Aug 26, 2011

Getting settled in Yongchuan, China

View of the world from our balcony

We have been in china for about 5 days now. We have settled into our apartment (which is way bigger than our little loft in east van). We spent two days at the school learning about how the school works and what we will be teaching. We get free lunch (we think) which consists of rice and some spicy vegetables and or meats. I've just stuck to the veggies thus far but Andrew has been expanding his horizons in the meat world.

View of random fireworks from our apartment

I am getting excited to do some exploring on my new 'Giant' Pop 3.0 Bike but we have to wait for a bigger one to come in for Andrew.... We've been out on a couple of runs in between group actvities and are excited to get out on our legs in the nearby countryside. We did find some nice city routes along the river(it is not quite a river but not sure what it is so I will call it a river for now). 

Yesterday we had to head to the big city of Chongqing (30 million people) to get our medicals done and do some shopping etc. We scored a badminton set as we have courts on the property around our apartment. Can't wait to hone my skills and challenge the chinese....

Little chinese boy playing with a little turtle in the bag

On the way home there was a huge accident on the highway and we got detoured onto a backroad. Can't wait to go back on our bikes, it was sketchy, windy, and climbed up and over a mountain going past the countryside of Zamou (town in between Yongchuan(our town) and Chongqing). Exciting times.

It is HOT here but not unbearable really, I'm on a mission to find a way to get into the Olympic size pool that seems to be empty and surrounded by gates:)

I found out my teaching assignment: PE 12, PE11, PE10 and grad transitions. I am very HAPPY with this! I am totally looking forward to teaching and even more so seeing our gym get finished by October!

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!

Aug 8, 2011

Oceanman and Vancouver SUP race

I think my body deserves a big pat on the back and a big rest. Good thing I am heading to the cottage for a week for my sisters wedding and just some plain old relaxing cottage fun... I can't wait to be sun bathing on our wooden row boat sippin on gin and juice and beltching out some old school lithuanian camp tunes!

but first a recap of what its like to finish a tough 6 day adventure race and 6 days later try to push the body to its limits in a more sprint fashion race (x2).

I can't believe I managed to miss this event for so many years. Gary Parsons puts on one fun filled event. It all happens around Jericho sailing club and pushes the limits of a different kind of athlete... maybe more like the fish in us....

The race was a 1km swim, 5km kayak, 6km run and 2km stand up paddleboard

I am not a horrible swimmer and I used to race triathlons, so although I don't enjoy swim starts I am no novice to open water/mass swim starts but on this particular day you wouldnt have known, and neither would I. I definitely knew my body was run down and hadn't fully recovered from my adventure race but I was trying to think positive and was super excited to get to be part of this race and experience it solo style. I knew a bunch of people racing, people in the crowds and Johnny was helping me out with support. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, including myself.

On the start line, the waves were big, choppy, and coming from every direction. The big yellow triangle bouys were moving all over the place. Gary yelled go and we were off, I tried to stay calm and just breathe nice and slowly. I started on the edge of the crowd, pretty happy with my choice, and then it all went downhill... I was hyperventilating, coughing, panicking, and then.....breaststroking (i never breaststroke, especially in a race).  I was trying to do everything in my power to calm myself down, think positively, and get through the 2 loop swim course. About half way through the first loop after lots and lots of people passed me I definitely was planning my escape route. I didn't think my body was recovered and able to complete the race. I was hooped. I eventually made it to the beach after the first lap, flipped up my goggles, WALKED (also a never for me in a race) around the marker on the beach and as I was deciding how to end my suffering, I saw Andrea standing on the edge of the beach, yelling GO LINA! At that moment I knew I was getting back in the water for the second lap. THANK YOU for being there Andrea, I am so glad I didn't quit. So I managed to just get through the swim, in last place of solo women. It was a little embarrassing and tough getting out of the water and running down the log to the kayak but when I saw all the support I had I started getting fired up again. I wasn't tooo far behind the others.

The water was still mighty choppy on the kayak. I put on my tweaker Ryders sunglasses and jumped onto my surfski. I was paddling the Fenn XT surfski (thanks Stu). I actually felt super stable and ready to tackle the cross chop and whatever else the waters had in store for me. I managed to pass one girl and a bunch of other boats on the paddle. Feeling much better.

Off the kayak Jen D helped me clean my feet and I put on my running shoes and off I was on the run. I wasn't feeling too bad, but obviously not my strongest. I just kept a good steady pace on the run. The run took us around Jericho Park. It was a really fun there and back course, all on trails! I managed to again pass some folk on the run. I was telling myself throughout the run to just keep a good pace and that SUP was next and that was my thing.... no worries!

