Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sunny Skies

Okay, well they aren't really so much sunny as it is warmer. It's 55 degrees warmer than it was Thursday morning, so that's all good. It's amazing when it warms up, people start smiling and talking again as opposed to the militant way we get around in the subzero weather when stopping to chat can mean suffering. But enough of the cold.

The rest of my week went well, trainer (bike not human) Friday morning, dinner with my friend, Penny that nite. I did my first ultra with Penny and she has this zen-like calm that I try to channel in stressful times. While I was waiting for Penny, I started to wax my skis for the the Spud Chase the next day. I was undecided on wax and really kinda apathetic about it too, practically a sin in nordic world. I put some cold weather wax on one and went to dinner.

Too bad I waxed the other one with some warmer wax Saturday morning and really, I wish I knew which one was the velcro ski because one was working but the other one was clearly not. I rode over Teton Pass to the race start with my BMT crew which is next weekend. We registered, got the same t-shirt from two years ago and warmed up. Skis sucked but we had already determined that. I saw "no poles" and felt the rematch was on. Mark is really a great guy, from the UK, struggling to get citizenship (don't even get me started) and a heck of a skier with or without poles. I figured I would try to keep him in my sights.

During the warm-up, we figured out that anywhere but the middle of the track was going to be disaster, seriously soft snow made passing a haze and pole plants really deep. Powder snow is not a nordic skier's friend. I started the race in the back (normal) with Mark and the old Sheriff in town, who was a funny guy. I got stuck behind some kid, 11 years old and not afraid to block the pass. Finally got by him and a few others with polite "Could I pass on the left?". Passing the last person to catch up to Mark when I went down in some powder, damn and hard to get up! All those people I had passed went right on by and I had to pass all those people again, "scuse me, sorry, on your left". Energy level = low. Margaritas from last nite rearing their ugly head.

First lap was slow for me but the course was beautiful. Teton Springs is just on the other side of the Pass and is set on a golf course with the obligatory rolling hills and some warm springs towards the back of the property (not the "soak in them" kind, more like the "did someone just fart?" kind). We did two 10k loops and it really has a great mix of terrain. My friend, Dick was sponsoring the race through his store, Peaked Sports. Dick has been incredibly "retail kind" to me and gotten me bikes, skis and other goodies on pro deal. Proceeds of the race went to TVTAP, the Teton Valley Pathways, a great organization that promotes pathway use and grooms the trail for everyone at no cost.

First lap came in at 39 minutes and my goal for the day was to negative split (here's to you, Lisa), so I set out with a better pace on the second lap and also knew that I had time to spare without having people to pass and falls not to take. I felt pretty darn good on the second lap and even though Mark had gotten about 3 minutes (about 1/2 mile) ahead of me, I was chasing him down. Mark, for some euro reason, wears orange tights to races and now has the nickname of "tangerine dream". So he's easy spot even from far away (like space). Even though it was back of pack, people were not letting me get by so I was hanging back and waiting for a spot.

Finally I got by three people and there was 1000 meters (1k) to go and Mark was right there about 200 meters ahead. He's pantomiming using poles but I have real poles and they were going fast and hard. I don't know why it was vital that I catch him, but it was. I almost lost it before the end, using too much energy too fast (and having an odd fantasy about drinking a beer, love mini hallucinations). We all agreed that the last 1000 meters was not really measured out and felt more like 1500 meters. I caught him with 100 meters to go and told him to pick it up. I have a rule that I don't pass people at the very end of a race if they have been ahead of me the whole time. Ever since I saw that Hawaii Ironman where the woman who pooped her pants was crawling to the finish line and the other woman ran by her, I just don't think the karmic world smiles on that. I vowed not to do it. Maybe if the person had poked me with a pole or clotheslined me on the course, but otherwise, they can finish before me.

Big surprise, Erich Wilbrecht, olympian won overall and Barb Lingquist former world champ triathlon won by a boot over another girl (definitely not me). Both ladies have two kids and look like they could model bikinis. I won a euro styled front fanny pack that is available for stylish nordic outings or traipsing around Austria. Oh, second lap = 38 minutes. Negative split.

