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Training Log Archive: Work4justice

In the 7 days ending Apr 6:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Mountain Bike4 39:00:00
  Orienteering3 38:30:00
  Paddling activity2 31:00:00
  Total6 108:30:00

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Friday Apr 5 #

Paddling activity 21:00:00 [3]

Note

Will go through and sort TA times and distance later...

Thursday Apr 4 #

Mountain Bike 14:00:00 [3]

Stage 6: MTB
We headed out again on the MTB. Huge props to JD on these sections. He had the maps (I forgot to mention I had the wrong bolts for my map holder and forgot I could have zip tied it) and I did direction and distance. I thought they seemed tricky, especially when a solid line wasn’t always a real road, and sometimes there would be a made up road, or the road curved funny. Well, anyway he was very deliberate, while continuing to keep a pretty light mood. I have never ever laughed this much during a race. He would get me laughing, and then he would laugh because I was laughing so hard, and then the guys would laugh having no idea what we were laughing about. Oh my.
I realized I haven’t talked much about Jorge and Uli and I think it’s because it wasn’t until about this point in the race I didn’t know them very well at all! They are both in their late 30s, and love mountain biking. Jorge met JD in Australia, and when they wanted to do Nordic Islands they called him. They don’t know anything about navigation because there aren’t opportunities to do that where they live. They are quite nice guys, very capable bikers, sought out how to be helpful, and later in this stage, I learned how much in tune they seek to be with teammates. They were always willing to offer a tow, give me a little push, asked how I was feeling, and were very complimentary. Very, very nice indeed. At several points all of them would call me “la madre” or “farmacia.” LOL
I also missed another story from the previous MTB leg. JD saw what he called a “super secret squirrel trail” that he wanted to take. I wondered if it was a good idea, but before I had a chance to say anything bikes were going over a fence onto a steep-ish motorcycle trail. OK! We trekked up that trail to another fence where we met with another Guarani rancher/farmer. And, in typical fashion, motioned for us to come closer to his house, got us water and set off to get neighbor/friend/family member that speaks Spanish and Guarani. I must admit, the only time I was weepy (good kind though) was watching Jorge, JD, the farmer and his friend talking about the map, the roads and the race and laughing. Of course this was all in the middle of the night. JD says he will remember this section of where he lost his spare Ay Up battery! It was pretty amazing. They also gave us some of their green oranges. It’s a thing, really! And soooooo good. So the farmer and friend led us to the end of the entry to their property and it was back on to the crummy road we had left quite a bit ago. Uli started swearing and yelling in Spanish. JD said “Hey! At least we didn’t lose elevation!” I had to laugh.
Back to the chronological story….So we set off on this section, and it was an immediate climb to higher ground. And once up there, the fog and mist was so thick we could barely see more than a couple of feet ahead of us, so it was definitely slow going. We were all looking forward to dawn when 1) we would have the chance of the fog burning off and 2) it would be light. We seemed to get through that section and down the mountain without too much trouble, remaining as deliberate as we could be to not make any wrong turns. We went through another few Guarani sections, and they offered us water and fruit. I did get to see for the first time some of their stone ovens. Would have loved to have learned more about those. At the bottom of the mountain was, you guessed it, a tienda. We went in and the guys were excited to see three huge bottles of Miller. They all said at once “Miller time!”
After completing this refreshment (I had a coke) we got on the bikes, and then Uli shared with me that he didn’t feel well, and I inquired further and he said he thought he might be drunk. Jorge overheard this and starting laughing very hard. JD ask what was up, and Jorge could barely speak so I shared what was happening. This takes the cake. Uli hopped on my tow. We started climbing up a hill and after about 2k, JD realizes that we didn’t need to do that and headed down the hill. Uli’s obscenities streamed like water on the Huron River.
Once we got through that, we started to book it to get to the Kayak. It started to get warm, then all of a sudden, I got two hot flashes just minutes apart (yeah the menopause ones—that was interesting to explain to Uli and Jorge earlier in the race) and they cooked me. I started to fall behind. They slowed, I grabbed Jorge’s tow, and we proceeded. We stopped to check a turn, and Uli approached a woman in front of her house/tienda and I had guessed asked for water. He came for both my bike bottles. We went and sat in the shade. It was a little time, and I looked at my watch. Uli shared that he asked if she had ice because I was overheated and he was worried. That was very kind. I could hear her chopping the ice. And, in fashion, drank it in front of them and when on our way. I felt much better and was grateful for their looking out for me.
We got into the town for the kayak TA. We saw the referees, which by this time (despite the warnings) were really cheering us on. The race staff said “Nice to see you, why are you here?”
JD and I burst into laughter. I mean really, wasn’t that the question we had been asking oh, since Monday? Anyway, they didn’t expect we would want to do the full paddle, but we had decided since we had the time why not? (Insert ominous music here)

