Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Inspiration from the Crew Queen

The Crew Queen recounts a terrifically inspirational visit with none other than the Grand Doyenne of adventure racing, Danelle Ballengee:

You guys seem like the perfect target audience for me to babble on for
a bit about my weekend.

Indulge me for a moment...I had the pleasure of listening to Danielle Balangee this weekend (and hanging with Taz the wonder mutt). I was working for EAS at the Pike's Peak Ascent & Marathon, and she was there. She has won that race 4 times and was there to be the official starter and also to share her tale. I've heard it from other people and read it a million times, I've treated patients just like her and I've been to her fundraiser...but to hear her tell her story of rescue and recovery and rehab is chilling and inspiring. She was one tough chick before, but now she's even more so.
She did complete a solo 24 back in May without telling her physical therapist or her
doctor (and only 2 mos out of her wheelchair). She did not run at all, but she
finished. In fact, now she can only jog up to 30-60 min lightly due to pain and weakness. It was incredible to see her walk--the last time I saw her she was chair-bound with slippers. She said her foot pain was the most limiting factor to her activity tolerance, but she's hiking several hours per day. She was showing us how she has a strong right calf muscle (she did a bunch of toe raises) and a very weak left calf (she could only do about 2 with difficulty and loss of balance).

Anyway, she's awesome, and I was happy to be patting Taz as she announced the start of the marathon this morning. She reminded me, once again, of two things that bear reminding, both professionally and personally. 1). Strong core...get one. Train the deep muscles and use them. If you have them..relearn how to use them better and train them more. I was so excited that she talked about deep-core muscles--yes, I'm a physical therapy dork. 2). Remember that we are all lucky to play/race/live as hard as we do (it's a sick necessity and way of life for most of us) and we are
lucky to have the toys we have ( bikes, gear, skills) and the means to use them.

Good night from an exhausted and inspired crew queen/EAS junkie.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

5430 Long Course Triathlon

Per the Crew Minion's request, the Crew Queen is going to post a little tale about her first half Ironman. After several marathons and with the help of a somewhat recent move to one of the tri capitals of the country (Boulder, CO), I've decided to enter the triathlon world. I've spent the last 3 months being extremely disciplined in my training and am happy to report that I had a great race last Sunday. I thought for sure my legs would be trashed and I'd feel 1000 times worse than any marathon, but this was not the case. It's hard to tell whether it was the quick pace of the course, the 13.1 miles on trail, the new bike or the Smartwool multi-sport socks (love them!) that contributed to my success. Having signed up for the race with hope of breaking 7 hours as a newbie, I am happy to report that my final time was 6:11 and I finished in the top half of my new age group (I'm officially in the 30-34 group and living out here in enduro-world, that's a scary/fast group to be in). My TA's were rather speedy...perhaps that was the Crew Queen making her presence known.

Swim (1.2 mi): well I have a history of panicking (case and point was 0.93 miles of the backstroke in this years Wildflower Olympic course) and this race was no different. In anticipation of not being able to put my face in the Boulder Reservoir (despite months of training in it and only pools this time bc the blue line makes you weak), I began with the back stroke. About 0.2 miles in to the 1.2 mi swim the world settled and I was able to begin doing the freestyle approach for which I had been training. However, I quickly realized I was being passed and, in the interest of time, returned to the backstroke. I have confidence that with some speed training I will be able to do a proper swim in my next race.

Bike(56 mi): perfect. What more can I say. I came in at 3 hours even and my bike has made me so fast. I was told I'd be laughed of the course with my camelback full of Gatorade Endurance but rest assured, even the pros were wearing the camelbacks...ha! Hydration rules!

Run (13.1 mi): slow but strong. By the time the run hit it was about 11am the light cloud cover was long gone. The 95 degree blazing sun was upon us and it was hot. Thanks to Chris I was never a moment with out my GoLite hand held water bottle and plenty of icy cold water to keep me cool. Soaking wet beneath my GoLite visor I literally did not notice the heat.

I finished the race with a bounce in my step, a smile on my face and plenty of energy to have continued if necessary. I will definitely do this race next year and hope to tackle a few more half Ironman distances including the famous Wildflower Long Course. In the meantime I've got a few marathons and a 200mi relay to get through as I consider seriously doing a full Ironman in 2009.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

helping ARFE

hi there,
just wanted to let you guys know of a super-easy way to help out ARFE.
instead of using your regular search engine, go to
we've registered with them as a not-for-profit...and every time you search using, we get a penny.
i know, it doesn't sound like a whole lot...but please consider using them instead.
in our drive to help outdoors sports take care of our playgrounds, we need all the help we can get.
you can download a search tool right into your window, so it pops up every time. uses the yahoo search engine, so you'll get the same search results you'd get from yahoo, anyway.
do let us know if you encounter any kinks--you have to plug ARFE into the space below your search. there should be a function that allows you to just use it as the default.

ARFE management

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Crew Minion's Rules for a Good Race

University Square.

