Well, we're almost
into double digit days this month and I am just now putting something
in the journal. One reason for this is that I am lazy, but a better
one is that I haven't had anything too exciting to report. I think
I celebrated the 4th of July with a little too much enthusiasm and
I spent the rest of this week paying for it. On Monday I felt like
I was beginning to come down with a little sickness. It was just
a scratch in the back of my throat, no big deal. Since this sickness
could be traced back to a night on the town, I couldn't justify
missing training because of it. I decided to fight through it, rather
than rest. However, as the week went on, I didn't get better as
I had hoped. I couldn't get out of bed in the morning, and after
every meal I would get noxious. Training was a real struggle, but
it is now Friday and I am proud to say that I've only skipped one
workout this week. But today we did intervals and I felt like I
should have skipped more to rest up. For today, Torbjorn had skiwalking
intervals of four to seven minutes planned. Skiwalking, for those
who don't know (lucky you), is basically walking uphill with poles
in your hands, imitating a ski striding motion. We decided to do
them on one of the downhill ski runs at The Canyons. The hill we
picked was very steep. What little energy I had was zapped out of
me just by looking up the hill. But when the intervals started,
I just put my head down, put one foot in front of the other, and
tried to make it up the hill. I was walking at a pace that would
be considered average on flat ground. But the steepness of the hill
and my general fatigue meant that I was in level IV (HARD) most
of the way. I tried to keep the thoughts of how pathetic I was from
creeping into my head and tried to maintain some semblance of technique
so that Torbjorn wouldn't critique me. That was the last thing I
needed at that point. After four of these intervals, I was beginning
to see stars, but I had finished the workout and could now jump
limp back to the car. Though I felt bad, I had completed the whole
workout, which I took to be a major moral victory. Two more days
and then I can put this week behind me.
I am a firm believer
that every once in a while you have to do something crazy to keep
training interesting and fun. Sometimes its a 12 hour, 54 mile run
on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire. sometimes its a backcountry
ski in unknown wilderness, and sometimes its deciding at 11:30 pm
that its time to go train. Today it was deciding to try out for
the US Bobsled team. Thats right, Bobsled. Since bobsled is a sport
that is completely inaccessible and no one has any experience with
it, the Bobsled coaches use a standardized test of track and field
events to pick the team. There are six events and anyone who scores
a total of 700 points or more gets to join the US team at a training
camp in Lake Placid. The events are designed to pick the people
who can push a sled up to max speed in the matter of a few seconds.
Speed and power is what it is all about. So what was I doing there?
Good question. I saw an article in a local paper advertising open
tryouts at the local high school and I figured I had to do a speed/explosive
strength workout anyway, so why not take a shot at Olympic glory?
As I looked over the events on the registration form, I realized
that the test would make short work of me: 30 meter sprint, 60 meter
sprint 100 meter sprint, vertical leap, 5 consecutive hops for distance,
and underhand shotput. I examined the page closely, looking for
the 3 hour mountain run, or the rollerboard endurance test, but
no such luck. If it took more than 12 seconds, they weren't interested.
First up was the sprints. We were given the option of running all
the distances separately, or just running the 100m and taking our
30m and 60m sprints. All the serious contenders did the sprints
separately, but I was in a hurry to get to work so I did them all
at once. My times were not as good as I hoped, but they were not
all that far off the Bobsled Team members. In the 100m, most of
the current team members were in the mid to high 11 second range.
I couldn't quite break the 12 second barrier, coming in at 12.14
seconds. In the jumping events I was very disappointed with my performance.
Whenever we do plyometric exercises in ski training, my vertical
and longitudinal jumps are always some of the best in any group.
But that is compared to other skiers. Today I was being compared
to track athletes and I got put in my place. But the real disaster
came in the shotput. The idea was to throw the shot as far a possible
using a "granny style" technique. Having never even touched
a shot before, I studied the Team members as they all took their
turn. They all crouched very low, pumped their arms and legs a few
times and then exploded up and forward, landing face first on the
ground, but sending the 16 lb. shot flying for 15 meters or so.
