mileage: ~31; elevation: ~7500′
A pretty solid week of “easing back into it”-type training. My goal for the week was for everything to feel easy and like I was stopping before I was tired. I wanted to just rack up a good amount of time on my feet and not worry about pace or mileage too much. Overall I think I accomplished that.
Saturday ended up being slightly more epic than I had planned. My plan all week had been to hit the La Luz trail and train some vert. I checked the weather Saturday morning and it looked clear, if a little cold, so I layered up and headed out. I arrived at the trail early, right around the same time as a half dozen other cars/groups of people starting up the trail as well. We all kind of set out at the same time. There were a few people with snowshoes strapped to their packs and everyone else seemed pretty content to settle into a mellow hiking place. The first section of the trail is very runnable and I passed by everyone fairly quickly. The first two miles of the trail felt great. There was a few scant inches of snow on the ground, nothing to disturb my footing or make trail-finding a chose. Then it started to change.
There had been gray clouds blocking the upper portion of the Sandias and the summit all morning, but I figured it might clear up and/or I could get above the nastiness fairly quickly. Wrong on both counts. The gray clouds just got thicker the higher I went and I was surrounded by a snowy, icy mess. I still felt really strong, like I was leaving a lot of energy in reserve. Then the trail changed from a few inches of snow to around a foot of snow and, per usual for me, I immediately lost the trail. As the person breaking trail for everyone behind me, I’m sure I led a few other people astray too. I did finally figure out that I was off the actual trail, backtracked and corrected my mistake. After that, I was in beast mode, breaking trail as efficiently as I ever have in those type of conditions. I was just plowing through snow that continued to vary from ankle height to hip-deep. I was only in my New Balance MT110s and thick socks on my feet, so I kept reminding myself to be super vigilant about even the slightest bit of cold/pain in my toes.
I kept on trekking, still feeling like a machine. The gray clouds kept on depositing a wintry mix and gusting winds continued to punish me. I arrived at the 2.2 miles to the summit sign and still felt great, despite not being able to take in any calories due to not wanting to take off my thick gloves. I decided to keep pushing for the summit anyway. The rockfall section of the trail, always the most challenging technically, was brutal with a relatively deep layer of light powder covering up the uneven surface. I had to test every step before weighting it or risk twisting an ankle. Soon, I checked my GPS watch and estimated that I was maybe a mile from the summit and only about 150-200 vertically away. My feet were still warm despite being buried in snow for two hours straight, but my hands were starting to worry me. I had only taken in 100 calories over two hours of effort and decided that it wasn’t worth it to try and fight my way to the summit.
Turning around wasn’t what I wanted, but I was happy with my decision. Getting off the mountain went fairly quickly and easily. The storm still seemed to be leaving the bottom two miles of trail alone and made for a quick and easy return to my Jeep once I reached it.
Considering everything, I was happy with the day. I managed `4000′ of elevation change with something resembling ease. I also think I turned back at the right time, knowing how few calories I had taken in and how cold my hands were getting. It felt great to be able to cover that much elevation and around a half-marathon’s worth of mileage and feel like I still had significant energy reserves, especially had I been able to get any calories in all morning.
The week’s training definitely makes me feel like I’m ready to keep building a good base of mileage and elevation and train smart for my 2014 race schedule.