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Robs ShortcutI wasn’t the only one out running on the ice this week.  I shared some “are you effin’ kidding me” looks with a few others on the LoBo trail.  The week before, I couldn’t get over the snow.  My runs were necessarily short given the exhausting conditions.  I donned snowshoes one day and ended up with a blister that I’m still feeling.  It was a poor week for running.  I commended myself for simply getting out at all and figured it couldn’t get any worse.  I was wrong.  It wasn’t safe to walk down to the coffee shop this week, let alone run.  We began with a foot of snow and below freezing temps.  Then, in half a day, the mercury rose by 50°.  Only in Colorado can that happen.  The flash-melted snow refroze as ice later that same night, so perfectly you could ice skate down the sidewalk.

Running was unthinkable and I lost a couple of days.  I know how unwise running was because I tried the day after the big snow-to-ice conversion.  Got in four miles.  Not sure how to describe my form.  I kept my stride as short as possible without actually standing still.  My effort was extremely taxing on my quads and groin.  There were countless out-of-control moments where I thought I was going to die.  It was not enjoyable and I spent the next two days indoors looking out the window like Sally and her little brother in the beginning to The Cat in the Hat.  Conditions were reasonably better Saturday and I skated for twelve death-defying miles, with a similar super short, groin-stressing stride.

Tennessee CabinThis is not ideal considering I’m training for a marathon.  I have five weeks to step up my distance.  With Ellie’s snowboarding lessons every Sunday, my only chance for the requisite twenty mile training runs is Saturday.  Fortunately I ran some twenty milers back in December.  I don’t need to run  massive miles every weekend, I’d settle for two such runs before February.  January has three more weekends in it.  This is why Colorado runners plan their marathons for the fall, after a long summer of optimal conditioning.  I’ve run two Austin Marathons in February and three Denver Marathons in the fall.  Despite the altitude difference, I’ve yet to run as fast in Austin as I do in Denver.  It’s difficult to train sufficiently for winter marathons.  I’m happy with my snowshoe training though.

I snowshoed the same Lonestar Loop today that I did last Sunday, but this time I found the spur to the Tennessee Mountain Cabin.  This added nearly a mile for a five mile, two hour effort.  Trekking counter-clockwise, the right hand turn to the cabin is at 2.3 miles, at the second intersection with the Rising Sun ski trail, a full mile after passing the high point sign.  That first 1.3 miles present a 700 foot climb.  The cabin housed some lodgers but they showed me inside.  Nine of them slept comfortably overnight, kept warm by a wood burning stove.

sittingThe girls had an awesome day with their snowboard lessons.  Zero wind today made the 20° feel warm.  This photo captures the only sun I ever saw today.  The clouds were black with snow, which fell heavy throughout the day.  This completes two of the girls’ six Sunday course.  Julianna, their instructor, praised their coordination and balance as they steadily progress up the mountain.  The girls are having fun while I get in some high-altitude hill training.  Maybe not your conventional marathon workout, but works for me.