2017 Is Set

I think I have my 2017 race calendar all finalized.  The big goal is my first 100 mile finish at Run Rabbit Run in September.  After pacing a friend through the night last year at the race last fall I fell in love with the race and decided to register.  With such a big goal I also added some races in an attempt to get myself as ready for Run Rabbit Run as I possibly can. 

The first challenge will test my mental fortitude in running through the night.  Last summer I had two challenges involving night running that did not go how I wanted.  I lost it mentally after the sun went down at the Never Summer 100k which only made quitting easier.  I also did I night race in Phoenix last summer where I didn’t go out for the last loop.  Yes, it was really hot but in retrospect I realize that quitting during the night is something I need to work on.  That means my first “race” of 2017 will be a 24 hour timed event.  I have some soft mileage goals, but none of those are possible without making it through the night. 

The second Run Rabbit Run training race will be the Scout Mountain 100k in Idaho in June.  This course will better mimic the ups and downs of RRR100 and will give me another taste of being on my feet for a long period of time prior to the main event in September.  I’m looking forward to a mountainous race at lower altitude too since I had stomach issues above 10,500 feet at Never Summer so that should be one less thing I have to worry about. 

The final races will be the two Sky races at Whiteface Mountain in July.  Honestly, I booked these because I thought they would be two great shorter training races as I head into the peak of training for September and the wife and I both want to spend a little time on the East Coast this summer.

This summer is gonna be a great one.  Now it is back to ski-mo training with more nordic mixed in over the next month and a half.  A head cold has given me a nice rest this week, but I still have a goal of breaking 50k vertical on skis this month and starting to build up my run mileage slowly.

-C

Mental Motivation

I am going on one month without a run longer than sixteen miles.  The problem right now is not the legs but what is between my ears.  I can only use the tired excuse for so long before I have to realize that something else is happening.

I quit the Never Summer 100k at the 50 mile mark and took basically the next week entirely off from running.  I then did two of my biggest weeks back to back.  The first week was sixty one miles and the next week was seventy one with forty nine of those coming over two days back to back with 6,400 feet of vertical.  Then I decided to do a sixteen mile (3,400′ of vert) race the following weekend.  This is when I first felt the fatigue as my legs seemed to have no spring in them.

I decided to make the next week easy and took three days off after the Continental Divide Trail Race and then added a rest day between each easy day of running along with being at lower altitude for most of the week visiting family in New England.  When I returned home I figured an easy two laps around Stagecoach Reservoir would be a nice mellow long run to get back into the swing of things.  When I got about a mile from finishing the first lap my mental strength laid down and I decided to call it a morning at ten miles.  This mental drag seems to be limited to runs over two hours as I have had no problem with efforts in that time range and even adding intensity during those workouts.

I think I have allowed the mental laziness to persist knowing that next weekend I will be pacing a friend at Run Rabbit Run for twenty to twenty five miles followed by a fifty mile race down in the Denver area the following weekend.  These runs will force me to go over twenty miles but I don’t think relying on external motivation will result in my best efforts pacing or finishing my first set-distance ultra.

I need to regain the mental edge I had all spring and summer.  The plan is to cover twenty plus miles tomorrow morning not because it is necessary to pace next weekend or finish a fifty in two weeks, but to get my head back on straight.  Time to focus on mental strength.

Weekly Training 5/2 – 5/8

Thank god for Nashville last week because this week back in Colorado couldn’t have been worse when it comes to getting ready for a hot weather race this upcoming Saturday.  I did get a wonderful uphill run in as the ski area got the road up to Four Points plowed which gives a roughly four and a half mile uphill with approximately 2,500 feet of vertical (I did not run the entire way to Four Points).  What I did notice this week was the importance of good sleep.  We have a sick dog which means less sleep than normal and I felt terrible after my two straight days of running back in Colorado.  The tail end of the week brought fresh snow so of course that meant skiing so I was able to get a decently long ski effort on Sunday.

Running – 24.7 miles with 2,621 feet of vertical (4:12)
Skiing – 8.9 miles with 4,534 feet of vertical (3:11)

This Saturday is the first race of the year.  I feel good going into it even though I thought I would have more running miles under my belt heading into it.  I am cautiously optimistic but am scared of the heat.  I’ll just have to work on heat management (ice, ice, ice) and stay on top of any issues that pop up.

Weekly Training 4/25 – 5/1

A visit to family in Tennessee meant a break from the cold and snow of Steamboat and a focus on running the trails.  I will admit that I checked the summit web cam and felt like I was missing out viewing all of the snow that fell this past week.

The Southeast trails are certainly different.  Roots, rocks, and loads of shorter, steeper uphills.  The humidity and warmth were actually nice and good training for my first race in two weeks.  The twenty mile run in Montgomery Bell State Park was a blast and I ran some challenging new trails in Percy Warner Park.

Running – 38.3 miles with 4,501 feet of vertical (7:14)
Skiing – 7.1 miles with 3,570 feet of vertical (2:!3)

I still feel behind in my running in where I thought I would be be distance-wise by the first week of May but one cannot control the weather.  One negative I am noticing is my feet seem to be blistering pretty bad right now.  I need to make some shoe changes over the next month to alleviate it.  Hopefully I can use tape and anti-friction goo to help fix the problem for the 8 Hours of Hell and the training over the next couple weeks.  Getting away from the humidity at home will likely help a little bit too.

