Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Jul from Denmark

It's December 25th; Jesper and have been in Denmark for Christmas since December 17th. Time has gone so fast! We cannot believe we leave in 2 days!!! Where did 10 days go?!?!?!?

Our trip started out great, took a downhill turn and then bounced back. We left Boulder midday on December 17th and arrived in Copenhagen on December 18th midday. We arranged to stay in Copenhagen that night and met up with Jens, a friend of Jesper's from his IBM Denmark days, at a very nice restaurant in Tivoli. Before dinner, we made a stop at Hviid's Vinstue, a warm cozy place that's been around for some 300 years. We had Glögg, which is reason enough alone to come to Denmark over Christmas.

Hviid's Vinstue and their yummy Glögg (not bad for an iPhone pic - courtesy Jesper)

After a good night's sleep, we boarded a train to Frederikshavn, Jesper's hometown. We arrived Friday afternoon feeling pretty fresh (not much jet-lag), and went to bed after spending some time with the family. Things went downhill from there...

During the night, I was sick as a dog. Nausea, stomach cramps and severe heartburn. I mean severe. I was pretty much out of commission the next day, although I did manage to make it out for the cutting of the tree with Jesper's father (Ole) and his niece and nephew, Maia and Marcus. Despite not feeling too hot, I still had a great day, mostly because Jesper was so happy to see his family again.

Maia and Marcus cutting down the tree

Saturday, we shopped for Christmas gifts in town, an easy day for me to recover and had dinner over at Jesper's brother's house. The next day, I felt much better, but it was Jesper's turn to feel sick. We would continue to pass the baton all the way through the house to Vibeke (Jesper's Mom) and then finally to Ole. Not exactly the Christmas gift we had in mind!

Due to the funk, Monday was a laid back day with family, although I broke away for an hour to go running. I forgot my camera, which is a shame, because the lighting was very pretty. I ran from the house down to the harbor, where there were a mix of old fishing boats and large, modern commercial craft. It was very picturesque. The lighting in Denmark in the winter is very special (when it's sunny). You are so far north, the sun never gets up very high and the angle of the lighting is low and golden. This golden period of light lasts for hours, as opposed to the ten minutes of perfect lighting you get in Colorado.

Despite a lingering funk, on Tuesday all but Vibeke loaded up in the cars and drove all the way from the East coast of Denmark, where Frederikshavn is located, to the West coast. About a one hour drive - it's a small country. We visited a little fishing town of Lønstrup and the nearby sand dunes, which are advancing rapidly toward the ocean. Both a lighthouse and a very old church are falling into the sea.

Jesper, Lars and Marcus near the lighthouse by the sea

Me at the edge of the sand dune cliffs (courtesy Jesper)

Lars and Marcus by what remains of the old church about to fall into the ocean

A very old gravestone

Wednesday was the 24th, the day the Danes celebrate Christmas. Don't ask me why..... Anyway, they celebrate Christmas at night, so we had all day to relax. Jesper, Ole and I went for a hike up on the hills overlooking the sea. This spot had been used by the Danish army for military defense before being taken taken over by the Germans in WWII. There were over 70 bunkers on the hillside, some for soldiers to seek shelter and others to house guns. Big guns.

Big gun overlooking the sea

WWII Bunker with a large gun

Jesper viewed from the gunners seat through the "view finder" of the cannon

Later that day I went for another run. I'm convinced a midday run staves off jet-lag. It seemesto be working for me, so I figured I'd keep running every day. The last time I was in Denmark for Christmas, I suffered from the sleepies every day, so I have been bound and determined to beat that nasty jet-lag this time around! Later that night, Lars, Lise and the children came over to share a Christmas feast and open the massive pile of presents that had magically appeared under our little tree. I was a very good girl and received many very nice gifts. I count myself lucky.

Lars, Marcus, Ole and Maia dancing around the tree before the presents were placed

Today is Thursday, December 25th and it has been another relaxing day, since no stores are open. Jepser and I saved one present each to give each other on this American Christmas morning. Jesper's gift to me was very creative. He gave me a DVD to play right away. When I popped it in the player, it showed a video of Jesper at home in Boulder with Strelka, along with a very large present. Jesper and Strelka proceeded to open said present, which was for me. It was a scanner/printer/fax machine/copier! The gift is great and the presentation was very sweet and well done. I've got a keeper in that Jesper....

Jesper and I both went for a long run in the afternoon through the countryside, the woods and then through some farmer's fileds and up a wooded hill to Jesper's Uncle's house. They were surprised to see us show up that way, and we certainly solidified our outdoorsy image thay had gleaned from our websites! We hadn't seen them yet, since they were avoiding Ole and Vibeke's house of plague.

Running past the fields

... and the farms

... and through the woods

Everyone is well now. We have two more days in Denmark; no doubt at least one more jet-lag fighting run and hopefully some more Glögg. I'll post more pics and links to Jesper's fine photos later.

Merry Jul!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Farewell Soot

This morning we had Soot, our 19 year old kitty, put down. She had a great life until a few months ago, when she began to lose weight, unable to keep her food down. A trip to the Vet showed that she had a large abdominal mass (i.e., cancer). Other bodily functions were also shutting down; probably her kidneys. We tried medication to slow down the tumor growth and help her appetite, but she only vomited more. She began to live in her litter box, getting filth all over her, something a healthy cat does not do. Upon hearing of her lack of response to the medication, our Vet recommended what we had been thinking - it was time to put Soot down.

I feel right about our decision to end her life. My personal views also favor euthanasia for people, so it's not surprising that I would be comfortable with ending a pet's life. But still, I don't take it lightly, ending another being's life.

Soot as a kitten

Having her put down brought back all kinds of memories. I got Soot when I was in my mid-20's, living in an old brewery in Columbus, Ohio, Der Zimpfer Street Brewery. Mid-20's! I was just a baby! I had another kitty, Kahlua, that I had gotten when I was in college (Kahlua lived to be almost 19!), and a black lab named Lajka. I picked up Soot on a whim, thinking she would be a good companion to Kahlua. Turned out that those two cats wanted to have nothing to do with each other!

I intended Soot to be an indoor cat, so I had her front claws removed when she started scratching the couch. Although I don't plan to get another cat, if I ever did, I would not remove its claws. I still recall how awful I felt when I got poor little Soot, just a kitten, back from the Vet with her paws wrapped up. Although Soot bounced back from the surgery, I felt like I had mutilated her (which I had).

Soot did get outside a few times, much to her consternation. Once, in the brewery house, Soot jumped out of the 2nd story window, I suppose because she saw a bird or a squirrel out there. I found her hunkered down in the tall grass beside the house, scared to death. I don't think she moved more than a foot from where she landed! She got out of the house once in Boulder too. We found her under the back porch after she had spent a night outside, fortunately in the warm months.

Soot made it through three dogs; Lajka (who passed away in 1995), Mushka (who passed away this summer) and Strelka. She didn't like any of the dogs except Strelka. They got along well, having many staring contests in my office while I worked. I am sure Strleka will notice Soot's absence.

Soot made it through many boyfriends, although I am confident the current one is the last one! Although she didn't like most men, Soot took to Jesper right away.

Soot, feeling comfortable enough with Jesper to pose for the camera

Soot survived two moves; one to Cleveland and one to Boulder. She did not like Cleveland, but once I moved her out to Boulder, she came out of her shell and became a much more social cat. She usually slept with us, especially in the winter. It is amazing to me how much room a 10 pound animal can take up on a bed!

Soot under the covers

I am glad she came out of her shell and had a few good years as an interactive member of the family.

Farewell Soot.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Unwelcome Guests

We get a lot of guests, being that we live in such a desirable place (Boulder). Most of them, we like and are happy to host.

But sometimes, some guests,....

Well you know the type.

They assume they can come.

They stay too long.

They bring their friends (friends we don't like)

They eat everything in sight.

They make a HUGE mess and don't clean up after themselves.


Jesper and I are cracking down on these unwelcome guests!

Note to our human guests! We love having each and every one of you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cynthia's Birthday Celebration

Last night, a gaggle of hip, healthy Boulderites gathered at Zolo Southwestern Grill to celebrate Cynthia's 48th Birthday!

Part of our large group

Cynthia may cringe that I posted her age, but I hope she's proud. She's beautiful, super fit and youthful.

Cynthia looking so young, Jesper is compelled to serenade her!

It was a great time and I hope Cynthia feels special, 'cause she is! I guess Jesper is special too!

Dana and Cynthia making a Jesper Sandwich

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Picture Rock in Late November

Indian Summer. It keeps lingering, casting it's warm golden rays down on us. I'm OK not having snow yet, if this is what I get in return.

Today I went on a mountain bike ride with Mike and Sue and their friend Kathy (Jesper stayed at home and worked on the hot tub all day with our friend Larkin). We rode the Picture Rock Trail, the newest addition to the Heil Ranch Boulder County system of trails. It's a great single speed ride, going gradually up for over 5 miles before it hooks up with the Wild Turkey Trail up at the top of Heil. We started out in warm sunshine, but finished with the setting sun and strong winds, making for a chilly descent.

Sue looking like a Ninja

Mike looking all serious and shit

Kathy cranking through rock-O-rama

It was a good ride. Click here for more pics.

(BTW - I AM getting ready for some snow here soon)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Look

It's time for a new look. I get in that mood every now and then. Gone are the greens of spring and the white light of summer. Instead, I am reveling in the warm browns and golden lighting of fall. It's a work in progress; picking new colors and finding the right picture for the header. When it's done, I hope you like the change too.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Jesper and I went to our first Halloween party together. Since we've been together five years now, I clearly haven't been to a Halloween party in more half a decade. I'm not sure why, because it's really fun to get dressed up and see what crazy costumes other people wear.

This particular Halloween party was a wedding party. One of my Git Some adventure racing teammates, Derec, eloped with his then girlfriend Camille in August. Dressed as Frankenstein and his Bride, they opted for a Halloween party to celebrate their marriage. For some reason, I failed to take a single picture of the bride and groom! If someone sends me one soon, I'll stick it in here.

Jesper and I went as Jeannie and Major Tony Nelson from the 60's show I Dream of Jeannie. I wore a genie costume that my mother made back in the 60's!

I adore my Master!

The best costume of the night went to my Git Some teammate David Garcia. Can you guess which one he is?

