Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Week 9

I intended this to be my last big week before a longer taper for the Fat Pursuit race on Jan. 6. Given the unpredictable nature of both the race and my performances, I figured being "well-rested" is my best chance. I have no doubt that I possess the endurance and experience to get through 48 hours of whatever happens in those mountains, but can I traverse 200 miles in that time? I think if conditions are as good or better than they were last year (smooth but soft, a bit of a grind at 5mph), then I can. But if they're worse, well ... I am closer to reaching acceptance about my limits.

Last week's training was all over the place in terms of weather, trail conditions, and my own strength. But it was a beautiful week, scenery wise.

Monday: Mountain bike, 3:37, 25.8 miles, 2,993 feet climbing. Weightlifting, 0:35. Temps were in the 40s and everything was either slushy, muddy, or icy, so even descending was hard work. The mountain bike was a good choice for the snowy sections, because it could punchy through the crust and slush versus trying to float on top of that mess with a fat bike. A terrifying descent into town stirred up some adrenaline, and I had a great weight-lifting session.

Tuesday: Run, 1:05, 5.1 miles, 848 feet climbing. I wore Hokas and regretted it, because there was still a lot of ice. This run was a good balance exercise, however.

Wednesday: Mountain bike, 4:17, 26.9 miles, 3,467 feet climbing. I descended the bumpy, icy trail into town to meet Beat at work, and then we rode back together. This was a tough ride despite choosing to take the "light" mountain bike. Both of my bikes are equipped with studded tires, which feels like riding on velcro over pavement.

Thursday: Fat bike, 8:17, 55 miles, 4,940 feet climbing. Cheryl invited me to join her on her long ride. The wind was fierce all day long, and we spent a disproportionate amount of time riding directly into it. Our ride also included a lot of deep slush, as temperatures rose into the high 40s near 9,000 feet — and 61 in town. We enjoyed fun "adventure riding" on the Switzerland Trail, which had been unevenly tracked by one jeep that didn't make it all the way to the top. As the jeep road veered west, we hit an incredible wall of wind. Gusts forced both of us off our bikes, and made it impossible to move forward for several seconds at a time. It was like pushing into an invisible wall. I'd estimate the gusts were 60-70mph — even our weather station at home confirmed a 57 mph gust, and this canyon was a veritable wind funnel.  It was a tough ride, and I was heartened to hear that Cheryl was sore the next day, because she's very strong.

Friday: Weight lifting, 0:40. Treadmill intervals, 3 miles, 0:27. I was curious how the treadmill intervals would go after a long ride, but surprisingly they went better than normal. I managed to maintain the 6-minute-mile pace for four minutes, which is that much closer to an actual 6-minute mile! Although my breathing is better these days, hard efforts take a lot more out of me than long efforts. The nine-hour ride was fine, but 27 minutes on a treadmill left me fairly flattened heading into the weekend.

Saturday: Snow hike, 3:05, 8.3 miles, 2,802 feet climbing. I'm using my Strava times for this log, but the outing was closer to four hours. It did not feel that slow — I was working hard. Temperatures ranged from 10 below to 0, and I had to unzip or remove the one (synthetic puffy) jacket I was wearing on all of the climbs. There's really no line between what I call a hike and what I call a run. For me, pretty much every foot-effort is a run, because there are many 30-minute miles that are harder work than an attempted 6-minute-mile (I'll get it someday! Probably not before winter training season is over.) Still, 2mph seems like a stretch for a run even though I was moving about as fast as possible. Maybe I can blame the 6 inches of new snow.

Sunday: Fat bike, 2:55, 12.7 miles, 1,756 feet climbing. Temps rose to 21 degrees, and the relentless west wind returned. I was warned about a near-constant winter wind before I moved to Boulder, but it is quite trying. I have to admit I had a minor meltdown on this ride. As we wove through the untracked powder on 68J, I refused to let air out of my tires and whined to Beat about how sick I was of grinding uphill on this anchor on wheels, and after I failed spectacularly at the Fat Pursuit, I was going to commit to racing the 350-mile Iditarod on foot so I could spend the rest of the winter hiking.

Of course, I don't feel this way now. But the pattern of good days and bad continues, and I still can't quite connect the bad days to anything in particular. I had allergy shots on Monday and Friday. Even though they leave me congested, itchy, and mildly downtrodden, they don't line up with the "bad days." It was a long week — 25 hours' worth of "moving time" — but I don't think that's it either. It's not that I feel tired, sore, or other indicators of too-hard training. Some days, I just can't reach that higher gear. On those days, pedaling an anchor on wheels up these steep Boulder hills feels almost impossible. I worry that this will be the case for my upcoming race that I *really* want to finish. But ... the best I can do is the best I can do. If I'm relegated to lower gears, I'll find a way to make it work.

Total: 24:58, 120.4 miles ride, 16.4 miles run, 16,806 feet climbing


  1. That's a ton of climbing for December. Cool.
    Good luck with the race.

  2. You are amazing!!!! Tapering is good... always error on the side of tapering as opposed to squeezing in additional training. Easier said than done, I know. Been there, a long time ago.
    Love your grit...
    Box Canyon Mark from Lovely Ouray Colorado


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