Paddling activity 10:00:00 [3]

STAGE 7:
This stage started with a trek to river (10kish we were told) and I wasn’t sure how much water would be provided for the paddle, so I carried some and brought extra food. We were told that the river was moving rapidly and the paddle would go quicker than thought. After what we had been through, I wasn’t really willing to gamble. The heat was so intense, and I could tell we all felt a bit frayed, except JD seemed a bit livelier than the rest of us. We got kudos and headed out of town on foot.
We made our way to the river and the behemoth sit on top was waiting for us. While we were situating gear and such things, they race volunteers made us a burger. I joked “cena final.” We got our last adjustments and headed off. We did make a couple of changes once we got going. Night fell soon after. Then, all of a sudden, there was a cord across the river. Then another. Then another. Basically, we were having to lift fishing cord over our heads and paas them back to get through. At one point, there was some confusion on where to go, and Uli and found ourselves parallel to one of these “lineas” and all of a sudden I couldn’t speak Spanish to explain what we needed to do! Boat flipped. I had my paddle and then it was gone. I wound up swallowing some water which caused me to lose my breath for a minute or two but I came around quickly. JD and Jorge quickly circled the area to see if they could find the paddle, but we think it got sucked into some trees that we were buttressed against in the river. Other than the paddle, we didn’t lose any gear, but this was the beginning of me being very cold for the rest of the race. I was dumb that I didn’t pack my merino baselayer—I have Raynaud’s and often can get very cold. I did have my rain and regular layer, but that just didn’t cut it. I also used the 2 space blankets I had. We kept going rotating who had a paddle and kept the tow in place.
Once we got going again, I joiked with Jorge, when was something going to happen with him? Seemed like it was his turn. Then, almost on cue, out of nowhere in the middle of the river, he got stung twice in the arm! I really can't make this stuff up!
After a while, a pretty strong storm kicked up. The water was kicking up so much we couldn’t see the lines, so we pulled off and slept for a while. We used the sail as a “roof.” I woke up shivering a couple of times, and the guys would try to get closer to warm me up. At daylight I said “OK time to go!” and JD said “15 more minutes?” I started to pull emergency blankets off everybody. OK, maybe that was cruel. Just couldn’t get over how cold it was! I was dying the day before and then it dropped like 20 degrees F. Crazy!
We got going and rotated the paddling tried to keep some kind of pace going. Later on, we talked to some of the fisherman, and learned that we had quite a distance to go. I was really ready to be done. So we just plain dropped the hammer. Uli and I really started to get going, but JD and Jorge on a tow and I think for a couple of hours kept a pretty good pace. As darkness fell, I couldn’t’ really consult with JD on the maps mostly because of the splashing noises and not wanting to interrupt momentum. I was worried about the parallel channels and was sorry to see he got sucked down the first channel. Portaging wasn’t much of an option because the boats were really heavy and the trail might have been sketchy. Once we got to the finish, I needed help to get out of the boat! My legs were very cold and very still and the disease I have makes it challenging to move in those situations. So once they peeled me out of the boat, I did a few squats to get the blood flowing and we headed into the Finish! Finally!
What an adventure. I learned a lot. I went in with no expectations, only wanting to learn about international XPD racing, learn about Paraguay and have a little fun. I checked all the boxes.

Wednesday Apr 3 #

Mountain Bike 3:00:00 [3]

Orienteering 21:00:00 [3]

Stage 4: TREK
After quite of bit of time, we headed on the trek, and I had the map. Right away trails didn’t match, and found a squirrelly way into the creek canyon for the first 2 waterfalls. At that point, we went around to get to #34, and I got a little stubborn trying to get to 36, really wanted that trail, but dumped the idea and just went south to the big road and found the attack point from there. All the way to 39, it was very smooth sailing navigation wise.
It was a very hot and humid day. JD had started to struggle with some chafing, but worsened as we continued with the trek. It also didn’t help that he had thrown away his trekking shoes after the swim trek and didn’t have back shoes, so he had to trek in his MTB shoes and took off his shorts—which made the many barbed wire fence hops a little treacherous. As the sun started to set, we were to skip a series of CPs after 39. So we headed off to skip those. As we got closer to the road that we needed to turn to restart, there was conversation about just moving on to the bike. We stopped at a tienda (of course) and chatted about it. Sidebar---I found in many situations at night only men of the town would be out, so I had to be off to the side and not cause any attention. In this situation, I told them JD was my husband because they kept wanting to talk to me and buy me things. Oh boy.
So we continued to the TA. As we approached we heard the music “Born in the U.S.A.”…Lol…we all dies laughing. Then it followed with Mariachi music. There was pasta in the TA waiting for us, and everyone wanted to hear how our race was going. I think we sat for about an hour just sharing all that had happened and what we encountered. I was to learn later, that JD got a warning for public nudity from a referee!!!!
We decided to prep for the bike and then sleep a couple of hours. We headed off around 3a.

Tuesday Apr 2 #

Mountain Bike 4:00:00 [3]

Orienteering 8:00:00 [3]

Stage 2: Swim Trek Swim
Landed in TA2 with Columbia Vidaraid passing us on their way out, I believe. Once we rolled in, I went to the race staff to share about JD’s condition so there wouldn’t be any surprises. He seemed a lot better, but I didn’t want to take chances. Because this kind of stage was new for me, I said I would do the land, but not the swim. So we headed off, got 13 and made our way to the swim. When prepping for the race, I consulted on the swim gear. What I deduced as best (pull float, small inflatable board and paddles) the guys wanted full floats and paddles. In hindsight, I don’t know if “bucking the trend” would have been good, but nonetheless it was what it was. I was really nervous about this section.
Once we got to the shore, JD realized he lost his float somewhere along the way. While we were inflating, he took a look around, but it was gone. So two of them doubled up while two of us had our own. We got to 14 and I suggested we try the land route to 15 after a bit of a swim in this crazy way. We landed for this little trek and after getting going for a bit, JD was attacked by red wasps, he thinks he got 8 bites. They just wanted out of there and to not continue for 15. So, we started to proceed back across the water. JD and I each got on a float and the guys got onto the 3rd with a little too much enthusiasm and it got punctured. Down to 2. I started to feel pretty low at this point. I had some tenacious tape and duct tape to try to repair, and a pair of socks I had in a dry bag to dry the spot for repair. As it turned out, we had to have 2 on each float. As we proceeded across the water, the wind really picked up, and kept us from proceeding at all. Gustavo (the RD) came out on a jet ski to see how we were doing, and gave a tow to shore. We went on to 16 and by this point we realized that we were so far behind that we might as well skip this stage as well and get back on bikes-Gustavo agreed.

Mountain Bike 12:00:00 [3]

Stage 3: MTB (the big one!)
Back on the bikes! While slow going, we carried forward—tricky turns, gate hopping, cattle clearing, Jorge even got smacked in the face by a night hawk. It was our plan to sleep a smidge after this, so staying focused and getting through it was key. We stopped twice, once at a small roadside tienda and a little gas station. I think there was only beer at the gas station. We continued with the ride until the TA, and as we got close, JD was pretty convinced it was in a gated and locked area, I had remembered a community football field. He wanted us to go into the locked gated area, which we did. Turns out it was someone’s private ranch, and we were so lucky that we didn’t have trouble I think! I had told him from the contours on the map it looked like the TA was a couple of k up the road, so we headed that way, and got into the TA. It had been my vote to swap out, start trekking and sleep somewhere, but the guys voted otherwise and we stayed. I slept a little, woke up and went to the others to get them going. I couldn’t find Jorge! Turns out someone loaned him a mattress so he was behind a table. Gah! Let’s go guys!

Monday Apr 1 #

Note

ARWS Paraguay

Mountain Bike 6:00:00 [3]

Stage 2-MTB
This was pretty straightforward and we had the distances which helped. We were probably about 5k into the ride and JD needed to stop, and he ultimately puked. I was worried on stage 1, but I got even more worried. I shared with the team that once we got into TA 2, I was going to tell race management what was going on. I gave JD pepto and some tums and I had a small coke. Once he came around we started to roll again.
One thing about the trails and roads on the map that took a bit to figure out was that the solid black lines were either a red clay road or two track, not at all a paved or easily traversed road. The less distinct options looked like motorcycle trails or game/cattle trails. As we moved through this stage, on many occasions we had to say “cattle up!” and really cause a rucus to get them to move out of the way. There were a couple bulls that were not happy with us, but we moved along. There were many gates to cross as well. Some opened and some we had to climb over with our bikes. That was exhausting for sure! There was one turn that we just couldn’t figure out. It was actually normal to be biking through some cattle ranches. But at one it seemed we were at a stop. The rancher came out, and we tried to talk to him but it turned out he only speaks Guarani, the native language and Paraguay’s official language. And he wanted to take us to his neighbor’s who spoke Spanish so they could help. Jorge didn’t see how we could say no, so off we went following him through some crazy terrain. We got to the neighbors, and after they gave us water and learned what we were doing, show us how to get on the way we planned. That was helpful! Took quite a while, but helpful! They were very curious about the Americans.
7 AM

Orienteering 9:30:00 [3]

