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.

Wednesday: Road bike, 2:28, 31 miles, 3,224 feet climbing: Finally, a mostly dry day to ride my road bike! Oh, it was pure bliss. So fast, so smooth, so fun. I took on my go-to Highway 9 to Page Mill loop, but mixed it up with a climb up Redwood Gulch to challenge my balking central governor. Redwood Gulch gains 700 feet in one mile and has a section on the lower end with 20 percent grades. With my road bike gearing it's forced intensity — the slowest I can pedal still spikes my heart to ~180 beats per minute. At this intensity, my breathing becomes shallow and fast. It worries me — although it may be a recent bad habit I can fix with more focus.

Thursday: Mountain bike, 3:23, 32.7 miles, 4,139 feet climbing. Bohlman Road is like Redwood Gulch, times three. Beat basically won't ride it after some bad experiences while he was recovering from last year's Iditarod, and it's broken me a number of times, when I went out just that small percentage too hard. It's a good "breathing test" climb, although I admittedly soft-pedaled it about as much as it can be soft-pedaled. I managed to reel in the gasping, but still felt uneasy about my breathing and somewhat oxygen-deprived. The reward for climbing that mean road is descending El Serreno. For good measure I returned via Fremont Older.

Friday: Weight lifting at the gym. I only did two sets on this day because of "tapering." But I had some pre-race jitters that I took out on the seated row, and managed to pull a muscle in my left shoulder. It actually hurt a lot. I didn't tell Beat about this because he scolds me about my poor execution of weight training.

Saturday: Trail run, 5:54, 29.9 miles, 6,414 feet climbing. Crystal Springs 50K. This is my "PR" course, so I feel like I should be able to run it fast, and admittedly went out what was probably too hard for my current fitness (i.e. lack of top end/limited recoveries from long efforts.) I've gotten pretty good at managing these mid-range efforts on limited calories. Over six hours, I ate one package of Shot Bloks and two packs of fruit snacks, which is about 360 calories total, and only became hungry toward the end because it was lunch time. In my opinion this is a good adaptation for the Idiatrod, where bad weather can limit opportunities for food intake, and calorie sources can dwindle if sections take a lot longer than you're expecting. Breathing was mostly good, although the weather added its own challenge, with these bursts of drenching rain that set off a "drowning" reflex and prompted more gasping. Again I was able to reel it in and focus my breathing before it escalated to the attack level. I've now been on a maintenance inhaler for just over a week, and used an albuterol inhaler before harder workouts (i.e. Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.) This may be helping. It's hard to say.

Sunday: Fat-ish bike, 2:07, 20.7 miles, 2,702 feet climbing. So Beat has decided he's definitely going to walk, not ride, to Nome during the Iditarod. This decision did not surprise me. I'll even admit that most of my snow rides since December 2014 have been slow, slow slogs that involved a lot of dragging around of this too-heavy anchor, and I've nearly lost sight of what I loved so much about this sport. (Yes! I'm admitting it.) But Beat being who he is, already acquired this amazing bike for the endeavor, and now that he no longer needs it, I am considering taking this to Alaska rather than Snoots or the YBB fat bike. Beat switched back to 29+ wheels because it's silly to ride studded tires in California. On Sunday I had a little bit of that tired-leg fatigue following Crystal Springs, but surprisingly wasn't that sore, so I took the Eriksen to the top of Black Mountain. It does ride great. Now I need to load it with a bunch of crap and push it up some steep hills, since I'm all but convinced that's how we're really going to spend most of our time together.

Total: 16:30, 84.4 miles ride, 43.4 miles run, 18,635 feet climbing

Comments

  1. Hey Jill, best of luck with your training and I hope your breathing issues sort themselves out. Do you think you are going to Nome? I hope to see you guys at the ITI start!

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    1. Thanks Jay! I'm still planning to start the ITI, of course, but I don't think this is my year to aim for Nome. We're looking forward to seeing you in Knik!

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  2. I'm going to miss your local adventure reports...even the familiar moonscape pictures from the top of Black Mountain!