This weekend, the Crew Minion raced with Team ARFE-SmartWool's alter-ego, the all-women's squad heretofore known as The Fab Flab. She learned a few things at Planet Adventure'surban sprint race.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare (with apologies to Leave No Trace)
a. Pull a butt muscle and a calf muscle in the week before the race.
b. Be sure to attend a movie, a lunch, two dinners, a happy hour and a breakfast meeting in the five days before the race.
c. Have complete emotional breakdown the whole week before the race.
d. Sleep as little as possible. Four hours on Thursday night and one hour on Friday night should do it.
e. Leave an hour to pack.
f. Remove pedals from bike. Stick them in a plastic bag that looks exactly like a doggie-poo bag so you can be sure to leave them behind.
g. Rush through racking bikes and wheels on roof, ensuring a weak connection between wheel and rack, thereby ensuring that wheel pops off roof while you are bolting down LakeShore drive, one hour late to pick up race partner and drinking partner Abby.
h. Leave Chicago at the worst possible hour, turning a three-hour drive into a five-hour epic.
i. Whatever you do, do not look at your Gmap directions until you are already on the wrong highway and on your way to St. Louis instead of Indianapolis.
j. Forget that your other race partner Lindsay is packing to leave Chicago forever and so has no gear. Also do this at the last minute.

2. Be a Good Person (with apologies to Doctor Phil)
a. Spend time with your friends. When going to the grocery store, take the race coordinator with you so that you can share psycho dashing from cold cuts aisle to granola aisle to Gatorade aisle.
b. Indulge your urges: Unpack and repack six times in an hour.
c. Be kind to others: Ask, twenty times, if everyone has everything they need.
d. Allow others to help: Ask race coordinator for CO2 gun, spare bike gloves, spare pedals, spare bladder.
e. Be self-sufficient: Provide CO2 cartridges all by yourself.
f. Encourage networking! Ask race coordinator for spare wheel. Race coordinator asks racing partner. Racing partner gives up spare wheel, which is shipped to bike drop by willing third teammate, who has sprouted some Andy-Gibb-hair in the time since the Crew Minion last saw him and is totally unrecognizable. Third teammate is thus forced to interact with the volunteer at the bike drop watching over the bikes. Ta Da!!! A new social circle is born.

3. Be active! (with apologies to Denise Austin)
a. Start each day with a bang: Awakened at 4:30 AM race day by teammate. Bolt awake immediately. Sit upright and yell, "4:30! What the hell! Sh*t!" (Earn self ten pushups for swearing; startle third teammate awake, who wonders out loud, "Geez, does she wake up like this every morning?")
b. Fuel up: Eat Cheetos for breakfast.
c. Encourage walking: Park as far away from TA as possible in order to take advantage of shade. Walk between car and TA six times.
d. Keep heartrate up: pre-race meeting is very closely followed by madcap loading of racers into buses for trip to race start. Team is split into two buses. Two team members will run from mystery start to bike drop, where we will pick up all of our bikes and then run to a meeting point with our third teammate. Lindsay is elected to run first. We meet at the designated spot in good time.
e. Keep brain active: After initial flipping of street map from side to side, struggling to orient self, am in second-to-last place. Think am in Washington DC instead of Indianapolis when see that streets of Indy are named after all states. Washington DC map in head is totally useless; re-focus on map at hand, finally get going.
f. Know your surroundings: We pick up the next three checkpoints in good order and learn a few things about Indy in the process: DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE NINE LAMPPOSTS AT THE NORTHWEST ENTRANCE OF THE CONSECO FIELD HOUSE??? Write answers on arm until realize that need to mark them on passport. Points for being an airhead are awarded. Relish in irony of being biggest bubble-head on team and only non-blonde.
g. Add variety to your workouts: Drop bikes and head to stair climb. Pass a couple of teams on the way. Complete stair climb in good time. Flash back to Indianapolis Wild Onion, where we climbed the same building and DNF'ed.

First National Bank. Site of two stair climbs in the Crew Minion's life.

h. Keep a good attitue: Vow never to think of Indy Onion again during this race.
i. Have Exercise partners: Head back to bike drop; pick up bikes, rollerblades, and tow system for triad. Beg off running due to twinging calf and butt.
j. Keep it interesting: Visit gorgeous historic region of Indianapolis. Marvel over Victorian houses. Think to self that race fees will eat all budget before can afford such house. Drag roller-blading partner over cobblestones. Express regret. Visit "Elvis plaque" to pick up last clue before heading back to bike drop; wonder what Elvis has to do with Indy. (First person to answer this question in an e-mail gets a pair of SmartWool socks. Send your answer to: yishun (at) ARFE (dot) org

4. Slow and Steady...(Apologies to Aesop)
a. Foster community: If you can't find something, ask a townie. Particularly one who's been jogging for three hours and clearly has run the length of the trail you're on many times over.
b. Take breaks: Stop for a required checkpoint at a bar, down a pint glass of Guinness before continuing on.
c. Take Care of Yourself: Apply sunblock and chow on granola bars while waitinig for ropes harnesses to be freed up during a backyard ropes section involving some high-tension steel cables, lots of carbiners, and a cargo net.