 

Weekly Training 4/18 – 4/24

With the improving spring weather early in the week I basically switched the training time from skiing to running.  The highlight of the running was the hill repeats on Wednesday with 5 half mile repeats.  My sustainable uphill pace was higher than I expected and it honestly just felt good.  I moved the long run to Saturday due to weather and it was a good decision with some fresh snow skiing on Sunday, although the wet snow and high winds caused some frozen extremities.

Running – 43.2 miles with 2,100 feet of vertical (7:10)
Skiing – 11.4 miles with 5,771 feet of vertical (3:49)

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Just missed eleven hours of training for the week.  Next week will likely see some reduction with a travel day and just running visiting Nashville.  Should be a great chance to run some miles at lower altitude and on trails.  Can’t wait for the long run through the roots and rocks at Mongomery Bell State Park.  Hopefully there will be warm weather back home during the trip to really start melting the snow on the trails.

Feeling a bit stressed about the lack of mileage prior to the 8 Hours of Hell but the race should be fun regardless, especially since it was always going to be a long training run to try to get prepared mentally for the 100k in July.

Weekly Training 4/11- 4/17

Last week was a good week.  Got around eleven hours of training in.  Wanted to run more but the weekend snow storm changed the training from running to skinning up the ski area that closed a week before.  The snow got progressively better over the three days as my legs struggled to recover from all the uphill along with the shredding they received during a steep two mile downhill run just outside of Las Vegas.

Running – 14.7 miles with 2,431 feet of vertical (2:35)
Skiing – 23.5 miles with 12,234 feet of vertical (8:45)

The snowstorm was a treat but I am looking forward to some nicer weather to run in before heading to Nashville to visit family.  I’ll probably try to mix in some skiing while there’s still snow but I need to start focusing more on running since my first race is less than a month away.  I do feel like my uphill running is far better than last summer.  Whether that’s the uphill skinning or fixing the hernia I’ll take it.

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I’m Starting To Like This Nordic Skiing

I have always wanted to be the type of person who enjoys cross country skiing even though my skiing life has been dominated by going downhill.  Going into this winter I was hoping to change that.

I had dabbled with xc skiing in year’s past but never really jumped in the deep end.  I decided to take part in a Nordic Camp back in mid-December.  It was one of the best decisions in skiing I have made in a long time.  Two full days on skis with a mix of instructors gave me a huge jump start in figuring out this skate skiing thing.  The best part of having multiple teachers is that you hear how to do things in multiple ways which certainly makes it more likely that one will click in your brain.

The best part is that I have continued to get out on the trails and work on what I learned over that weekend.  Today I skated just over twelve miles and for much of the ski day it felt much easier than less than a month ago.  I still wish the uphills felt a little easier (I doubt I’m the only one) but I seem to have found a smoother gear on the more gradual uphills that doesn’t leave me gasping for air when I reach the top.

It is hard to believe that I have spent more time cross country skiing over the past week than riding the lifts.

Hopefully the aerobic benefits from the nordic skiing and uphill skinning will be noticeable when I restart running sometime in February.

Playing in the Snow

It has been a winter full of skinning right out the door at the ski area.  So much that the mind starts getting bored of skiing up Vogue and Heavenly Daze before I even buckle my boots.

Yesterday I decided to head into the hills and check out some places I have only seen on topo maps.  With the frigid inversion in place it also was twenty to thirty degrees warmer 3,000 feet above town which was certainly nice.

The pitch I was looking at could use some more snow but it was pretty well spaced trees and as I approached the bottom I could see even more terrain worth checking out in the future, especially if I give myself the time by leaving earlier in the day.  The skin back up was tough.  Even with all of the vertical I have been logging at the ski area, breaking trail boosts the heart-rate significantly.

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Back at the open meadow at the top I wolfed down the sweet potato I packed and skied a nice mellow opening to get back to the trailhead.  The cold has kept the snow quality high, although I’m sure today’s warmth will destroy the fluffy snow that still existed on south facing slopes.

 

New Year Resolutions

It’s been a slow few months in this tiny corner of the blogosphere.  I have recovered from hernia surgery and have been doing my best to get after it.  Winter has arrived with a vengeance in Steamboat Springs and the skiing has been good.

In 2015 I uphill skied nineteen times post-surgery for a grand total of 49,302 feet of vertical.  I’ve been trying to improve my cross country skiing and working on getting back some of the aggressiveness I used to have alpine skiing.  I had a very close call with a deep-snow tree well back in 2012 and haven’t been able to lose the tentativeness while skiing ever since, even on wide open trails that have been meticulously groomed.

I hope to average 10-20K a week for the rest of the winter along with quite a bit of skate skiing and some real backcountry skiing.

For running my main goal in 2016 is to finish a Western States qualifier to get started in the lottery process.  Secondarily I will race more this summer with a focus on shorter races in an attempt to gain back a little bit of the speed I’ve lost since running a 1:35 half marathon in 2007.  The Steamboat Running Series will be a nice way to get in some of these runs without too much travel.

I also resolve to do more blogging of my adventures.  It has been hard to figure out what direction I want this blog to go and to translate my passion for endurance activities into words.  I had no problem creating content for a fly fishing blog in the past so I think I just need to work at the writing side of things and my voice here will slowly get louder and louder.

Here’s to meeting my 2016 goals.

Recovery

It has almost been a week since hernia surgery.

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Things are progressing well.  I have been able to get around since day one and am now able to take the dog for a walk.  The pain has subsided considerably and I’m not even done with the pain pills.  Hopefully the next week goes well and I’ll get the green light from the doctor to increase my activity.