I had a breif moment of bravery and volunteered to be the first
"rookie" to take my shot (pun intended). So I stepped
to teh line, took teh shot in my hands, croutched real low, took
deep breaths and pumped my arms and legs. Then, as i exploded forward
and landed flat on my face. . . the ball fell out of my hand and
landed a mere 6 meters away. I tried to laugh off my embarrassment,
but I wasvery upset. No one told me how hard it was to hold that
thing. I had two more tries though, so I watched a few more contestants
( most of whom were rookies who suddenly were much less nervous
after watching me!) and then stepped to the line again. I repeated
all the motions to make it look like I knew what I was doing and
exploded with all my might. The trajectory of my ball was still
too flat and it landed 9 meters away. Not even far enough to score
a single point. I had one more throw, but I had injured my pride
enough and I was already late for work, so I packed it in for the
day. So I didn't make the team. I guess skiing is still my best
chance for Olympic glory, and come to think of it, I wouldn't have
it any other way. Unless, of course, there is an opening on the
curling team. . .
Fresh off my rejection
from the US Bobsled team, I am ready to resume my ski career. Today
I had the opportunity to train with the US Ski Team. They have been
in town for a testing camp and put a cap on the week by hiking Mt.
Timpanogos, one of the most spectacular peaks in Utah (11, 750 feet).
We met them at the trailhead. It was a virtual who's who of skiing
in this country. Nina Kemppel, Marcus Nash, Justin Wadsworth, and
Pat Weaver, coaches Luke Bodensteiner, Chris Grover, and Christer
Skog, and of course Eric Maas. And oh yeah, some woman by the name
of Bente Martinsen. Yes, THAT Bente Martinsen. If you don't know
who Bente is, take a look at the most recent FIS ranking list or
the 1999 World Cup Points. She isn't hard to find, she's the one
at the top with the #1 by her name. And not only is she currently
the best women's skier in the world, she is also not too hard on
the eyes. So for these reasons, I had jokingly listed her as a participant
in our famed IRS races. So you can imagine my surprise when she
and her boyfriend (Damn!) stepped out of a rental car at the trailhead.
Had she seen my website and decided to make a prophet out of me?
Not quite. She and her boyfriend are in the states for a little
vacation and decided to join us on a hike and check out the new
Olympic trails while they were in the area. Just a wild coincidence.
Of course, if I see Mika Myllyla in the new few weeks, I am going
to start playing the lottery. Anyway, the hike. The pace was very
easy on the way up. We hiked past waterfalls, snowfields, mountain
goats, and wildflowers making it to the top in two
and a half hours. After a quick bite to eat, we headed back down.
But rather than take the trail, we headed down the ridge to a huge
snowfield and dropped in. Most people just slid down on their shoes,
snow-surfing down about 1000 feet in 10 minutes. Eric Maas and I
took a quicker route. We pulled out the trashbags we brought specifically
for this purpose and slid down on our butts. We got up to some pretty
good speeds, but steering was a problem. We had to be careful of
the rocks that were starting to peek through the snow, otherwise
we would literally tear ourselves a new . . . nevermind. This speed
got us energized and when we got back on the trail, we barreled
down the mountain in a full run. We jumped rocks, ran through streams
and slid down snowfields, all with little regard for life or limb.
Bente's boyfriend and
I were soon well ahead of everyone else, flying downhill, and startling
all the poor families who were out for a leisurely hike. We reached
the bottom just over 4 hours after starting and my muscles immediately
began to tighten up from the pounding on the way down. A quick dip
in the reservoir on the way home helped us relax and recover. All
in all a great hike.
Today I did speed on
the track. I did 8x250 meters. Now 250 meters may seem like an odd
track distance, but thats what the coach recommended, so I obeyed.
Plus, if I was running 200s or 400s, I would be able to compare
my times to REAL runners and find out that a lot of women can beat
my times, and frankly I don't need any of that. I felt strong, got
faster with each rep, and actually ran my fastest 250 (35 seconds)
on my LAST rep. I was pretty psyched to hold up that well. But thats
not why this session was notable. It was worth mentioning because
it was the first workout I have done this year in the rain. I have
been training for almost 3 months, sometimes twice a day and it
never rained on me until today. While I feel very fortunate to live
in such a beautiful climate, today brought back fond memories of
training back east in the rain. There it happened slightly more
than once every three months, especially in January! There is nothing
like rain to make you feel like a serious athlete. You know that
all the fair-weather exercisers are (by definition) cowering inside
while you are out taking on the elements. It gives you a special
feeling of accomplishment that you just don't get on a day that
is 75 degrees and sunny. It lights a motivational back burner in
my body and allows me to go even harder. Some of my most memorable
workouts are ones that I came home soaking wet, after puddle-stomping
or sliding head first down oversaturated grass slopes. It reminds
me of the old saying, "There is no such thing as bad weather,
just bad clothing."
