Monday, July 02, 2007

Base building

Date: July 2
Mileage: 7.8
July mileage: 38.2
Temperature upon departure: 60

So I have a rather long "off season" ahead of me. I'm focused on staying healthy, but I'd also like to push closer to my limits and build some strength. One of my goals is to regularly hit some of the gut-busting trails around town and hike them as fast as I can. The mountain bike approaches are a nice warm-up/cool-down.

Hiking Mount Juneau was a bit of a tall order this morning, given the time window I had and my current state of fitness. I locked up my bike at the trail junction and settled in to the hike, which became a brisk trudge, and then a four-legged climb. Mount Juneau's elevation is 3,576 feet. I started at sea level on my bike. The actual hike gains about 3,000 feet in two miles. Hunched over the trail, I could hear huge droplets of my own sweat hitting the dirt. I crossed a snow field that seemed to spin sideways with every step. My heart raced ahead and dark shadows darted through my field of vision. I was in the red zone and I was hurting, but I was feeling alive. I crested the final scramble and shuffled up the trail to the peak, where a family from the Yukon put down their lunch and gave me a somewhat alarmed "Hello." I looked at my watch. 53 minutes.

I felt proud of my 2 mph average ... a little lightheaded, but proud. I took about three minutes to snap a few pictures and then started back down the trail. I figured I had about 45 minutes to hike down before my time window closed in. What I didn't plan for was the unrelenting pull of gravity on my tender knee. I realized quickly that every step would have to be tentative and taken sideways. It took me an hour and 10 minutes to walk/slide down.

Even though I reached speeds of 35 mph riding my mountain bike home, and took a seven-minute shower, and packed a quick cold lunch and only half blow-dried my hair, I was still 12 minutes late for work. Nobody asked me why I was late. I was bummed about that, actually, because my coworkers are always telling me how they'd like to hike Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts one of these days "if I could only find the time."

How I love Mount Juneau on a cloudy day.

If I peek over the edge, I can actually see the rooftop of my gym. I thought of the two friendly women who dutifully show up every day at noon, and how they were probably running in stagnant circles at that moment. I sent them my deepest sympathies.