Sunday, December 13, 2015

ITI training, week nine

 Monday: mountain bike, 2:38, 25.1 miles, 2,987 feet climbing. I am considering using Beat's MootoX YBB fat bike in the Iditarod. This is the bike I rode in the 2014 White Mountains 100. Its set-up resembles my mountain bike, which I rode long distances in the Freedom Challenge and Tour Divide, so there's already a comfortable familiarity. The other bike is Snoots, the expedition fat bike. We've had some good, difficult times together. But she's a beefy bike, and I am concerned about the heavier front end given all of my struggles with pushing through deeper snow drifts. It feels like sacrilege not to use Snoots for the reason we acquired her, but as I've said before, I just want to take my best chance of making it to Nome. Even if I anticipate hundred of miles of pushing (I always do), I believe a bike is the best mode, but I'll take a sled if trail conditions or weather reports look especially discouraging (i.e. an ongoing El Nino warm snowpocalypse.) Snoots can go with me to Baffin Island, when I finally make that trip happen.

That all said ... I'm riding the Fat YBB on my training rides now. Beat outfitted the bike with skinny 29" tires and rims for the time being, so I can't call it fat biking. But trail riding is a breeze on this bike — it's unquestionably more responsive than Snoots. I think the handling might be an advantage if snow coverage is again low when the Iditarod starts, as it has been the past two years.

Tuesday: Morning, weight lifting at gym. Afternoon, trail run, 0:50, 5.6 miles, 675 feet climbing. This was a great gym session. Same weights as last week, but it felt almost too easy. This was almost disappointing, as I usually have to go into "high intensity" puffing zone to get through my reps. Did two sets this session, since I was planning to run in the afternoon. My usual "Tuesday Monta Vista" loop went okay. As expected, I am no longer becoming effortlessly faster, but I'm still fighting to hold this run under 9-minute pace. It's a hilly trail run, and the paces for each mile are pretty close to 8 minutes or 10 minutes.

Wednesday: Road bike, 2:43, 33.3 miles, 3,624 feet climbing. Rode Highway 9 to Page Mill, and I felt sluggish for most of the ride. It was quite warm — a record high, 72 degrees — and I've flipped over to the other side of winter complacency, so I had a puffy pullover in a backpack but not nearly enough water (Page Mill is often a complete freezer. I kinda like it. But it wasn't on this day.)

 Thursday: Trail run, 0:54, 5.1 miles, 341 feet climbing. I drove down to Pacific Grove for a couple of interviews. After we finished, I still had about 25 minutes of daylight left to go exploring, so I decided to embark on sunset run to find the beach. Once I reached the coast, I returned in what turned into full darkness on unfamiliar trails. Early in this run, a large German Shepherd aggressively and repeatedly shoved me by jumping against my shoulder and chest while growling and barking, as I yelled and backed up slowly. The dogs' owner, who was more than 100 yards back and not approaching quickly, did nothing besides call to his dog, who finally ran toward him when he reached us about six shoves later. Seriously. This is why I make a point to avoid off-leash areas, but I wasn't aware of the rules in this park. Between the dog attack and the darkness, it was an adrenaline-filled outing for a 54-minute run.

Friday: Weight lifting at gym. Did three sets — definitely harder than Tuesday, but I upped the weights by five pounds on six of the 12 exercises. I still struggle mightily with arm curls. It's like my biceps are their own dead weights, and they're just never going to get stronger. Biceps are an important muscle group when wrestling a fat bike out of a snow drift, so this may be a partial influencer in my desire for a lighter front end.

Saturday: Mountain bike, 4:07, 35.9 miles, 4,715 feet climbing. Beat, Liehann and I set out on a brisk, beautiful Saturday morning to ride up Grizzly Flat, along Skyline Ridge, and down the John Nichols Trail. A front moved through on Thursday and Friday that dropped temperatures into the 40s and a lot of rain on the trails, but they drained nicely for our sunny ride. I kept my pace well on the mellow side, anticipating a long run we had planned on Sunday. Still, I felt guilty about not putting in a better effort on Saturday. When I was training for the 2014 ITI, on this same weekend in December, I ran back-to-back 35-mile and 31-mile trail runs. I am basically in competition with my 2014 self, and feel I should at least be up for anything I did back then.

Beat excitedly anticipates running in the cold rain.
Sunday: Trail run, 6:17, 30.6 miles, 6,815 feet climbing. Beat and I signed up for the winter Woodside Ramble 50K — a great course through the redwood forests along Skyline Ridge. An atmospheric river was moving in on the Bay Area, and I couldn't have been more excited about the weather. They were calling for a possible chance of snow — snow! — above 3,000 feet, but it wasn't quite cold enough. Temperatures started out in the low 50s but dipped into the low 40s as the front moved through, dropping nearly an inch of rain, hail, 40 mph wind gusts, and much fun on the singletrack trails above Woodside. My hamstrings were very tight from the start — much tighter than usual. It felt like the tension level had been set to rigid, and I couldn't open my stride to save my life. It was perhaps a blessing in disguise, and the muddy trails were very slippery at times, and I become highly imbalanced (even more so than usual) when I try to place a foot anywhere but directly below the rest of my body. I took especially small steps on the descents, because otherwise my feet slid all over the place. This was disappointing, because the descents at Woodside are winding and gradual — perfect for a timid descender like me to really let go — and I usually do. Besides tight hamstrings, I felt great, and enjoyed the rainy day run: Splashing in puddles, punching at the wind, and keeping my pace just hard enough to stave off the convective chill. Beat was feeling rough today, but he won't let me get in front of him if he can help it, and finished the race a few minutes before me.

Total: 17:31, 94.3 miles ride, 41.3 miles run, 19,155 feet climbing. 


  1. I have read your post. Thank you so much for sharing your story and tips . They can be helpful to those who are looking for good bike deals.

  2. Did you have a Lance sighting at the race?

    1. Brief sighting! He passed us on the return along the Skyline Trail. I remember the yellow shirt but didn't know it was Lance until later that night. He said "good job," seemed like he was having fun. Aaron Johnson took a photo of him in the rain:

  3. Jill, regarding the dog attack. A nice small can of bear spray goes a long way. It's also good for obnoxious dog owners who get upset if their dogs get sprayed. I used bear spray on a dog once while biking. He was a ways back and ended up running through the cloud. He didn't scream or yelp, but he did stop and started sneezing. It was kind of funny. Oh, and someone with experience told me that bear spray gets into the dog's hair and is a pain for the owner to get out. Yet another benefit!


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