. We made very slow time as we stopped constantly to play in waterfalls, nibble on food and exclaim how beautiful it was.

Here Sarah found a way to bypass a huge falls by climbing down through a tiny little hole in the rock. It was quite amusing to watch. I also used my herculean strength and my knowledge acquired from the Goonies to lift up this boulder so my friends could slip through. "Hey you guys..."

This place was just one beautiful falls after another. Our pattern was first person jumps to test the depth (you could see it was deep). If first person successfully makes it, second person tosses bag down and then proceeds after. Switch turns on subsequent jumps.

The canyon finally turned into a slowly running stream and we found the wisp of a trail ascending steeply out of the canyon on the north side beside a small stream. (Note: Look for high power lines as a landmark for the stream) A couple mile hike landed us at this high mountain vista where we could hear a nearby highway. Score. We weren't going to have to spend the night. Just 1 mile down the road was our car. Overall I highly recommend this canyoneering trip to anyone wishing to make a quick day of it with no gear needed. It is a 2 hour drive from Phoenix and took us about 5 hours with no rush. I do recommend being comfortable on rocks and down climbing with no aversion to cactus, occasional scratches, jumping off cliffs and steep dropoffs. In other words, this is an adventurer's dream.

One of my favorite pictures and favorite spots. This is towards the end of the canyon where two falls collect into a deep pool.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My Wish List

Making a list. Checking it twice. It doesn't really matter if I am naughty or nice (I am an adult now...sometimes...I'll do what I want). I ah wann ah leave ah town. [Please sing in tune of favorite Christmas song.]

It's getting hot out and my natural inclination is to bolt town faster than you can say bloody hell. So I made a list of things I want to do in the next couple of months (there are tons you see, but you must prioritize). I realize that I could totally quit my job and just spend two months doing all these fun things and my list would probably still be bigger than it is now...but alas, I need to pay bills and I haven't won the lottery yet and I already screwed up and didn't marry someone who is independently wealthy but probably an ass who inherited tons of money. So in the meantime I am going to just keep these items in mind. I think that 1,2,3,4,10 are highest priority. Let me know if you want to join me for any.

  1. Hike the Four Peaks Motherload (12 miles of class 5 scrambling to cover the entire four peak ridgeline)
  2. Hike/swim the West Fork Oak Creek Trail (14 miles of river/trail)
  3. Hike Humphries Peak (10 miles with 3,843 ft climb)
  4. Ride from Flagstaff to Sedona (25 miles downhill -weeeeeh)
  5. Climb Mt Whitney
  6. Ride from Flagstaff to the GC (60 miles)
  7. Visit Moab/Bryce/Zion/etc
  8. Death Valley
  9. Rim2Rim Hike
  10. Downhill Sunrise Ski Resort in White Mts.
Tomorrow we are going to check out Christopher Creek for more water canyon adventures. No, I don't get tired of exploring canyons, do you get tired of chocolate? I didn't think so. It is training.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


So I know that I should be doing my lab homework and studying for my anatomy test next week on three chapters I haven't even read yet, but I just discovered Netflix OnDemand and some thing will just have to wait. You can watch movies on your computer at high quality in unlimited amounts of our cheapo $7.99 a month package. And the best part, they are ON DEMAND, what more do you need. I demand, they give. It's great.

Then I realized that they had a movie called Hardihood available for ON DEMAND viewing which I have been wanting to check out all about women's pro downhillers. So of course, I started watching that and stopped doing homework. And because I love quirky documentaries and I love biking, it is no shocker that I loved this movie.

Umm I don't think I could ever be a real downhiller, they are half crazy and all seem very ripped. I just want to be able to tackle most cross-country technical. But damn, I think I need to go check out a race sometime. They rode down stuff that was impossible to walk down. And the wipeouts, eh. I need a lesson in hardening up. Makes my puny endos and slideouts look like child's play.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Story of Mental Confidence

Crazy Rower#2 takes on a climb.

