Ho-Hum

So I treked up to Battle Creek on Wednesday night for the last official Vakava practice. That's crazy. I feel like this last year with them has FLOWN by. In a way it has -- new job, move, couple of marathons, new dog, etc. Guess I just feel like I haven't been able to donate as much time to it as I would have liked. I say that about a lot of things, though.

Anyway, on to snow. It's icy, and man... I've forgotten how terrible I am at balancing on icy snow! Very, very terrible. I'm just HOPING beyond HOPE that the Birkie isn't like this. I also make a mental note to myself that I HAVE to get better at balance (I think that's the main problem when it's icy).

Then intervals start. I'm much farther back than I've ever been & am not even getting myself close to that "working hard" point. I notice my legs aren't very snappy or light, probably due to the 12 hour/70 mile week last week. Oh well, they'll rest up quick, I have no doubt.

Dave jumps in behind me during the last interval. We finish, pretty far behind, and then he has me V2 up a little incline. Except he tells me to do it 1/2 way up, when I have no momentum at all... so basically I couldn't get ANYWHERE with my V2. I looked ridiculous (I can't see myself, but I can imagine), flailing about, but not getting anywhere. I like his reaction, though -- even though he meant to say "wow, is that really what your V2 looks like?!" -- he just said "hmmm, that needs a bit of work". Ha! Yep, along with basically everything else I do on skis. Sort of a frustrating and daunting feeling.

Anyway, it was good to get out on skis, even if it wasn't the best of practices. Now -- let's hope that's the end of the slow/awkward skiing & I can RACE at the Birkie! Wouldn't that be fun?!? :)

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Better rest up... quick

My legs are sore!

I took the last week as a chance to put in one last good mileage week before a big taper for the Birkie. 72 miles, yeah! Yes, I know what you're thinking... shouldn't I be saying that I had a moderate ski hour week, and now I'm tapering even more this week? Yes... but again, trying to balance the two sports and leaning a little more toward running now since the marathon is less than 3 months away now. Plus, I know that the week after the Birkie training starts full-blast, with a 40 mile recovery week and then in the 75-80 mile weeks. Can't do those when you haven't put in a few 70s.

The end of this week I was in Portland, OR to visit my sister who just had her first baby. I'm an aunt! The week went by quick, but I made sure to get in a good sized run each day. The last day my sister dropped me off in a city park & pointed me in the direction of a dirt trail. Off I ran. Beautiful! I had a 19 miler on my plan. The first mile clicks off: 10 minutes or so. Hmm, guess it was a little uphill. Mile 2 brings more uphill. 10:30. This is going to be one long run! I soon start ignoring my Garmin and instead ran on time. The run was GORGEOUS. 60 degrees, things are starting to bloom, and I'm running alone deep in the woods. Can't get much better!

I ended up running for 2:48. No clue how long that was. My quads are still sore a day later (don't get that feeling often!), so it must have been a good run. Now, just need to rest them up the rest of the week so they're fresh for the Birkie! Let's hope for good weather!!

Speaking of the Birkie -- I'll ski Wednesday with Vakava (if work permits). What do people usually do to sharpen up for the Birkie? I might be different because of the amount of ski time I generally do... but is getting out on skis once this week OK?

Also, I have to do a little waxing this week since Nate is gone in Hibbing. Hmm, should be an adventure. I almost always just have him do it. Any recommendations on what to start with? I'm planning to use Devin at the shop for the "fast" top coat (he hooked me up last year REALLY well ;).

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Vasaloppet


What a great event! I love the home-town feel of this race.

The race didn't go great for me. Nate told me to start farther up than I normally would (2 rows, he said). So that's what I did. Except that still put me really far back after the gun... I don't think it's as much where I start as my inability to get around people. There's so much going on: poles, skis, people falling! The girl next to me was able to find a hole & ski ahead. Note to self: practice this (but how do you??)

Anyway, the first 25k was a similar story. I'd find myself at the back of a train without any way to pass. I talked to someone afterwards and they said, "yes! you absolutely can ask people in a train to move over!". During the race, though, it didn't seem like I could... even if I did, there wasn't really an extra shoulder to move to so I could pass. There's the classic tracks, but my double pole is really weak...

Sooo... at 25k I finally decided that I had to GO. I'm not even breathing at this point. I found Peter Bauer and asked him if he was up for a 10k pickup :). He was, so off we went. The field was more broken up by this point and the trails wider at times, so it was a little easier to pass. I tried to use my legs as best as I could. I'm still not feeling anything in my arms or abs. Hmm, another thing I need to learn/practice. At least I'm passing people pretty quickly now.

I fell a lot during the race as well. My knees and hip are nice and blue :) Gee, if I fall during the Mora -- what about the Birkie? I need to learn how to go fast while staying relaxed, I think that's the issue. I'm falling forward on the uphills, and there were a few step turns where I couldn't move my feet fast enough.

One more question: How do you pass people at the top of a hill? At the top of the Mora hill, I caught up to a group of 3-4 skiers. They were DEAD at the top. This is where my fitness comes in... but wait, I can't pass!! They're 2 wide and not skiing straight... argh, guess fitness doesn't mean anything if you can't take advantage of it. I ended up catching a nice break behind these guys for the next 5k :(

Anyway, I finished with an OK place/time. I won a 3rd place age group horse, which Nathan tells me is really good. Except that I feel I should be able to do much better. I don't really care about the trophy, I'd just like to feel like I've raced after a race. I checked my HR after the race: averaged 182. Really? That's just above long run effort. Hmm. That's not acceptible. So, guess I need to focus more on the technical things (passing people, learning to move quick so I can accelerate to pass, transitions, etc) -- except those are all the things I hate working on becuase I feel so awkward and slow...

Argh, my love/hate relationship with skiing continues...

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So SAD!

Both times we've had a major snow storm, Nate's been in Hibbing. That leaves me to try to clear our driveway. Ug. It's 2+ cars wide, and long.

Today I successfully cleared 1/2 of it. Success! Only took 1.5 hours. I was actually really proud of this. The end of the driveway is always the worst, gotta love the dirty, salty ice chunks that are piled 2 feet deep and wide. Doesn't help that the pile of snow I'm now throwing on top of is over 6 feet tall. You have to get a serious start to your throw if it's actually going to go anywhere.

I was meaning to leave the rest for when Nate got home. It'd be something to do together, and then it wouldn't take very long. But, I was pleasantly greeted by 3 young boys at my doorstep this evening. I open the door.

"Would you like your driveway shoveled?". I ask if they're from down the street. Those boys charge $20/time. $20?!? Is that a lot of money to a kid now? Guess I'm getting old... that seems like a lot to me (which is why I haven't hired them yet this winter). Nope, these boys are from Ellsworth, making the rounds in Red Wing to make some extra money. I ask them what the going rate would be for 1/2 a driveway. The youngest one pipes up, "$5". I think to myself... gee, it WOULD be nice not to have to do this when he got home. We have very little time together as it is. That's probably worth $5 to me.

So, I scrounge for some cash while they start on the driveway. I walk out to hand them the $, and we talk a little bit. I head back inside, turn on the garage lights, and walk back to the entry door to watch. There's one boy in the middle of the driveway, looking back at me. I feel bad that I'm watching him work, so I slip to the next room. 1 minute later, I check again (I can't help it!) -- and they're GONE! Seriously, gone. I see them in the distance, so they had to have ran. Or they're expert speed walkers.

I was crushed. Honestly. I actually cried on the phone when telling Nate. Sounds dumb, but hear me out. This was so exciting for me! I've had a rough first part of the week (nate's gone, big snowstorm, flat tire, roadside assistance, finding out I had to buy 4 new ones, long hours at work yet WAY behind), and I was so thankful that someone was going to help! Am I just too naive? I really want to believe people would want to help/do a good job... the tears were more out of that this was the icing on the cake sort of moment, but I AM really sad that kids would actually do this sort of thing.

On a somewhat related note, when I was out shoveling earlier in the day some neighbor drove by on his snow-plow equipped 4 wheeler. His dog was running around near him & decided to take a dump on my driveway. I smiled nice & said not to worry, that I'd take care of it. Secretly, I hoped he'd object or at least offer the assistance of his snow moving machine. But he simply said, "Oh, great! Thanks!" and sped OFF!

(Sigh, shoulders droop. hopefully the rest of the week is better than the first half has been)

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Long run soreness

Ahh, I've forgotten what this feels like! I did an 18.5 miler today. It's been a heavy 4 days: 15 miles Monday, 8 miles easy Tuesday, 10 Wednesday w/ 4 at threshold, and then a long 18.5. 50.5 miles in 4 days, my legs are saying? They're just a little achy-sore right now. Should be fine by tomorrow, but I've forgotten how much I like (and dislike at the same time) this feeling.

I clipped along during the run. Amazing how easy running on the flats feels now that I've done most of my winter running on the "hill". 7:35s consistently on the flats today, without much of an effort. Yeah!!

I brought Ellie with, not knowing if she'd be able to take it. She was SOO excited to get out for a run. What a nut. I sat at the computer in my running clothes for about 5 minutes mapping out a run and all she did was cry, whine, and try to nudge me to get my attention. I wasn't sure how she'd take the run, but she did great! She's learned to run alongside me really well, doing the whole 18.5 with me. She was practically falling asleep as I toweled her off after the run, though -- wore her out a little bit :).

I really need to find a good long run route around Red Wing. During the winter their bike paths aren't plowed, so the only real footing is on the roads. Today I ran down "the hill" to highway 61, which isn't bad, but there was a lot of traffic. There are a couple of bridges along that road where the shoulder disappears... not the safest running, especially with a dog tied to your waist who could be easily spooked by a big semi going at 60+ mph. Hmm.

P.S. I am really excited for SPRING! Or at least the sun :)

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Feeling stronger!

The first week back from being sick I managed 65 miles. Like I said in my earlier post, I noticed some weird things with my HR.

I think it was because I was still getting over whatever I had. Over the weekend I was in Denver, running at altitude. I was taking it easy, out for an 8 miler, when I crest a hill and stop at a light. All of a sudden I feel really dizzy and start to go black. I immediately brought myself to the ground to sit. I'm breathing REALLY hard, which is odd because when I was running I was breathing normally. My HR also feels out of control.

That's a little scary. I headed back, nice and easy. Since then, though, things have been a lot better. The first run after that episode my lungs and heart felt weak, but only for the first part of the run. I haven't felt anything since (whew! I was sort of worried!!) Like I said, I just think I hadn't kicked whatever I had. It took just about a month!!

The start of this week (which will be 75 miles) has been a lot better. I started off with a 15 miler (which was only going to be 10-12, but I felt good so decided to take advantage of it), then an 8 mile recovery day, then a 10 mile with 4 miles at threshold. The threshold felt GREAT. My lungs finally felt strong and in control. 6:40-6:43 miles up the "hill", which I consider to be pretty good. It'll be fun to see what that equates to on a flat run!

My legs are getting stronger by the day as well. Glad it's coming back relatively quick. It also helps that the days are longer and we've had decent weather lately -- nothing like a hard threshold run with the sun shining and 20 degree temps! I'm excited to hit 75 miles this week. It's a much needed mileage week: Fargo is less than 4 months away!

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