Sunday, February 8, 2015

Best Laid Plans

40 degrees and weather looks stable...raining with a slight chance of modest rain and higher chance of heavier rains with constant rain at times and otherwise just raining... JM (from Nick's grooming report)

Two weeks until the American Birkie and of course I feel underprepared.  Does anyone come to a big important race and say, yes, my training went perfectly?  Please call me.

So I had a specific training plan for this weekend, with two weeks to go: something intervalish and intense on Saturday, something longish and hillish on Sunday.  But the weather threw an interesting little wrinkle into the mix: not just one atmospheric river, otherwise known as the dreaded pineapple express, and not two atmospheric rivers, but a TRIPLE atmospheric river event, a one two three punch from Hawaii straight to our mountains.  Does that look sinister or what?

But a girl has to train, and can afford to wait for no triple atmospheric river events.  So on Saturday I pointed my car toward Cabin Creek and the thought of some intervals on the road.  And people, it was atmospheric rivering all over the place.  It was POURING!  It was like driving in a car wash, if the car wash was also windy.  White-knuckled, I whispered calming mantras to myself as my little car was tossed about by blustery gusty winds and lakes of standing water, my windshield wipers frantically trying to clear some space.  As I drove, I wondered if I was being stupid.  Perhaps there would be no snow left when I got there; perhaps I should roller ski at Discovery Park instead; perhaps I should climb Tiger Mountain or Mt Si instead.  But there is a long hot summer ahead of us for roller skiing and trail running, so I left the roller skis in my shed and kept driving, passing the exit for Tiger and then the exit for Si, committed to Cabin Creek.

The parking lot did not look promising:

And neither did the first part of the road, all icy and bumpy and mean.  But then I got to the intersection where the Berg loop crosses the road and everything turned from night to day: the snow is still thin and there were one or two icy patches, but it was totally skiable and lovely -- thanks for all your hard work, Nick, out there in the middle of the night by yourself!  I measured out a good four-minute piece with some uphills and got to work.

It was raining really hard, but once you're totally wet, you can't get any wetter, and I was wearing the Miracle of Wool, so I was actually totally comfortable and ready to suffer.  I thought I'd do five and see how I felt, and I felt good, so I went for ten.  The ninth one was the fastest yet, and the tenth was the fastest of all, thanks to the deliciousness of the snow, so I was quite pleased with myself.

I ran into Pat and Paul and Gunnar out there, snug in their warm jackets, Birkie training.   I'm so impressed by Pat; she decided years ago that if Paul was going to race, she could either stand around and watch him, or she could race, too.  So she's done US Masters, World Masters, and the American Birkie/Korteloppet, where last year she was named the Matriarch of the Birkie as the oldest woman competitor.  And on Saturday, she was out there, gamely training in the rain!  Paul calls this a picture of two fools.

Then it was another white-knuckler of a drive home, shower, dinner, sleep, ready to go again on Sunday.  I headed up to Stevens Pass, planning four or five hours of repeats on the rolling Sideline trail ... but my body said, not today, girlfriend.  I was leaden and tired from my very first stride, and it did not get any better as I pushed on.  My body almost never fights back when I ask it to do something, and when I feel that bone-deep tiredness, it usually means there is a germ lurking around, trying to find a way in.  It was a shame, because the skiing was wonderful there -- thanks, Mike, for all the hard work you do in the middle of the night by yourself! -- and the tracks were perfect and the downhills were in terrific condition to practice my feeble step turns and it wasn't even raining, just all soft and gray and mellow, but ... my body just said no.  I'm going to need my body to be happy at the Birkie, so I managed two hours of training added to the training bank and then headed back to my car, a little bit frustrated but being realistic.

I still have one more weekend, and although common wisdom says you're not going to gain any more fitness in the week or so before an event, I will feel a little more confident if I can get one good long ski stored in my legs and arms before I head to Wisconsin.

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