By the time it was time for the SUP the waters calmed down a bit (which I was pretty happy about as I was on my 23.5 inch wide Starboard New). I felt totally stable and got to punch through the SUP section. I almost had a major screw up missing a buoy but Dale caught me just in time to let me know. I turned around and still managed to re catch the guys who passed me while I fixed my mistake.

I managed to come in 3rd for the solo female category but most importantly,...... I didn't quit and finished. I am proud of me and my mind!

Following the race there was a delicious salmon bbq, with beers, and pie, and lots of draw prizes!

Check here for more info!

Vancouver SUP Race
Pretty tired and sore from the previous day of racing the Oceanman, I lazily got on my bike and made the 45min ride back to Jericho sailing club. Again the wind was up and the waters ultra choppy. I was tired but also excited as I love racing on the SUP. I managed to get on a 25inch Starboard New, which for me was perfect. The 23.5inch was just a little too unstable for the conditions and that extra 1.5inches gave me the confidence and stability I needed.

4km Race
The first race was a 4km course. At first all of us endurance junkies were annoyed by the shortness of the long course. With the chop and headwinds and side chop..... it felt a lot longer and ended up being a really fun length... Good call Gary! I can never get a really good start on the SUP (I need to work on this) but I managed to get a better start than most. I stayed upright on my board. The start of the race was tough, really tough.... the waves were coming in sideways, and all over really and they were big... Rounding the first bouy Shannon was right on my tail... I just kept concentrating on the water and what I needed to do though, as I was still on a pretty tippy board and one moment of loss of concetration would mean I would be in the water... The head wind heading out to the far bouy was tough. You really needed to power through each stroke (totally what I love). Coming in from the far bouy it was a fun downwinder and I was trying to experiment with riding some waves. I haven't had much chance to practice downwinders but would like too... they was fun! I came in as the 2nd 12'6 rider and the 1st female overall! I was pleased.

Relay Race
Mike D, Kimo, and I were a team for the relay. The relay was a 1km course that we each did. Mike started us off. He was in a tight battle with Gary P. They were both on the 14 foot Ace. Mike came in about 5 seconds before Gary and then it was my turn. I was head to head with Shannon. About a minute into the paddle I fell off. I am not sure exactly what happened but it caught me totally off guard. Funny enough I was telling friends that I never fall off in a race... hahaha.... Anyways, I got myself back on the board but Shannon pulled ahead during my faff. I managed to sort of catch her on the first turn and then caught some little waves before heading out on the second loop of the 1km course. Again, going out in the headwind is kind of my thing, and managed to pull ahead and stay ahead on the downwind section. Next up was Kimo. He was battling it out with Kelvin on the other team. They both battle different kinds of boards and so had some trouble staying up right. This caused some excitement for the relay race. In the end Kimo pulled through and managed to have one less slip into the water than Kelvin. 1st place in the relay race.

Sprint Race
This was a mighty fun gongshow. We were all on the surf style boards (12 foot and under). It was an all out mass sprint to a bouy about 25meters away and then back. Mike D caused some chaos by going the other way around the bouy and Kelvin managed to squeeze through for the win.

Deep Cove SUP racers hit up the podium
Mike D winner male 4km
Me winner female 4km
Mike and I win the relay
Kelvin H win the sprint

Again, another fun day of racing. I love racing but am totally excited to take a break and relax at the cottage.

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!

Aug 4, 2011

Raid The North Extreme with Team Gearjunkie/Yogaslackers

PICTURES HERE from Raven Eye Photography

By Raven Eye Photopragphy

RTNX 2007 was my first expedition race which was held up on the Queens Charlotte Islands. I was naive, inexperienced, but fell in love with this crazy sport. I met a ton of fun people and started racing all around the world.

4 years later I find myself back on the start line of RTNX 2011, I am older, more experienced, on a strong team, and have high hopes for a killer course, great organization, and a strong finish.

In a 6 day expedition style adventure race each member of the team will experience the extremes of highs and lows, physically and  emotionally. This particular race sent us through an amazingly beautiful course but at the same type a brutally tough one. Most of the time the beauty and the level of difficulty tends to blend together. As the deeper into the bush, the higher into the alpine, and the farther away from civilization you go by means of human powered methods the tougher the terrain, the higher the consequence but the more prestine the environment and picturesque the scenery.

