Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend update

It seems my fitness is rebounding nicely since getting serious about intensity after the first of the year. Ever since my injury last year, I lacked focus and drive to hit those "high notes" in training. Not anymore.

DaveP saw to it I hit many high notes skiing on Saturday. We went over the Northfield Mountain in western Mass. It is one of my favorite places to ski when they have good cover. Northfield is custom designed for the Hill Junkie, as all the trails go up.

Temps were quite mild. Dave and I decided to get right down to business and charged up 10th Mountain trail first thing. Immediately, we had to shed some layers. I buried myself for about 20 minutes heading up to the high point, tallying over 1000ft of climbing on the way. We bombed down Reservoir Rd and Hemlock Tr to the bottom. Most trails were groomed to perfection.

Next up was notorious Toolybush Turnpike. This climb is sadistic. One sustained section in the middle held over 30% grade on my Garmin. Dave drilled it all the way to the summit. I hung on by a thread. Looking at my vertical climbing rate, we went a lot harder on this one than 10th Mtn. I was now damaged goods. On the way down, cycling legend Tim Johnson passed us coming up. The elite Hot Tubes team was there too.  We tucked all the way down Reservoir Rd.

Next up was a basic Reservoir climb with technical 10th Mtn descent. I could no longer stay with Dave as he punched it to the summit. Surprisingly, 10th Mtn was getting a bit scraped off. I think the other cyclist skiers there were going down that way each time. Good practice for Lake Placid I thought to myself.

Base area at bottom, all trails go up

I had serious doubts about going up a fourth time. At least Dave was starting to feel it too. We went up Hemlock Tr, which was way steeper than I recall going down it on our first loop. I suffered. One more tuck down Res finished the day. I was utterly trashed, logging probably 90 minutes of threshold-plus intensity. The Garmin captured over 4000ft of climbing in 36km and 2.7hrs moving time. No junk miles in that workout.

Classic Hill Junkie ski workout

Sunday I was lamenting no place to ride. Recent snow had not set up enough on local snowmobile trails to make them rideable. Roads were dangerously narrow. I was not about to get on my spin bike. I wouldn't last 30 minutes on that thing. Cathy puts it to good use. I needed a three hour ride, as I had ridden only one hour all week. What to do?

Perusing the forums, I found a terse post on marginal rideability of Willow St trails on the Cape. Hmmm, I thought if it was marginal there, the snow map gradient suggested it would be less marginal further out on the Cape. It didn't take long before I found myself with bike in car and Starbucks Clover coffee in hand heading down Rt 3.

Sure enough, there was only 1-2" of snow at Nickerson State Park. Late morning, the snow was still below freezing. The riding was pretty good, better than two weeks ago when there was more snow and ice there. Surprisingly, I found lengthy sections of singletrack that had nary a human, coyote, rabbit or raccoon track on them. I spoiled perfectly undisturbed snow. Those were the best trails to ride. As the temps rose, some of the foot traffic packed trails loosened up and became challenging to ride. Maybe three or four times I dismounted briefly to crest steep pitches. Overall, it was a great ride. No vehicular risk (except for getting there) and almost had the place to myself. I got my 3hrs, nice steady tempo effort with bits-o-intensity mixed in.

In tapering for the Lake Placid Loppet on Saturday, I don't want to run later in the week. I felt beat to crap Monday morning, but knew I had to get at least a short run in today or I wouldn't get a run in for 10 days. Don't know where the motivation came from to lace up the shoes. I figured I could just do a basic two mile out and back. But the strangest thing happened. I reached the turn around point and didn't feel too bad, so I decided to do an extra lap on the half mile long dead end to make it a 5k run. At the two mile mark, I dissolved into a groove. I added yet another lap. I ran a total of 4.2 miles, the longest run to date. I felt like I could have run one or two hours at that pace, around 7:45. I haven't pushed any speed yet. Soon I would like to benchmark a mile though. I think I'm ready to open up for just a mile to see what happens. I didn't have any issues after upping my distance 30% today.


Luke S said...

Have you ever skied at Windblown? I feel like the climb up Zig-Zag to the top of Barrets Mtn would be right in your wheelhouse. I was there last weekend, conditions were fantastic. That's gotta be pretty close to you, in Southern NH.

Hill Junkie said...

I've been to Windblown many times. Grooming for skate can be hit or miss sometimes. It's funny you mention this. My friend Arvid skied there this weekend and I commented to him that climbing Zig-zag/Open Slope eight times was comparable to what I did Saturday at Northfield. Maybe eight times up Barrets is harder, but the vertical comes out right. Coming down upper part of Barrets always sketches me out.

Windblown is kind of hard to get to. From my house, it is easily an hour. Waterville is more miles but pure highway, so not much longer. Northfield is further still, but a "must hit" at least once during the season.