Showing posts from October, 2016

Eight years later

On November 1, 2008, I sat in front of my clunky desktop PC in Juneau, Alaska, pondering what I wanted to do with this PDF file I'd spent a few months creating. It was a book I cobbled together from personal essays and blog posts, about this obscure thing I did earlier in the year — riding a fat bike 350 miles over the Alaska Range and into the frigid Interior — and a loose timeline of past events to provide some explanation about how a Mormon girl from Utah with no athletic talent and lots of fears could reach that point.

My blog was as popular as it would ever be, with nearly 100,000 hits per month, and I figured at least a small percentage of readers would be interested enough in the story to buy a book. But would anyone else be interested? Selling a book is a difficult prospect. In order to catch the attention of publishers, the story has to appeal to a larger audience than the few interested in esoteric outdoor sports. Even if the book did sell, the process could take years.…

Week 2

Monday: Mountain bike, 3:53, 37.9 miles, 3,969 feet climbing. This week started out with a solid ride on Monday afternoon. I was still grumpy about my weekend fails, so I didn't take any photos, but enjoyed a beautiful autumn ride with bare trees, snow-capped peaks, and temperatures approaching 80. As I was descending the upper (gravel) section of Sugarloaf Road, I swung around a corner at high speed and encountered a cow moose standing on the right side of the road. I screeched my brakes and made a quick stop. She lowered her ears, bristled the hair on her back, and took a few steps toward me. I swung my bike in front of me and backed toward the trees, all but certain I was going to have to shimmy up one of them because she was about to charge. Just then a white car approached. The driver stopped and asked if I wanted him to accompany me past the moose. I nodded gratefully, and the moose went back to grazing on bushes as we rolled past. This was the third most unnerving moose en…

First week of something

It's been one week since I committed to winter training and posting workouts on my blog, and I'm already regretting it. This week was a mixed bag of fantastic and cringeworthy outings, with a return to weight training thrown in. I'm still grappling with the uncertainty of whether I'm healthy enough to train for the Iditarod, and this week was not confidence-inspiring. I'm not throwing in the towel this soon, but I will continue to tread carefully.

Monday: Trail run, 1:19, 5.8 miles, 1,472 feet of climbing. I intended to go for a short ride on Monday, but the afternoon brought winds gusting 40 to 50 miles per hour. One gust was so strong that it nearly knocked me off my feet while I was wheeling the bike outside, so I went back inside and changed into running clothes. The wind stayed fierce, and for most of the run I had a buff pulled over my face amid a swirl of dust clouds. I was even hit in the cheek by a fairly large object, which I didn't see because I was …

Looks like it's the on-season

I'm back at the asthma clinic for weekly allergy shots, with three hours to kill ... always a good time to update the blog. Now that the Grand Canyon trip is over, I've committed to launching my winter training. Over the past few weeks, I've considered whether I should do this at all. Occasionally, I still struggle with relatively meager efforts. It's these times, when I stumble back home feeling beaten after a five-mile run, I think I should just withdraw from the ITI. Let it go. "Listen to my body" and become the couch potato I was clearly meant to be.

In the past, I remember having some level of high-end fitness that would allow me to run full-bore up a steep hill. Now the best I can do is a brisk walk before I become so winded that I begin hyperventilating, and everything goes downhill from there. But if I maintain a moderate pace, I rarely have issues — I can keep it up for ten hours, probably longer. I suppose I take comfort in this. My aim is to be st…

Grand Canyon 2016

After twelve years, I didn't know if there would be anything left to write about the Grand Canyon. It's become my favorite tradition — one I wouldn't trade for any number of adventures around the world. But that doesn't make it a story. It's like coconut cream pie. Every year for as long as I can remember, my mother made coconut cream pie for Thanksgiving. I've eaten dozens of pieces in my lifetime. Coconut cream was my late grandfather's favorite, and every bite brings a rush of nostalgia about riding on his lawnmower, or climbing the old walnut tree. I suppose that's why we have traditions. They're an anchor to something tangible as we drift over a sea of memories. 
It was autumn 2004 when my dad invited me to join him and a large group of his acquaintances on a "Rim to Rim" hike across the Grand Canyon. This was before I stumbled into endurance training, and the prospect was deeply intimidating. I was 25 years old, going through a diff…

High mountain air

Well, I'm at my allergists' office for my first round of "cluster" immunotherapy, where I'm subjecting myself to five courses of shots over the next three hours while monitoring allergic reactions. Should be fun! I figure while I'm waiting, I'll update my blog.
On Thursday morning, our neighborhood received its first snowfall of the season. Beat left before dawn to fly to California for the weekend. I was surprisingly jealous of his trip. The past few weeks have brought a higher degree of homesickness for the Bay Area. Perhaps this sparked after returning from Europe to Boulder and having it all finally sink in that this is where I permanently reside. Perhaps it's the way I feel when I'm exercising — a bit downtrodden, a bit anxious about my breathing — and remembering how effortlessly I used to breeze up hills in California (of course it was never actually effortless. Nostalgia is a liar like that.) Perhaps it's just sadness for the passing …

October already

As I tiptoe toward some semblance of training, I'm having a bit of déjà vu for last October. There's this realization that Winter Is Coming, I have less than five months to get my act together, and my workouts are still completely unpredictable. There are days I feel great and charge up hills. Other days I stumble along, convinced that I am irreversibly out of shape, and perhaps I should concede this fact and stop trying so hard. Embrace the sedentary life. What's so bad about that, really?

These episodes would be more disconcerting if I wasn't in such a similar place last year.

I followed up with my allergist today, and my lung function tests measured a fair amount lower than they did in August. The numbers are more similar to October 2015, which is when I first went to see an asthma doctor in Palo Alto. It's difficult to say why I haven't improved. Unfortunately I was bad with my medications in September, so there's no way to gauge whether they're wo…