September 2005
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Month September 2005

a good ‘ole case of PI

I picked up a good case of poison something this past weekend down in ‘bama. I’m not sure if it’s ivy, oak or sumac (as the online descriptions of each rash is somewhat similar). It popped out on my left wrist within 24 hours, rather quick for my typical case of skin dermititis due to PI. It itched a bit yesterday, but nothing too bad. This morning however, I woke up scratching it. Perfect time to try out a new product I just got samples of in the mail… Tec Labs, the makers of Tecnu PI Wash, have a few other related products. Today I tried “Corticool” hydrocortisone anti-itch gel, with menthol to aid in instant relief. It works a bit, but not enough for this intense case. I will try out another product later on… meanwhile I will hope that the splotches of blisters I see coming out on my legs remain itchless.

update: 8:45am, Tuesday morning
I tried Zanfel last night and again this morning. It is a gritty mixture that feels soooo incredible good as you rub it over the affected skin. It was like heaven… scratching the intense itch that has developed. Sure it likely broke the blisters there, but it has been driving me so nuts that I could care less, because it was so satisfying. Luckily I slept ok last night, but woke up scratching again. Right now it seems ok – the sensation of itch is there, but very light. Manageable. (for now). I hope it stays that way so I can get some work done today. The patches of PI on my legs keep popping up… the front one has grown, and now there are spots on the backs of both legs, and a few intermittent spots on my calves. Still though, those remain relatively itch-free.

update: midnight, Wednesday
I think the Zanfel is key. I used it twice on Tuesday and only once today. Also tried out some Burt’s Bees Poison Ivy Soap on the legs, in hopes that tones down any pending reaction. (I’m also using Burts’ ResQ Ointment to aid in healing). So far, so good. The one patch on my wrist though is NASTY. People look at me funny and quietly step away.

a hair-raising good time

last thursday morning i played hookie from work to meet with jono of hairy scary evolutions to get my paddling & climbing certs for the upcoming SMAR. we started at the “marietta mangler”, a rockface overlooking the chattahoochee river in the indian trail/east palisades area. it was great to get on a different rock with different challenges; i had been over to vickery creek twice now and knowing that i’ll be experiencing something epic up in NC (potentially a 400+ foot rappel), i needed to test myself on something new. i rappelled down a few times with a figure 8, prussic, atc, and petzyl stop and ascended up using normal jumars and foot loops. this was the first time i’ve ascended up a rock with an overhang, so that was a new experience.

then we hit the water in some hard-shelled, medium-sized kayaks. we paddled a short distance and got out at a sandy area. i was then instructed to run up the trail back to where we started and swim down. yikes!!! first, swimming in the ‘hooch?? icky. i’ll definitely have to take a sanitizing bath after this. then the water isn’t exactly warm. pretty chilly in fact. i waded out as far as i could before losing contact with the riverbed, then swam out as much as i could, hoping for a good line down the rapids. yes, rapids. class 1 & 2. and that’s me.. swimming, er, floating down (or was it bobbing?). the rule is to keep your feet straight out in front to deflect the rocks that will be inevitably coming your way, and keep your arms out for floating/balance. this is where it’s hard being a woman with a center of gravity at my middle… as my butt naturally hangs down further and got more than its fair share of bruises from the rocks. in all, it was a pretty ok experience… even with the last rapid that sucked me under for a second. i bobbed to the surface fairly quickly and thankfully didn’t ingest any of that nasty water.

now that i was more than soaked to the bones, i climbed back in my boat and we continued on our way. i was refreshed on the basics of river navigation, reading rapids, the dangers of strainers, and eddying in/out. i must have been looking too dry, as the next test was me flipping the boat and righting it again. i tell you, purposefully flipping the boat into cold water isn’t a natural thing to do and it took me a few rocks back and forth before i finally went over. first i slid the bow of my boat over jono’s, got some leverage, and flipped her right side up, then comically hauled myself back into it. while this was successful, i had to try it one more time, this time swimming the boat over to shore and flipping it over there. by the time i conquered this, i was chilled to the bone and my teeth chattered uncontrollably. thankfully we were almost done and the hike back up to the cars (literally, up and up and up some more) warmed me up nicely.

