Monday: Trail run, 3:37, 18.1 miles, 3,424 feet climbing. I'd planned to put in a long ride during the single full day I had in California between our Boulder and Fairbanks trips, but Monday brought an atmospheric river that dumped well over an inch of rain in just a few hours. I think back to my years in Juneau and how utterly miserable it was to ride through cold rain, and I admit I just can't make myself do it these days. Trail running in the rain is considerably more fun. On this day I set out from home to run to Black Mountain and back. I reached the bald peak during the crux of the storm, when the wind-blown rain picked up both volume and velocity to the point where I felt like I was being water-boarded while climbing into the deluge. Yes, it is still more fun than biking in the rain. I only had this paper-thin rain jacket and I became deeply chilled, swinging my arms wildly as I descended the steep and rocky Black Mountain trail with a horizontal waterfall slapping me from behind. It was all quite exciting.
Tuesday: Weight lifting at gym. Managed to squeeze three sets in about 25 minutes by doing a bit of a speed session. In rushing through the workouts, I pulled one of my abdominal muscles, which caused discomfort on the flights to Seattle and Fairbanks and several days later. Admittedly I got wrapped up in my outdoor activities after this, and only did one weight-training session this week.
Friday: Sled-drag, 2:00, 6.3 miles, 189 feet climbing. It was still 18 below in the valley, but it is notably easier to regulate body temperature and feel completely comfortable while hiking. Dragging a sled strains my hamstrings and hips, and I find I can only pull so hard regardless of my energy levels, but I felt pretty good on this "run."
Saturday: Sled-drag, 3:36, 10.2 miles, 1,454 feet climbing. When we arrived at the trailhead for Tolovana Hot Springs, the temperature was 12 below and winds were gusting to 25 mph. The parking lot is high on an exposed ridge. It's often high drama to embark on the trek into the hot springs, and this trip was no exception. By the time I got my sled put together, my hands were stiff, and I had to endure a particularly mean case of the screaming barfies as circulation returned (holding my trekking poles inside of pole pogies and shoving everything under my armpits as I stumbled down the trail.) This was a good test run for my balaclava (which Beat sewed for me last year). It's made out of windproof fleece with silnylon lining the inside of the face mask. The hope is that instead of turning my balaclava into an ice helmet, all the moisture from my breath will collect on the waterproof material and funnel down to the chin, forming a nice snotcicle at the bottom, which can be broken off at intervals. After consulting with my friends in Fairbanks, it seems that everyone finds face moisture to be an unavoidable nuisance, so I am not alone. The main issue I have with this mask is a panic-inducing feeling of suffocation when I am working and breathing hard. While hiking up Tolovana Hot Springs Dome, there were a couple of instances where I ripped the face mask down involuntarily, only to be blasted on my wet cheeks with the fierce windchill, with an unpleasant flash-freezing effect. Still, I think this is the right system. I'm quite happy with my windproof layers — Windstopper tights and hat, and this fantastic fleece jacket (Mountain Hardwear Airshield Polartec) that breathes so well it's dry on the inside after hours of sweating in subzero temperatures, yet blocks the wind completely. I've had this jacket for two years and love it.
Total: 20:09, 44.4 miles ride, 44.8 miles run, 12,068 feet climbing. I was going to post more pictures from Tolovana, but I'll do that in a separate post. I was happy to squeeze in 20 hours this week, each one of them full of character-building goodness. Gear-testing is going well. We might actually be out of cold days for our remaining time in Fairbanks, but I suppose we can't complain about nice weather for further riding opportunities. Strava just informed me that I've biked 4,899 miles so far this year. If I rode 101 more, I could top 5,000 for 2015. I'm thinking about going for it, but it won't be a small task here in Fairbanks, where no miles come easy. We'll see!