The Story of Mental Confidence.
You can only do it if you believe it. Winners always believe in themselves and losers usually question if. I know this of course, as both a winner and a loser many times in my life, but once again had a DOH realization of an old truth this weekend.

We arrived at the trail head at around 8am and it was already above 90 degrees. I looked over the tree-less desert landscape and knew it was going to get hot out there. My companions were rearing to go and were pushing to ride the competitive loop instead of the nice easy "friendly" trail that I had assumed we were riding. Looking at them, I wanted to say, "But listen you leg muscled fit freaks, I am riding scared with very limited fitness and I don't think I can do this...wahhhhhhh." But instead, I just adjusted my crappy knee brace, took a deep breath and followed them onto a trail which my only experience with was watching people wreck on it during an NMBA race in January.

Approximately two seconds later, we come to the first hill which just seems to drop out of the sky. I can see ahead that the terrain even 20 feet ahead is at a much lower elevation, which intuitively to my small brain, means the trail is going go straight down. I hit the brakes and did the worst thing that you can do while beginning to descend something. I stopped and stared at it and thought about endoing down it. See mentally right now, I don't have it. I don't want to wreck because I don't want to injure myself and therefore my brakes have been getting way to much use which really isn't any safer anyway. Big hills require finesse braking, not over braking so I know in my head that I can't take this slow, I just need to go. But instead, I start walking down the damn hill, dragging my bike, which I can assure you is harder on my knee than just riding it.

My pysche is at an all time low. We have just started and I am already freaking out and making my friends wait and really I just want to cry and go back to the car and wait. I know I am making myself into a basketcase, but my confidence is shot, and I can't even make it up to the top of the next hill without dabbing and then having to get off and walk. I don't even make eye contact with them, just tell them they should go ahead because I am going to be slow that I don't want to talk about it. I kept riding past them and went into my little woe is me zone where I ride slow and try not to cry or stop and throw my bike.

I think they sensed I needed some time so I didn't hear them for a long time until my buddy J came riding past me silently. At this point, I was over sad and frustrated and was nearing pissed off and frustrated. Why was I crippling myself mentally? I have the ability to ride that hill, just not the confidence. I am using my knee as a mental crutch and this realization angers me. I tell myself, next hill, I am just going to go. If I crash, so be it, I shouldn't be out here in the first place.

The next steep drop rises out of nowhere and this one I can see has rocks, not just smooth dirt. J takes it slow and I can see him drop out of my view in one big air move. This is so not the hill I was hoping to regain confidence on. But anger is a great motivator and I just went. The pitch was steep enough that for the first time in my life, I felt the need to drop my butt squarely behind and below my saddle. I remember practicing this move on a grass field once, but never ever have I actually done it on the trail. Halfway down the hill, there is a foot drop down to another level of rock and I just take a deep breath and go. I feel my rear suspension compress up under me and then propel me forward. I have to adjust my position to stay in control, but I slowly cruise up to J at the bottom of the hill who had been watching with bated breath. He informs me that that hill was much worse than the first one. Yeah, I now that. I feel some happiness course through me for the first time in awhile and my confidence rises a notch.

We ride on and it is getting hot. This trail is full of rocky uphills and downhills with nice sandy washes at the bottom. In other words, it is work work work. I am riding pretty well on the ups now but they seem to take all my strength and when I hit the top, I am completely spent and need to slow pedal for a minute to get some juice back. That is the problem really, my right leg is maxing out on its quad strength way before my left so it is left devastated at the top. At the top of a long brutal climb up a ridge complete with switchbacks and rocks, I stop because I think I might die. Crazy Rower #2 is even stopped trying to catch her breath. It is probably reaching upper 90s now and I some privacy to rid myself of the Cliff Bar I heedlessly chomped down on the drive here. This is old hat for me though, as I have never been good with exercise and food in my stomach. Eventually I press on, finding a better zone as I do.

By the end of the trail, I have easily ridden down the most five technical downhills of my life. With each one, by mental block gets dismantled and my confidence rises. Pedaling gets easier. It doesn't seem as hot. I have a choir of joyous children singing in my heart. I feel happy. And I realize, that I just had a test, against myself and my fears, and I overcame. This is the mental portion of injury rehab, and it is way more important than the physical part.