now that i was now deemed knowledgeable in these disciplines, i drove home, soaked myself in a scalding shower (to warm up more and get the ‘hooch off), then headed up to the office for an afternoon of work.

tsali challenge


this weekend i finally raced in the NOC’s Tsali Challenge, an off-road triathlon held near bryson city, nc. the race, a 4mi paddle, 5mi trail run, and 12mi mtn bike, is a solo event on saturday, then can be done as a relay on sunday (although we didn’t stay for this).

i took off work early friday to beat traffic a bit, arriving at nantahala village around 7. i grabbed a quick run to get the blood moving after sitting in the car, then ate some dinner on the back porch of the cabin next door while the sun set. dan, jim, carol & ted arrived around 10 and we hit the sack not long after.

saturday morning we arrived an hour before the start and set up. women and both masters divisions started at 9am (guys started at 1pm). boats were given a handicap based on their width & length. the boat dan borrowed from the simrils for us, dubbed “The Potato” by carol, was considered one of the slowest and started in the first of 7 waves of boats. we all lined up in a cove on fontana lake and the race began. i think 5 boats started in my wave and i led the way for awhile. it was pretty cool paddling through the morning mist with no one ahead, although i didn’t know exactly where i was going. i yelled back to the guy behind me and he said he didn’t know either. as we were getting up to the island that signaled the turnaround, 2 guys in canoes passed me, so i got to play follower finally. after circling the island, i think my arms started to get a little tired, as i had a bit of trouble keeping the boat straight. it seemed to want to veer right. it could be the boat, or just poor form (likely since i’m not exactly an experienced paddler). i had to dig in with my left blade a few times to straighten course, causing me to lose a few positions i think. overall i was pretty happy with my paddle though, as not too many women passed me.

as i got to the take out, volunteers were there to help with my exit. dan handed me a bottle of amino vital, then i headed up the steep access trail to the trail run portion. there were 2 short very steep climbs at the start that i walked to get blood flowing to my legs again (the paddle to run transition is a tough one!) i slowly got into my groove and had a solid run (i checked my pace afterwards; it was listed at 8:37min/mile, which for me i think was fab). i passed a few women at the start and had a few speed demons pass me (including monica and my mtn bike friend kate who is just getting hooked on adv race type events).

i came off the run feeling great and transitioned to the final leg, biking. this was the leg i thought might be my weakest. i had only ridden the left loop once before and knew of a few spots that would trip me up. i passed one girl early on and played yo yo with a few guys. then came some rocky areas on the trail with a steep drop down to the lake. as expected, i tensed up and got off to walk. sadly though there were people close behind that i’m sure weren’t too happy with me then. ‘course i wasn’t too happy with myself either, as i know i should be able to get through these areas fine. with the rough areas behind me, the rest of my ride went great until i hit the wall at the bridge crossing. not a literal wall, but the figurative one… my energy level totally dropped. i sucked down a gel and walked a hill for some fresh muscle efforts and felt better soon. i had also felt my right calf tense up a few times and was worried it would seize into cramps. (luckily it never did.) i was happy to see some volunteers staffed at the base of a hill, saying there were about 2 miles left. i hoped that was true and peddled on. unfortunately one girl passed me halfway up, but that was it. soon i hit the gravel road that would take me to the finish and i let it fly (funny how during a race, i go a ton faster/harder than i normally ride. i’m convinced if i race more, i’ll try more things while under the influence of adrenaline, and thus become a better biker. now to find the money for this training process!)

i finished feeling strong, thanks to the fact the finish was at the bottom of a hill. i was happy to be there and overall don’t know if i could have gone much faster (maybe a 5min gain if i had done just a bit better on the bike). i was happy with my efforts and pretty psyched to finish 9th overall in the women’s open division… not too far behind some incredible athletes i look up to, and in front of others that i greatly respect.

Sadly I dunked my digital camera in the water helping some guy get in his boat (their race started after ours ended), so I might not have new pictures up for awhile (as it seems to have died).