Sometimes when the workouts are piling up and the intervals feel longer than the clock says it feels like I'm running into a stacked stone wall somewhere in the countryside. Not a blip on any radar, not much more than a grease stain laced with lactic acid. I'm getting work done, not for any other reason besides it feels good to stop. If it hurts then when it doesn't hurt anymore I can do the math to know I did it right. Addition and subtraction.


Most of my skiing is done by 8 am. One of the best parts about Breck is its access to high peaks and ski area tours that offer solid vertical, good training and a relatively sympathetic ski area administration. Training for the few SkiMo races I get to do is much more about the process. The 4:30 am wake up is easy anymore, knowing I'm headed up high to see the sun peak out and enjoy the purple light. 

Slowly Clearing

Battling to beat a cold that haunts a clear head, I took out 5 Peaks not at 100%, what's next? I hope a better last half of March leading into good bike legs. Amazing what a tempo pace can produce, clearing out the chest and building the desire to pedal. At least new snow is keeping the winter motivation alive. Pretty colors and fresh snow, better to be tired and a little sick than feeling great and  not have any work on the ledger.



The 5 Peaks SkiMo race was Saturday, a week before the race I scored a partner in Dirk Friel, a friend of a friend and well known bad ass athlete. Knowing what little I did about Dirk I automatically assumed he'd be faster than me, and then after getting sick a week ago I knew he has going to be faster. My head space changed a bit early in the week when I realized I might rally, I kept thinking 'oh, ok, the race is 4 days out and I feel pretty good' looking back I knew that I was getting better and was telling myself I was rallying really well. Thursday morning I did a quick little ski and that dug a deep coughing hole for me to climb out of all day. Friday night was spent mostly lying to myself that I had these great aspirations, that my fitness and good amount of skiing all season were going to pay off and result in a star effort. I reglued my skins Friday night, got the avy gear together and made my nutrition plan (Fig Newmans and Skratch Labs Apple & Cinnamon drink mix) pretty elaborate plan. Saturday morning I woke feeling better-or just more lying to myself. Made delicious oatmeal with a friend egg on top and tried to choke down calories to fuel what I was about to do. Dirk arrived we chatted a bit then headed to town for the start. Walking across town was plenty of a warm up, we checked in, did the gear check then after the pre race meeting I managed to pee, put my skins on and get to the start. We started modestly, nothing that would blow us up, good pacing to get thru the race and leave enough in the tank to finish strong. The first 2 peaks ticked by they were manageable but we saw a lot more teams ahead of us Peak 9 that ended up being catchable with a little stronger pacing, that hurt. When we got to Imperial Ridge on Peak 8 the steepness slowed us down but the drive was still plenty strong to keep the pace steady. We had some company here, 2 other teams that were also having good days, we pushed a steady effort up the climb and then by the time we hit Peak 7 it was just 2 teams then the skiing down to the final real climb separated us a bit more, we started Peak 6 with a good attitude, steep kick turns on rotten snow ended in a nice booter to the ridge, the best part of the course was this booted, snow and dirt and snow and steep climbing, super cool stuff especially in ski boots!
Finally gaining the ridge we ski across to the top of Peak 6 to a nice descent we were chasing one other team here and a boot issue and subsequent crash gave us a gap on them to get us to a short climb to the finish. Great effort, fun course and another nice little accomplishment in my pocket. 7th place amid the fast kids felt pretty respectable.



With the times and durations of my workouts I feel lucky when I get to ski or ride with a friend. Most efforts are done solo, the window opens and then it's out the door, practically no warning. It's funny how the last few years it's become more frequent that I do have a partner for more of my workouts, fortunately I still have podcasts and music to keep me from getting too locked into my thoughts. Nothing like thinking and learning about macroeconomics and string theory to avoid pondering the calendar and the paycheck. I guess kids and commitments are a great driver to get out of bed when it's too early and too dark.
I guess in retrospect it would have been smart to push harder early but not knowing how long the race going to be and how hard the climb of Guide's Ridge was going to be on us we conserved more than we should have. It's funny coming from cycling where you know how long and roughly how hard a race is going to be-the uncertainty in SkiMo races plays with strategy and planning. I had great legs the first 90 minutes, predictable considering what I do for most training efforts. Then at about 2 hours the rotten stomach showed up around the time that kick turns zig-zagged us up steep face after steep face. Instead, we kept a modest pace and only lost touch with one group whose pace would've been good to keep. These were faster and technically sound skiers-on the ups. My kick turn technique outright sucks, it needs a lot of help. So, I tried to do better and not lose balance and too much time. My legs were fine considering my comfort level on steep, icy faces that required good kick-turning. Then if I'd prepped better for Guide's I'm sure it wouldn't have been such a shit show. I know that all of those dark thoughts that creep in when on a long effort, the ones that sap energy, motivation and focus are fading and the satisfaction and thrill of what I accomplished takes over. We all talk about it, in the middle of the effort you are ready to retire and then within an hour of finishing you'd sign up for the next one if they put a registration kiosk in front of you.