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    1. I'm going to really miss the Bay Area. I especially love this time of year when everything greens up, but before my allergies kick in. Beat will still need to check in with Mountain View from time to time, so hopefully I'll be able to tag along for visits and adventures.

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  3. Jill, as a long time reader it pains me to watch your venture into weight training. My guess is that what you are doing is more suited to injury prevention than strength. Get help with form and start doing squats and deadlifts and lots of push-ups and work on pull ups. Take it for what it's worth from someone you don't even know, but you need to strengthen your big muscles, not the little ones. Or don't! Good luck at ITI!

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    1. Thanks for the advice. The reason I started with weight training is because it was the little muscles that gave me fits during efforts that involved lifting or hoisting my bike. During the Freedom Challenge, the muscles in my forearm failed outright — felt numb/dead, and refused to "work." I've also had less severe but similar reactions in my biceps and triceps. During my bike-push tour on Alaska's western coast last year, I decided I needed much stronger shoulders. I read several texts on the subject and decided weight training (somewhere in the middle of high weight/low rep and low weight/high rep) was my best bet to target these specific weaknesses. I have no issue with lower body strength, although I recognize the benefit of strength training all around. I'm still a long way from an unassisted pull-up, and can only do about 30 push-ups in a session before my arm muscles fade, but I do plan to re-think my strength-building strategies and incorporate more of these traditional exercises in the future.

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    2. Anonymous9:50 AM

      The little muscles are the ones that seemed to "fail," because they were desperately trying to compensate for things that your big muscles should be able to do. You are big muscles should be strong enough so that your little muscles just have to stabilize. But your big muscles seem pretty much non-existent, so your little muscles are destroying themselves trying to compensate.

      Also, if you are lifting for strength, you need to just lift heavy and not worry about that high / low rep nonsense. However, if you don't know how to lift, you really need to find a very good trainer to teach you how to do it, and play the long game. You're not going to see huge results in just a few months as a total beginner with a suboptimal diet and training habits. I'd also guess that you are squandering a lot of your strength training gains by going on long runs and bike rides all the time. You really can't do both and get good results. Rest and diet are the keys to making gains in fitness.

      Basically, if what you're doing is not working, then do something different.

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    3. I wouldn't say my weight training routine is not working. I actually have made some significant gains in the specific workouts I'm doing. My one-rep maximum is even significantly higher than it was 15 weeks ago. All I'm saying is I don't think this is making me any better at snow biking, at least not yet. Perhaps it is, though. I unfortunately don't have many opportunities to test my fitness in the specific activity I'm training for. So I'm trying to improvise.

      I don't really care about "results" that don't involve being more comfortable in the activities I'd like to do. Lots of runners and cyclists have used weight training to improve their stamina, and I'm following their examples as best as I can. Of course I've read the lifting rhetoric that equates running to smoking and admonishes the mere presence of a carb. I'll just say that the lifestyle holds no interest to me. If my ideal fitness was that, I'd pursue it. But my ideal fitness is that of a distance runner, so ...

      As usual, the lifters and runners will just have to agree to disagree on what "fitness" means.

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  4. I'm grooving on Beats (and now your) new bike! Just started saving for a bike-packing rig...it will definitely be a 29+. It looks like the rear rack is a permanent part of the frame...interesting. That's a sweet bike for sure! (Titanium I assume?)

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  5. Anonymous9:26 AM

    Should stop by ottawa canada, we have some great hard packed trails right now... sample vids (last year)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pumqly79NX8

    good night ride
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJINo5Okwkc
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwp3fGKOzGU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqlHM_dXFKE

    snowshoe trails
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9lZmsCSI4Q
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6CnF3v2-WY


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9DgmTHajh0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVvhX0tRv6s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML1_SwdWqSk

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  6. Interesting rocks. Probably at the bottom of the ocean recently maybe a couple of m.y. ago. Dolomite or marine mudstone?

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    1. I don't know. That would be an interesting detail to find out before I move away.

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