Teammate Lee, me, Jesper, fellow adventure racers Tina and Charlie, David (My BUSH would make a better President), Nicole (David's girlfriend), Teammate Oat and his wife Annie

Halloween parties are fun because people feel like they can be super silly when they're dressed up.

Tina being naughty with David (who has a pretty nice ass)

I had a great time and drank too much wine. I don't think I'll wait five more years for another Halloween party!

Here's a linky to more pictures.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alumni Weekend

I went to college at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida from 1982 - 1986. Melbourne is on the east coast about 15 miles south of Cape Canaveral. It was quite a change for an 18 year old girl who had lived her life in Germany, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio. When I arrived at the campus, I was quickly recruited as a coxswain for the Crew Team. What can I say, I was small and mouthy!! The coxswain sits in the back of the boat and tells everyone what to do. FIT's Crew Team, which was ranked high nationally, soon became the focal point of my life. The team had about 150 or so members, mostly guys but a large group of women too. Since we practiced 6 days a week together all year long, I pretty much only associated with other crew team members. They were my roommates, my friends, my boyfriends, my entire social circle.

I graduated from college in 1986. I hadn't been back down to FIT, which now calls itself the horrible name of Florida Tech (sounds like a junior college to me), since the early 1990s. Last week, I went back to FIT. The weekend showed how tight all of us rowing alumni had become during those formative years we spent so much time together, strove to be our best together, sweat together, laughed together, won together, lost together.

The alumni event was the school's 50th anniversary. So, returning alumni were not just from one particular class. Prior to the event, several very ambitious alumni took charge and organized several days of rowing functions. It was a jam packed agenda! Almost 100 former rowers and coxswains came back, ranging from graduating classes in the late 1960's to recent grads. The mid 80's, my era, was the best represented group.

I flew in on Thursday evening and picked up another rower from a couple years behind me, Carol Marcinkiewicz, who flew in at about he same time. We headed straight for Bunky's Raw Bar. There, I was faced with the bizarreness of seeing people I had last seen when we were just shy of being kids. After almost 25 years, some of them looked exactly the same and some of them, not so much. Most of the women looked fabulous, some even more fit than back in school. It was especially hard to place the guys who had lost their hair. Although the guys certainly looked better than the national average mid-40s and up American man, some of them had gained a fair bit of weight. Thank god for name tags! We reminisced, laughed and got caught up until after 1:00 am. Tired and a little bit more than tipsy, I headed over to the hotel I was sharing with 7 women from right around my class.

Yes - I said seven women in two adjoining hotel rooms on the beach. It was quite the slumber party! The next morning we got up at 7:00 am (ugh - 5:00 am Mountain Time!) and had breakfast before heading over to the boat house for more rowing festivities. I spent quite a lot of my college life at the boat house and the place looked pretty much the same. This is kinda sad, since the school should have a new fancy facility for rowing by now.

On the list first for Friday morning was a Pike House run. The Pike House (pi kappa alpha fraternity house) was a couple miles up the road from the boat house. We used to do Pike House runs as part of crew practice. Not all the coxswains participated in the training back in school, but I did, so I was very familiar with the Pike House run (I was also familiar with several parties at the Pike House, but that's another story). On this fine, muggy Friday morning, about 15 alumni toed up to the starting line - three of us women. Intellectually, I knew the run would seem short, since I now mostly do endurance length running, but I was shocked at how soon I got to the Pike House, where coxswain Tim Edsell ('85 or so) was waiting with an open beer to swig. I took a large gulp, but headed back out ASAP to retain my lead among the women and to try to catch a guy or two in front of me. I was running at a pretty good pace considering the late night and excessive beer from the night before! I passed one guy, finishing 4th overall and 1st among the women. Apparently, I found out later that several alumni men behind me were giving it their all to try to catch me. Ya!

After the run, we ditched HEALTHY and moved on to a Melbourne Beach restaurant/bar. To be truthful, I was pretty tame that afternoon, eating sushi and having only one drink, the freebie I won for taking first in the female category at the Pike House run. I needed to pace myself if I was going to survive the weekend. Several alumni I knew well had come over from Orlando on motor cycles. John Shaffer, now a rocket scientist who graduated from about my year, was also on a motorcycle (his wife's bike!), so I hopped on for a ride down the coast to check out the bar we were having the party at on Saturday. Yup - still the same stinky dive bar.

Barb's husband Mark/Mike, Barb, Steve and Salem on their big bikes

Me and John on his wife's not-as-big bike

After the motorcycle ride, it was time to get all gussied up for the Sports Hall of Fame Banquet. Most of the rowing alumni attended, except the Scumbags. (I have since been informed that 2 scumbags attended - Clay Tappan and John Mattson - sorry guys!)

Everyone looked so nice! It was a fancy event in the new athletic facility on a campus that looked so completely different from when I went to school. Bruce Jenner gave the keynote address (somewhat spastic speaker, but at least entertaining) and two National Championship men's boats were inducted into the Hall of Fame. I sat with Elaine Martin (now Stark), who was one of my best friends and roommate all through school. It was really wonderful to spend time with her again and I am hopeful that we will stay in touch better in the future.