After this morning's
IRS race I had planned to just go on an
easy mountain bike ride. But every time I go riding here in Park
City, I always find new trails I never existed. It seems that people
are building new ones almost as quickly as the old ones are taken
over by ugly condo developments. I used to think that Moab and Bend,
OR were the best places to ride, but I am slowly realizing that
some of the best singletrack in the country is right out my front
door. Today I found a whole new network of trails nestled in the
canyon that separates Park City ski resort from Deer Valley. I ended
up exploring for almost 2 and a half hours. I know I'll regret it
when I have to run for three hours tomorrow morning, but it was
Run for three hours?
Ha, I should be so lucky. Today Scott Loomis and I decided to explore
the Uinta mountain range. Though these mountains are only 30-45
minutes from Park City we hardly ever make it over there because
of all the trails right in town. But today we motivated and drove
up to the top of Bald Mountain Pass (10,000 feet) to do our OD run.
We had planned to pick up a map from the Fee Station on the way
in but the attendant was late for work. We decided to just study
the map in the window and run the loop from memory. Mistake #1.
When we arrived at the trailhead we couldn't find the trail we had
planned to take, but we found the trail we hoped to come back on,
so we decided to do the loop backwards. Mistake #2. You know what's
coming, don't you? The run went smoothly for the first hour and
half. We were on a beautiful rolling trail that meandered slightly
uphill past open lush meadows and streams. At 1:40, we found a slightly
confusing intersection. There was a trail that headed back towards
the trailhead, but we thought it was much too early to be heading
back. Plus the sign said "Duchesne River" not "Duchesne
East Fork Trail" which was the trail we were looking for. So
we stayed on the trail we were already on. Critical Mistake #3.
At about the 2:20 mark, we began to get concerned that the trail
was not headed the way we should be going. But we kept running anyway.
At 2:30 we asked a couple if we were headed towards a trailhead.
They looked at us like we had asked to see all their credit card
numbers but eventually mumbled a few words that we took to mean
that there was a trail head a couple miles ahead. So we kept running.
By 2:50 we knew we were not going the right way and we were just
hoping to find a road so we could run or hitch back to the car.
At 3 hours, we came upon a couple who were camped next to a scenic
lake (we saw at least 25 scenic lakes on our tour). They seemed
a bit surprised to see other humans but they were happy to help
us when we asked to see a map. The man pulled out the map and showed
us where we were, which was on the shores of Mohawk Lake. I then
pointed out where our car was parked. All he could say was "WOW."
That was a bad sign. As we inspected the map further, it became
painfully apparent that the quickest way back was the way we came.
We were already at the end of our workout time so we had eaten the
one energy bar we had between us and we were getting very low on
water. However, without any better options, we turned around and
started back with the newfound knowledge that instead of being done
with our workout, we were only halfway. The following is a timeline
of the next three hours. Time listed is the time after we started
3:01 - We go through
a mental readjustment of preparing for three more hours of running
rather than looking forward to the post-workout food we were both
3:30 - We realize that
despite the fact that we are both very tired, we are making good
time. It might not be a death march after all.
4:00 - I start hitting
the wall. I start getting a splitting headache, I start stumbling
over rocks, I am concentrating on putting one foot in front of the
other. I have to put the fatigue out of my mind. Its only pain.
I can live with that. Scott starts to recount how the last time
he went running in the Uintas he and the US Ski Team got lost and
hiked for 6 1/2 hours.
4:10 - We make it back
to the intersection where we took a wrong turn (Duchesne River)
and decide to finish off the loop. We figure it is about the same
distance both ways.
4:30 - We realize that
we are running downhill, which is great for making time, but we
just know that we will have to regain the elevation at some point.
Maybe if I'm lucky I will be airlifted out before that.
5:00 - Sure enough
we cross over the Duchesne River and start heading back up. For
the first time all day, we start to do significant walking. At this
point Scott is hoping for the trailhead to be around each and every
corner, while I have resigned to being out here for the rest of
5:30 - I finish off
the last of my water. I had been saving a little bit for the last
push home. I start daydreaming of burgers, pizza, ice cream, and
5:40 - My body has
gone numb. I no longer feel the pain in my feet, the dryness in
my throat, the soreness in my knees. Scott remarks that he could
fall down and crack his knee open and not know the difference.
5:45 - I start to sense
that we are getting close. I get a small dose of energy.
5:46 - That energy
is quickly zapped when we hit a steep hill. The world starts spinning
and I begin to wonder if I will make the final stretch.
5:50 - Scott says that
if we haven't finished by 6 hours he is just stopping. Someone will
have to come get him.
5:59 - We aren't there
yet. Scott restates his threat.
5:59:50- We catch a
glimpse of the parking lot. Scott agrees to finish. I immediately
forget my pain and exhaustion and run the final two minutes to the
6:02 - I then collapse
beside the car and don't move for about 10 minutes. I am then able
to summons the strength to get into the car. I am very glad Scott
is driving. Sucks to be him.
6:13- Scott expresses
concern that we don't have enough gas to get to town. I tell him
that we do. Of course, my eyes are closed, I'm not even looking
at the gauge, and I am dilerious, but I refuse to let this car run
out of gas.
6:20 - I can't fathom
that we are actually done. I keep thinking that I have to get out
and run at some point.
6:50 - We stop at the
nearest restaurant to refuel. It happens to be a burger stand/dairy
bar. Scott orders a double cheeseburger, hamburger, onion rings,
chocolate malt, and large lemonade. I order a double cheeseburger,
large fries, banana split, and large water.
7:00 - All the food
is gone within minutes of hitting the table.
8:00 - I collapse into
my bed. A morning run that turned into an all-day affair is finally
I took yesterday off
completely, which I had planned to do even before Sunday's misadventure.
From past experience, I knew it would take more than one day to
fully recover from something like that. I planned to have an easy
week this week anyway, so it made sense to me to start training
again today, even if I still felt tired. I wouldn't be doing that
many hours. But I knew today would be hard because we had scheduled
rollerski intervals. They were supposed to be level III intervals,
but either Scott and Erik didn't get that memo or I was completely
exhausted. We did a sequence of intervals of 4 (minutes), 5,6,3,4,5.
I lead the first one. I was skiing level III, but I could tell by
the way that Scott and Erik were right on my tail that they were
itching to go faster. So I conceded my leadership position on the
second one and they took off. I was left behind. For the next two
or three intervals I kept telling myself that it was OK that I was
getting dusted because as long as I was going level III I was getting
the most out of my workout. This was true, but the competitor in
me was still angry and embarrassed to be so far behind. On the last
two, I couldn't take it anymore. I decided that enough was enough
and I was going to do whatever was necessary to stay with the other
two. I was clearly well into level IV, but so were they and I hung
on. I made it through the workout and was happy that I could keep
up if necessary even when I felt so horrible.
For most of this week
I have only been doing one session a day. In an easy week, the idea
is to get a reasonable number of hours in, but more importantly,
to recover and get ready for another two week period of high volume
and/or high intensity. That is the cycle that my training usually
follows during the summer months: two weeks of fairly hard training
followed by a recovery week of easy training. I have fully recovered
from last week and now I have one hard session today, then a day
off, then a fairly easy distance workout on Sunday, before starting
the next hard period on Monday. Today's hard session is on the track.
The workout consists of 5 1000m runs each followed by a 400m sprint.
The idea for the 1000 meters is to run each one at a pace you could
hold for 3000m. You want to go slightly faster on the 400's. I started
out a bit slow. My best 3000m time is 9:35, so when I ran my first
1000 in 3:20, I was a bit surprised. I was working kind of hard
just to post that time and I doubted that could run that fast for
five of them. I did 200m of recovery jog, then did my first 400.
This was also slow, but it was at a good 1000 pace. I tried to run
my next 1000 at that pace. To my frustration, I finished in 3:25.
But then I started to realize the purpose of running the 400's in
between. On my next 400 I cranked it up a notch and it was like
blasting through a brick wall. I ran faster, but felt a little better.
The key, I found, was to get out of the blocks fast and just maintain
- like a motorboat getting up on a plane. From there on, the times
kept falling. My final three 1000 times were: 3:18, 3:16, 3:11 and
my final 400 was sixty seconds - a full 10 seconds faster than any
other I had run that day. Granted, my legs were screaming and my
eyes were popping out of my head, but at least I kept getting faster.
This told me that I probably could have started a little harder
and been less worried about being able to finish all of the intervals.
Still, it is always a great feeling to feel better at the end of
a workout than you did at the beginning. A very good day for me.
The NORBA National
Mountain Bike Series is in town this week. They are holding a series
of races at Deer Valley, including Downhill, Slalom and, of course,
cross country. A college teammate of mine, and current dominator
of the American Ski Marathon Series, Carl Swenson, is a member of
the Catera Mountain Bike Team and will be racing in the short track
cross country race today. Also racing is Carl's brother Pete, and
Nathan Shultz, a member of the Fischer/Salomon Facotry Team during
the winter. They all raced in the standard XC race yesterday - with
Carl finishing an impressive 9th after causing a huge pile-up at
the start. The course they raced yesterday was incredible. They
basically hammer straight up the mountain for 20 minutes, come screaming
back down to the bottom, hammer up the other side of the mountain
for 10 minutes then scream back down and do it all again three more
times. It puts any cross country ski course to shame. Today;s course
was a little different. It was a three minute loop with a much more
reasonable hill. They would race for twenty five minutes and then
three more laps after that. Any racers who got lapped would be pulled
off the course. Carl had guaranteed us a podium finish sometime
this weekend and since it didn't happen yesterday, it would have
to be today. His fans were out in force to help him along. With
so many nordic skiers in Park City, Carl and Nathan had more fans
than anyone else. In fact, four US Ski Team employees - Luke Bodensteiner,
Chris Grover, Jesse Lassely and Christer Skog each painted a letter
on their chest with black shoe polish to spell "C-A-R-L."
They also had an infamous device called the "Shot Ski"
that they put to good use on every lap as Carl went by. All these
efforts were well worth it as Carl steadily moved up throughout
the race, finishing 4th, almost overtaking Tinker Juarez for third
at the line. In biking, top 5 is considered podium, so he had come
through on his promise in typical Carl fashion. Look for pictures
of Carl and his dedicated fans in upcoming issues of all the major
mountain bike magazines.
The races yesterday
inspired me to go out and do a little riding of my own today. I
guess I should have taken a few more notes when watching the Pro
racers because I was a riding disaster today. Some days I get in
a zone and I can ride almost anything. Other days I am out of sync
and can barely keep the rubber side down (as they say). Today was
the latter. About an hour into my ride, I came down a slight downhill
and hit a protruding root that flipped my front wheel sideways and
sent me flying over the handlebars. I whacked my knee on my shift
lever on my way over and then landed off the trail in the bushes.
There was a group of riders not far behind me, so I quickly got
up, walked off the pain in my knee, and jumped back on the bike.
I did not want anyone else to know what I had just done. As I pedaled
away, still in pain, I noticed that my shift lever was bent enough
so that I could not get out of the smallest front chain-ring. This
was a solid metal lever that I had bent way out of whack with my
knee. No wonder my knee hurt. I resigned myself to using only my
lowest gears for the rest of the ride and continued. Soon I was
in a tree slalom downhill, starting to get my rhythmn back. But
being one of those days, the rhythmn didn't last long. Going around
a tight corner I cut too close to the inside and left a good portion
of the skin from my upper arm hanging from a broken tree branch.
I didn't get knocked off the bike though, so I continued on, inspecting
the nice flow of blood as I went. I should have been more concerned
with the trail than my arm because a couple of switchbacks later,
I again cut too close. But this time I gave the tree a solid hip-check.
This stopped all my momentum and I fell off the bike towards the
outside of the trail. By now I realized that if I stayed out much
longer, I would not make it home in one piece. So I took the quickest
way to the road and headed home.
The past two days have
been very hard. I haven't felt like training at all. I am not extremely
tired physically, but mentally I have just not been able to convince
myself to go out the door. Everybody knows that when you start to
feel really tired for a few days, it is time to take a day off.
But I think that fewer people take the same kind of mental breaks.
Your body is very good at telling you what it needs, both physically
and mentally. If you REALLY don't feel like training, you are probably
better off bagging the workout. It is easy to forget this and become
over-ridden wit guilt when you skip a workout. That's how I felt
yesterday, but I talked to a good friend of mine last night who
reminded me that it is ok to rest. Realizing that this was true,
I decided to take a couple days off to rejuvenate myself before
the race this Saturday.