October 27, 2010

First Snow, Winter Training

Thunder Bowl (left) and Lone Peak (right) looking coated from the valley yesterday evening (Oct 26) during a brief hiatus in the storm

Several FEET of snow have fallen on the upper reaches of the Wasatch Mountains, and I was running through ankle deep snow early this morning in the valley, so winter is clearly only a few weeks away! We probably won't get up to LCC to ski just yet (Mia isn't allowed up at Alta/Snowbird), but some guys are already getting after it. No word yet on total accumulation, but I'm consistently hearing FIFTY INCHES up high on the mountains as of this morning, and its still going to be coming down for a few more hours. While I'm betting we'll get a few more weeks of milder weather before La Nina really starts cranking, this storm definitely has everyone thinking winter.

Training (if you are a runner) during this season is definitely a bit more challenging, so I've been trying to come up with a plan and some goals for the upcoming months. Obviously, backcountry ski touring will take precedence on the weekends starting after Thanksgiving, but I want to approach this winter with the goal of being in excellent condition for the start of the spring 2011 mountaineering season.

The last two years in Vail were a mixed bag in terms of fitness during the winter. During '08-'09, I got off to a good start, but then sprained my MCL and bruised lots of ribs in separate ski crashes, so if anything, I lost quite a bit of fitness during the winter. The bruised ribs (not the concussion) from my "St. Patrick's Day crash" was the worst; it was just too painful to run for a nearly a month. Last year ('09-'10) was better: I did a lot more dawn patrol hikes up Vail mountain, I was more consistent with running, and I didn't have any major ski crashes. When May rolled around, I felt really strong climbing and skiing 14ers, and that carried over to getting in good running shape by June, which gave me the endurance for the John Muir Trail.

This year, now that I'm in SLC, I'll have the advantage of doing all my running ~4500 feet of elevation. For me, 8000ft (Vail's altitude) was just too high to really get in consistent, quality running. So, the plan for this winter is to shoot for an average of 90 minutes of running per day during the week; weekends will be dependent on the difficulty and extent of our backcountry ski tours (no season passes this season, we're working for everything that we ski!). Full days in the BC usually end up being very tiring, but the hope is to do more post-ski running (which is more of a mental challenge than a physical one). I'm also hoping to put together a "dawn patrol" group that's willing to get out one day a week for some 5am skinning and skiing. Andrea and I are going to put a couple longer trail races on the 2011 calendar to help keep the motivation high when its freezing outside.

We'll see how it goes... I'm thinking this is going to be an exceptional winter for skiing and running!

Broads Fork Twin Peaks on Oct 26

Mia enjoying the cool (cold?) fall weather

Mia attempting to play with a giant Great Dane

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