When we began to put together the race calendar for this year, we set our sights on a two-day snowshoeing/orienteering race in New York the first weekend in March, and a 12-hour adventure race in South Carolina a few weeks later.
I’ve done both of these races in the past and loved the experiences, both as targets for early-season tune-ups, and as built-in training days in preparation for longer events.
In recent weeks, though, we’ve learned that:
(a) the snowshoeing race was moved to another weekend, conflicting with other plans, and
(b) the South Carolina race doesn’t line up with spring break as it did last year, making it too expensive a venture with the added costs of flights and bike shipping.
This means that our first real event of the year won’t be until the middle of April, and it’ll be a doozy – a 26-hour adventure race in the Shenandoah wilderness.
At this point, I feel reasonably confident that unless something goes wrong, I’ll be able to complete the distance. Still, I want to be as well-prepared as I possibly can, taking into account the wintry conditions we’ve been facing in the northeast.
I may not be able to mountain bike, and I may not be able to get in any true bushwhacking with the trails and off-trails covered in feet of snow. But I can go hard. And I can go long.
Enter: The Epic Weekend in the Year of the Extreme.
In the past two days, I spent:
5 hours snowshoeing
2 hours climbing
2 hours biking
1 hour running.
Saturday morning kicked off with a running reunion with a good friend. We began running together in January 2009 but haven’t logged miles in several months, and this seemed like as good a time as any to pick back up. It was an easy out-and-back along a snow-packed trail, miscrospikes securely fastened.
Shortly after, I pulled on my snowshoes and left my house for the wonder that is the Wissahickon Gorge. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I feel so lucky to live within eyeshot of the biggest intra-city park in the nation. We’ve got more than 50 miles of trails at our disposal, and on a quiet snow-covered Saturday morning, there’s nothing better than a few hours in the woods.
For some reason the road leading into the park is the best-plowed street in the city...
I went out on my own for a bit before linking up with Laurie for what’s fast becoming a routine out-and-back over the rolling hills and across the melting creeks of Wissahickon.
We didn't see many other hikers, but we did, indeed, share the trail with horses.
Laurie and I parted ways after a couple hours and I continued on a bit before heading home, eating my body weight in hummus, and promptly passing out on the couch for an hour.
When I awoke, Brent and I took off for the hot date we had planned for the evening – a couple hours at the rock gym, followed by dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.
Brent started graduate school this semester and, in trying to balance that with training and teaching full-time, we haven’t had as much time as usual to spend with each other. When we have been together over the past few weeks, we’re either out with friends or curled up on the couch watching tv-on-dvd. We thought a little quality time was in order.
This was my first time doing upper-body work since I tweaked my back earlier this month, and between that and the hours I’d already spent in the woods that day, I was pretty tired when I began ascending the indoor walls. After a little while, though, I found my rhythm and even managed to fight my way up a tough 5.7 grade route at the end of the night. May not seem like much to seasoned climbers, but I felt good about it.
We had intended to go from there to a local wine bar, The Wine Thief Bistro, back in our neighborhood, but when I called to find out whether we’d be able to get a table, I was told that there would be about an hour wait. It was nearing 8 pm by the time we left the gym and we were both mildly famished, so we ended up at another local favorite, Sabrina’s Cafe.
A couple hours later, thoroughly satisfied, we drove home and crawled into bed. I had another full day of activity to get ready for.
On Sunday morning, I linked up with my friend Patty for another couple hours of shoeing in the woods. Last year, Patty and I ran together a few mornings a month, so we met at our usual spot and headed for the trails, joined by her eight-month-old daughter, Ellie.
How's that for hardcore?
We started out along the same route that Laurie and I had taken the day before, but after we crossed the second creek, we veered off on a smaller trail to the right. A quarter mile later, we found ourselves on an off-trail adventure.
There was a bit of slipping and sliding, and a healthy dose of scaling and clawing, but eventually, Patty, Ellie, and I made it back to the trail unscathed. We crossed over a newly-constructed footbridge and finished off with some bigger hills before weaving our way back to the road to complete a nice little neighborhood circuit.
This is what happens when you try to take a self-portrait with your phone
The rest of the day was a mix of eating, dozing, and cheering on Brent’s students at a high school basketball game. Brent and I had talked about going out for more snowshoeing together, but the afternoon got away from us.
We returned home at 9 pm and I wanted to get in one last workout before calling it a weekend. So, I took to the bike and Brent hung out on the couch with the dogs and the four of us watched a few episodes of Glee, trying to catch up before this weekend’s post-Superbowl homage to Michael Jackson.
All in all, a productive weekend. Certainly not the hardest or longest training sessions I’ve had, but it felt good to be out, and I felt tired by the end. A few more of these and I should be in good shape, come April!
Everyone's enjoying the snow!