Me, Nancy, Edie, Ann, Sue, Megan, Carlo and Kathy heading into the banquet

In our cocktail dresses and suits, we headed over to a nasty stinky bar, Lou's Blues. Florida still does not have a smoking ban - yuck! I had one beer and hung around outside where it was still smokey, but at least quite enough to have a conversation. The evening ended for me around midnight, although many crew alumni stayed out much later. The next morning was dedicated to the alumni races and I didn't want to be tired and hung over sitting in a rocking boat in the hot sun! Been there, done that - NO FUN!

Up again at 7:00 am and at the boathouse again at 9:00. The alumni races pit the current rowers against the various years from the past. With 100 rowing alumni present, the races took all morning. My boat was made up of women who graduated a year or two after me (essentially the women I was sharing the hotel rooms with). They rowed amazingly well, especially considering that most had not been in a boat for decades! We tied for the win with the alumni boat of women who graduated around the mid to early 1980's. It was super fun and most importantly for me, I didn't ram the boat into a bridge or the docks. Yes - I can still steer a 63 foot boat!

Crowded docks as alumni get ready to race!

We relaxed at the beach afterward and then got sort of gussied up for the highlight of the weekend. The premiere event. The "not-at-the-boat-house" party that we weren't allowed to have at the boat house itself. Back in school, we had a massive party at the conclusion of each of our two racing seasons - one in the fall after the "head races" and the other in the spring after the "sprint races." The drinking age when I attended college was 18, so drinking on campus was fair game. The boat house parties were crazy, with DJ Andy playing then-current 80's music, lots of alcohol and dancing, dancing, dancing!

Total insanity on the dance floor!

Since we couldn't have the alumni party at the boat house, we reserved a portion of a dive bar many rowers frequented, Sebastian Beach Inn. A generous alumnus paid for a shuttle service. Drinks, including endless free Scorpions, were paid for by another thoughtful alumnus. DJ Andy was located living in Orlando and another kind alumnus paid for him to spin those same 80's tunes. I cannot describe how fun that party was. We all slid back into the mindset of happy college students, clueless about any of the problems in the real world. The camaraderie was indescribable. After a refresher session, we all performed the Crewbie Crunch, a line dance some crazy rowers created back in the 80's, danced to "Sharp Dressed Man" by ZZ Topp. Imagine fifty inebriated 40 and 50 year olds dancing in concert with wild abandon. It was priceless! After the Crewbie Crunch, the dancing got even crazier. I was on the dance floor almost non-stop from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am.

Me shredding the dance floor!

By the time the shuttle got me back to the hotel room, it was 3:30 am and I was a tad drunk and exhausted from all that dancing. I was able to sleep through the party some of the other girls were having in the adjoining hotel room with a bunch of the guys.

I'm SO happy I was able to make it back to last weekend's events. It brought back so many fond memories and reinforced to me how important those college years were and how influential my experience with the crew team was. I'm thrilled to be back in touch with all my old roommates and rowing friends. I can't wait for the next BIG Crew function - the Dad Vail National Championships in Philly in 2013!

Here are more pictures from the weekend (I'll add to these as I get more from other alumni):

I followed up my four days of collegiate fun with a visit on the other coast of Florida with my High School friends Doug and Michelle Tupps. Stay tuned for a follow up blog post on that aspect of the trip.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Slacking on the Posts

I've been slacking on the blog posts. I know it. I've simply been busy and have been traveling a lot. This summer, I took on a new job. I am now working part time for a large engineering firm - Tetra Tech. The part time part is approaching full time, but that's OK. I also kept my consulting clients, so I'm pretty busy. However, I'm bringing in more money and that means Jesper and I are getting that much closer to buying a condo in the mountains.

For my Tetra Tech gig, I work from home, which is super nice. However, I have to travel, frequently, mostly back east where my current projects are. The nice part about traveling back to Ohio is that I can sometimes squeeze in a visit with my family, most of whom still live in the Columbus area. I got to see my sisters and Dad the day before his 76th birthday. Very nice. I also got to go to Chicago last week and was able to visit my brother and his family, who live in a northern suburb. Seeing my 15 year old nephew play high school football was a highlight of the trip, even though they got spanked. Extra family time is good.

But, all this traveling and extra work is keeping me from blogging as frequently as I had been. I'm heading off tomorrow for my college Homecoming and 50th anniversary celebration. I hope to have time to download some pictures of me getting silly with friends I haven't seen in two decades and write a blog post or two.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Darn Computers!

Nothing is working right in my world of computers right now! Talk about frustrating!!!

Computer Problem Number 1: First off, my hard drive on my desk top work computer died last Friday night. This is the second time it's died in less than two months! After the hard drive died the first time in late July, Jesper, my awesome One-Man I.T. Department, got me all set up on a new hard drive. He totally redid my whole setup, cleaning up junk that took up valuable computer memory and increasing my gigabytes. He also got me a new wide screen monitor! I loved how everything worked - fast, quiet, new spiffy software and everything much more organized. Jesper also upgraded our backup system to run automatically on a daily basis (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!)

My new hard drive died last Friday again after a bizarre power outage on the whole north end of Boulder. I still don't know what caused the power outage. Anyway, it seems that my computer, which is more than 5 years old, has a faulty thingy in it that doesn't handle power surges properly. This is not to be confused with an external power strip with a surge protector - I have one of those. This internal thingy is not repairable, so Jesper recommended that I buy a whole new computer, since he feared the problem would keep occurring. Wasn't exactly planning for that expense..... My new Dell ships in two days and it will have even more spiffy upgrades (after my awesome I.T. Department spends hours getting me set up all over again).

Until my new beauty arrives, I am working off an old hard drive; the one I used before the first hard drive crash. This one is SLOW as molasses, is noisy and is of course, not up to date. It has old files on it and I have to delve into the backup to get my current documents. And for some reason, since we changed how I uploaded photographs from my camera, I can't figure out how to get my pictures downloaded.

Computer Problem Number 2: Did I mention that this old hard drive is SLOW?!??! So slow that it impedes my work efficiency quite a lot. I can click on a web site to open up a guidance document, grab a refill on my coffee, go the bathroom, brush my teeth and the document is still not opened. Don't even mention what happens when I try to open multiple documents/files!

Computer Problem Number 3: This would not be a problem, except that Jesper is working from the IBM office all this week. I, like a dork, inadvertently closed the directory to the back up drive and have NO idea how to find it again. With the number of computers we have and the way Jesper has set up a gazillion drives, it's not as easy as browsing drives A, B and C. So now I can't get any of my old files until tonight - not so good for the work I need to accomplish today.

Computer Problem Number 4: I also cannot print anything. I have a new printer in my office and the old hard drive does not recognize it and we haven't had time to fix that yet. No problem I say, I'll just print to Jesper's printer downstairs. But for some reason, that printer is not spitting out the documents I send it and Jesper is not home until 5 or 6 tonight to help me figure out what the problem is.

Computer Problem Number 5: I am trying to plan my travel for a business trip to Toledo next week. I'm supposed to be able to log on to a system my company uses and do my travel myself. For some reason, the system will not accept my password. I have had this trouble with every system my company uses. Once I get set up properly, which usually involves getting an I.T. guy from California to get involved, everything works great, so I'm hoping I get this fixed tomorrow.

Computer Problem Number 6: This one is almost fixed, but the battery on my laptop completely died. Thankfully, my new battery (with more power) should arrive tomorrow, well in time for my business trip next week.

On the bright side, all of this makes me truly appreciate Jesper's help managing my computer needs. I don't think I could run my business or even work remotely for Tetra Tech without my awesome Danish I.T. Department. I also know that, once I get the new computer, Jesper will set it up to be even more slick than before. And, although I wasn't wild about shelling out a bunch of dough for a new computer and a new laptop battery, they are necessary business expenses that I can write off on my taxes next year.

Besides, I can still blog!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Resolution is the act of answering or solving, the act of determining. It can also be the point in a work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out. Sometimes it is both.

My adventure racing team, Git Some, answered the question of whether or not we would be able to race the Moab XStream Expedition. We solved the problem of not having enough eligible teammates left to field an official Git Some team. We determined not to race. We resolved the issue. The decision was also the chief dramtic complication for our team. We had hoped the chief dramtic complication for our team would be the Moab race itself, not the decision to abandon the race. So, while it is good to have a final decision, a resolution, so to speak, the outcome is not what any of us would have hoped for and has left a bad taste in all our mouths.

I hope we can move past this issue for next year and learn from it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Adventure Race Musings at the End of the Season

The 2008 adventure racing season is almost at an end and I have mixed feelings about it. I've been racing since early May and have done 4 races, with one more to go (maybe). Four races, going on five (maybe) over 5 months may not sound like a lot, but these races are a significant investment in time and money.

The time commitment is not just for the races, which require a weekend of dedication or more. I typically leave for a race on a Friday and come home on Sunday. The last race , a 3.5 day event, will involve 5 or 6 days of my time . But racing also involves a time commitment in "training" so I do well and my team does well. Being committed to "training" has it's pluses. It "forces" me to stay in shape. I find it doubtful that I'd allow myself to get in bad shape, but knowing I have to race hard for 10, 20 or more hours and not let my team mates down ensures that I stay in really good shape. There are days when I would not have done a 4 hour brick instead of a fun ride with my friends if I weren't "training".

The downside to spending time "training" is that it sometimes keeps me from doing other things I like, and often doing those things with Jesper. Don't get me wrong, what I do when I "train" is not anything horrible; it's stuff I like to do - run, trek, bike, inline skate (well, I'm not such a huge fan of that sport, but....). But it becomes somewhat regimented, as opposed to the spontaneous Hey let's go ride Jamestown! My long runs I typically do by myself; too long for the dog and for Jesper, both of whom are good for an hour long jaunt, but not much more. And getting back to those weekends away, they limit my ability to go away other weekends, since I'm a bit of a home body and don't like to be gone all the time. Finally, I feel like I'm spending too much time on ME and not as much time on US (that's the Jesper and Jen US). So, I'm feeling spent out on the time commitment.

Then there's the financial commitment. Adventure racing is not cheap. I'm trying to do all this racing on my monthly income, which has been variable and low pretty much the entire time I've been in Colorado. I'm bringing in more consistent money now with the Tetra Tech gig, but the early season was a stretch. That being said, my team (Git Some) has picked very affordable races that can be reached via car to keep the expenses down. I've probably spent less doing the four races this year (and even adding in the big expedition race that might still happen) than I did doing one big 6-day race up in Canada last year.

I think I am ready to be done with the time commitment and the financial commitment.