I felt a little nervous before the race as it had been a couple years since my last expedition. I raced with Yogaslackers back in 2008 but since then the team Gearjunkie/yogaslackers has been killing it in a good way. They race lots and come out on top most of the time... I am competitive and at this point would feel frustrated to be on a team that was not in contention of winning so I put the pressure on myself-to be fast. The other unique thing about our team for this race was that unlike most teams who race with 1 female and 3 males... we had 2 females and 2 males. Luckily, Chelsey and I are strong and got on very well and our team was tight and worked well together. We were fit and we moved fast together.

The race began with a 5000 foot climb up on bikes. We had a slight navigational mishap that put us in 2nd to last place right off the bat... it was catching up time for us. We passed a ton of teams on the climb,.... this is when I knew we were a physically strong team. It was off onto our first big trek after the bike. We took the river route, which involved lots of bushwacking, river crossings (on logs, i'm glad for my slacklining skills) and devils club. I had never seen so much devils club and was thankful for wearing long sleeves and long pants and gloves. Albeit all the clothes they still managed to poke through but I cant event imagine what the bodies of those wearing shorts looked like.. OUCH. We eventually caught custom cellular and Nuun and finished the trek off with them through the night. We decided to run into the transition that put us into 2nd place. We were all super energized to have trekked into 2nd position so we decided to keep moving and got on our bikes right away. We managed to even see the 1st place team for about a second...

We made another nav error that cost us some valuable time and energy but still managed to keep a hold of 3rd place heading into the 1st paddle. A big portion of the bike legs seemed to encompass a large amount of climbing... lucky for us we were all quite good at this but it was still tough, especially mentally. The descent off of Idaho Peak was this kind of sketchy single track with tons of blow downs.. Once it gets cleaned up definitely a fun ride. I managed to hit a branch with my handbars on the double trac and went flying off my bike.. luckily only my confidence was a little bruised:)

Into our first paddle. I was feeling good and Jason and I paddled well together. Infact, as it happens a lot in adventure racing we happen to be feeling much better than our other canoe and so we towed them for the last bit of the paddle in order to keep our pace and stay together.
Off the paddle we were still in 3rd place and on our way to our big trek through Valhalla Park. The rain had been falling on and off but this time it was coming down for awhile. We got to follow a trail up to Beatrice Lake but as night fall hit and the rain was not slowing down, we started to get very cold. We needed rest. Daniel managed to find an old outhouse and this is where we tuckered down for the night. I was so opposed to this at first but with its dryness and not smelling factor I complied and tried to get some shut eye in the shithouse...
After a couple of hours we were off again still raining and still dark, it took us awhile to actually find the trail again which was a little frustrating but eventually we managed to get to Beatrice Lake. Here, we all wished for the packrafts sitting in a bin and not with us. The 5km bushwack around Beatrice Lake took amazingly long, it was slow, with tons of alder, cliffs, devils club and debris. We managed to finally reach the waterfall, hike past the lakes and make it to the next big obstacle, snow, and a 1000 foot waterfall. Here, I was tested with my fear of side stepping on snow with consequence of falling. All I could think about was that if I fell I would slide down the snow and into this freezing lake... It was tough for me, thank you to my teammates for helping me through that one. Once we reached the greenery beside the waterfall I felt much better being able to grip the alder and not see the drops below me.
Here, the sceneray was just spectacular, huge peaks covered with snow, and alpine lakes everywhere. We trekked through snow, on boulders.. as long as there was no steep side hilling with cliffs I could see I was a happy camper:)

We got into Ice Creek Lodge at dusk along with team Momar and Tecnu (the teams that we would be flopping places with back and forth until the end). Ice Creek lodge is a super funky little backcounry lodge equipped with all necessities and of course a sauna. Unfortunately, we were in the heat of racing and there was no time for a sauna for us, just some soup and coffee and off we went for more grueling mountaineering in running shoes and tights (I kind of love it..) Before we left we learned of a change in the course. A happy change where we would get to ride our bikes 20 km down a logging road instead of hike the 20km. Even more motivation to get it done quickly but safely!

We had two mountain passes to get through. They were snowy and they were steep. We got through the first one just as dark was upon us. The second pass was a little more difficult to find and once we finally reached it and got over it we got a little stuck on the way down with teammates getting tired and the darkness making finding a way down a little more difficult. We snuggled up and tried to catch some shut eye on the top of the mountain. It was cold and in retrospect probably not the best decision. We woke up to frozen snow. Arg, making glisading down a little more dangerous and for me a lot more terrifying. We made it through though and found the trail that was to take us out to our bikes. After a 36 hour trek that last thing you want is to arrive to a transition to find out it was moved back down a 20km logging road and that instead of bikes you had to use your legs and walk. We were tired, out of food, and really wanted our bikes. At least we had something to talk about on our 20km running/hobble to check point 10. We gathered ourselves together, without water (they didn't have any there) and headed off onto our bike leg.

