Monday, October 08, 2012

Recovery week

I had the opportunity to spend the week after the Bear 100 in Salt Lake City with my family, visiting my sister and her two-week-old baby girl, and trying to coax my legs back to life in time for my favorite annual tradition, hiking rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon with my dad. It was enjoyable to spend time with my family and catch up with a few friends. But as usual, physically recovering from a hard effort is seriously unfun. 

After I finished the Bear 100, I was up for most of the night drinking lots of water and struggling to breathe. I was extremely dehydrated, probably the result of a gradual failure to take in enough fluids during and also after the race. So that was two nights without sleep, and the next few were also limited thanks to sore feet and "the jimmy legs," in which involuntary muscle contractions and cramping kept me awake. By Tuesday I had to start testing whether my legs still worked since our rim-to-rim hike was Friday, so I set out for a two-hour easy hike on the Jacob's Ladder Trail in Corner Canyon. My feet, which were still covered in raw blisters, felt surprisingly okay, but my legs were mostly dead. Starting something like the Bear 100 with tired legs means — like post-Stagecoach 400 rebuilding during the spring — I'll probably spend the rest of the fall operating at reduced capacity. Honestly, that's fine with me. As long as I'm healthy, I'd rather have a steady trickle of adventure at 60 or 70 percent power, than take long breaks coupled with big training bursts in hopes of achieving that elusive 100 percent. That's one of the advantages of being a mediocre athlete no matter what, in my humble opinion — the fun doesn't have to stop.

I certainly do wish I could have been a little healthier during the four days I spent in Salt Lake, because it would have been nice to really get out and enjoy fall in the Wasatch Mountains. The day after my Jacob's Ladder hike, I had lunch with my sister and then had two hours of free time before I planned to go visit my grandmother. I told my sister I was going to get a pedicure for some help with my mangled feet, but instead I ended up in Big Cottonwood Canyon, hiking up the Broads Fork Trail. Whoops. It was worth it, though — trading some foot relief for ninety minutes of bliss. I was even able to run most of the descent, as my running muscles are actually less achey and tired than my uphill hiking muscles right now.

Another thing that happened this week is I found out my standing in the White Mountains 100 lottery, which is a disappointing number 42 on the wait list. I thought I'd be okay with not getting into the WM100 after three years of successful rides around the hundred-mile loop north of Fairbanks. But I'll be honest — I was slightly devastated that I didn't get in for a fourth year. One of the reasons is that the Susitna 100 has been cancelled in 2013, and I didn't put in for any other winter races. I've mulled it over and decided I'm not willing to put up with the extended travel or expense it would take to race the Yukon Arctic Ultra, and the Arrowhead 135 is already full even if I did decide I wanted to make a trip to Minnesota. So, for the first time since 2005, I find myself without any kind of winter goal. Winter is my season. I could be perfectly content hiking mountains and going on leisurely bike tours all summer long, but I really do like to be "on" and training with purpose during the winter. So the lack of direction is disappointing. I'm still not sure what to do.

Beat joked that since my blog reports have been getting so few comments recently, I should poll readers to see what training efforts or trips might make my blog less boring. Ha ha. But then creating a poll helped me think about what I might want to do to compensate for my lack of races this winter. It's on the left in the sidebar of this blog. Please weigh in!

Other than that, it's time to start training for the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, which is less than a month away. I've spent so little time on a bike in the past two months that even my sit bones have gone soft — also for the first time since 2005, I've lost my one superpower: my "iron butt." That coupled with my dead legs should make for an interesting training block indeed. But I don't even really care because I'm so excited to get back on my Moots and crank out long rides in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is good to be home again.