But, I have enjoyed the racing and my team mates! I've been to wonderful locations in Colorado and have seen them in ways I normally would not (like, the middle of Lake Dillon in the middle of the night under a brilliant half moon). I might get to play in some beautiful spots near Moab if the last race comes to fruition. Being in amazing places, especially at night, creates indelible memories. I've pushed myself hard and come out pleased with my own performance. I've dramatically improved my running and paddling. I've met some really nice people in the AR world out here in the Rocky Mountain region. My team has done well and, since I'm a competitive person, it makes me happy to beat other teams. Finally, I've had a lot of fun!

I sense that my team mates are struggling with the same issues I am. As a result, we are having trouble staying together for this one last race. I'm not sure if we'll work it out to be able to race the Moab Expedition or not. You'll have to check back here to see.

Regardless, I will be sad when the season is over, despite being somewhat relieved. I'll get some good fall riding in and then segue to tele skiing for the winter. That's one of Colorado's best features, just when you start to get tired of one sport, it's time for another one. The good thing is, I know I'll come back next year with a new yearning to race again.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Adventure XStream Vail 12 Hour Race

On Saturday (September 6th), I raced again with Team Git Some. This event was a 12 hour race (meaning teams need to finish within 12 hours). It was not at Vail Resort, as the race name might imply. Instead, the race was held up in the Vail Valley near State Bridge, which is between Kremmling and Wolcott. This area is about 20 miles NW of Vail as the crow flies. The terrain in this area is right on the edge of two distinctly different types; montane forest with aspens and pines like what you would expect around Vail Resort and high desert with scrubby shrubs, yucca and cactus like what you would expect around Grand Junction.

For this race, we were in a pickle getting enough team members to race, since everyone seemed to have other plans for the weekend. Lee and I were in, but none of the other original guys (David, Derec or Oat) could do it. Mark, who raced with us at Breck, had committed to doing the race as a duo with his buddy Jake, since he assumed we wouldn't need him. We ended up deciding to have Mark and Jake both race with us.

We really wanted to do this race because we are doing extremely well in the series points standings, sitting just barely in 3rd place, and we can win some decent prize money if we stay up there. So, we were willing to try out a completely new guy sight unseen to stay in the game. We are now out of opportunities to add any new members to the team, but hopefully that won't be a problem since there's only one more race.

As Lee and I drove up Friday after work, we were pleased to see the weather improve as we headed west, since the weather down in the Front range was cold and rainy. We met Jake and got a pretty good night's sleep at Mark's house in Edwards. The race started Saturday morning at 7:30 under crisp, sunny skies. It was 36 degrees brrrr...

The first discipline was mountain biking. Pretty much all of the mountain biking would be on dirt road (even a lot of the run was on roads). We prepared well by pumping up the tires with extra pressure to decrease rolling resistance. This first biking leg was about 9 miles on a hard packed dirt road to the first CP and the TA to the running section. The ride started out uphill (of course). I immediately got on tow and we began to ride at a good clip until Lee started fading behind us. That was odd; Lee is a strong rider. Turns out his bike, which had just been to the shop, was malfunctioning. His cassette was sticking at part of the pedal stroke, creating a lot of drag. Since this bike leg was short, he just suffered through it until we got to the TA at Radium.

At the TA, Jake, Mark and I looked at Lee's bike while Lee plotted the running orienteering checkpoints. We determined that the shop had probably used the wrong size spacer or nut, since parts were rubbing down where the wheel set attaches to the bike frame. We made it better, but not perfect. As soon as Lee had the CPs plotted, we took off on the run. We were squarely in 4th place, behind three very fast pro-loaded teams. The run had a mix of packed dirt road, double and single track trail and paved road. The O-course really wasn't much of an O-course in my opinion, since we were not permitted to go off trail. After one small navigation error that cost us a few minutes, we found all the other CPs easily. Due to the short length of this race and the easy terrain, we hauled ass on the run. Mark, Lee and Jake alternately towed me on the ups and the flats so we could maintain a consistent fast pace. After the last running CP, we had a massive downhill for 8 or so miles on packed dirt road and then paved road. I hooked up to Mark's tow line and we set off at a blistering pace (for me at least). I must say this is the first time I've been towed on a downhill! It helped me go much faster than I would have un-towed. Lee and Jake had a hard time keeping up.

We ran into the TA at Pump House still squarely in 4th place. Next up was a paddling section, which Lee and both swear was mentioned in the passport as a flat water section. So, we opted not to wear our wet suits, despite knowing that the water would be super cold. Oops - we hadn't gone more than a few hundred yards when it became apparent that this was the WHITE WATER section. We were immediately soaked. Good thing it was sunny and not too windy (yet). We had an hour of really fun Class II+/ClassIII- white water on the uper Colorado River. Despite being cold, this was one of the best parts of the race. It was very scenic and, since my paddling has improved so much this year, I actually enjoy the time in the boat, even when paddling hard. In the past, it was impossible to enjoy paddling when my previously bad technique caused me to be in pain during the whole paddle.

We arrived back at Radium very cold. I was glad I had a change of clothes - everything except dry socks. We donned our dry riding clothes quickly and headed back out on the bikes, this time for a much longer bike leg. We headed up to CP7, which would take us up packed gravel road and then jeep road. As we rode, the terrain changed from deserty scrub to montane aspen forests. During the first part of the climb, Mark towed me on the ups until it became apparent that Jake was not able to maintain our pace.

