I have been locked in the Westin LAX for 5 days straight without rest. Fifteen hours of work every day. Hotel meals. Boring treadmill runs at 5:30 in the morning.
When I step into the light outside the front doors of the hotel to catch the airport shuttle I am stunned.
This is the first sun I’ve seen in all those days. The first fresh air. And I use that term loosely because I am in LA, after all.
My flight is delayed after we board. We sit on the runway for an hour. I don’t get home until 1:00am.
And then, on Monday, there’s Forest Park. And my new riding buddy (who just placed 2nd in the B field!).
The day is clear and bright. Continue reading
It appears that I have bad luck with Oregon hiking. That, or I am just so gosh-darned Northwestern by nature that the world throws storms at me because she knows I can take it.
Saddle Mountain is rated “hard” and the sign at the bottom describes the path as “a constant climb”. Even still, with my current fitness level, it’s a pretty straightforward hike; out-and-back, about 2.5 miles each for a total of just over 5 miles.
The views are meant to be some of the best around and you’re surrounded by breath-taking panoramas for more than half of the hike, so you really get the bang for your buck. Funny thing about views, though – I have recently discovered that you can’t see through clouds.
The weather report for Saturday promised rain. Lots of it. My cousin was coming into town for the weekend and we’d planned to spend Saturday hiking. “What’s a little rain,” I thought, “A little rain never hurt anybody.”
Is this sounding familiar yet?
And Physics said, “Thou shalt not grab thine front break in a panic whilst descending. Particularly so when thou art descending quickly over a large tree root in the middle of the trail.” Blessed be the Word of Physics.
Indeed. Such blasphemy invokes an epic battle – the struggle of momentum, deceleration, and center-of-gravity. You’re moving fast and as the momentum tries to keep you going forward, a deceleration force will try to swing you in an arch. The pivot point of this not-so-graceful arch is the contact point between the front wheel and the ground (cue the image of my body detaching slowly from my bike while careening skyward and then, suddenly, forest-floorward).
I have always maintained that no matter what crazy tweaking I do to my diet I will never cut out coffee. This is more true than ever now that I live in the Land of Stumptown – Home of the World’s Greatest Cup of Coffee.
Seriously. Stumptown coffee makes me so incredibly happy it’s almost sick. This morning I was so excited about Sal finally coming home that, in lieu of a home-brew, I went to the Division location and got a quad 16oz Americano. I’m not sure what got into me – the word “quad” alone sort of freaks me out – but I like it strong and dark, and this morning I needed it in quantity.
Yesterday I decided to stretch out my legs and increase my mileage significantly. I wanted to go long and steady. I’d had two-days rest and my legs were feeling twitchy and eager. I charted a 50 mile course that went east into Gresham, north to the border of Oregon and Washington, and then west around and past the Portland Airport, and finally turning South through John’s Landing and descending back into downtown on Willamette and Greely where I could catch the Esplanade and hit Hawthorne street to go through Ladd’s to get back home.
Considering that just two weeks ago I’d only ridden my bike three times all year (not including commutes, which are so short they don’t really count), it was a pretty big endeavor. I knew it would be a “just keep going” day so I stopped at Veloce Bicycles on my way out and picked up two sports nutrition bars to keep me puttin’ along.
“How hard can it really be?”
That’s the question that I asked myself this weekend. I was thinking about boot camp.
I’ve had a hard time conveying to people how hard it really is. All I know is that it regularly kicks my ass and I consider myself to be in pretty decent shape. I have more muscle mass than most women my size and I’m a runner. I specialize in endurance.
So how hard can it really be? How does it stack up?
Is it harder than my final leg in last year’s Hood to Coast relay? No. Mostly because running 8 miles uphill in afternoon sun on little sleep and questionable nutrition is brutal (and kind of stupid, too). Is it harder than a cyclocross race? No. Not really. Although the more intense days of week four come close.
I can tell you what it IS harder than. It’s harder than running 6 miles at tempo and it’s harder than cycling 35 miles at 17mph. It’s harder in a more intense and more focused way. It’s 45 minutes of super agonizing muscle-searing burn. And it manages to kick your cardio ass all at the same time.
I’m a numbers person. I like proof. I enjoy statistics. I take measurements. I analyze data and make adjustments. I like to have evidence of what is actually going on, not just what I perceive to be going on.
Dear Boot Camp Diary,
I spent about 75 seconds On Tuesday in a full gymnastic bridge, with my forehead on the ground, back arched, hips high, feet flat on the ground. I have been working into the position slowly. The world was throbbing and bright when I righted myself. Pulsing and vibrant.
Heroin! Crack! What is this drug?! Acid.
Everything so pretty, every cell so alive, head reeling. Can this be the same world I was in 90 seconds ago? Impossible!
Daniel chimed in and explained that those of us who’d been in a full bridge (as opposed to partial) might be feeling kind of funny.
I am high. I am so happy! What is the meaning of this?!
The weather report for Saturday looked grim. Grim as in rain. Rain, rain and more rain. And COLD. The temperatures were dropping. I received this news unfazed. When is it not raining in the Pacific Northwest, really? I expected as much. I was prepared. I borrowed a rain fly for my backpack and sealed all my clothing and supplies in zip-loc baggies. I wore the froggy-green Marmot jacket that looked invincible.
Rain? Bring it.
It rained all night before I left. It rained all morning. It rained during the 45 minute drive east. It was raining when I turned up the first switchback.
Who cares about rain.
The first 3 miles went straight up. Switchback after switchback. My pack is a hand-me-down and just a little too big. I could tell. This is the part where gear is really, really important. If you’re walking up the side of a hill over root-strewn dirt paths with 30 pounds worth of gear on your back then you need everything to be dialed. Shoes, socks, jacket, pack. I had everything in place except the pack, and I was feeling it.
I pressed on.
At 1.5 miles I came around a switchback and uttered the only words that I spoke out loud all day long: “Holy shit. You are fucking kidding me.”