Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring fever

Leah and I coasted down Steven's Creek Canyon in a splatter of mud and explosion of green. Green everywhere — wrapped around tree trunks, saturating the canopy and littering the trail. Interesting weather pounded Monte Bello Ridge during my training rides and runs all week — gale-force winds, soupy fog, heavy rain, and even sleet. And somewhere in there, while I was squinting against the sharp moisture and rewarming my numb fingers in a drenched set of mittens, spring came, and suddenly the winter-muted landscape turned green.

The last remnants of what passes for winter around here are still holding on at the higher elevations. After the sun came out during our lunchtime run, Beat and I could see a film of snow on the peaks across the Bay. But spring fever hit me hard this week. I've been scheduling May visits from friends,  and scheming strategies for the Stagecoach 400, including a potential training weekend in April. I'm mulling a summer full of mountain binges that I've deemed necessary to train for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. And I'm wondering if I can squeeze a mountain bike tour between it all, sometime during the summer. Besides UTMB in late August, most of my summer calendar is still a blank. I feel driven to keep it that way as long as possible so I can continue to dream and scheme, anticipating that adventure is inevitable. Times are good. Spring is here. Winter is done.

But wait ... it's not. Three weeks in Alaska followed by a return to a greened-up California set off the seasonal transitions in my brain, but the reality remains that Beat and I are still headed back to Fairbanks this week for the White Mountains 100. There's going to be lots of snow and it could be 20 below. Which is awesome, really — but right now, hard to comprehend. Today I found myself sorting through potential gear for the scorching-desert Stagecoach ride and contemplating a trip to the sauna to begin my heat training. I was just about to start boxing up my winter gear when the rational side of my brain finally prodded me: "You need those tights! You need that puffy! White Mountains! Twenty below! Twenty belooooow." Yikes.

In other news, I've taken up running again after a nearly month-long hiatus following the Sustina 100. Beat seemed to recover from the Iditarod in no time. He endured one week of a low-level cold and revved-up appetite, and then he was back on his feet, cramming in a few tune-up runs for the White Mountains. Yes, Beat is actually planning to run a hundred more miles on snow this weekend. If I understood it, I'd try to justify it, but I don't. But he looked fairly strong out there today, given he looked like this just two weeks ago:

(In this photo, Beat is thinking "Fairbanks will feel like a sauna after what I've been through." By the way, he has started posting his ITI race report with an awesome play-by-play map on his blog.  Also fun from the Web this week was a cartoon by EJ Murphy on iRunFar depicting my own Iditarod superfandom.

During my own training runs, my legs have felt slow but strong, like I could climb up a wall. I think this is a good indicator that I'm actually in decent snow biking shape despite a deficit of actual conditioning. I'm going to keep telling myself that, because I'm actually pretty nervous about the effort I'm facing on Sunday-Monday. But I'm determined to pedal hard, with the promise of spring to drive me forward.