Ropes. Way cool!

d. Play games: All those hours of cornholing paid off: Abby puts a beanbag into a board in quick order and we move on.
e. Some Girls are Bad at Football: In fact, all three members of the Fab Flab can now saw that we've attempted to throw a football through a tire and kick a field goal. Two of the three should say that we're bad at it. Abby can't say that. Stadium stairs are something we're all good at, though.

Football. The Fab Flab did not look nearly this impressive.

f. Help others: If a team is stuck trying to decipher an orienteering map, help them. And then move on in the opposite direction so as to never see them again while you pick up five points in good, speedy order.
g. Focus is good: When struggling to make it back to the paddling section on time to avoid being DQ'ed, try not to be distracted by liquor stores or volunteers yelling, "What's the Best Garbage prize today?"
h. Work Well with Others: When figuring out the paddling order, DO NOT put the tallest person in the middle of the boat, where she will get whacked in the head repeatdly by the person trying to steer the boat in the back.
i. Take Everything in Stride: When you hit a set of rapids that you can't navigate, and you get out of the boat to push, and the person holding onto the back end of the boat lets go of it so that suddenly you have a 100-pound boat bumping the back of your legs crosswise, DO NOT PANIC. Likewise for when you hit a huge rock and capsize your boat. Likewise for when you get out of the boat to push it into shore and find yourself in water you have to swim in.

Crew Minion's shoe after a wet canoe leg. See the little snail that's made a home in it? Mmmmhmmmm.
j. Confront Your Fears: If you are known to suffer from acrophobia and you see that a checkpoint is posted way up on a bridge staunchion, go get it. [This is advice you should heed about as often as you eat Cheetos for breakfast.) Under no circumstances, however, are you under advice to confront your fears of the rare fresh-water-dwelling, Fall-Creek, Indiana breed of shark, which lurks in murky shallow waters and is known to eat adventure racers . If an opportunity occurs, send in Lindsay after the checkpoint floating on a rubber ducky in the middle of Fall Creek, Indiana. Lindsay is from Florida. She understands large scaly creaures with a lot of teeth.
k. Exercise restraint: Under no conditions are you to say to your teammates, "Stop worrying. The boat is NOT going to tip over."
l. Know your strengths: You may not be the fastest team out there, but you might just have a good navigating day, nail every point without a single mistake, and manage to go through the last checkpoint just in time to qualify for second place, all-female division.

The Fab Flab. Crew Minion is sleeping to make up for lack thereof the previous two nights.
Thanks, Fab Flab! And a big thank you to Cristal Garrison for the spare wheel. And to Dave for the CO2 gun, the spare bike gloves, and the pedals. And to Andy Gibb for the bike wheel delivery. And, of course, to Planet Adventure, for yet another amazing race.

Steve (in Andy Gibb hair) and Cristal (in pigtails) are responsible for getting a spare wheel to me. Thanks, Indy Rootstock and Rachel!

Friday, August 3, 2007

SMAC and Art

You only THINK the two have nothing in common.
You'd be wrong. Paul Piorkowski, one of the most creative minds in adventure racing and race director at the Southern Michigan Adventure Club , has outdone himself yet again this year with his unique take on ARFE's Best Garbage program.
He asked teams at his July 21st sprint race to collect as much garbage as they could over the course (teams were allowed to drop off garbage at the end of each leg) and then build something artistic from it.
In Paul's words, "Trash will be judged on quantity, originality, mass, theme, and artistic quality of presentation."
What? You're surprised? We're not--remember, this is the man who, since the inception of Best Garbage, has consistently encouraged the absolute best of the best garbage: truck doors, front ends of Studebakers, and entire ceramic toilets must be credited to SMAC.
Below, we present to you, in order, first, second, and third places.
First place winners took home pairs of CW-X tights and shorts. Second and third places won two pairs of SmartWool socks per team member.
Kudos to all the great winners!

First Place! Team Absolute Endo's entry, "A Whole Lotta Trash We Dragged Through the Woods." No points for creative naming.

Second Place! Team Outdoor Riot's "Trashportation." Note the fine use of punnage in this title, and the perfect juxtaposition between vertical and horizontal tensions. Rrrright.

Third Place, from Team SnackyPants & Toots-in-Tights: Mission Michigan, is an international effort (okay, they're from Canada) and a social commentary. "People in glass houses shouldn't take personality-altering medications" is, alas, not up for a grant from the University of Waterloo, where Snacky-Pants is a veterinary-doctorate candidate.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

your friendly local hydration scientist...

...would like you all to know that he's now in Montana, "working."
If, that is, work means following 20 pro or nearly-pro cyclists around as they ride through montana, idaho, and colorado. and getting to ride with them.
well, there is the bit about sticking them with needles and taking sweat samples, but hey, who cares? it's montana! and idaho! and colorado!
you can follow jim's progress here: