Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A short rest, and back at it

Definition of REST

:  reposesleepspecifically :  a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
a :  freedom from activity or labor
b :  a state of motionlessness or inactivity
Or, another definition: something I'm good at ignoring. I'm great at squeezing in a quick 3 miler between quick changes at work and 2 or 3 hours sleep. It's something I've learned working shift work for 30+ years. Getting in a workout regardless of how I feel, whether I really need to or not. There's a key word in that last sentence-WORKOUT. That's how things were feeling lately. All work, no play. And admittedly self-induced. So some rest was in order. 
I can't honestly remember the last time I took a break this long-two weeks. Maybe never? Maybe a day or two. Injured, tired, extra work hours, .... you name it, I got in my workout. And 99% of the time I enjoyed it. Maybe not loved every one, especially when it was a tough one and my heart wasn't in it. But I got it done. That's how I work, and it's always worked for me-until recently. 
I could feel it coming on in subtle hints. Leading up to the Birkie, skiing was more of a chore than fun. The brutal cold and wind made some outings on the trail almost painful. The thought of heading to the basement to wax skis kept being pushed to the back of my mind. I did have a few amazing days on the snow. They kept the fire stoked, but barely. Running wasn't much better. The same cold, wind and snow made running a chore instead of a joy. Fighting the snow covered roads, unshoveled sidewalks and short days was a battle. Even a couple spins on the bike on the trainer felt forced. Everything hurt. My mood sucked. Always tired. I just didn't have IT, whatever IT is. As Austin Powers said, "I've lost my mojo!"
I slogged through the Birkie in my slowest time. Okay, Ma Nature and a foot of fresh snow may have had something to do with that.  The Point Bock 5 mile run a week later was a repeat. Slow, no fun, forced. Another week of almost dreading my workout and my body finally said "ENOUGH!" Factor in 23 days at work without a day off. Body and mind had had enough, or maybe too much.
The rest felt good. No worries about what to run today. Which wax to put on the skis. Should I do some intervals on the bike? Just rest. Read a book. Listen to some music. Try to catch up on some sleep. Deep down I had thoughts that maybe it was a permanent break. I though long and hard about deferring my upcoming 50K. The rest really did feel good. 
Then a couple questions from people somehow knocked me out of my funk. My long weekend off at work was coming up. Three, count 'em, three days off!! I was talking to my Mother and she asked what I had planned. Run? Bike? A co-worker asked the same thing. What was I doing with my time off. Some miles around town? I realized that for good or bad, I'm the guy who is out doing something, anything. It's who I am, for better or worse. I guess it's how you define me.
I slept a few hours after my 11-7 shift to start my long weekend. That's normal. I hate to sleep away my day off and it helps get my body get used to a few normal days of sleep/awake cycle. A few chores and then I hit the road for a run. Beautiful sunshine, brisk wind and cold, for March weather. A nice long run to ease out the kinks and stretch the legs. In hindsight, maybe a bit too long, but I knew I'd be a little sore. And I had fun. I enjoyed the sun on my face, the wind fighting me at times and then letting me sail when it was at my back. And I knew I was back. I'm looking forward to another run after this is finished. Not sure where, or how far. Maybe even a double today-some easy miles with my better half after she gets done with work. 
If anything good came out of this break, it's that I've learned that I'm not the guy I was 10 or 20 years ago, or even last year. Life is busy and hectic. Take it one day at a time. Have fun, and if it's not fun, try something else. Take a day or two off occasionally. My silent sports endeavors may define who I am, but they're not all that I am.
So, I'm back. I've got some events planned. I'm not even going to call them races. I'm my only competition this year. I can't wait to hit the trails, when and if the snow melts. I can't wait to take a long bike ride on a hot and windless day this summer. 
Follow along. This could be an interesting year. Thanks for letting my ramble and vent!
Sven of the North

Monday, March 3, 2014

Birkie/Bock recap

Wow! Glad those two events are done! The 2014 American Birkebeiner and Point Bock Run were two of the coldest events I've ever participated in. Add in fresh snow the day before each event, and it adds up to my slowest times for each. 
Conditions for the Birkie on February 22 were challenging to say the least. Over a foot of snow fell from Thursday in to Friday. 20-30 mph winds blew the snow everywhere. The temperature at the start was just above zero, with a headwind all the way to Hayward. The trail was as good as could be expected. It was churned up by the start of my wave. Skiing in mashed potatoes for five hours was tough. After 50K of picking my skis up through that snow, I was beat. After seeing what the course looked like in the first couple Ks, I knew it would be a long day. My goal was to relax and just make it to the finish line. No PRs this year. My hat is off to all the groomers, who put in long hours under tough conditions. And congrats to all who finished a tough event made even tougher this year thanks to Mother Nature. 
A week later, March 2nd, and it was time for the Point Bock run. This year marked the twelfth running since the event was was brought back to life. It's become an annual can't miss event for me. I worked 11pm-7am the night before, so again, no PR was in the plan. Factor in a starting temperature around 5 and a brisk wind, plus little running and no speed work and it again adds up to my slowest time ever. But, I did meet my time goal and ran pretty even splits, so there were a few positives. 
So, two slow, sub-par outings. This has lit a little fire under my cold hind end. I know where my training needs work. And it will be work. But I love a challenge. I've got a little over a month until my first trail run-mid April at Iola. A 15K. Hopefully not in a blizzard like last year. Mother Nature has to relent eventually. Then a few more weeks to the first ultra of the year-Ice Age 50K. I've got my goals for these, so I better quit rambling and get running.
Happy miles!!