Tomorrow might find me on a run with my friend Julie and Kris. They are training for Moab's Red Hot 50k (they are doing the 33k) and want to run the entire distance so I might join them for some of the run but don't feel obligated to run all 18 miles. It will take a while because of all the snow here. Thank goodness, I never feel like I have to run the
distance I am training for. Before my 100, the longest run I did was 36 miles and the extra 4 was only because I got lost during a 50k.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ain't No Way I am Going out in That

Tuesday,Current Temperature in Jackson: -13 F, High today +12 but we know that it will never get that warm today, maybe 4. Tonite will be another chilly one down to -14, -11 the next nite. All this is telling me that I am better off inside. I love to be outside but as I get older I get smarter (or lazier, you choose) and don't feel the need to hit it hard when my lungs say no thanks.

It's funny that when you watch the national weather reports and there is a cold snap in east, the big talk is about temperature with wind chill, wind chill. In the west, we might mention the wind chill but the real temperature is low enough for us. In spite of the painful temperatures, there are some gifts with the cold weather. Usually it's a blue bird sunny day and it sometimes seems that you are in a snowglobe with the sparkling ice crystals in the air and if you get up early and go outside, most of the lights on shoot straight up into the air (for reasons beyond my comprehension) and it looks like we are communicating with aliens.

After the long ski on Saturday, I worked late so I didn't have to come in Sunday. Took the whole day off and it was wonderful. I went for a snowshoe with my pregnant friend Whitney and her two dogs, Opie and Mia and of course, Scoobie got to come. She was show stopper out there in the snow. We took it easy and went just about an hour up Phillips Pass, one of my favorite places. There were search dogs out practicing and Sophie had bust in and see what they were doing, nosy rosy. It was a nice day and prior to our cold snap.

Monday was just 40 minutes on the treadmill, mellow. Today I did 65 minutes on a 10k hilly option that almost had me turning down the speed. Treadmills are great for learning what a speed feels like and you can't just slow down or you get bucked off.

Wednesday - temp = -11, getting warmer. I think it's one more cold nite and then we are back to the positive. Just makes you appreciate 10 degrees all the more. I am excited to get outside for some playtime. I ran 45 minutes on the treadmill (broken record) this morning. I was going to do some weights with my friend Julia last nite but she was tired as was I so a glass of wine and a nice dinner was a better substitute we though. Julia is healing from a complete knee blowout.

When I first moved to Wyoming, I was shocked by the number of people that blew their knee out here. I almost thought it was like a contagious disease, something that you knew was eventually going to get around to you. I had never known anyone who had knee surgery in Atlanta (where I grew up). But anyways, Julia blew her knee out up Whimpy's which I think involved a 4000 foot climb in the backcountry. She injured herself at the beginning of the run and made it back down on her own 3500 feet down on one leg (turns were tough she said), amazing. She did want to have to call out Search and Rescue (her boyfriend is a member) and have them come out, so she self rescued.

She is recovering well and has the most amazing attitude about her injury and recovery. She says that it has given her many gifts and realizations and she has been able to see the love and support that friends can give in this place where all (or most) of us are very far away from family. We tend to be each others family out here and it can be most comforting.

Thursday, January 24th - Butt Cold - The temperature in town at 5:00am was -24, this is getting very old. My shoulders now live up near my ears, huddling against the cold. Another morning on the treadmill with Today in Wyoming on the tv. I did the 10k options with hills, breathing hard with a steady cramp on my right side for the entire time, sweet. Good news, one the newspeople, Deepak Siami is coming to Jackson to cover the Stage Stop Sled Dog race on Friday. I am soo getting a picture with him for the website. I have volunteered to walk dogs before the race's ceremonial start Friday nite. The real race starts Saturday morning and lucky for them, the cold snap should be over by then.

