Wednesday, December 21, 2016

... And so it begins 2017

Track refilling between laps.  Good to be back on skis.
The first day back in Missoula also corresponded with my first full available day in the mountains in several months, so I went skiing despite a horrendous forecast.  With high avalanche danger, thin coverage, an a desire to simply get a lot of vertical in, I kept it simple and skied just outside the Snowbowl boundary.  The day was straightforward: skin to the top of Point 6, take a standard Jenny Bowl lap, then yo-yo the east shoulder of Jenny Bowl for the remainder of the day.  Although it is out of the way, I enjoy the east/skier's left shoulder for its low angle and generally wind protected skiing.  The weather deteriorated throughout the day as forecast.  By the end, trees were crashing down (one on the skin track, one adjacent to the track, and two in the ski area boundary), snow was blowing sideways, and it was easy to cut the day one run short to finish in the daylight.

Frosty grin between laps.
Lots of tracks, all my own, proper solo yo-you skiing.
The skiing was just OK.  I have had better first days, but I have also certainly had much, much worse.  As predicted, the snowpack structure is poor and bottomless and well below average at the mid to upper elevations.  Nevertheless, it was great to get back on skis and hammer out a respectable day.  Right around 10k vertical, done in about 9.5 hours at an aerobic pace with stops to manage the weather.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Minneapolis diaries, 2016

I spent a few fall weeks in the Twin Cities again this year.  I was able to get out the door to bike and run here and there, but most outings were before or after dark, since I was using vacation time to take care of Sam during the day.  It was great to allow Leah to focus on work for a few weeks, and I got to spend a lot of quality time with Sam.  As for adventures, here is a quick summary.  Sorry for the lack of pictures, but we pretty much just take photos of Sam these days, and most outings were in the dark anyway.

Biking:  I brought the cross bike this year and did a reasonable amount of biking, all at an easy pace.  Minneapolis has an extensive paved trail system, and it was a blast to start piecing routes together.

Murphy-Hanrehan loop - The morning after rolling into town, I spun a hour plus road loop around the exterior of the park before picking everyone up at the airport.  I misjudged the time and showed up late, but the bike ride was quite enjoyable.

Lake Josephine and North Mississippi River trail loops - Taking advantage of unseasonably warm temperatures, I rallied out the door in the dark two days in a row to explore.  Both 20-ish mile loops were enjoyable, new to me, and a great way to hammer out some miles and watch the sun rise.

Greenway loops - Leah freed up two evenings for a me to get out for a couple of hours.  The first loop was a 25+ mile route down the West parkway to the Mid town greenway to Cedar lake, and around the NW corner of the Grand rounds to the Mississippi and back via Second and Lowry ave.  The second was a similar loop on the Cedar lake trail all the way out to Hopkins and back on the Mississippi bluff/Greenway trails.  I think this is the best bike outing for fun, continuous riding on paved trails.  Both rides were cold and wet, but I did not care.

Grand rounds (mostly) 30+ miles - I spent a stormy Friday evening hammering out the Grand Rounds.  I took wrong turns near lake Hiawatha, and near Lake of the Isle, and cut out the Northwest corner of the loop from Lowry to the Mississippi, but otherwise did the full ground tour of the city.  It took longer than anticipated, so thanks to Leah for her patience.


Baldy:  I took a major driving break in Bozeman on the way out and finally did the M to Sypes to Baldy to Ridge trail loop.  It is a little techy and long to be an everyday classic run, but what a fun outing.

Snowy South Grand Rounds:  I spent a snowy Sunday morning running to a brunch date with friends around the South Grand rounds.  It had snowed 6" overnight, and only about half of the way was cleared, so what was intended to be a nice jaunt in the snow turned into a surprisingly challenging slog.  Wirth Parkway, Chain of lakes, Minnehaha creek, and across the Mississippi on the Ford St. Bridge.  20 miles and tired at the end.  Good to run the tank dry.

Stroller Running:  I did about a hundred miles of running behind a jogging stroller with Sam.  The paved trail system in town and at adjacent parks allows for a seemingly endless list of fast, flat and scenic runs.  To my surprise, running with a stroller doesn't seem to affect my pace or running ergonomics much, as long as the terrain is flat and well paved.  Highlight runs were a Broadway to Franklin bridge loop along the Mississippi, two big loops at Elm creek with Leah, two separate Two bridge runs on the Mississippi in the dark with Leah, and multiple mid day St. Anthony park triple loops.

Vampire runs:  I did a bunch of early runs from the house, typically out for an hour and back at sunrise.  Every day brought its own adventure.  Sub zero temps, rain, snow, stunning clear mornings, tempo runs, easy runs, shaking out residual fatigue, elation as the body slowly woke up.  It was all great.  Highlights were a stunning Cedar lake regional trail  loop with a skiff of fresh snow, and the many St. Anthony park loops.

State park walks:  Minnesota has an extensive and well-maintained park system, and we took full advantage of both the trails, and of the heated visitor centers. Carver, William O'Brien, Fort Snelling, Elm Creek.  All were very enjoyable.

Gym:  I made it in the gym at least twice weekly for hour of power sessions, focusing on leg strength and plyometric power for ski season.  Lots of heavy deadlifts and squats, plyo jumps of all kinds, core work, and general heavy (for me) lifting.  Thanks to Mike Wolfe and Mountain Project yet again for the training plans and advice. It was nice to get a block of consistent, high quality work done.  I also did a few intensity sessions on the treadmill, and it was good to start mixing hard aerobic work back in.  Fitness wise, I did not spend enough cumulative time on the move to maintain overall fitness, but I stayed healthy and was able to get in the ball park, and for that I am grateful.