January 26, 2015

Jake's Winter / Spring Racing Schedule - London Marathon!

2015 Winter/Spring Race Schedule

Feb 7th - USA XC Championships (12K)
Feb 28th - Phoenix Half Marathon
April 26th - London Marathon

SkiMo Race Schedule

Jan 31st - CROWBAR
Mar 7th - Wasatch Powderkeg

The obvious big update here is that I'm entered in April's London Marathon! Getting a spot in the race was not a sure thing and wouldn't have happened without some major help from the team at Saucony. As always, I'm so thankful for their support over the past four years. Some awesome folks at Saucony went out of their way to make this dream possible (they know who they are) and I definitely owe them one!

WHOA. Saucony is an awesome company. I'm very proud to represent them.
(Gonna need to find a pair of these)

My plan for the London buildup is to be conservative. I don't think I'll be able to knock out any very impressive tune-up races along the way nor will I even attempt to do the specific training for a fast XC race of half-marathon. I'm going to use these next three months to get marathon fit, get healthier, and be ready to pop one really good one over in London. I'll keep my running miles a lot lower than what I did leading up to Chicago (but considering the time spent uphill skiing, the training volume will probably be about the same). Two stress days per week is plenty - not two stress days plus a long run... the long run IS a stress day and I'll probably be incorporating a lot of quality miles / workouts into my longer efforts. I'd rather be a tiny bit under-trained than straddling the razor's edge and risk compromising my race performance, as I've done in the past. I have a tendency to get a little crazy 3-5 weeks out from a marathon when I start to feel like I'm in good shape. It will be important to be sensible during that time period (late March / early April).

Chicago took a lot out of me - I raced hard in a compromised state of health. My hamstrings took a beating, and I still feel the effects from time to time. So on that note I finally broke down and I'm going to start seeing Andrea's physical therapist next week, in hopes that he can help me get to the line 100% healthy this time around. I re-started some upper body strength training about a month ago, which I believe helps me hold form late in races... and get this - stopped eating ice cream altogether.

The other noticeable update is that the race schedule is now split - there's a running AND SkiMo component. Andrea and I took the plunge and bought our own SkiMo racing equipment - lightweight skis, boots, bindings... and are in the process of fashioning several pairs of racing skins (I even had a power tool out the other night and didn't seriously injure myself!). We have a long way to go before we are really competitive in that sport (I mentioned that a bit in this post) but we are both excited about making SkiMo a big part of our winters from now on. Check out some of those races I linked above (CROWBAR / Powderkeg).

The main reason I ski is because I love it - not for any training benefit. Drop in and float through some deep turns on a powder day and you'll know what I mean - it's a downright spiritual experience and hard to explain to someone that has never done it.

BUT I actually think backcountry skiing and SkiMo training/racing make me a stronger runner. All of the climbing at high altitude adds a huge aerobic stimulus, without the pounding of extra running miles... it works different muscle groups than running, which is especially helpful. There's a huge mental benefit in being out in the beautiful mountains during the cold, sometimes smoggy (in the valley) winter months. I'm sure plenty of people would still disagree with the idea of skiing a lot during a marathon buildup, and I have two words for them: [redacted by Andrea]  :-)

I anticipate Wasatch and Beyond will still be dominated by skiing posts for the next few months (daily log is here), so back to running for a bit...

I'm at a decent fitness level right now but nowhere near race form. I've been averaging 90-100 miles per week for the last couple months, I've built up my long runs to 20 miles, and I've slowly increased the length and dropped the pace of my tempo runs.

Here's the training summary from Chicago leading up to now (13 weeks out from London). I feel like I can be ready for my best marathon to date in three months.

Tan = Long Runs / Steady State; Brown = AT (Aerobic Threshold); Blue = Ski; Green = Faster
Orange Cloud = Smog.

