Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Week 11, Jan. 20-26

Beat and I were really hoping to get at least one winter-training weekend in before we head to Alaska, but there is almost no snow to be found in the entire state of California. Yosemite Webcam views show open fields and bare pavement, and a friend reported hiking on dry dirt on the Tahoe Rim Trail, in January. The cold-weather gear testing wouldn't do us much good anyway, when it's 40 degrees overnight at 7,000 feet. Yes, it's summer in January here on the West Coast, from California on up to Nome, Alaska (51 degrees this week!) Here in the Bay Area we have sweaty outings in the high 70s. I admit this makes me grumpy. Not only do we have to endure summer discomfort all over again (wasps, chunder trails, sunburn), but I envision actual summer turning out much like a Steinbeck novel.

The grumpiness persists because I encountered a bad batch of allergies this week. I don't know what I am allergic to, but symptoms manifest as mild congestion, an uncomfortable rash, and resulting sleep disruption. I'm not actually sick, but I feel downtrodden as though I were sick, and so I'm demotivated about things and also guilty that I feel so demotivated. Going outside seems to help with the symptoms, but it's a chore to boost myself out the door when it's hot and I know sweat is going to exacerbate the rash. Last year, my doctor speculated that laundry detergent was causing this reaction. I switched that up to a sensitive skin brand, but had another bout last summer, so I switched my body wash. Looks like I need to think of some other household products to target. Or who knows? Perhaps I am just allergic to unseasonable heat. Allergies are stupid like that.

Okay, I was going to try to keep the grump out of this post as much as possible. I did have a nice week of training, and got some decent work done despite an ongoing desire to dunk my whole body in an ice bath for hours on end. I realize there's a polar vortex on the East Coast right now, and I have a few friends and acquaintances who are enduring a long night in the deep minus 20s in the Arrowhead 135, so I do try to keep perspective. It's actually pretty nice here. Okay, it's gorgeous. Grump, grump, grump.

Monday, Jan. 20: Rest. I decided to book-end a big weekend with rest days.

Tuesday, Jan. 21: Run, 1:12, 7.3 miles, 684 feet of climbing; I slowed up my running because of IT band concerns after Steep Ravine. The issue didn't come up at all this week.

Wednesday, Jan. 22: Road bike. 1:59, 22 miles, 4,200 feet climbing. I had to run some errands anyway so took the opportunity to drive out to Woodside and ride from Kings Mountain Road to Tunitas Creek and back. I love this route; it's so smooth and zippy for a ride on winding mountain roads with a ton of climbing.

Thursday, Jan. 23: Mountain bike, 0:46, 10.1 miles; Cart tow, 3:12, 9.5 miles, 302 feet climbing. Ah, the cart tow. A friend asked me what exactly is so difficult about towing a cart and/or sled, and the truth is that, minute for minute, there's nothing terribly hard about it. I just build up expectations based on running fitness that don't, for many obvious reasons, translate directly to man-hauling. Without extra weight and resistance, 10-minute-miles are easy breezy, but add a cart or sled and suddenly the same or more effort only nets half the speed. When I think about 350 such miles, I sort of want to hurl, not even taking into account the cold, the harsh weather, the remote isolation, and all of that other stuff. Even 350 miles of similar effort on a treadmill over ten days would make me feel a little queasy. But you take it one mile at a time, one minute at a time if you must. Take care of the body and mind, stay fascinated with the small pictures and determined about the big picture, and eventually you'll get there. The challenge of the slog is a process I actually do love, but it intimidates me, too.

Friday, Jan. 24: Run, 1:22, 6.6 miles, 1,592 feet climbing. Headed out to Oakland to meet with Ann, and we went for a run in the hills with her friend Steve. I had a chance to explain my ideas for a book project, and she seemed very interested. I know my blog makes it seem like I do nothing with my life but play outside and travel and race, which is maybe partially true. But in between the lines, I managed to pile up a number of projects and contractual responsibilities, and now it's time to really focus on the ones that are most important. A book about Ann has a lot of potential, and I have some ideas to bring the story to life for a large audience of readers, not just hardcore runners. And she likes my ideas, enough to give the go-ahead on crafting a book proposal. This has nothing to do with my training log, but I'm very excited about it.

