Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mud Season Blues

April is actually a great month here. The days are already incredibly long--you could mow your lawn or toss a baseball at any time from 6 AM to 10 PM--and the temperature is moderate. We don't get much wind or rain here. It's pleasant and a season of expanding possibilities, but if you're a skier it's also kind of depressing. I could put in another day or two (and may yet still), but the trails are in rough shape by now, with ice, rivulets, and mud to circumnavigate. I find that skiing the hinky trails also strains my knees so I've pretty much shifted over to running.

Every year, during the middle of ski season, I say that I'm going to switch to the skiers annual cycle and eschew getting even half serious about running. But when the snow melts down, it's quite the opposite and I invariably decide to slap on some base wax, put the skis away, and begin to focus on training for running at the expense of long-term ski training.

So it goes. This year, I'll keep up with the rollerboard, 3X/week to maintain upper body strength, but for the next six months plans for the last year as a masters runner are taking shape.

The first month is the hardest (followed by the last). Everything in between is usually a joy. Right now, I'm up to 30-40 mpw, but feeling like tubby jogger. Between taper (beginning in mid-February this year) and recovery you lose a lot of fitness and spark. To transfer from a sport that requires balance and upper body strength, as well as endurance, to one that forces a lot of pounding on your joints with little demand on your upper body requires a month or so of plodding if not waddling and flailing. I generally run alone at this time as people are apt to make fun of my running form during the early season.

So what's in store this year? Last year I thought a lot about going to Anchorage for the USATF State Championships, but they moved the meet up three weeks so now it's scheduled just four days after the Midnight Sun Run 10k, my favorite race of the year. I could still do both easily, but could do well at only one of them (if that because at 49 doing well in a running race is only relative!). So the conundrum is go for a 4th consecutive masters win, and to vie for a sub 35 under the Midnight Sun or possibly go for a state age group record in Anchorage. Ahh, no biggie. It's all for fun anyway.

Meanwhile, even though there are races every week, things kind of slow down here by mid-July or August. Most of the events by then are low key fun runs. To keep it going, I'm actually considering a fall marathon in the lower 48. Chicago would be about the opposite of Equinox, and remains a distinct possibility.


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