Still sad about Heath Ledger's death. He was a real hottie and great actor. I was lucky to see Brokeback Mountain (twice), the first time at the premiere which was in Jackson with Ang Lee in attendance. He is a true genius and incredibly humble. The short story by Annie Proulx grabbed me by the throat when I read it. I remember I had holed myself up in a tiny cabin in Montana after tax season with good Pinot, organic food and about 8 books.

Also, congrats to Paul Hopwood and Suzanna Bon, winners at what looked like a tough HURT 100. Lots of people went for the 100k distance, not sure how I feel about that option. Suzanna Bon also won AC100 and she might do Bighorn.

Heard from the folks at the Foothills Campground in Dayton. Marshall and Lea, who own the campground are just about the nicest people you could know. Get this, I wrote saying I was doing the 100, so I would need a campsite for Thursday through Sunday morning. They wrote back saying they could try to fill the site on Saturday while I running so I didn't have to pay for that nite, so kind.

Here's to hoping for warmer weather. I think it's coming.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The option of the Revival

I think everytime I go out to exercise, I want to feel good and if I don't feel good, whatever the reason, I hope there's something I can do to make it go away. Today had me feeling in tune with what was wrong and how to fix it.

I woke up 6:30 and of course, checked the temp. 18 degrees to the good is running weather. Threw on a couple layers and Sophie and I hit the roads. It was snowing and blowing but both were manageable. I told myself if I did 30 minutes, that would be great because I had plans for a long ski with friends, Kathleen and Amy later that morning. We are all going to Sun Valley together to do the Boulder Mountain Tour, so perfect people to ski with. We wanted to head to the park where the road was hopefully groomed this weekend.

Felt good outside, running well just 10:00/miles on nice packed snow. I went up Upper Cache Drive that climbs the side hills up Cache Creek and ended up going 40 minutes. I had a nice smoothie and the obligatory coffee and headed into work. At work, I had a Fage yogurt with a staggering 83% of my RDA of fat in it. I love these Greek yogurts that my cousin turned me onto when I visited her in Athens. For a while, you couldn't get them in the US because they were unpasturized, not sure why you can now but I am pysched. As always, I had the yogurt with about a cup of honey on it.

So we head up to the park, catching up on the way there. We get there and it's pretty much a repeat of last weekend, 5 inches of powder on the road and it's dumping up there.We decide to come up with another place to ski and decide on Cache Creek. Its a steady uphill for about 5 miles up and then you fly down, tough but recently groomed. We decided to tack on another 3 miles by doing a side track that climbs as well called Tiny Hagen, but ain't nothing tiny about those hills. So the total ski would be about 12-13 miles.

We start out with me second behind Amy, a great athlete. I quickly started to tire so I let Kathleen go ahead of me so I could regroup a bit. Kathleen is one of those people that does everything well and can be away from a sport for a while and come back to it and be amazing. I have heard a theory of a "fitness base", where somewhere in your youth, you were so athletic that you really never lose it. Nikki Kimball comes to mind and my friend Kathleen. Coincidentally, they grew up near each other, maybe it's just something in the water.

I am avoiding the rest of this story as you can tell. All I can say is that my legs felt like the bones were hollow and my arms were of the ragdoll consistency. This is 2 minutes into it but it felt like 2 hours. What the? I was a bit nauseous, dizzy and bonked. I took lots of breaks on the 1.5 miles up, the kind where you don't care if someone sees you folded over like a dog. Kind and considerate, the girls waited for me at the turnaround, but I told them that I would be on my own today and might do a couple of miles up the main trail but to leave the keys for me.

I said I thought I was down on food but that seemed odd seeing the yogurt had about 800 calories and I had a smoothie with all kinds of fruit and more yogurt in it. I felt better on the downhill but you should have seen me windmilling, one ski in the air and sheer panic/thrill on my face. Remember my lone alpine experience came from a ski lesson in 1991 where the instructor pretty much said I was unteachable for downhill.

Got back to the car and regrouped. I ate everything in my pack which included three old clif bloks, some nut mix and lots of water. I struck out up Cache on my own taking it easier. I started to feel better and ran into a couple friends and stopped to talk (read rest). Dan, new to skating and his dog, Doc. I met Dan on the trails and I love friendships like that, pure and random, not influenced by anything. We made plans to get out together and off I went.

I told myself I could go 2 miles up and turn around. I made it 2 and felt okay, 3 miles okay and still going. I got to 4 and thought for sure, I would see my friends coming down, but I didn't see them until almost the top. Now granted they stopped and tried out someone's snowbike for about 20 minutes with it's 4 inch wide tires.

I felt great that I had worked through the problem and skied for about 12 miles total. Here's what I think happened. I did well getting fat and protein this morning but neglected my complex carbs and I am a total carb whore, will do anything for it. I usually have whole wheat toast with butter and peanut butter or a fried egg sandwich in the morning and it stays with me. I had some hint of hunger when I started and I am sure I burned my breakfast with the run and should have refueled before leaving for the ski. The nut mix at the car saved my ass. I think I coasted on the fact that I can do my morning runs without eating, but a 40 minute run is vastly different than a 2 hour skate ski. That's what I am thinking happened. Any thoughts or advice would help temendously.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Channeling Richard Simmons

You want to hate the guy, but you can't. With his too tight, too shiny and way too short dolphin shorts and his spangled singlet, the guy's kinda got it going on. It's coming back around to that fashion (maybe not for men), but still. And his enthusiasm is not so much contagious as it's drop jaw stare inducing, like a train wreck. I saw our little friend on tv the other day, the fro's fading from it's glory, you can see through it but RS is still out there doing 20 minutes at a time and that's kinda what my week has been like. Hope yours has been as good. Here's a rundown.

Monday, January 14th - After the 15k skate race on Sunday, I wanted to do a mellow run with Sophie included up Cache Creek, the local in town trail. Weather was good and headed out at lunch. Ran into my hot, I mean nice, no really, I mean hot friend Derek just after climbing the ladder (small, steep hill) and we chatted for about 10 minutes (he chatted, I wondered if I was displaying my good side). After that, well, I had a spring in my step and pretty much ran flat out for about 45 minutes total.

Tuesday, January 15th - When I went to bed Monday, the temperature was 2F, so I thought I was def. hitting the treadmill in the morning. But at 6am, the temperature was 28 degrees so excitedly, I got dressed for some outside fun with Sophie (2 birds). I headed out and then realized why it was 28 degrees as the 35 mph wind hit square in the face, so not sweet! I headed towards a butte that switchbacks up to fancy schmancy houses and is all Private, No trespassing, stay away you. But with the snow blowing in my face, I must have missed those 8 signs. There were moments of serene calm on the climb up, when the wind was at my back and I stayed out there for about 50 minutes and really enjoyed myself. Sophie's got some husky in her, so she was in her element and we both got back to the house with heavily iced eyelashes and the front side of me plastered with snow. Saw another road runner out there in the blizzard but got no love from him, not even a hi, no comment.

Wednesday January 16th - My training plan is resembling more of a "New Years Resolution fitness plan" (see Richard Simmons reference above) with my 50 minute runs. If I threw in some deep knee bends and had one of those big rubber band jobs from the 50s that you threw around your midsection and it jiggled you (where are those now?), I could round it out. But my job is amping up and I don't leave here most nites until 7 (cue tears and sniffles). So you get it when you can.

Today, same thing on the menu - 35 minute run on the treadmill following by 18 minutes (random time, note: no real training plan) on the bike. One thing I have found is if you like to read when you exercise, check out the Large Print section at the library. The words are about as big as your thumbnail which makes them easier to see. Now I can't read when I am running hard on the treadmill with all the jostling and bobbing, I lose my place. But biking is perfect for reading especially seeing I didn't set up the torture device known as my road bike on the trainer. Instead, I set up my comfy cruiser bike with it's hemorrhoid padded seat, bell (in case anyone gets my way) and baskets (more than one). Now, the one problem with getting the large print books is your gonna get used to the size 32 font and it's a slippery slope after that...

Local morning new show - they all got the trivia question wrong and I think one of them even had the correct answer. Morning temperature -8, help me.

Thursday - January 17th - Got up 20 minutes early and can only note that mornings and evenings are time sucks, where does the time go and why can't work go that fast? So today did an hour on the treadmill, about 6 miles and 600 calories (thanks to the incline). That allowed me extra butter and peanut butter on my english muffin. Will try for some weights and floor work (not gymnastics) in the evening.

Morning tv - this slayed me. The topic was Ben Franklin and one of the kids asked, what did he invent? The answer from the other " the light bulb", no comment. Other topics were MLK day coming up and how Wyomingites were going to celebrate. There was a representative from the NAACP on tv and get this, she was white?? Who knew? One thing that Wyoming is lacking is diversity.

On the flip side, it's a good hair day, according to me. That can usually set you up for greatness. Temperature -2, warming up.

Friday, January 18th - 30 minute run on treadmill, 10 minute bike on trainer, pushups on Bosu and situps over Bosu, followed by coffee, a delicious smoothie and some quiet reading (favorite time to read). I don't know what's come over me but my diet has taken an amazing about face. I don't know how it happened but I suddenly love vegetables now and that has never been the case. I am having Leave It to Beaver meals most nites and I am the person who thinks cooking is a bit of a waste of time. I can live happily on mac and cheese with tuna or just chicken, no sides. I don't eat crap or processed foods but suddenly I have having the RDA of vegetables and I gotta say, I feel great.

Today show Wyoming style - One of the kids left their shoes on top of their car and was only able to recover one - that was their lead story. All got the the trivia wrong again and it's going to be cold next week. Got to get off the treadmill.

No plans for the weekend, some work and hopefully out for a couple of good hours either running or skiing. There's skate race over at Grand Targhee, but it's an hour drive each way for a 10k race, that's doesn't meet the race time more than travel time rule, so it's probably out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Sundays are a great time to blog. There's no hurry and I am not attempting the difficult stealthy blog during work. And it's a good time to reflect on the week and see what got done. I haven't written much about my workouts and to be honest those are mostly a mystery, even to me. You see, I don't have a log or a plan. I love to read about Olga and her annual log and even more impressive is Anton Krupicka and his 5000 mile 2007 (what?). I read his blog for shear shame's sake because everyone of his training runs is faster than I could ever complete in competition. And don't discount shame as a good motivator to get out there and train. I use the entire arsenal of emotions to motivate.

But I digress. Monday was an early morning run on the treadmill while watching our local (not Jackson) Today show. I have grown to love those early morning kids and their stories about the mall walking, getting your blood pressure checked and the local can-a-thon. So I probably put in 45 minutes at 10-8 minute per mile pace. Tuesday, I did a skate up Cache (more on that later). Three lung busting miles up followed by three gleeful miles down with my new adopted stray, Sophie whose nickname is Scoobie's sister in pursuit. She's a lumbering thing but does her best to keep up. Wednesday saw an after work run on the treadmill with some mile repeats on the hill option (bout an hour) watching a fascinating medical show on lymphoedema (love medical mysteries) and I followed by alternating push ups and crunches on the Bosu until I couldn't roll over anymore. Thursday was nite skating at the only flat place in Jackson, the high school track. Great option for getting some exercise, getting your dog out and having some social time with others. The weather was less than desirable with needle-like snow to the eyeballs but everyone out was in great spirits. Friday was rest day.

Saturday I had great intentions of a long skate (20 miles maybe) in the park (GTNP)which is about 30 minutes from my house. I saw a friend at the start of the supposed groomed section of the road but she said they didn't groom which is disaster for skating. So I slogged through 5 inches of powder for a little over 2 miles and then turned around. I got Scoobie's sister out on the skijoring leash and she had some fun. She tires easily and that's what I like about her.