I'll be the first to admit that I should have just taken 2+ additional weeks completely off after Chicago. At the time, however, I was thinking I going to bounce back and run CIM (in an effort to boost my chances of getting an entry to London), but I was too beat up from Chicago to do that. In hindsight I delayed my recovery quite a bit, to the point where even in December, I started to write off the idea of being able to run a fast Spring marathon. Hopefully I'll learn from that mistake and May will be a very low mileage month.

Details on the progression of AT runs (really, my only workouts other than a couple token sets of intervals) to date:

So that's where I'm at. Next stop on the running circuit = the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder. What a terrible and painful choice for a season-opening rust-buster! It should be a really good experience and fun weekend with friends - that's why I'm headed there.

January 25, 2015

Rex Block in Juneuary (what?)

Andrea is very pretty and so is Mt. Superior

Utah is in some sort of weather system called a "Rex Block" which means it's not snowing and the temperatures are super warm. Whatever - we're having fun in the mountains no matter what. The powder days will be back. For now, we'll enjoy t-shirt weather at 10,000 feet. Some pictures from today (after you learn about the Rex Block)...

The skiing was slushy, variable, and required a lot of survival turns

January 24, 2015

2015 Outdoor Retailer Show

I had a good time helping out at PowerBar's Outdoor Retailer booth yesterday. There are hundreds of blogs out there reviewing all of the awesome stuff going on at the Winter Market, so I'm not even going to try and do that. It was fun to walk around and see all the innovative (and in some cases, stupid) products. Here's a few pictures I snapped from my favorite brands...

PowerBar has some delicious new flavors coming out

Saucony's lineup always impresses

Kinvara 6 (men)

Kinvara 6 (women)

Dynafit's space was also impressive

Bright colors in the new lineup of SkiMo race skis

They are going flashy with the new TLT6 boots as well

January 21, 2015

Outdoor Retailer SkiMo Race

Andrea and I were able to head up to Solitude yesterday afternoon for the Outdoor Retailer / Gore-Tex "Wasatch vs the World" SkiMo race. It was a fun, lung-busting, patience testing, and humbling experience.

Since we don't have our own race setups (yet), we scrambled to borrow gear at the last minute. I was able to borrow some demo PDG skis from the Dynafit guys at the last minute, and used my regular TLT5 boots. Andrea grabbed some Wasatch Speed Girl skis from the kind folks at Voile.

The race was a four lap semi-technical (for us) course.  We were both strong on the portions that were based on pure fitness (I guarantee no one ran up the bootpack as fast as I did), but both of us lost a ridiculous amount of time on the technical parts and transitions. There's a huge learning curve in this sport. It will take lots of practice to start bridging the gap. We are looking forward to some longer races (ie. Powderkeg) that theoretically suit us better.

In any case... Andrea and I are excited about giving SkiMo competition a shot. We are definitely diving head first into the shark tank right now - but by next year we think we can be competitive (especially as a co-ed team). This is a relatively small sport at the moment, and the people who do it, do it well. Almost all of the competitors are fast, wearing lots of spandex, and are very skilled on the technical aspects of racing. And they start fast! They are also great people (Chad, for example) who are already going out of their way to give us tips and help us get started in the sport.

Race profile. This was a sprint-lap format. We like the longer climbs!

Jake in yellow, on the boot pack

Andrea figuring out how to get through chopped up snow on 150cm skinny skis!

January 19, 2015

First time on REAL SkiMo gear

On Saturday we went up to Alta for the Snow Leopard Dash - which was sponsored by The Sport Loft (an amazing store which we only recently realized was just down the street from where we live) and Dynafit. We arrived in just enough time to get setup on some demo Dynafit SkiMo race gear (PDG skis/boots and TLT Superlite Bindings). This was our first time on real rando/SkiMo race gear and the question about how much of a difference the lightweight setup makes was answered immediately - A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!