Some photos I snapped of Crazy Rower & J while riding the McDowell Competitive Long Loop

Monday, June 9, 2008

Crazy descends again.

The Crazy is starting again. It was so nice the last two weeks only having to work at my full time job and volunteer one night a week. But tonight I start my second Anatomy & Physiology class which is from 5:30 to 8:30 every Monday and Wednesday. That coupled with working at the hospital on Thursday nights from 4 to 8 pm means that Tuesday is my only night off. Friday afternoon/evening I reserved by my PT at the clinic. But Tuesday isn't really a night off because I am going to have to start traveling to Oregon every other week for work and a back and forth trio in one day means I won't get back until around 8pm. So when am I going to get to ride my bike on any trails in the next two months? Every other Tuesday night I guess. I am going to cry.

I also need to continue with my own PT (especially lifting) because there are still some big strength differentials that I am trying to eliminate. I also just started running which is consists of run on a treadmill as long as I can before the limp begins (1.5 miles yesterday which I was happy with). So I think I will need to start back up with the lunchtime workout routine because really eating is a waste of my time right now. Sigh. Do I sound stressed? I am actually not at the present moment, it is like the calm before the storm.

My honey gave me a big hug last night and told me that he is behind me in this whole thing and that don't worry, he will cook me food and care for me. And I know he will because he is the best guy in the whole world and I could not do this without him.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Some tunage.

Happy Freeday Friday!

This song "The Special Two" I am digging right now courtesy of Missy Higgins. I love her voice and her lyrics. It is my "working music".

This video just makes me laugh, but I gotta say, I like it. This is by The Young Punx and it is called "You've Got To".

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Biking: It's Better With Air

Here is my friend Monika. She is cute right? Sorry kids, she is taken. But I have to poke a little fun at Moni because Internet, she is a hot mess on a bike. She gave me permission to make fun of her so I will because that is the kind of friend I am.

Let me explain. I am the type of person that thinks everyone will enjoy my hobbies, if they just try them. My enthusiasm for getting new people out in nature or on a bike or climbing up a mountain is tempered only by my own lack of abilities. I love sharing, teaching and motivating outdoor adventures. In other words, I am bossy.

So I have been trying to convert all my friends to bikers. It is better to have tons of biker friends, especially ones that are newer than you so that you always have someone to ride with and feel like a rockstar around. Moni decided that she would give mountain biking a try, so we agreed to meet at Papago Park for some easy beginner riding.

I know Monika has a bike, but I also know she has slicks on it because it is mostly used for commuting. So when she shows up with her husband's bike, I am not surprised. I am ready to go, excited that the temperature is not above 95 and feels downright cool. She pulls out her bike and says tells me she just needs to put air in one of her tires and then she is ready to go.

I look at her tire and realize that it is a little more than low, it is flat. Upon further investigation, I realize her back tube's presta valve is completely gone and there is nothing to hold the air in. I ask her what happened, she has no idea. I ask her if she has an extra tube, and she looks at me blankly.

Luckily I have an extra presta tube. So I try to remove her tire using my keys because of course I can't find my tire irons. After bending two badly, we get her tire off and swap the tube. Then of course we use her tiny hand pump to pump up the tube. This does not work very well but we finally get enough air in it to ride on. Then we realize that the front tube is also fairly flat so we try to pump that up with the same crappy hand pump and we are finally ready.

Monika then informs me that she is too stylen to have a helmet and she was hoping she wouldn't need one. Now I don't know about you, but I don't want to teach mountain biking to a someone wearing a baseball cap. I already had one bad experience where I injured another friend during our intro to mtb lesson. So I force her to wear mine and off we go.

Very quickly into the ride, her front tire starts to go flat and must have a hole in it (not the one we swapped). She feels unstable on the hills and thinks her bike is about to fall apart or the tire is going to fall off or something dreadful. So I switch bikes with her and she immediately takes off exclaiming how much she likes my bike. Yeah, I know hon. That's why I love it.

