Week 5, Dec. 9 to 16
Tuesday: Run, 0:53, 5.7 miles, 607 feet climbing. Monta Vista loop.
Wednesday: Zero. Had lots to do, and I do need more rest days in the mix.
Thursday: Mountain bike, 4:36, 41.1 miles, 4,081 feet climbing. For the most part, this was just under four hours of mellow riding with about 45 minutes of being maxed out while mashing pedals up the Limekiln Trail in Sierra Azul. I was genuinely tapped out after this ride, which is usually what happens after redline efforts, and this is exactly why I don't like to peg it very often. One can go many happy hours at 75 percent, but turn the dial up to 90 and suddenly you're overcooked after 45 minutes. I know, I know. It's good for me.
Friday: Road bike, 1:33, 17.5 miles, 2,719 feet climbing. Heart rate felt high and legs felt dull after Thursday's effort. I should get my heart rate monitor up and running again so I can track the patterns versus how I feel. By this point I already knew I had a big weekend planned, so I should have just rested ... but I already used up my zero day, on Wednesday. Ha. I'm so terrible at self-coaching. Luckily, the goals I focus on depend much more on mental endurance than physical fine-tuning. Although, as I told Beat on Sunday, I think this quasi-focused training is good for me. I genuinely feel stronger now than I did over the summer.
Sunday: Trail run, 6:40, 31 miles, 6,432 feet climbing. Can't lie, I was tired. I'm apt to blame glycogen depletion and sleep deprivation as much as the long run on Saturday, because overall there were few pains and a decent enough spark to my climbing legs as soon as I got enough Shot Bloks in my system. There was some minor sharp pain in the right knee cap, and some cramping in my glutes on and off, especially in the first six miles of the race (I find this interesting, because usually the only times I experience muscle cramps are a result of prolonged steep climbing, mostly while hiking, and always in my calves. Butt cramping is a new one, probably more related to repetitive motions in my running stride.) Walking with an exaggerated marching motion seemed to help a lot in this regard; the cramps would go away and wouldn't return for miles after stretching. I'll have to remember techniques like that for the ITI. Repetitive motion is the worst, and there's lots of it in sled dragging.
Total: 22:30, 58.6 miles ride, 76.3 miles run, 21,055 feet climbing
And I know I can Google such things, but if anyone out there has recommendations for their own favorite ankle-strengthening exercises, I'd love to hear them. I'm determined not to place so much dependency on snowshoes as I have in the past; the ITI will be difficult enough without anchors on my feet, but I'll need strong ankles to cope with the variable surfaces of the trail.
I need to work on my hips as well. Hip flexor pain was one of my larger issues last year during the relatively easy Chena River 25-mile / Homer Epic 100K combo that I ran last spring.
Really, trail running is sort of a lousy excuse for training for an effort like the Iditarod, but it's what I have. My friend Anne in Anchorage, who will be aiming for Nome this year, often puts in 8-plus hours of sled dragging every day that she doesn't work, and gets up at 4 a.m. on work days to hit the gym and the pool and tow her sled through the morning darkness on the trails behind her house. Anne is dedicated. I am just making up excuses to have adventures. I loved running 14 hours this weekend; I should do double runs and/or long rides more often.