Saturday, Jan. 25: Run, 2:55, 14 miles, 2,210 feet climbing. Beat did a cart-tow, and I walked with him for the first 2.5 miles to Rancho (he was actually shuffling, but the pace qualifies as a pleasant stroll for the person without the cart.) Then Liehann and I took off up the hill and ran the remaining 11.5 miles. My allergies were bothering me a lot, and I struggled on the climb, but eventually run fatigue took my mind off the clawing itchiness, and I was able to enjoy the back half.

Sunday, Jan. 26: Road bike, 5:30, 68.4 miles, 7,936 feet climbing. Allergies were making me crazy; this ride was my own way of crawling out of my skin for a few hours. Since IT band pain never flared up this week, I thought I should put in a longer run. But temperatures were nearing 80 and a ride beneath redwood canopy sounded so much more pleasant. Also, I was still experiencing some cart-tow angst, and I wanted to do something fast and flowing. Road biking around here is so much fun. I dislike riding with traffic, which is the main reason I don't embark on long road rides more often. But on this day I picked a good route:

Nice views on Skyline Ridge.

Narrow, quiet roads.

Big Basin Redwoods. Great spot. If Beat and I can't find snow next weekend (and it's looking extremely unlikely), I may just throw out the run training altogether and ride centuries instead. No matter what I do, dragging a sled across Alaska is going to be damn hard. But for now, it's summer in California, and I suppose I should enjoy it.

Total: 16:56, 37.4 miles run, 100.5 miles ride, 16,924 feet climbing


  1. Well i hope there's snow left here in Alaska by the time you get up here! It's been melting like crazy, 61F in Seward today!

  2. It was a brisk -7 in VT this week.. Wait until actual summer in CA this year, you'll be showering once a week. It will be that bad.
    I have a cousin in Esther, AK just outside of Fairbanks and he also has a Fatbike. They can ride out their door , take two rights, and head out for all day rides in the bush on multiple routes. Granted it gets a bit nippy for me but with the right gear (45nrth) it's doable and quite fun.
    The summer, however, really sucks! Too buggy, among other things so when school ends, they head off to Europe to bum around fir 10 weeks.
    Enjoy all the weather variations, but really, you guys should just move there.

  3. Grump grump grump indeed. We've had enough school delays and cancellations due to cold weather, and my son's, husband's, and my skin are all scaly and dry even with lots of lotion. I'll trade you, Grump.

  4. Maybe you should have put the Arrowhead 135 into your schedule this year. Northern Minnesota seems to be the place for cold air. I hear it was -35 out on the trail last night during the Arrowhead. Here in Duluth I've lost count of how many days I've commuted to work by bike with temps in the high minus teens and -20's. Minus 10 feels downright warm these days.

  5. You could have an allery to mold. You could have hidden mold in your home like in your mattress. Also, Acacia, Euchalypts, and fruit trees are blooming right now.
    Tom C

  6. I've been suffering with allergies since the day we moved here. I maintain that I'm allergic to California in general. I've noticed that when I'm in higher mileage weeks, my allergies are worse just because of the increase in time spent outside with the things I'm allergic to.

    I just wanted to say that I was doing some soft sand dunes running yesterday and spent most of my run following someone's fat bike track and thought of you. But the biggest question I had was: how does one remove the sand from their gears and brakes? It sure doesn't melt out like snow does.

  7. You really don't have the right to complain because the weather is not as bad as it should be. Or come over in the UK share one of my daily runs in the cold rain!

  8. I joke that I don't live here for the weather. I'm really not a summer person, don't like the heat, and get irritable when summer discomforts (allergies, etc.) clamp down during what is usually a respite time of year. Although I didn't always cope well with 300 days of rain in Juneau, either, somewhere out there is a dry, cold place where I'd be quite content. Coastal California does have a lot of things going for it, though, even if the weather is cloyingly perfect.

    But this dry spell is quite bad. If this is the start of a real drought, things will get bad here, fast.

    Karen — I used to ride my Pugsley on the beach frequently in Juneau. Sand is the same as mud, you have to wash it off. I had to hose down my bike after almost every ride I did there; even road rides were a spray of grit. I wish I could figure out what causes my allergic reactions. It does seem to be an indoor allergen rather than an outdoor one. Mold or dust are possibilities.

  9. Jill: with allergies it is hard to impossible to figure on your own. Get tested. They screen routinely for about 90 most common environmental allergens and perhaps extended panels are available. They will have California allergens there. It is manageable but you must start calming the over reactive immunity soon or it gets out of control.

  10. Morning Jill,

    Thought you'd like this blog entry about another athlete, Amy Purdy. http://tinyurl.com/mug5lvf


Feedback is always appreciated!