Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thank you ~ may I have another?

Yup, another 40-mile week of running!  After a long week of work (I worked six out of seven days, only taking the Monday Presidents' Day Holiday off from work), I ran 6 miles in the basement on the treadmill Friday night, followed by 14 miles on the treadmill on a snowy Saturday.  I had wanted to get out and test another one of the new Nathan packs, but it was too cold, snowy, and icy out.  I watched Skyfall (the most recent James Bond movie) and the two hours and twenty minute run on Saturday flew by!  I was able to crank up the speed during the action scenes and felt really great during my run.

Then Sunday morning rolled around and I was committed to ski touring but didn't want to get out of bed.  The new snow and high winds made me nervous about the avalanche conditions, but after dragging myself out from under my cozy covers, I checked the forecast and it didn't look so bad.

Off I went to pick up my touring partner ~ we explored a new canyon, one we had hiked around in with the dogs and had looked at last year as a possibility for ski touring but never made it back to.  We were at the parking lot at 8:30 am.  Three and a half hours later (ugh) feeling cold, tired, and very hungry (all I could think about was bacon and eggs with home fries), the 20 miles from the previous two days of running on the treadmill had caught up to me.  I almost bailed out halfway up the mountain, and choked back some tears at one point.

My hard work was rewarded.  (Well, more like the hard work of my partner who convinced me to get up to the ridge line at the top, and the others who passed me who broke trail for us.)  Some of the most amazing powder skiing I've ever skied.  18 inches of fresh, perfect fluff on a perfect slope.  I'm not too proud to say it ~ I was the caboose this fine day.  But I'm so very glad I got out.  It was an amazing day.

Halfway down the canyon is where things go interesting.  I swore I was following my partner's tracks, but somehow I got off-course and ended up way too far to the left.  He came and found me, wondering where the heck I was going, and we tromped through the deep snow in the flats and through brushy bushes to get back over towards where we could exit the canyon.

Many tree branches to the face later...  we were skiing out the creek bed to the main trail.  I managed to get stuck cross-wise in the creek bed a couple of times, but was not too exhausted to get myself out.

We made it back to the car, and got to the cafe for our bacon, eggs, and home fries 10 minutes before they closed.  The wait-staff was not thrilled to see us come in right before the doors locked, but we ordered quickly without menus and ate fast, left a healthy tip, and were not too much trouble.  They were vacuuming around us as we finished up our meal, but it was kind of like when you were a kid sitting on the sofa and your mom came by with the vacuum and asked you to lift your feet up for her.  I love that place.

One more rally and we took the dogs for a walk on the snow-covered golf course to end the day.  And a nice sunset to boot!  I was tired on Monday morning from all of my fun-having, but it was all worth it!
Snack time and new skis ~
Start of the day ~ not tired yet, and still smiling ~
View of the Salt Lake Valley below ~
Quiet aspens ~
Majestic peaks ~
Feeling the ache, close to the top~
Top of the Canyon ~
Glittering snow crystals caught the sunlight
as they broke off of the surrounding flocked trees ~
The hills that we skied ~
Sweet, patient dogs ~

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Three strong training weeks ~

I don't have much to write about, except for the fact that I've been running a bit more lately, in an attempt to get three weeks in a row of 40 miles.  And guess what?  I succeeded!  I only have to walk the dogs when I get home from work tonight and I will have it in the bag.

My body has held up well with my increase in mileage.  I've only had a few small aches and pains.  I've transitioned to my Altra Torin shoes completely and have been totally pleased with how my feet and legs feel.

I've also been trying to eat a little better the past few weeks.  I have to admit, on Fat Tuesday I had a bit of a binge on the sweets, but have now given up all chocolate, cookies, cake, donuts, candy, etc until Easter ~ 40 days hath Lent!  I was a bit shaky the first few days, but I think my insulin and glucose levels are figuring things out.  Now if I want something sweet to eat, I have a bowl of cereal or a piece of fruit.  I'll feel a little better physically after the challenge as I have done this every year for the past 5 or 6 years and I always feel better mentally as it's quite a sacrifice for me to give up my beloved sweets.  I have quite the sweet tooth!

