Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hurricane days

Date: Oct. 20 and 21
Mileage: 19.0 and 31.0
October mileage: 335.0

While riding along Perseverance Basin, I saw this tree, stripped nearly bare in an April avalanche, sporting its first sprigs of new growth. The blueberry bushes and alder branches surrounding it, only recently uncovered from the slow-melting avalanche debris, were rushing to do the same. It was an interesting scene - a futile burst of life in late October. All around, the Devil's Club had wilted. Brown leaves littered the ground. All the other trees were bare. But in the avalanche zone, it was spring. It was a little sad ... but inspiring, too - a reminder that life never stops trying.

I have had a good week of fun little Pugsley rides, jaunts to North Douglas, and trips to the gym. It will be my last unfocused week. The real training will have to begin now. But the truth is, I'm not ever sure where to begin. I have a much stronger base than I had at this time last year. Hiking and cycling, healthy knees and strong legs. I have been trying to do more high-intensity work, but it's always hard to get into it. I can usually bust out a few intervals, until 50 mph wind gusts knock me sideways and steal the breath from my lungs, and rain daggers pierce my scalp and stab my eyes, and my fingers go numb in the wet cold and I no longer have the energy to wiggle my toes for warmth. After that, I'm just trying to stay on the bike. October cycling is not about fitness. October cycling is about survival.

Some days - most days - it's just not worth it. I have been putting my gym pass to good use, in a place where I can run intervals that are actually effective workouts, without worrying about blowing off the road or nose-diving into some rainwater-filled pothole. This has been a week of strong wind advisories and heavy rain. Our storm total is nearly over 10 inches. Storm total! Single storm! It takes Anchorage about 7 months to accumulate that much precipitation. Combine that with the 50-60 mph wind gusts and in any Atlantic state you'd have a tropical storm. Here, it's just autumn.

The forecast calls for more of the same Thursday. I may try to get out for my first "training" ride of the season - if only because, for all the intervals I can run, survival is still the most important skill I can hone.