Today is a 10k skate race at the Jackson Hole Nordic Center. The race starts at 11, love late starts. Now, if you have never nordic skied, I will fill you in on a few of the finer points of it (IMO). First, it's hard, really, really hard. The technique is hard, like chess, seems that you never really get it, there's always fine tuning and adjustments to do. When you think you got it, they change it. The potential to fall is high (esp. me), one pole in between your skis and you're down. When you see someone good do it, it's beautiful. When you see someone new to the sport do it, you want turn away. The second hard part about it is you reach your lactic threshold in about the first 14 seconds of starting and you stay there (okay, I stay there). It's the mouth opened, snot hanging, chin whiskers frosty (ladies be aware of this coming into the finish line photo or else you will look like your Greek grandmother in snowstorm) exhaustion that allows none of your body parts to rest at any point. I equated the fatigue to swimming, you can't not use your arms or legs. They say to "rest on the downhills" and so okay I pose this to you. When you are trying to find a resting position, is it ever a squat?

I love reading about people saying how graceful and simpatico it is when you are out there skating and I think "Am I doing it all wrong?". Me, I am making deals with the devil out there. I am thinking that if I go a little further, I can have one more beer at dinner. Not to mention that the perfect wax job on skate ski is only accomplished by the brightest scientist-type people dedicated to the glide. Get your wax wrong and you, my friend, are on velcro for the day. BUT with that said, it has to be one of the perfect counter-sport to running. It keeps up the aerobic level and let's your poor legs rest from the pounding running gives us (minus the shins). AND there are times when I have met with nirvana during skates. It usually happens in the spring with an amazing phenomenon called crust cruising. In the Spring, the snow melts during the day and freezes at nite, so if you head out in the morning, you can ski on top of the snow and it's great. You can get going about 15 miles an hour and feel like you are flying. That's effortless and in tuned.

So....back from the race. It wasn't a 10k, but a 15k. You could do an optional 7.5k but what's the point? I have a rule that my race time has to be longer than the travel time, so I opted for the 15k, two loops. As always with any Jackson race, there was at least one olympian there, this time Erich Wilbrecht, a wicked nice guy who was in the 92 Olympics in biathalon. I looked over the girls there and seeing they were all in racing suits and I was wearing my normal loose fitting, mismatched, entirely overdressed uniform, I knew exactly where I was going to fall in the mix. I hung back with Heinz Walter, a 70 year old guy who regularly kicks my ass in nordic.

The first lap was good but I felt fatigued. The track was in good shape. I hit the moraines (hills) and did fairly well getting up them, counting my strides and trying to ignore the lactic acid build-up in both my legs and my arms. No sign of Heinz sneaking up on me like he does, he's got a hell of finishing kick for someone collecting Social Security. I have never been an alpine skier (such a good secret living in Jackson) so my downhill ability is probably at the level of a 4 year old with strap-on clown skis. I bleed all my speed trying not to fall possibly taking some guy with me. The guy behind me was skiing without poles (extra credit) and I could only get some distance from him on the uphill but he passed me starting the second lap and I never saw him again. I tried to not make that the crushing ego blow that it could have been. It's kinda like getting passed by the 8 year old in the local 10k. First lap - 31:10.

I was a bit worried about the second lap seeing the first one drained me. I started out trying to smooth things out and just take my time. After "no-poles" passed me, I was alone (and possibly in last place, another point to ignore). So I just worked on form and got through the moraines in better shape. The stride counting became a bit louder to overwhelm the sound of blood flood in my head, tasting pennies. But I came up and over the last hill, Little Thunder and was done. No idea of the second lap time but i would be pleased with something around 36 mintes.

The BMTis February 2nd in Sun Valley. Last year, I improved my time so I think I will move up a wave. That race is 32k and that's a bit daunting seeing today's race was 15k and whipped me, but isn't that always the case? You get humbled one day and do better than you think the next. Glad I did the local race, it is a beautiful blue bird day, warm in the sun and everyone is smiling.

Now it's time to walk Scoobie's sister (real name Sophie) and then there might be some quality couch time in my future, something I live for.