Expedicion Guarani, April 2019
In short, the way it came up, and how the race went was pretty crazy, but wouldn’t trade it for the world. The report will talk about the race, but also some of the cultural nuances I encountered in this race. The greatest things for me was the challenge, interacting with the locals, and the beauty of the countryside. The biggest challenges was having to speak and translate Spanish/English all the time---even when tired, the many challenges we encountered and being soaking wet and cold during the ginormous paddle.
Pre race:
About 2 months before the race, JD texted me “Congratulations, you are going to Paraguay.” Truth, I did reach out and mentioned that I noticed he looks for teammates from time to time and I did start to think about wanting to try international expedition racing, so I had reached out. I did say maybe not Paraguay but something in the future.
When I got the message I thought about it for about a day. Then decided to go for it. I don’t know if it’s turning 49, or the thought that 2020 might not hold a lot for racing for me, or the thought of such a significant cultural growth experience lured me in, but I was crazy enough to jump in. The two other teammates are from Mexico, Jorge and Uli. They had some experience with XPD racing. We had communication through WhatsApp and a phone call pre race about gear and race communications, but I didn’t meet them until I arrived in Paraguay.
JD wasn’t set to arrive until after us, so we headed off to the store. That bike ride was insane! Uli was out front, and would whistle and hold up his hand to control traffic. I never rode like that in my life! I did everything to keep up so cars wouldn’t separate us. Wow. That was nuts. But exhilarating at the same time. During this ride, we realized something was up with my back brake. After taking a look at it, headed off to the trek store for a repair. They asked if I wanted XTR replacement (which is what I have) or a more basic replacement, and I said XTR. They made a few phone calls, and after some wow and laughter, they told me the price (cheaper than US!) and said it would take a few days. So shimano it was. This situation was one of many, many that really opened my eyes again and again.
Once the team was together it was go time on coordinating gear and getting things together. However, JD was feeling a bit under the weather. Jorge passed something to JD to use for his cold, and he proceeded to use it as a nasal inhaler. After some howling, he learned it was for his mouth. Oh my goodness, this and the brakes turned into a long list of “what could happen next” things to come.
The pre race activities proceeded without incident. I did have the first of what turned into quite a few instances of chatting with the Columbia VidaRaid team. Very nice people for sure! At the welcome dinner, I sat next to a young woman name Majo (pronounced Mayo). I was starting to get my bearings with speaking Spanish, which was a good thing! In many countries English isn’t hard to find, but the hotel didn’t have bilingual staff, and a lot of the verbal race information and communication was in Spanish. Jorge was as bilingual as I am, and certainly some things got lost in translation.
Anyway, back to Majo, she shared that she is 28 and probably the youngest female racer in the in Expedition category. I joked back that I was probably the oldest. She asked how old I am, and when she heard, she was totally and completely shocked. As the race went on and post race, I had about 10-15 people want to guess how old I am or wanted to know. The average age they guessed was 40. I have to admit, with steady health care and access to just about anything I need, I can imagine I look younger than my age.
But, I was getting weary of pre race. I wanted to get this started. Off to be at 7p for a 2:30a alarm.

Stage 1-TREK
We got on the bus at 3:30 and got to the start at 6a. We were given 20 maps. I realized we had not at all discussed how we would use this time. Incidentally, I had my map wheel with us, but realized it was faster to use the ruler or just the plain old squares for distances. JD still wasn’t feeling great, so I started to proceed with bike distances with the time we had. As the navigator, he started looking at the first nav map. We got our first warning from a referee, the map wheel! GAH! I had no idea. He noticed we had not used it, but said it needs to disappear. So, we got it into our overnight luggage.
At 7:30, we were finally off! CP 1 and 2 went along fine, and as we started on to CP 3, JD started to feel really bad. He had turned his ankle on one of the (many many) fence hops and was just getting way over heated. He took a tow from Jorge and eventually, I realized we were sort of wandering, and that JD didn’t have a map and Jorge and Uli did. I asked them where we were and they didn’t know. Uh oh. So, I stopped us to consult getting us on line. I determined that there was a potentially significant trail that we needed to get to, and once there, could reasonably find our way. With the slower pace, JD started to come around a bit. We made our way to 3, and then started our way to 4, but got off line again with JD’s feverish state. I asked if I could give it a try. He said yes, and the guys looked a little concerned. I went with the easiest possible handrails and figured if there was water in the creek JD could cool down some. We proceeded well, and got through 5, 6, and 7 without incident. JD started to recover again, and when I was on the line for 8, he wanted to pull off. Jorge and Uli have raced with JD before, and I sensed that they trusted him more than me, which makes sense. So we went off the line and found ourselves in a crazy situation again. Fortunately, we made our way back and then on to 9 and 10 and to the TA in second to last. En route, the guys stopped for a quick beer.

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