Friends of mine tell me that if I really wanted a challenge, I would give up coffee, but I'm afraid that if I tried to do that, I wouldn't have any friends left come Easter (I tend to get a little crabby without my coffee).  And besides, when I give up sweets, I tend to lose at least 5 pounds in the process as well!

Lots of road miles the past few weeks, but that's ok, because things in Salt Lake are still really snowy.  I have put together a great route that loops around the north and east benches of the city, half on road and half on the Shoreline trail.  It's a really nice loop, and the last bit is all downhill back to the house.

Skiing is only mediocre right now with variable conditions (wind and sun crust and wind-affected snow) so I haven't been all that motivated to get out and tour.  It's ok.  Only 4 more training weeks until the Buffalo 100 on March 22nd!  I was more nervous a few weeks ago, but now that I've strung together some good training weeks, with a couple of long runs (a 20-miler and a 16-miler with lots of 8- and 10-mile runs in between) I feel much more confident in finishing.

I have not completely neglected the dogs, either!  I've gotten them out to romp on the Shoreline or take a leash-tour around the 'hood most days of the week.

On the east-bench Shoreline
on my 20-mile day ~

Franklin feeling frisky at
Bonneville golfcourse ~
Artie on the old bridge at
Bonneville golfcourse ~

Dogwalk near Mt. VanCott above the University ~
Franklin, enjoying the view from the east bench~
I wore my red shirt on the Valentine's Day 16-miler ~

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I deserve a cookie ~ or maybe four

The current instability in the snowpack and some warmer days this week helped me in attaining my goal to get 40 miles!  I mostly ran on the streets in Salt Lake this week, which were quite like a war zone what with the recent heavy valley snows.  Probably only about 3/4 of the residents here feel it is necessary to shovel their sidewalks.  And usually the ones that don't shovel and allow their sidewalks to turn to ice are the ones that park their cars across the sidewalk, making it nearly impossible to pass and remain with dry feet.  The city plows have had a tough time keeping up with keeping the streets clear, and it feels like we are running out of places to pile the extra snow.  Between that and the hipsters not sharing space or giving way to passersby, it was a rough week on the streets!  Yipes!

But really, it's not all that bad.  The temperatures have been in the 40s and 50s the last few days, with clean air and sunshine here in town.  Getting my mileage up a bit this week meant that I was extra hungry and so I decided that after eating Huevos Miguel at Eggs in the City today after my ten-miler (hamburger patty smothered with chile verde and two eggs over-easy) that I deserved a cookie.  I ended up eating not one, but four.  I pretty much ran all week in my Altra Torins.  They are quickly becoming my favorite shoe.  And they are pretty in pink just like the cookies I ate.

pink cookies ~
pink shoes ~
Hopefully this week the snowpack will stabilize out a bit and allow for safer backcountry travel.  Next storm on the horizon is about one week away.  There have been a few avalanches in the backcountry, but not too many ~ and the sunny weather is bound to lure lots of people out this weekend.  It's not that there have been that many slides, but if one does go, it is likely to go deep and go heavy.

I got the dogs out a couple of times for some romping in the snow ~ they dug it!  Artie did a really good job at getting snowballs stuck to her undercarriage.  She also had a couple of adventures chasing deer and elk which put us out a bit, having to wait for her.  Franklin got his staples out of his face and has pretty much healed after his surgery (the mass was benign).  And Vernon decided to go into our friends' house (thru the dog door) because he was, oh I don't know, bored?  on one of our hikes.  The friends live just off the trail a ways and he came up missing, only to be found moments later hanging out with the friends' dog at their house.  Silly Vernon.

I'm working tomorrow at the urgent care in Layton, Utah.  It's Super Bowl Sunday, but I won't be sad to miss the game.  Hopefully I'll be able to get an easy run in while I'm there.  Looking forward to next week and hopefully some skiing also.  It's only 7 weeks until the Buffalo 100, my first race of the year (March 22nd).  So concentrating on running is ok too if the skiing is not super-great.  I'm happy to get out and enjoy the outdoors either way, whether it be skiing or running.  As Jim Fixx put it, "Play not only keeps us young but also maintains our perspective about the relative seriousness of things.  Running is play, for even if we try hard to do well at it, it is a relief from everyday cares."