This was Jake's first multisport race ever, and he was suffering. Although in great shape, his body was unprepared for the challenges of changing disciplines, compounded by the cold paddle. His right hamstring decided it was all too much and began to cramp up. I unhooked from the tow and we assumed a slower pace that Jake could manage. It was frustrating, because I could have gone faster even without a tow and we could have gone much faster as a team with me on tow if we hadn't had an injured team mate. However, adventure racing is all about team work and sticking together. Mark towed Jake a little bit, but since Jake is more that 200 pounds, Mark didn't do that for long. Everyone maintained a good attitude and took advantage of the down time to eat and drink. We enjoyed the fantastic views from up high; even when things aren't going as well as you'd like them to, it would be a shame not to appreciate the beautiful scenery these races take you into!

We finally made it up to CP7 and then continued climbing, topping out at over 10,000 feet. Our jeep road (Forest Service road 401) ended at a T-intersection. We wanted to take a road that ultimately went off to the right, but the signage was confusing, so we finally opted to go right at the intersection. After about 10 minutes of floundering around, we realized we were not where we wanted to be, so we headed back to the intersection and took the left. Sure enough, it veered back to the right. We had lost about 15 minutes.

Now that the climbing was done, Jake was able to go much faster with his sore hammy. We took off down a very rocky jeep road, Mark in front, me following, Jake next and Lee, with the bike repair kit, in the back. I race on my hard tail Fat Chance Yo Betty! with v-brakes. I use this bike for adventure racing because she's super light (easy to carry and push), she always shifts and such perfectly and she's easy to fix on the trail if something breaks. However, riding a hard tail with v-brakes down a 7 mile rocky and steep downhill with extra air in your tires makes for one bumpy ride! I had to hold onto the bar with a death grip to keep from getting thrown. It was still fun! After picking up CP8 on the way down, we dumped out onto Sheephorn Creek Road and pacelined it back to Radium for the final leg of the race.

We were still squarely in 4th; couldn't touch 3rd and probably couldn't be touched by 5th. Kind of frustrating, since it took away a bit of the racing element. This was the flat water paddling section, although there were a couple of sections with small rapids. Once again we opted not to wear our wetsuits to save time in the transition. I wore leg warmers this time to gather some solar heat, since I knew from the previous paddling leg that the water in the headwaters of the Colorado River is COLD! The wind had picked up too, which made the air feel cooler despite the near 70 degree temps. This leg of the race was very pretty. Despite knowing we couldn't change our finish position, we paddled hard. Did I mention that I'm really pleased with my paddling improvements this year????

We came into the finish area at Rancho del Rio at 4:10 pm in 4th place. Eight hours and forty minutes of (mostly) hard non-stop racing. Most importantly, we secured our 3rd place position in the series standings by 1 point! Oh and we are ranked 15th nationally by Checkpoint tracker.

Bring on the Expedition!

(sorry for the lack of visuals - I'm awaiting photos and maps from my team mates and will update the blog)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kwasniewski (Carnes) Girls Visit Colorado

My sister Vicki and her two daughters just left after a wonderful six day visit from Ohio. It was so good to have them here, 'cause I feel a bit isolated from my family all the way out here in Colorado. I'm super fortunate that I get along with everyone in my family. More than that, I really like my family. I have come to realize that not everyone feels this way about their family members. Lot's of people dislike their siblings, parents and other relatives. I find this odd, because I can't imagine anything my father, one of my siblings or other close relative could do that would make me dislike them. Not that they are perfect and don't do things I wouldn't do (I'm sure they can say the same thing about me). And not that they aren't different from me. For example, Vicki is religious (southern Baptist) and Republican and I am adamantly non-religious and very liberal. But they're family and they are all smart and nice and fun to be around. So, I like them and I miss them now that I am so far away.

My sister Vicki, the oldest of the five of us Kwasniewski sibs, had visited me in Colorado once before. She came out in the winter with my younger sister Chris and our brother's wife Nanako. We had a fun, but short, girls visit and did winter things like snowshoe, spa visit to Gold Lake and shop. This time it was summer and Vicki came out with 20 year old Tasha and 16 year old Tara. OK - complete truth - Tasha will be 20 next month and Tara will be 16 in November, but they are so close. My nieces (or the Niecelettes as my friend Elizabeth referred to them), are turning into wonderful young ladies. They were such sports, along with their Mom, trying all kinds of activities, some outside their comfort zone.

What, you may ask, did I do to them to take them outside of their comfort zone?!?! Nothing they didn't want to do themselves!

All three of them joined me for the weekly Tuesday Night Gurlz Ride. I can't tell you how excited I was when they said they wanted to mountain bike during their visit! Mountain biking is my all time favorite thing to do (well, teleskiing too, but that's for the winter) and I was looking forward to having my family directly experience my passion firsthand. The ride took place at Marshall Mesa, the perfect place for beginners. Coming from Ohio at about 600 feet above sea level, Vicki and the girls definitely felt the effects of the altitude here in Boulder.

Vicki on the trail

Tasha coming down the hill

Tara riding in the glorious sunlight

Despite breathing hard, they all did great on the bikes, riding over rocky sections like pros! They had a blast riding, although they acknowledged that it was hard! It certainly gave them a more intimate appreciation for what I do.

It ain't mountain biking if you're not hiking! Carnes girls struggling up the hill

There were two little wipeouts, but no one sustained more than a few scratches and maybe a bruise or two. After the ride, all of us Kwasniewskis (they are still Kwasniewskis, despite the Carnes name) joined the rest of the Tuesday Night girls for dinner and drinks at Southern Sun.
Biking family - me (Jen), Tasha, Vicki and Tara after the ride

After all that hard riding, we spent the next day shopping and getting pedicures. It's a rough life....

Pretty toes!

After recuperating from the mountain bike ride, we made a trip up to Allenspark, near Rocky Mountain National Park, for a couple hours of horseback riding at Sombrero Ranches. We had an excellent time, just the four of us girls riding with our handsome cowpoke guide Todd. The views of Mount Meeker were spectacular. We wished we had opted for a longer ride when it was over..... (next time). Vicki said they were now ruined for riding anywhere but the wild west.

Tara on her horse Freckles - Mummy I want a pony

Todd, followed by Tasha and Vicki with Mount Meeker rising in the distance

Left to right - Tara, me (Jen), Vicki and Tasha, again with Mount Meeker

Later that same day, we grabbed Jesper and Strelka for a hike up to Green Mountain (8,144 feet). Green Mountain is one of the Boulder Front Range peaks right outside of town. It's close by and provides excellent views of Boulder and the plains as well as views of the Continental Divide and the Indian Peaks. We opted to start the trail a fair bit up the mountain, as opposed to down in Boulder. We were planning to do a bigger hike the next day and I didn't want to kill my guests! It was hot and the trail was steep, but the Carnes girls did great, all of them making it to the top. Vicki was quite the trooper, as she has one messed up foot that needs ligament surgery. By the end of the hike, her little piggies were sore!

Vicki, Tasha and Tara coming up a steep section on the way to the top of Green Mountain

The Carnes girls take a break - Tasha, Vicki and Tara (showing some serious phone cleavage!)

Jesper, a thirsty pup and a thirsty niece at the summit

The next day Vicki, the nieces and I, along with Strelka, went up to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area for a scenic hike up to Blue Lake. The hike, an out-and-back, is about 5 miles total and gains about 1,000 feet in elevation. Jesper and I have done this hike a few times. It is a good one for visitors from lower altitudes, as the elevation gain is not too severe and the terrain is not too steep. Nevertheless, it starts at over 10,000 feet and climbs up to 11,300 feet, well above tree line.

Starting out in the trees, we hiked at an easy grade to Mitchell Lake, which is surrounded by Mount Audubon (13,222 feet) and the rugged Paiute Peak (13,088 feet). Then, the trail got a wee bit steeper and rockier as we pushed up through the Krumholz trees to the tundra. Once above tree line, the views from this trail were amazing all the way to Blue Lake, which is flanked by Mount Audubon and Paiute Peak as well as Mount Toll (12,979 feet), Pawnee Peak (12,943 feet) and Little Pawnee Peak (12,468 feet). We hung out at the lake and ate left over pizza while Vicki soaked her sore toes. Then, we turned around and made our way back down to the trailhead. We had perfect weather the whole day (no afternoon thunderstorms) and everyone enjoyed the hike!

The Carnes girls posing by a Cairn!

Vicki, Tara, Tasha and Strelka on a snowfield in late August (don't see that in Ohio)!!

Vicki soaking her sore tootsies in Blue Lake (it was cold!!!)

Tara, Tasha and Vicki making the hike back to the car - Bye Bye beautiful Indian Peaks!

On Saturday, Jesper was in charge of the outing (although he vetted his ideas with me). He picked a hike that would show Vicki and the girls a different aspect of Colorado. Something up high in the real mountains. Mount Bierstadt (14,060 feet) up near Guanella Pass. We got going Saturday morning as early as we could manage with two teenage girls and made the drive south and then west to Georgetown. We were not certain if we'd make it all the way up; we could be turned around by weather or physical limits of some pretty pooped flat landers. However, we were certain that the views would be spectacular even if we only made it partway.

Tasha and Strelka waiting for Vicki and Tara who were resting and chatting with this kooky Norwegian lady

Hiking UP a mountain is always hard, since you are going, well, UP pretty much all the time. Vicki's toes were bothering her, but she kept motoring on. We set an interim goal of making a ridgeline that would allow us to see a bit onto the other side. We arrived there to much cooler temps and wind, but also building clouds and one very tired Tara. So, we ate some of our subs and turned around.

Grabbing a quick lunch up on the ridgeline - brrrrr.....

Clouds building up as Tasha, Tara, Strelka and Jesper hustle down the mountain

The storm building up behind Vicki as we descend back to the car

We made it to the car only minutes before the rain came. Not bad timing! After the hike, we grabbed a snack and beers (well, Jesper and I had beers) in quaint downtown Georgetown, while an exhausted Strelka slept in the car.

My sister and her daughters had to leave the next morning. It was really sad to see them go. I like my family! I wish they would all move out here and join Jesper and I in paradise!

(I'll set up my Picasa album soon, so stay tuned for a link here.)