Friday, May 28, 2010

My US sprinting teammates are racing again! This weekend is World Cup 2, in Szeged, Hungary. Here's the race website for results. Good luck everyone!

Attempting more feats of balance

I made a slackline, thanks to inspiration from Ian:

Although I can't eat a burrito on my slackline yet, I can do this:

(My neighbor saw me doing this and asked if I was joining the circus.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Land of Little Rain

The Land of Little Rain, by Mary Austen:

"East away from the Sierras, south from Panamint and Amargosa, east and south many an uncounted mile, is the Country of Lost Borders.

Ute, Paiute, Mojave, and Shoshone inhabit its frontiers, and as far into the heart of it as a man dare go. Not the law, but the land sets the limit. Desert is the name it wears upon the maps but the Indian's is the better word. Desert is a loose term to indicate land that supports no man; whether the land can be bitted and broken to that purpose is not proven. Void of life it never is, however dry the air and villainous the soil.

This is the nature of that country. There are hills, rounded, blunt, burned, squeezed up out of the chaos, chrome and vermillion painted, aspiring to the snow-line. Between the hills lie high level-looking plains full of intolerable sun glare, or narrow valleys drowned in a blue haze. The hill surface is streaked with ash drift and black, unweathered lava flows. After rains water accumulates in the hollows of small closed valleys, and, evaporating, leaves hard dry levels of pure desertness that get the local name of dry lakes. Where the mountains are steep and the rains heavy, the pool is never quite dry, but dark and bitter, rimmed about the the efflorescense of alkaline deposits. A thin crust of it lies along the marsh over the vegetating area, which has neither beauty nor freshness. In the broad wastes open to the wind, the sand drifts in hummocks about the stubby shrubs, and between them the soil shows saline traces. The sculpture of the hills here is more wind than water work, though the quick storms do sometimes scare them past many a year's redeeming. In all the Western desert edges there are essays in miniature at the famed, terrible Grand Canon, to which, if you keep on long enough in this country, you will come at last.

Since this is a hill country one expects to find springs, but not to depend upon them for when found they are often brackish and unwholesome, or maddening, slow dribbles in a thirty soil. Here you find the hot sink of Death Valley, or high rolling districts where the air has always a tang of frost. Here are the long heavy winds and breathless calms on the tilted mesas where dust devils dance, whirling up into a wide, pale sky. Here you have no rain when all the earth cries for it, or quick downpours called cloud-bursts for violence. A land of lost rivers, with little in it to love; yet a land that once visited must be come back to inevitably. If it were not so there would be little told of it."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No news is bad news AND good news

So, my shoulder injury post-dislocation turned out to be more serious than I'd thought/hoped/led myself to believe. I was afraid I would need surgery, but my orthopedic surgeon doesn't think it's necessary right now. After a few weeks of rest and rehab, my pain level is low, and my activity tolerance is high; therefore even if my ligaments are torn, it's not something on which my surgeon would like to operate immediately. I'm on an intensive physical therapy program which is going well so far. I'm also lifting weights for the first time post- dislocation and that is also going much better than I'd expected!

So the bad news is that I can't race the 70-miler. This is an enormous disappointment. I've been training for this race exclusively for the past 6 weeks. But even worse is copping out on Jon (my awesome c2 partner) so late in the game. He put in a great deal of time training for this race too. We've been having a blast at canoe races this spring, and I'm sure we would have done great in the 70-miler. Luckily, even though I ditched him, he still wants to be my friend. (!)

ANNNDD, I am pleased to announce that because he's a BOSS, he's going to be racing the c1 pro 70-miler. And I will be pit-crewing for him. The Susquehanna River is very low, and temperatures are predicted to be in the 80's, so it should be a rather long, hot, epic day day. I'm looking forward to being a part of the racing experience, even though I can't race.

If you're looking for 70-miler updates, here is the event website. You can also check Forge Racing's facebook page for updates Holly sends from her phone.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Incredible Adirondak Adventure

Due to the rest my shoulder requires, and the subsequent inability for me to complete the 5-hour training paddle Jon and I had planned for the weekend, we went to plan B: Hike the Adirondacks.

I brought my good friend Justin along with us. The three of us hiked 6 hours on both Saturday and Sunday, including Phelps Mountain, which was [surprisingly] my first High Peak. The Adirondack Mountains are as breathtaking as always.

Jon soaking up some sun at Marcy Dam. We had the most BEAUTIFUL hiking weather

View from Indian Falls

Washing my face with some ice-cold creek water

It was so cold it hurt. This water was snow, like, yesterday. In fact as we climbed up to Indian Falls there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground.

