Showing posts from January, 2016

ITI training, week 15

Monday: Trail run, 2:36, 13.5 miles, 2,155 feet climbing. I ran a variation of my "half marathon" loop at Rancho San Antonio — I had to change it up because recent mountain lion activity in Wildcat Canyon has resulted in trail closures (I'd love to catch sight of a lion at Rancho; there are so many deer there that it seems unlikely they'd be remotely interested in snacking on runners, although I could be wrong.) My muscles felt completely recovered from the Steep Ravine 50K, but I'm having issues with my "central governor" and any pace that threatens rough breathing. Walked a lot more of PG&E than usual.

Tuesday: Weight lifting at gym. Had a great session with my usual 12 exercises, 12 lifts, three sets. Finally back to "normal" with my highest weights. I still think the only thing lifting weights makes me better at is lifting weights. But at this point, four weeks out from the ITI, I just have to accept that what I have is what I get.


Breathing easier

On Wednesday I checked in with the asthma doctor who I first visited in October. We had a very long conversation (I was surprised she was willing to spend so much time with me. I'm used to medical professionals being in more of a rush) and she conducted a few tests. My resting lung function is now significantly better than it was in October, but the doctor said she could detect possible inflammation. She started me on a once-a-day cordicosteroid inhaler, along with advice to use my albuterol inhaler before every workout. She's of the opinion that I do experience exercise-induced asthma, and this condition was possibly first "activated" by engaging in intense activity while ill (this could be the case in both the 2015 Fat Pursuit and the Tour Divide), or a condition of my allergies that have worsened over the years. I have both genetic (my dad has adult-onset) and environmental (endurance/outdoor enthusiast with allergies) connections with asthma.

The doctor thinks s…

ITI training, weeks 12 through 14

After the New Year I let my training journal fall by the wayside. Then I thought my training had been completely derailed, so why should I even bother? I decided to compile a catch-up post for the last three weeks because having the logs on record proved valuable in the past, and because I'm continuing to look for patterns that may shed more light on my breathing issues. 
Week 12: 
Dec. 28: Snow bike, 4:52, 32.3 miles, 3,295 feet climbing. Long ride around Old Murphy Dome outside of Fairbanks. This had a fair amount of climbing for a snow ride, and soft trails made for a tiring effort. Temperatures ranged from +8 to +25 degrees.

Dec. 29: Rest

Dec. 30: Snow bike, 5:41, 44.8 miles, 2,196 feet climbing. Easier pace than Monday, riding with friends on mushing trails and through the Goldstream Valley. One hard hike-a-bike early in the day. Temperatures were a balmy +15 to +32 degrees.

Dec. 31: Snow bike, 9:52, 39.5 miles, 2,599 feet climbing. The New Year's outing to Windy Gap cabin i…

Busting out?

I spent a week Googling and brooding on breathing issues, only to become more and more perplexed. Not only do I feel more stupid and crazy, but aimless Internet research also strengthened that tinge of anxiety that my problem is terminal or something that requires a grain/dairy/fruit/sugar/cat/exercise/winter/outdoor-free existence that might feel terminal. I did reach a reluctant conclusion on three things: 1. Regardless of the cause, breathing difficulties are something I will probably experience again. 2. It will likely take some time to figure out which treatments/lifestyle changes (if any) will remedy the problem. 3. In the meantime, I need to figure out if and how I can cope.

My breathing felt limited during my hikes in Utah, and fully strained while running in California on Thursday. I thought about taking two weeks off from any cardio exercise. Taking a long break at this time would probably be my last gasp, so to speak, for any hope of participating in even a short-distance …

Rusted wheel

This is a photo of me and my friend Bill Martin at the start of the Fat Pursuit last weekend. We had a great time fretting during the pre-race hours and then riding together for all of five minutes before Bill and everyone else faded ahead of me, into the sunset. Seeing Bill was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. We first met shortly after I moved to Missoula in 2010, and bonded over our mutually oddball adventurelust. How many people will agree to leave from work on a cold October evening, ride bikes up a mountain until they hit snowline, keep on riding, get really chilled because it's October and 18 degrees outside, start pushing when the snow becomes too deep, reach the top, share lukewarm soup, and descend over fresh mountain lion tracks to return to town at midnight, on a work night? Bill was nearly always up for such nonsense, and at the time I didn't even realize how lucky I was to find such a kindred spirit in close proximity. He contributed to making 2010 one o…

Still gasping

On Friday night, Beat and I started the Fat Pursuit 200-mile snow bike race in Island Park, Idaho. Our intent for this race was to test ourselves and our Nome gear in a more demanding environment than our typical training rides. I'll probably write more as I process my experience, but I ended up pulling the plug at checkpoint one (mile 80) because I'd had difficulty breathing for ten hours, there was no joy or benefit in the hypoxic struggle, and I'd already failed my personal test. For whatever the reasons or causes, I still experience respiratory distress during higher levels of exertion. In an endurance race setting, it's distressing and frustrating. In the Alaska backcountry, it could be extremely dangerous. This is something I need to address immediately, rather than grasp onto the fraying threads of optimism that "this is something I can control" or "this will get better" just to keep my Alaska dream alive.

I DNF'd another race, and I am …

Pushing through another year

There we were, pedaling along a snow-covered ridge to spend New Year's Eve the traditional way — in a primitive one-room cabin 40 miles from the nearest road — when I noticed Beat was really mashing his pedals.
"Oi, this is tough," he announced. 
"Yeah, the trail is super soft," I agreed. A stiff wind whisked across the spine of Wickersham Dome, where the temperature was 37 degrees above zero. The warm weather was a result of a fierce Chinook storm that was raging across southern Alaska, pushing high temperatures so far north that the Geographic North Pole registered a temperature above freezing for only the second time during winter in recorded history. These aren't welcome conditions for snow bikers, who depend on below-freezing temperatures to harden compacted snow into a rideable surface. Thaws break up the surface layer, which traffic whips up into thick grains of loose snow, resulting in rides that feel very much like slogging through the soft part o…

2015 in numbers

On Dec. 27, while uploading yet another track to Strava, I glanced at the sidebar, which noted that I'd ridden 4,899 miles in 2015. "Only 101 more to 5,000!" I thought. And I had four days to do it! Four days where I had one full day of work (rest day), the first day of a three-day trip to the White Mountains, and two other days in Fairbanks, where all miles require a significantly higher investment of both time and energy than they do at home. But the number seemed doable. It's fun to have goals — I sometimes guiltily refer to them as excuses. Now I have to go outside and ride bikes! Oh, darn.

I announced this goal to Beat and Corrine, who is recovering from knee surgery and graciously leant me her 9:Zero:7 Whiteout while casually mentioning that between holiday visits this year and last, I've probably put more miles on her fat bike than she has (more guilt. Please come visit us after we move to Boulder, and we'll abuse my bikes on Colorado singletrack.) On…