This leg had a cool little zipline on it where you zipped across with your bike. We then got steered the wrong way once again and managed an extra 10 or so km the wrong way... back on track we headed up some logging roads that eventually let to a really cool atv track up a mtn pass and then secretly hidden among the bushes was this amazing doubletrack crazy trail. We ended up seeing team Momar behind us which probably gave us some extra umph in our peddle stroke but we flew across this trail and down the other logging road getting to the start of the long paddle just as dark set upon us.

    We tried to think of a creative way to pack the bikes and paddle... soemthing like three people in a canoe towing one other with all the bikes. It was dark, we were loopy and it didn't really work. We dismantled the creativity on the water in the dark and what entailed was daniel and I paddling a canoe backwards with four bikes. It didn't last long, along with J and C seeing things.. so we found a spot to hitch a tent and went to sleep. No problems, except we overslept,... and when we awoke it was light and many teams  passed us throughout the night. OOPS.

We just had to keep paddling. Jason found Daniels ipod and speakers so were blasting some tunes to keep ourselves motivated. We finally reached Renata, enjoyed some 'real' food and made our way up another high pass. For some reason after this paddle I had it my head that things would get easier... I was wrong, this was one tough hike a bike, it was long, it was hot, it was steep.... We finally made it up and the thing that kept us going was excitement for biking through the tunnel. It was cool, as in cold and amazing. We got out the other end to find out we were to be the last to get through the checkpoint(barely  made it as they changed the cut off time). We cycled down to the trek.

We were only an hour behind tecnu and momar sitting in 6th place. Here is where things started to break down a little. They didnt bring us one of our bags (it had warm clothes and half the food). Volunteers were amazing as they scrounged their own food barrels to provide us what they could. We set off on the trek but there was some confusion and although we clearly said goodbye to the volunteers on foot some people at the headquarters thought we scratched. So, after a very tough trek, we were looking for a road junction amongst many road junctions for the checkpoint but there was noone to be found, Noone at the checkpoint, hours wasted, our mojo was getting low. We finally made it to the last transition, again our bag was missing, and thankfully the volunteers here made our day and raised our spirits. They once again shared their food and their enthusiasm with us and we were on our way on our bikes with full bellies and happy thoughts.

We were biking and were oblivious to how difficult it would be to get to the base of seven summit trail. Nothing was marked, there were no trails on the map but we were to follow the trail signs. We got lucky on the first part and Dan let us to the pass. Another team was not so lucky and had to turn back after 2 hours. I got really sick here, as did Jason, we wre freezing cold in the warm sunshine but we kept on biking just more slowly than usual. Eventually we got to the strawberry pass looking for a sweet single track down and couldnt find it anywhere. We had to bushwack again with our bikes. When we finally reached the base of seven summits it was dark and we were tired. We started the climb but about 2km in we realized that we were freezing, tired, and seeing things. We took a rest, woke up even colder and our minds still tired. We decided to buckle down for a couple of hours while we were still low down as we didn't have all of our gear (in the missing bag) we didnt feel it safe if we had to stop up top. SO we got out our space blankets, spooned and tried to get some shut eye. I however decided to have some sleep freak outs. Apparently I kept waking up yelling, thinking we were in danger and on a cliff. Its funny to hear about it after the fact but I think my teammates were not so impressed with my sleep talking skills.

In the morning we managed to get up at sunrise and ride the seven summits but again got mislead and rode an extra 4km or so we missed the junction that had no sign.... we eventually met up with another team and found the correct exit and made our way to checkpoint 22 the last one before the finish. We were so excited to have completed the whole course (minus the little mt glory hike) when everything just came to an abrupt stop at checpoint 22. The headquarters truck was there and Chris, was not very nice to us and essentially told us our race was done. There would be no support for us if we rode to Trail, there was no congratulations, no positive talk at all. Just really rude comments. We were all in shock I think. All we wanted was to cross that finish line and have someone say congrats to us for all of our hardwork the past 6 days. I am still pretty dissapointed with how that ended, it could have been so different. Chris, next time just think about the racers and what they accomplished and a simple smile would have even salvaged the disapointment we felt.

so who knows what the actual results are but who cares really. I had a blast racing with the yogaslackers... Chelsey and I rocked in a team of two girls and two guys. We raced hard, and we worked well together. We will share many vibrant memories that will last a lifetime.

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!