Now to her credit, once I gave her all my good equipment (just bike and helmet, thats all) and I took all her crappy equipment (un-tuned bike with flat tire and a baseball cap), she did really good. She rode the around the buttes, got a taste of single track and learned some rocky downhill techniques. I on the other hand got a really good workout with my flat tire.

Anyway, I told her she was like Britney Spears on a bike, if BritBrit knew how to ride that is. So cheers Moni, we'll do it again sometime.

PS, Monika is also originally from Germany as such, wanted me to express her LOVE of the HOFF and all things David Hasselhoff related.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How's the knee?

How about a knee update?

You know what? This whole rehab process is hard. I mean obviously it is hard just by it's nature, but I think I keeping looking for the key to the whole thing and it just doesn't exist. What am I talking about? Well swelling of course. And my brain and pysche. And slight pain versus real pain versus my poor knee doesn't really feel too much anymore.

In the last couple of weeks, while pushing my knee to greater heights, it has rebelled a bit and started to swell. Not bad, but enough that it sort of holding me back a bit. Not to the point that I am not doing things, but I feel that I am not making the same amount of progress that I was before. But taking breaks (I have tried) doesn't really seem to help and it just make me unhappy in my little brain.

The funny thing is, I know I am still ahead of the game and someone less motivated would be ecstatic about my current progress level, but I am not "someone," I am me and damn it, I have no patience. I started mountain biking, but I feel so weak and can't go for more than 1.5 hours (with lots of breaks) without burning myself out. Normally that would be fine, but my friends are planning a super fun 120 mile bike trip in about a month and I sooo want to join them, but I just don't see it as possible yet. I hate feeling like I am holding others back more than actually just being slow.

I also started jogging, but I can't go very far before the limp limp starts and then it's this big mind game of is that good or bad pain? Should I keep going? Stop? Is this a natural pain that comes from starting to run after knee surgery or is it the set you back kind of pain? I am sure that these feelings are very common, but I think I have lost the ability to recognize bad pain or pain at all. I sometimes don't even realize that I am limping because it just feels normal. Bad bad bad.

So basically, I am whining about not being 100% which is ridiculous of course, but I can't help it because so much of my recent life (2.5 years) has been about holding back and waiting till I am better and I am just getting tired of it. Sigh. So I tell myself to chill out and stop worrying about getting back to my top form because much to my chagrin, I am not a professional or even sponsored athlete and the time frame is undefined.

More than you needed? Probably, but I admit, this rant may have been exactly what I needed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Trip Home

I was in Ohio over the weekend for a wedding. The weather was great for once and although the trip was unbelievably short, I got a lot of quick visits with friends and family packed into 2.5 days. It was great seeing C & S's new munchkin, a total doll of a newborn, and of course my cute cute nieces and their parents. I spent some time with my grandparents who are getting older and although they are fighters, realistically won't be around forever. I got to hang with some high school homies to watch one of my best bud's marry her longtime boyfriend and I even met up with some college friends for a drink when I passed through CBUS. I also spent some quality time with the rents and the sistas. And saw Tom's parents for a brief ten minute visit at a McDs outside the airport (don't ask). So it was a busy social weekend and sleeping was at a minimum but you can sleep when you die right?

Did I mention that my nieces are cuter than yours? Seriously. They would win the contest every single time.

Exhibit A: Substantiating Evidence

Exhibit B: Further Evidence

Exhibit C: Concluding Evidence

Case is adjourned.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Tonto Creek Backpacking Pics

I am finally posting some pictures from the backpacking trip over Memorial Day to the Tonto Creek Narrows. Overall, it was a pretty awesome and very relaxing time. I didn't get any pictures of our campsite, but Megan did so check out her blog for those. Also, I told my friend Em that if she jumped off a huge cliff (featured in Megan's blog) that no one else had the nerve to jump off that I would publicly state on my blog how much cooler and braver she is than me.

Well Internet, she is.