Me at Indian Falls

Finding my zen in the woods

Justin, me, and Jon on the summit of Phelps

Mmmm, I want to take it home with me... or better yet, just stay forever.

This is the view from Jon's LIVING ROOM WINDOW. Mt. VanHoevenburg and the bobsled run! It's incredible!

Fem+ Mountanins = True Love

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ask Fem!

Sometimes I like to field questions posed by my readers. This one comes to us by Emily Mickle, of San Diego, CA.

Emily Mickle writes:

"Dear Fem, I've recently been so wrapped up in the world of dienes and dienophiles that I've forgotten how to read. English literature has been replaced in my head with alkene epoxidation. I wonder if you could share some of the books you've been reading lately, so that after finals this week, I may begin to pick up the broken pieces and resume living life without Markovnikov Regioselectivity."

Wow, it seems like this reader is a little bitter towards Organic Chemistry!

Well, here you go, Emily: a list of the books I've read during the past 6 weeks.

'Tis by Frank McCourt
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Land of Little Rain by Mary Austen
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

I'm currently reading Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, and Sailing Alone Around the World, by Josh Slocum, and I am eager to start Coming Into the Country, by John McPhee!!

You can pose questions for the next Ask Fem entry in the comments section!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shoulder News

Prognosis for the shoulder is rest. The ball rolls right over the edge of the socket when I extend it, so everything needs to tighten back up before I can paddle without doing further damage. I had surgery on a torn labrum in this same shoulder in 2006 and it cost me a year of kayaking. Although this means I have to be extra careful to make sure it's not injured again, it also means I'm super cocky about my ability to heal this thing quickly harnessing the Power of Fem. My healing plan budgets a few days for tissue rejuvenation, maybe like, 2. Then it's time to get back on the horse.

(Mostly kidding; My "healing powers"= Brownstone Physical Therapy)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Misadventure at the Lower 35

I dislocated my shoulder. LAME, LAME, LAME.

So we were racing the Wessels race this weekend, aka the "Lower 35" although by all accounts it was not actually that long. At any rate, Jon and I had a great start followed by a mediocre middle and what was shaping up to be a respectable finish. A few miles from the finish line misfortune struck around a turn that would have normally been no problem. The complications, however, were the facts that we were situated on the outside of the turn, in a pack with 3 men's teams, and that everyone was jostling for position to go through the fast current.

We got pushed over to the edge of the turn where were were several big logs and a huge half-submerged tree; Jon [in the front end of the boat] cleared the log, but then I [in the back end of the boat] swung right over and hit it hard. I got tossed out of the boat and body-checked the log.

I was frantically grasping for branches to try to keep head above the water and keep myself from slamming into that downed tree just a few feet farther downstream. I did manage to get a hold of a branch, but the current was pulling my body downstream so fast that POP! went the ball of my shoulder right out of the socket.

Of course I let go of the branch immediately, and my shoulder snapped back in place just about the same instant I smashed into the fallen tree. Everyone in the race was paddling by me and yelling "Are you okay!?" and I was just pinned against the current, stunned.

I was able to hoist myself on top of the tree in the water, grab a branch overhead with one arm, and swing over to the riverbank, where Jon was waiting (he miraculously didn't flip when I got tossed into the water!) and I got back in the boat. I wasn't really able to paddle to the finish line, so we kind of floated and half-paddled our way across.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Canton Race report

This Sunday was Canton, a 14-mile c2 race with Jon. We won the mixed class and placed 10th (I think) overall in the men's race. We raced well, and I'm proud of our improvements thus far. Just like last week, the most important part of the race was gaining valuable wake-riding experience. During the final four miles of the race, we couldn't hang with the 3 mens teams with whom we'd been riding, but I was happy with our race nonetheless.

In fact, I love this race because it's never boring. There's lots of corners, rocks, branches to duck under, buoys to turn, etc. Two and a half hours passed like [almost] nothing.

There's no question that my biggest adjustment to long-distance racing this April/May is staving off the boredom that tends to lead to negativity. I've been focused on sprinting for the past three years, so the thought of grinding out 3,4,5....8 hours in the boat is sort of alarming. There's no doubt in my mind I can do it-- it's just a question of how much I'll enjoy it!

The latter two pictures were taken by the talented Joanne Kennedy. You can see her portfolio here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Website updates

With the tireless help of my patient webmaster I have finally managed to update my website. New photo gallery, updated schedule, and we re-did some of the pages. Check it out!