Monday, October 19, 2015

ITI training, week 1

I only got one photo on Saturday before my camera battery died. Not my best work for a week of outings, I know.
So, there are about 19 weeks until the start of the Iditarod Trail Invitational on Feb. 28, 2016. I wanted to revive my weekly training log from winter 2013-14 because it proved to be a useful record. Since the Firetrails 50 was a re-set of sorts, I'm starting with the following week — Oct. 12 to 18.

I'm a little embarrassed because I haven't started a weight training routine yet. I decided to join a small gym near my neighborhood, and it's been a frustratingly slow process. But my membership is set to start on Wednesday, so I hope to report back next week. The benefit of this gym, besides being relatively inexpensive, is there is one trainer there for a few hours each day who can work with me as long as they're not already occupied with other clients. It's not as good as personal training, but at least I can ask questions and receive feedback. This is all new to me, so obviously the first few weeks will be about treading lightly and focusing on form. Hopefully once I get the exercises down, I can start loading my weak little arms and shoulders more heavily so they adapt into something more useful.

Beyond that, I plan to continue with both riding and running/hiking, and if I can stay disciplined, start to add more weight to both my bike and back on these outings. There will be rides where I purposefully push my bike up a steep hill again and again. I may even do a few cart-dragging "runs." Whether I'll manage any snow training is still in question. El Nino heat may bring another snowless winter to the Sierras. I feel strongly that I need at least one week of real cold-weather camping practice, so I'm hoping to make a trip to Alaska in December. Also, Beat and I signed up for 200-mile version of JayP's Fat Pursuit in Idaho in January as a shakedown tour.

Monday: Road bike, 1:29, 16.2 miles, 2,232 feet climbing. My next big "event" is a nutty little outing that I proposed as part of Elden "The Fat Cyclist" Nelson's annual 100 Miles of Nowhere charity ride. On Nov. 7, people from all over the world donate money for the privilege of riding a century either on trainers at their homes, or on an outdoor course that effectively goes nowhere. For several years I've wanted to attempt "100 Miles of Montebello Road," which is ten climbs and descents on my go-to hill climb. The end result is a road century with 20,000 feet of climbing. As you can imagine for any stretch of road that squeezes 2,000 feet of climbing into five miles, there is nothing flat about Montebello Road. As I was grinding up the pavement on Monday, there may have been a few swear words uttered. (#$%! How am I ever going to get through two of these, let alone ten???) It will definitely take some work to get my cycling legs back. It's good I set this impossible standard for myself in three weeks.

Tuesday: Trail run, 0:59, 5.6 miles, 696 feet climbing. Running! Now that's more like it. I'm definitely better trained for running right now. My IT band was still bothering me after Firetrails, so I shuffled the descents.

Wednesday: Mountain bike, 2:22, 23.4 miles, 3,184 feet climbing. Moots is still covered in clumps of mud that are almost certainly from the Tour Divide, and Beat finally became annoyed with the rear tire that has been consistently flat for three months, and added sealant himself. My mountain bike has been neglected. As I pedaled over Black Mountain and began to descent into Stevens Creek Canyon, I realized I hadn't visited my home trails since May. May! It's been wonderful to get back on my bike, but I can definitely feel the burn in my butt and legs. It's been a while.

Thursday: Trail run, 0:57, 5.6 miles, 702 feet climbing. I got a massage on Thursday morning, and suddenly my IT band felt 100 percent better. Even though I ran this loop at an easier pace than my Tuesday run, I finished it faster simply because I wasn't protecting the descents.

Friday: Road bike, 1:18, 15.5 miles, 2,073 feet climbing. This is another cheater Montebello ride where I wanted to practice my "100-mile pace" and didn't even ride all the way to the top. I don't remember why. But this 100 Miles of Nowhere thing is really starting to freak me out. Also, if you're a Bay Area cyclist and think this nutty century sounds at all fun, please considering joining us. There are at least six people right now who say they're going to show up at 6 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7. We may even have a bit of an aid station at the bottom of the hill. (However, this is a fully self-supported, unofficial, untimed group ride.) If you want more information, e-mail me at

Saturday: Mountain bike, 3:58, 34.8 miles, 5,212 feet climbing. My friend Liehann recently started training with Coach Lynda, but he found a way to work me into his Saturday plan. We pedaled trails toward Russian Ridge, and I managed to keep a solid pace up until the final climb, when my legs just died. I've definitely lost some power in my quads.

Sunday: Trail run, 2:19, 13.1 miles, 2,246 feet climbing. Beat has been battling a veritable plague all week, and I haven't caught it, which is weird, because it seems like my immune system really gave up this year. Still, I'm currently healthy, so I set out to do my own thing — a half-marathon-length loop up the brutally steep PG&E trail and down the mellow and fun High Meadow Trail in Rancho. I felt fantastic on this run, with this giddy zeal that I also experienced while riding with Liehann on Saturday. It's funny, because with a few exceptions, I haven't felt this strong in a while. Months, really. In early October I had a few terrible runs and one especially terrible mountain bike ride, and I told Beat that if I couldn't finish the Firetrails 50, I was definitely going to withdraw from the ITI. It wasn't about the trail run; there was just something wrong with me, and I needed to figure it out.

Cue the visit to the allergist, and the assurance from a professional that "oh, there's probably nothing really wrong with you — except you're really allergic to grass." And just like that, I feel great. It's not about grass pollen; that's been gone for a couple of months now. It's more about increased confidence that this unseen anvil has been lifted. When I charge up a hill, I'm no longer afraid that it's going to come crushing down, so I push harder and feel better. Funny what happens when negative thoughts are flipped around.

Total: 13:26, 89.9 miles ride, 24.3 miles run, 16,346 feet climbing


  1. Ah yes, the gym. I've found lifting heavy has really helped my other pursuits. Although my husband saw me in a tank top recently and said, "you have really big shoulders." Um, thanks?

  2. Iditarod Trail Invitational on Feb. 28, 2016 -- grueling, would love to do that event. But, my racing days are over...

    be sure to check out: - great single track, best 7 day race going for mtbing. La ruta, did that 3 times... its coming up in 2 weeks time. collection of hundred milers (big racers do these races, even the likes of Lance Armstrong etc...)

    Good on you for doing the yukonultra ( ) etc... that would be one tough race, cold kills. There is this one as well...

  3. WOW... 100MON of Montebello Noodle joining you? This sounds like one of her wild MON's. If I were in your area I'd join you just to suffer (though I seriously doubt I have the mental fortitude to push myself to 10 laps of that climb....I'm a big wuss in the big scheme of things). I'll be anxiously awaiting to see your post on Strava! It will look like a big horrible comb! The suffering of that will be EPIC! (ie: right up your alley).

  4. All right, glad to see you're doing it again! (and documenting it) I have all your books, really enjoyed them - and have read your blog for years.

  5. Wish I hadn't had my surgery, I would come down and join you for your 100 MoN. Think of me being there in spirit. It sounds like a great sufferfest kind of ride. Don't forget to take a rest day once a week, even the pros do that. And remember, not all work outs need to be hard core. Level one long rides are very helpful for long distance training, it doesn't all have to be about hills. (Of course, I don't always practice what I preach, but I do always take 1-2 rest days a week for recovery). Can't wait to read your write up about your 100 MoN!

  6. Jill, here are two options for working on your upper body strength. They can be done outside and can be incorporated into other workouts. One is a product and one is an idea.

    The product is called Monkii Bars.

    The idea is to create your own obstacle course.

  7. this is a good training schedule and hard-work always pays


Feedback is always appreciated!