Growing up, one of my favorite sayings was “shoot for the moon. Even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars” by Les Brown. I’ve always liked to dream big. In fact, it dreaming big hasn’t ever been an issue. Tempering the dream to be somewhat realistic has been a constant challenge.
With this knowledge, it should be no surprise to you that I’m still planning on completing the Grand Traverse in September. Yes, even though I could barely walk for the entire months of May and June. I have learned from past instances of overreaching though and will only be doing the bike part of the race. Although I really think I can hike 40 miles within the cutoff, I don’t want to push my body that far.
Since I’m committing to the race, I decided to start training. And to keep myself accountable, I’m going to start chronicling my training here on my blog. It might be boring to most, since I don’t plan on doing any huge training rides before the race. In fact, I don’t intend to train all that much. I’ll probably stick to 3-4 days of bike riding each week and supplement the bike riding with daily walks/runs (as my back permits) and a daily core workout. I’ll post my core workout at the end of this post in case your interested.
Also I waited way to long to post this, so this post covers the first two weeks of training.
Monday July 17
Although I didn’t technically decide to start training until Tuesday, I’ll include my Monday workouts since I rode my bike. It was an uneventful day. Moose and I went on a 2.9 mile walk in the morning. I had taken Hellga to Golden Bike Shop because of an undefined creaking that was getting worrisome. There were quite a few things wrong with her, mainly the bottom bracket bearings were pitted and needed to be replaced. Anyways, I picked her up on Sunday and was itching to take her out for a ride. I just rode the singletrack above our house and it was creak-free! Success!
Daily Total: walking – 2.9 miles and 502 feet of elevation gain, biking – 6.0 miles and 446 feet of elevation gain
Tuesday July 18
Today was the day I decided to start training. In honor of the first 5 miles of the Grand Traverse that ascends 3300 feet up Aspen Highlands over 5 miles (and scares the crap out of me), I petitioned Facebook for ride ideas. Superstar singlespeeder Chris told me about Virginia Canyon Road (affectionately called OMG Road) in Idaho Springs. He told me to not take the switchbacks but I didn’t know what he meant. I just assumed there would be a trail between the dirt road switchbacks. I rode the road and never saw the trail going up the side so I ended up taking the “easy way” up. After I got home and looked at the route I took, I saw that there is clearly another road that goes straight up and intersects Virginia Canyon Rd twice. Silly me!
Daily Total: walking – 3.2 miles and 449 feet of elevation gain, biking – 9.5 miles and 1516 feet of elevation gain
Wednesday July 19
No biking. No walking. I’ve been feeling exhausted lately. I assumed it was just my back healing but then I got news that my blood sugar and Vitamin D are both lower than the healthy range. Hopefully it’s just a matter of eating more frequently and taking a Vitamin D supplement. Either way, I was tired so I didn’t do very much of anything all day. It was nice.
Thursday July 20
No biking today. But I did go to a trail running clinic in Breckenridge sponsored by Vertical Runner Breckenridge and Salomon Running. It was a useful workshop, especially since I’m essentially starting from scratch with my running. Two and a half months of no cardio followed by another month of no running really wrecks havoc on your endurance! Anyways, I learned some techniques to try to engage my glutes more when running uphill and reinforced the need to take smaller steps when running both uphill and downhill. I planned on biking when I got home, but instead we enjoyed the glorious AC (it was mid-90s outside).
Daily Total: walking/running – 5.9 miles and 502 feet of elevation gain, biking – 0 miles
Friday July 21
Again no biking today. I had a doctor’s appointment after work so I added in an afternoon walk beforehand to get some iced tea from Starbucks. It was so hot, and I was running late, so I literally jogged to Starbucks and then to the doctor’s office. I realized when I got there that I had forgotten to put on deodorant after my morning shower. Oops! I wasn’t a big fan of the doctor and won’t be going back there. So no harm, no foul.
Daily Total: walking/running – 4.5 miles and 679 feet of elevation gain, biking – 0 miles
Saturday July 22
I decided to pay another visit to OMG Road, this time going straight up instead of taking the switchbacks. I woke up early and drove to Idaho Springs. As I got on Hellga I knew it wasn’t going to be my day. I almost decided to ride up the switchbacks, but realized that I need to practice steep biking/hiking and that I won’t have an “easy” option to get to the top of Aspen Highlands. My legs were dead and my heart rate and breathing skyrocketed as soon as I started pedaling uphill. I made the decision to walk my bike until it was flat enough to ride again. I ended up walking 95% of the 2.8 mile climb. At least it was good practice since I’ll probably be walking most of the first 5 miles in the race. 12% grade is tough on a bike! Luckily it’s not so tough for my mountain-trained trekking legs. The ride back down was a ton of fun and the pain of the uphill was erased by the time I made it back to my car.
Daily Total: walking – 0 miles, biking – 9.1 miles and 1873 feet of elevation gain
Sunday July 23
Kylie and her friend Amber came down from Aspen for a visit Saturday night and brought their bikes. Kylie just bought herself a mountain bike and had only ridden it 3 times and it was Amber’s first time on a mountain bike ever. We decided to avoid the road riding, and most of the gravel, and did an out-and-back on the Dirty Bismarck, starting near the Costco in Superior and riding the Marshall Mesa loop. It was a great combination of easy gravel, smooth singletrack, a couple loose rocks, and little big rock riding. Kylie and Amber did great and were excited to come back down and ride with us again. Luckily there are a ton of fun cross-country style trails around here, something they don’t have up in Aspen.
Daily Total: walking – 1.3 miles and 180 feet of elevation gain, biking – 9.8 miles and 541 feet of elevation gain
Weekly Total: walking – 17.9 miles and 2312 feet of elevation gain, biking – 34.5 miles and 4376 feet of elevation gain
Monday July 24
I think I’m going to make Mondays my “rest” days. Anyways, my in-laws were staying with us and my father-in-law woke up early and took Moose for a walk. Moose much prefers walks with my father-in-law, so I decided to take advantage of the free morning and go for an actual run. It was a relatively easy run though so go with the “rest day” and I continued the rest day mentality with an easy afternoon walk with Moose, Jason, and my in-laws.
Daily Total: running- 4.4 miles and 663 feet of elevation gain, biking – 0 miles
Tuesday July 25
Tuesday I was once again pup-free in the morning so I went for another run. I once again took it pretty easy, but managed to run more of it. I’m still getting my running fitness back and focusing on form instead of speed. In the afternoon I snuck in a quick 8 mile bike ride on Hellga before going to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house for a yummy Italian dinner!
Daily Total: running – 3.2 miles and 518 feet of elevation gain, biking – 8.3 miles and 531 feet of elevation gain
Wednesday July 26
Wednesday was another bike rest day. My in-laws went to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house so Moose was stuck with me again. I decided to not shock him too much so we stuck to just walking in the morning. It was pretty uneventful.
Daily Total: walking – 2.2 miles and 331 feet of elevation gain, biking – 0 miles
Thursday July 27
Moose and I once again went on an easy morning walk. In the afternoon, I went for another quick bike ride, this time adding on an extra climb by going up Meadowlark after going up the Coalton hill. It ended up being two “gate to gate” time trials, once up Coalton and once up Meadowlark. Surprisingly I got a PR on the steep section of the Coalton hill, even though I was feeling lazy and stopped to push my bike a little bit. I guess I’m getting faster at my on-bike/off-bike transitions!
Daily Total: walking – 3.5 miles and 427 feet of elevation gain, biking – 13.2 miles and 827 feet of elevation gain
Friday July 28
We had plans to head to Salida for the weekend. I signed up to volunteer at the High Lonesome 100 mile endurance run and then we had plans to ride Monarch Crest on Sunday. Friday morning I took Moose for our normal walk, but took it extra easy since we were dropping him off at daycare and I knew he would be playing hard all weekend. After dropping off Moose, Jason and I picked up demo bikes from Golden Bike Shop (Pivot 429 trail for me and Pivot Mach 5.5 for Jason) and headed to Salida. It started raining as soon as we entered the mountains and rained almost non-stop for the entire time we were there. After setting up camp, we took the bikes out for a quick spin and then Jason dropped me off at the aid station for my overnight volunteer shift.
Daily Total: walking – 3.3 miles and 587 feet of elevation gain, biking – 2.1 miles and 383 feet of elevation gain
Saturday June 29
We woke up around 8 on Saturday to a steady downpour. We both knew that the Monarch Crest trail would be in terrible condition so we decided to pack up camp and head towards home, hoping for drier trails to the east. I wanted to check out Absolute Bikes in Salida so we headed there first. When we told one of the guys in the shop that we were heading back to the front range to ride because of the rain, he said the trails around Salida hold up pretty well in the rain because they’re so sandy and we shouldn’t give up hope on riding there yet. We went to breakfast to think it over and decided to go back to the shop for trail recommendations. We were directed to S Mountain (aka Tenderfoot mountain) that towers over town to the east. We started off with “Frontside” and linked it up with “Little Rattler”. We didn’t think we were ready to the “black” trails so we stuck to the “blues” and went down Backbone to Sweet Dreams to the sweetest singletrack I’ve ever ridden (aka “Chicken Dinner”). The trail was swoopy with banked turns, rollers, rock drops, and pretty much everything you could possibly want in a mountain bike trail.
Daily Total: walking – 0 miles, biking – 10.3 miles and 1004 feet of elevation gain
Sunday June 30
After our adventure in Salida, we woke up ready for a “last hurrah” on our demo bikes before returning them to Golden Bike Shop. Jason suggested we do the lollipop from our house. I didn’t know what that meant, but thought he wanted to do a repeat of the ride we did the previous Sunday with Kylie and Amber, but from our house. When we got to the Coalton trailhead, I realized that was not what he was talking about and that he actually wanted to do the Super Dirty Bismarck (go across 93 and ride the Doudy Draw trails). I’ve only done the Super Dirty Bismarck once before, but had to walk Hellga down some big-to-me rocks. My goal this time was to ride the entire thing. Well, I did it! And the rocks seemed was smaller this time around. I guess my technical riding is getting better. After the ride we had to return the bikes, but I think I’ve found my dream bike! Now just to figure out how much I want to spend on it!
Daily Total: walking – 0 miles, biking 25 miles and 1850 feet of elevation gain
Weekly Total: walking – 16.6 miles and 2526 feet of elevation gain, biking – 58.9 miles and 4595 feet of elevation gain