Week of May 2 - 8

Shifting Gears.

Andrew Drummond harvesting corn in the Great Gulf Wilderness. Photo: CJ Congrove.

With Alaska in the rearview I anticipated this week to focus on running and biking since I have a couple upcoming races the next two weekends - Crank the Kanc (May 14) & King Pine Triathlon (May 21). But I honestly have little drive to bike these days, especially when there's still skiing to be had (see this post, re: multisport triage). It's hard to get motivated for these events with so little training heading in. I'm sure I'll still do well but last year I made the goal of putting in more miles on the bike after the Inferno and that just hasn't happened. It goes back to what I realized last week - pare down the sports / events to the ones that really have a place in your calendar or that you'll benefit from. I still think I'll enjoy both of these upcoming races though and i'll go into each more relaxed. Anyway, on to this week.

I spent this week getting my running legs back under me. It's not that I lost a ton of run fitness but my run muscle were mostly dormant while in AK. I was also still kicking a lingering cold that seemed to power up on the return flight (feeling better as I type this!). So getting in 50 miles this week seemed like it would be a chore but came fairly easy. I resumed my speed training at the track doing 800/400 repeats and ran them well. This week I signed up for the Market Day Square 10k for some extra training motivation.

And ski season continues to roll on! Didn't think I'd still be hustling to get up to the mountains but a friend I met a few weeks ago at Airplane Gully rallied to go check off Pipeline and Jefferson Ravine. I was more interested in seeing what Jefferson had to ski but I also wanted to get a top to bottom run on Pipeline, hopping the two chokes and stopping at the icefall. Well there was still plenty of snow on Pipeline, less than last time but the chokes had lost considerable amounts of snow and without much ski action they weren't filled in (the sluff builds up making it easy to navigate these sections). I stopped and scoped out the top one and after CJ's sluff accumulated it looked doable. Unfortunately, I was timid and in the backseat resulting in an epic crash. With just a nick to the nose I skied away unscathed. We hike back out and moved on to Jefferson which was two miles away. The weather was perfect so it was an enjoyable slog. At Jefferson we were disappointed by how little snow was left in the snowfields and thought we were skunked by the absence of snow in Stealth Gully. We followed the Edmand's Col Cut-off trail around the northeast aspect of Jefferson Ravine to find a couple ribbons of snow left that were corned up nicely! It was rewarding to get those turns in after a sizable effort getting there. We only had time for a run and some photos before opting to descend via the Caps Ridge Trail. We knew we weren't taking the easy way down and carrying skis made it much more difficult as we smashed into rocks and trees most of the way down. On top of that we still had to get back to the Cog Base Station via Jefferson Notch Road (still closed), boundary cutoff, Jewel Trail, and then ditch our packs at Base Station Road and run the remaining 0.4 miles back to our cars. Worth the effort and I don't think I'd do it any differently given the situation. 

Looking on to next week I'm planning on hitting 50 miles, a big ski day in the Great Gulf, and the Crank the Kank race!

Run: 49.9 | 5,082'
Bike: 45 min (trainer)
Backcountry: Clay / Jefferson | 5,866'


Skimo Challenge - Jay Peak

I was told early on this winter not to miss the Jay Peak race so I made sure to add it to my race schedule. Jay boasts the highest annual snowfall in the east, some of the best glade / backcountry skiing, and great terrain / vertical to match. The usual Northeast contingency was pre-registered for this race and I recruited Tristan Williams to come for the weekend. We were the first ones to arrive in Glover, VT at our AirBnB, about 45 minutes south of Jay. The big draw of staying here was that it was an easier Friday night drive for the Mass crew but also located a couple miles from the Parker Pie Company which cycles 5+ Hill Farmstead brews plus amazing pizza. You also have to check out Currier's Market that was two doors down from us and has a fetish for taxidermy. We had pre-race dinner and drinks at PPC and were in bed before anyone even arrived. 

The morning of the race Tristan and I were up early so we left for Jay early. It was brisk (6ºF) but bluebird and forecasted to warm up. I went through my normal pre-race routine, bathroom, warm up, bathroom and felt really good. The game plan was to try to hang on George and overtake him on the downhills. We started at 8:30am, right up a groomer so there was no sprinting for the holeshot but we did go out fast. The first climb doesn't really begin until 0.6mi when you turn onto Derick Hot Shot which was firm and bumped up. This terrain is where George Visser really crushes. He is so good on technical ascents whereas many of the racers were slipping and switchbacking, he was just going straight up. I moved into 2nd or 3rd towards the top of the first ascent (1,200') and George didn't have more than 30s on us. The course drops into Kitz Woods glade before dumping out on a groomer. It was a relief to ski challenging terrain like this and I was able to make up good time and even catch George on back at the ski to skin transition. We headed back up for the next ascent together but as soon as we hit the bumped up terrain he once again gapped me. This ascent (~1,900') also included a bootpack section before plateauing onto a groomer to the summit. At this point I'm not sure where 3rd place was but I was behind by roughly 40 seconds as we approached the top of the tram. I wasn't sure of the course and had to ski tentatively on the descent to make sure I didn't get off course. It can be very difficult to see flags while skiing around the general public. There were a few bumps in one section of the descent but overall very mellow. I spotted George skating the flats just 10s ahead and made a push to catch him. Little did I know our next ski to skin transition would be the start of our last climb (I thought there was one more little one based on last year's course). George exited the transition 10s ahead of me and I went after him but he held his lead, eventually building a 30s gap as we ascended more groomers followed by one last bootpack to the last transition at the Upper River Quad. I was definitely tired at this point but also didn't make a big push which let George hold his lead into the last descent. Unfortunately he is a strong skier which meant that I really had no chance of catching him on Power Line which was firm and bumped up. But in the race mindset I thought to should go full send after seeing a sign that said "ski to the finish!". I could see George down towards the flats and next thing you know I'm in the backseat out of control ripping through the bumps. Having little to no tail on my skis a crash was inevitable. I slammed onto my back/ass unknowingly snapping the tail of my ski. I had another crash and limped into the finish. 

In hindsight I really wish I knew the course better but also need to know when to relax and minimize the risk of breaking my equipment or injury! It was a lot of fun yo-yo'ing this race and having a shot at winning. Having challenging descents was a huge advantage for me but my climbing wasn't too shabby either. Aside from that last descent, my race execution was near perfect although I need to work on my technical ascents in the bumps. 

Tristan and I made an effort to pull flags but were too slow (because I was so slow changing out gear - it hurt to bend over at that point). We did a short lap anyway since we made the effort to change up. After awards we went to ski the backside of Jay and ended up making a couple runs down Little Jay. I can't say enough about the SkimoEast crew (especially Lyne and Jeff), the skimo community, and how fun this course was. Already looking forward to next year!

Bootpack attack. p: David Moore

Bluebird Jay. We would Ascend up to the summit as well as mid mountain.

And we're off! p: David Moore


And a little gallery of additional photos: 

Quick Ski off the Cog Railway

This is my brief attempt at updating my training / racing. There hasn't been much to report on racing but I'll backdate some reports and training weeks shortly. The focus right now has been quality training across all disciplines (running, biking, skiing) and I'm significantly ahead of where I was last year at this time. For now I'll just share this video: