Sunday, January 13, 2013

Running, Rollerskiing, Road Biking, Snow Skiing, Snowshoeing and Holidaze

Ok yes, it's been a while since I last posted.  So much travel, so many workouts, where to start?  Bend, Oregon - let's start there.  Kelly and I drove up to +Visit Bend for a 2 week vacation of winter outdoor activities, good food, craft beer, family, friends and television-free living.

Crawl before you walk.  Roller-ski before you snow ski.

My original workout plan for Bend was to bag as many activity types as possible including non-winter sports like kayaking, canoeing, mountain & road biking.  Since downtown Bend is often snow-free and warm(er) in winter than the nearby mountains, I thought this should be an achievable and fun challenge.  Unfortunately old-man winter had other ideas.

Following the train up Rt. 97 north of Klamath Falls, OR.

The day we made the almost 10 hour drive from Mountain View to Bend a big winter storm hit the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Northern California.  This caused I-5 to be briefly closed North of Redding, CA and brought over a foot of snow to the Rt. 97 corridor through Central Oregon.  After arriving one day later than planned my first strength/endurance activity was shoveling snow........and this would not be the last of such "workouts".

I finally put these Gore-Tex +Salomon Speedcross with gaiters to good use.

Another first (but not last workout type) would be running in the snow - 7 miles in partially packed powder from Phil's Trail - home of the 2012 USA Half Marathon Trail Running Championships.  In fact, of the 8 runs I did those 2 weeks, all would be on snow covered trails and roads.  Of course the real reason for being in Bend was to take advantage of the world class cross country skiing.  Too bad I didn't check the grooming report on our first Monday of skiing.  We arrived at Meissner Snow Park to find no grooming - only deep skied in tracks not suitable for our race-bred skate equipment.  That oversight resulted in 3 miles of difficult double-poling.

How do you caption this nordic awesomeness?

The next day grooming equipment was running so I got in 12 magical miles of skate skiing.  By the end of the trip I'd skied 85 miles including one classic ski - my first in several years.  The lesson in that was (1.) classic skiing is hard and I need to practice more but also (2.) I still know how to wax skis. One out of two isn't too bad.

Skiing in tracks at long last.

Beer!  What can I say that hasn't already been said by everyone including the New York Times. 14 craft breweries in Central Oregon.  My growler runneth over and I took a tour of +Deschutes Brewery for the first time.

Deschutes Brewery

The other major activity of these 2 weeks was snowshoe running.  Bend will host the 2013 Snowshoe National Championships and I'm helping to organize the event.  One of my responsibilities is to design the course so I spent several workouts scouting existing snowshoe & ski trails and blazing a new trail through 3+ feet of steep & deep powder.  One section of this trail climbed 325' and took me 17 minutes to go 3/10's of a mile.  Fortunately, runners will go down this during the race.  Total snowshoe running in 2 weeks was 4 workouts for 18 miles.

Race Director "Super" Dave Thomason and yours truly.

For the 2 weeks in Bend I did a total of 21 workouts and shoveled snow about 5 times.  Since the snow never did melt in town and the temps were rather cold I wimped out and didn't canoe or kayak on the ice-free Deschutes River.  Mountain Biking would have been possible but not fun with 1 to 2 feet of snow on the trails and road biking......well that would have been suicidal.

Mt. Shasta as seen on the drive home to California.

Has living in California made me soft in the face of real winter weather?  Absolutely.  Despite having grown up and lived most of my life in Northern New York and New England I was glad to be back in sunny, warmish California.  More than mild winter weather, I really missed road biking.  In fact, the first workout I did back in California was 26 miles on the road bike.

Portola Valley, California

Since then I've been back to my usual routine of running and biking - trying to slowly increase my mileage while staying healthy.  This included my longest run since getting hurt in the Fall - a 10 miler around Moffett Field.  I also hit the trails (snow-free) for the first time in a while including a 9 mile trail run with some hard tempo up the PGE trail (933' in 1.8 miles). In addition to harder runs I'm also ramping up the distance and intensity on my road bike.  Yesterday I rode 67 miles with the Thirsty Bear Cycling Team in chilly (but snow-free) Marin County.

+Suunto Ambit - the +Cadillac of running watches.

New for 2013 I've resurrected my Movescount account to track my training.  Salomon sent me a new Suunto Ambit so I'm retiring the Garmin Forerunner 405CX from primary use.  So far I really like the Ambit - it's much more than a watch - a training instrument would be a more accurate description.  In addition to GPS, the Ambit uses a barometric pressure sensor and accelerometers to measure location, speed, elevation and distance.  So far its just as accurate as the Garmin for road running but I'm starting to see more accurate data from the Ambit on technical trail runs.  More comparisons and reviews to come on this blog.  In the meantime, for a great review of the Ambit, check out this article on +iRunFar.