Despite some technical difficulties (skins falling off, which caused me to DNF and Andrea to lose a ton of time) we had a blast on the demo race gear. Andrea managed to still come in second place for the ladies and win a little cash (symbolically a good thing in a sport that is otherwise a black hole for money!). The post-race raffle was where the magic happened. No lie, I woke up on Saturday morning and told Andrea I had a dream that I would win a pair of Dynafit PDG skis. Well, on Saturday afternoon The Sport Loft raffled off a pair of those exact skis (donated by the Dynafit reps) - and guess who won? Andrea!!! 

We've been debating whether to take the plunge and invest racing setups. Winning the skis was the sign we needed to just go all in. We've been working on putting racing setups together and hopefully will be able to competing in some of the late-season local races... and maybe take this a bit more seriously next winter. The races are fun, challenging, and in awesome locations throughout the mountain west. We've met some really cool people are the events we've been to so far this winter.

From a pure running standpoint - getting into SkiMo is probably the best thing I can be doing in the winter. I've found that ~100 miles/week is plenty of running during the colder months (in terms of pounding on the legs), but I have the energy / capacity for more workload... the combo of backcountry and rando skiing will surely fill up the rest of the bucket for the next 4-5 months!

Andrea on the final booter of the Snow Leopard Dash

Amiee and Andrea on a late-morning ski tour up Grizzly Gulch

Amiee on the summit of Patsy Marley Peak

January 13, 2015

Tuesday Night Especial

Andrea heading towards Twin Lakes Pass

21 inches of snow in 24 hours! We couldn't just call in sick, but luckily our jobs are flexible enough at times to allow an early departure on certain occassions. Today was one of those special afternoons... we had just enough time to get up to Alta and ski a few amazing laps off the north side of Twin Lakes Pass before the sun went down. We started skinning at 3:45pm, and an hour later were laughing and smiling and slaying some pow. We returned to the jeep just as it was getting dark. What an afternoon!

These are the days when it's hard to beat Utah.

Photos... I don't have time for captions :-)

January 6, 2015

1000 Uneventful Miles

Last year I was posting running update after running update until Chicago, then sort of fell off the map (at least on this blog - I've been updating my daily running log with what I've been up to). Since Chicago I realized that I've run about a thousand uneventful miles without a training update. It's been mostly low-key run-commuting, although after Thanksgiving I started to phase back in some workouts. And long runs have slowly increased in duration during that time frame as well.

Here's how the past couple months have looked...

December Tempo Runs

Last week I registered for the Phoenix Half Marathon - it will be nice to return to the desert and defend my title down there on February 28th. I'm also probably going to run the USATF Cross Country Championships on February 7th. Yeah, grass isn't my forte, and 12K at altitude is going to hurt... but there's just some weird allure of running XC in Boulder... it just seems like the right thing to do. Plus, I got some new Carrera 4 spikes!

Beyond Boulder XC and Phoenix 1/2,  a spring marathon is in the cards. I don't know where exactly that will be yet, but hopefully I will soon. I need to figure out some logistics, but the time-frame I'm targeting is mid/late April. I'd like to leave May weekends (post-marathon) open for spring ski mountaineering and stuff like that. And I'd like to leave January as a low-pressure month of base building - you never know what the weather has in store for you this time of year. Last week the windchills were below zero, this week the afternoon temperatures are pushing 50 degrees. If I've learned anything about winter training, it's that you just take what mother nature gives you. Or run on a treadmill - a road I refuse to go down... I enjoy running too much to suffer on the wheel.

I'm aiming to incorporate lots of SkiMo workouts and backcountry skiing days - both for fun: skiing is a huge passion and I'm not willing to cut back on it for the sake of running - and for function: I honestly believe lots of time on skis makes me a better runner. I've developed some imbalances over the years that skinning (a very controlled-motion uphill grind) and skiing (constant activation of core muscles) seem to help.

PS - the final mileage total for 2014 was 5262 - after years of 5288 (2013), 5906 (2012), and 5806 (2011). I'm thinking 2015 will be the year I finally dip below 5000 - not because of injury, but maybe due to smarter training and better periodization?