Monday: Weight lifting at gym. Went for three sets this week, 12 exercises, 12 reps. I stuck with all the same weights as last Thursday and struggled with the third set. When doing these exercises, I contemplate how the movements might correlate with hours of pushing and lifting a loaded bike through unconsolidated snow. I think working toward three or even four sets might be more appropriate than simply trying to increase the amount of weight I can lift. Building moderate strength along with endurance? Seems plausible.
Tuesday: Trail run, 0:50, 5.6 miles, 692 feet climbing. I again tried to run the Monta Vista loop quickly and only moderately succeeded — 8:55-minute-mile average. The difficulties I'm running up against now are slightly more sore and fatigued quads after long weekend rides, and I'm not willing to pound the descents. But I continue to improve in small increments on the climbs.
Wednesday: Snowshoe, 2:08, 5.9 miles, 1,743 feet climbing. By Wednesday I was on the road without a bike, so my pedaling miles are going to be zero for two weeks. I believe that's not a problem in terms of training, as slogtastic activities such as snowshoeing are even more appropriate for the "skills" I'm attempting to boost. For consistency purposes I'm going by Strava numbers, but the software tends to short me on time — it seems if I'm moving slower than two miles an hour, I don't get counted for moving at all. I should also note that for training purposes, I count anything I do on foot as a "run." Even if I'm working on a 53-minute-mile through snow drifts, you can bet that, minute-for-minute, I'm putting more physical effort than my 9-minute-mile jaunts on trails, so I'm absolutely going to call it a two-hour run. (Or just call everything hiking. I don't really care.) Anyway, this was a tough climb to Castle Peak, starting at 7,000 feet and working my way up to 9,000 feet through slush, breakable wind crust, and shin-deep sugar. I pushed the pace (yes, at 1.5 mph) so I was blasted by the top, and my calf muscles were quivering. Actually this outing took closer to three hours of moving time, but again, I'm sticking to Strava numbers for this journal.
Thursday: Snowshoe, 4:20, 11.7 miles, 3,050 feet climbing. Oof. This was actually a six-hour effort with only a few short stops, and I was really feeling the altitude. There were only a few inches of snow at 7,000 feet, but I was still moving at snail's pace as I waded up the Lehman Creek Trail in Great Basin National Park. Past a campground at 9,000 feet, there was more than a foot of fresh snow, and the slog really set in. Close to treeline, above 10,000 feet, I hit these snow-covered boulder fields that involved balancing on loose rocks while wearing snowshoes. I couldn't take the snowshoes off for fear I'd put my foot in a hidden hole and break my ankle in a spot where I was all by myself with only fire-starters and a space blanket as survival gear, and wind-chills were easily below 0F. Winter mountain travel is amazing but it's also extremely intimidating. For many good reasons, I constantly have the "danger, danger" sirens going off in my head, and stress adds to the fatigue I feel on these outings. I turned around about a half mile short of my destination but well past the amount of time I planned to use up for this "run." Damn, I was tired. This is such better training for the ITI than those silly bike rides I do in California. :P
Friday: Trail run, 2:06, 9.6 miles, 688 feet climbing. Calves were sore and hamstrings were tight, so I took it pretty easy on this fun jaunt into McDonald Creek Canyon along the Colorado River, near the Utah/Colorado border. There wasn't much of a trail in the canyon so this "run" involved quite a bit of hiking up and down slickrock ledges, and shuffling in the sandy wash. It was fun to embark on a desert adventure after two snowbound slogs.
Saturday: Trail run, 1:35, 5 miles, 2,732 feet climbing. I finally made it the Boulder, and Beat and I met up with Daniel (the friend who recently lived in Frisco and helped rescue me when I was very sick during the Tour Divide, and now lives in Denver) and Joe Grant (professional ultra-runner and super nice guy who lives in Boulder) for lunch and a quick afternoon jaunt. Joe guided us on a hike up Bear Peak and we chatted about life on the Front Range. Again, I'm still calling this a run, because the pace was brisk for me and Beat (and clearly a stroll for Daniel and Joe.) I felt moderately embarrassed when I was hugging icy boulders with full-chest contact, and the Coloradans were dancing over them on their tip-toes. But this is who I am. It takes a lot more than a few snowy outings to fix clumsy. Running downhill with these guys did help push me past my comfort zone, which is a good thing.
Sunday: Afternoon, snowshoe, 2:38, 7.6 miles, 1,082 feet climbing. Evening, weight lifting. Beat and I drove up Boulder Canyon for sightseeing, and chose a random trailhead near Niwot Mountain to go snowshoeing. We hoped to find good ridge access, but instead followed a trail that meandered through the woods in a long traverse around the mountain. Both of us were disappointed about the lack of views, but it was nice to get out for a more relaxing hike. I'm beginning to adjust to the altitude although still sucking wind at 10,000 feet. Beat had more difficulties. I also discovered our hotel has a small gym, so I spent a half hour on a free-weight routine — mostly adapted from exercises I could remember from the "Strength Training for Runners" program I did for eight weeks last fall. Shoulders were pretty sore after 30 pushups, broken up in three sets of 10. But that's far more than I was able to do at this time last year.
Total: 13:39, 45.5 miles run, 9,978 feet climbing. Well, the numbers make this look like a pretty paltry week. It certainly didn't feel that way. But I'm glad to have this opportunity to embark on snowy adventures this week. These efforts certainly will help more toward my goals than a faster time on the Monta Vista loop. Here are a few more photos: