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 in the White Mountains while Beat pushed a bike with a broken bottom bracket. Rain and new snow made for soft trails. Even when I was pedaling, it was difficult to top 4mph. Beat walked nearly as fast. Didn't eat or drink enough, completely exhausted at the end of the long day.

Jan. 1 and 2: Snow bike, 8:27, 39 miles, 2,577 feet climbing. Back from Windy Gap via Borealis cabin overnight. I found it tough to recover from the New Year's Eve ride, and didn't have much oomph. Snow biking is hard. Loaded snow biking on typical backcountry trails is tougher for me than any other sport I've tried. It demands a lot of brute strength, which I admittedly lack in sufficient amounts. I was already wondering if I had a thousand miles of snow biking in me, even before any breathing issues resurfaced.

Jan. 3: Rest. Flew home to California

Total: 28:52, 155.8 miles ride, 10,667 feet climbing

Week 13: 


Jan. 4: Fat bike, 1:06, 10.2 miles, 1,069 feet climbing. Beat mounted studded Dillinger 5 tires on the Moots YBB fat bike, so I took it for an hour-long test ride on pavement. I felt sluggish and fatigued on this ride — probably indicative of how spent I was following 30 hours of snow biking in Fairbanks. Big, tiring weeks are necessary when training for a multiday race, but my lack of recovery wasn't a good omen so close to the Fat Pursuit. I thought three days off the bike following this one would help reset my engine. Either didn't work or didn't help.

Jan. 5: Weight lifting at gym. Three sets, same weights as 10 days earlier, which was the last time I lifted. So sore!

Jan. 6: Rest. Drove to Salt Lake City.

Jan. 7: Rest. Drove to Island Park.

Jan. 8 and 9: Snow bike, 16:56, 90.3 miles, 3,636 feet climbing. The Fat Pursuit 200-mile race, stopped at mile 80 with breathing difficulties. The difficulties started during the third hour of the race, which negated my previous theory that only extended fatigue will bring on problems.

Jan. 10: Rest

Total: 18:03, 100.6 miles ride, 4,705 feet climbing. I suppose it's fitting that week 13 would be the meltdown week.


Week 14:


Jan. 11: Snow hike: 1:51, 5.3 miles, 2,126 feet climbing. Climbed the Broads Fork trail with Dad. My chest and throat were raw, and I was fighting a pounding headache and general fatigue, but was otherwise okay. I thought this would be a good opportunity to to test my breathing capacity in difficult conditions. Temperature was about 20 degrees, elevations 6,100 to 8,300 feet. I kept my heart rate in zone 2-3, and didn't have any feelings of tightness in my chest for the duration of the hike.

Jan. 12: Snowshoe: 1:38, 4.2 miles, 1,705 feet climbing. We went up Mill B and I felt notably worse on this day. Temperature 10-20 degrees, elevation 6,100 to 7,800 feet. We kept it short and slow, but I could sense that I didn't have a better effort in me. These two hikes, even more than the failed race, reduced my trust in my "long game" for something as demanding as the ride to Nome. In previous multi-day efforts, I recovered better from hard days, but I believe this possible oxygen deficiency brings the physical setbacks to a whole new level. I also remember my deterioration during the Tour Divide, and believe these breathing difficulties can only bring decline — possibly managed, but not recovered. Even though I felt okay hiking in the cold at high elevation in Utah, my confidence was further fractured.

Jan. 13: Rest. Drove to California.

Jan. 14: Trail run, 0:58, 5.4 miles, 677 feet climbing. I didn't run quite as slowly as I feared — 10:35 pace — but that's nearly two minutes per mile slower than I was able to run this loop in December, and I was actually going as hard as I could because I wanted to test a "tempo" effort. Even trying to keep my breathing controlled, I became winded and felt like my heart rate was higher than normal. Since I was back at sea level and temperatures were in the 50s, I figured my fitness was shot.

Jan. 15: Weight lifting at gym. Three sets. Again a long time had passed since I last lifted, and I was able to return to my old weights but just barely. Admittedly, I've lost faith that weight lifting is making a modicum of difference toward my goals. I didn't necessarily feel stronger with a loaded fat bike in Fairbanks (when I'd been at it twice a week for 10 weeks), and I've certainly been sucking on multiple levels ever since. But ... I'll stick with it. Hopefully more regularly for the next few weeks.

Jan. 16: Trail run, 6:51, 31.5 miles, 6,776 feet climbing. Steep Ravine 50K, described in previous blog post. I'm still not sure how to make sense of this experience. I'm completely baffled.

Jan. 17: Weight lifting at gym. Shoulders were sore from Friday's workout and aggressive trekking pole use at Steep Ravine, but it went relatively well. Back to regular lifting.

Total: 11:20, 46.5 miles run, 11,284 feet climbing. I sort of feel back on track now. We shall see!


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