Training Stats: – Average Resting Heart Rate: 44 – Training Status: Productive – Total Vert last week: 6,844 – Total Hours last week: 13:53 – Plan for this week: 13 hours: Swim, Bike, Run, Weights, Hike
I’m excited for this week: I have my mountain bike AND my tri bike back from respective shops so I’m ready to ride. The rain will hopefully not hamper this week and I can ride and run trails.
Bear Brook was so muddy and wet last week and I only did one run on the Concord trails. This week I’m hoping to do more trails and more mountain biking. While I’m 15 weeks out from Ironman Florida (my Mont Tremblant roll over race) I am still planning a few other races beforehand which means mountain biking and trail running and big hikes in the White Mountains.
On Saturday I got to ride the Timberman bike course with Kristen, my high school friend. We met up last year while racing the Capital Wells triathlon in Sunapee. Saturday started out a cool 60 with sun. It was fun to catch up and ride the awesome roads around Laconia before heading into work.
Saturday was a perfect day at Gunstock. Temps in the 70s and gorgeous blue sky. What a day.
Sunday was a spin class at my new gym (interval work), long run in Concord and an open water swim with Sonja.
I also found the woman who we saw on Isolation who was doing the Direttissima. Step Bishop and I started following her on Instagram. She is writing up a race report and asked followers for questions. I asked her how she trained for it. Her short answer for now:
Mount Isolation is no joke especially if you get there via Glen Boulder Trail and Davis Path.
My hiking legs have been in hibernation since completing my goal: 48 in my 49th Year. This hike was a challenge.
While I’ve been swimming, biking and running – this doesn’t seem to translate well to hiking in the White Mountains. I guess the best training is hiking the White Mountains to be ready to hike the White Mountains. Ross and Vicky just seemed to float up and over to Isolation while I seemed to suffer to go up and up.
The initial goal was an epic trip. We settled for 12 miles to Isolation and back.
Less than one mile in, while Vicky and Ross attended to a water bottle malfunction I continued on. I kept looking back and at one point stopped to wait for about 4-5 minutes. When I didn’t see them I knew something was wrong. I turned around to hike back to see what was holding them up and realized my mistake: I went down a ski trail instead of staying on Glen Boulder.
The next 2 hours was trying to catch up to them. I asked people if they saw them and they did. I knew they were ahead of me but I couldn’t catch up. Plus, it was a tough trail. Once I got above treeline I thought I saw them and I thought they looked back to see me, but they didn’t wait for me.
I began to get annoyed but at least I knew they were ahead. I hike with them because I don’t like hiking alone sometimes, plus “the Vicky and Ross show” is pretty hilarious.
I caught up with them on the summit of Isolation and it turns out they thought I was ahead of them the entire time, seeing a woman with a white hat. The white hat woman, in turn, kept looking back at them from high points and Vicky was hoping she (thinking she was me) would wait for them. When the woman didn’t, they got pissed.
All in all, I knew they were heading for Isolation but it wasn’t a fun few hours. They were hiking faster to catch up while I was hiking fast to catch up. We were all pretty mad about it. Then laughed about it on the way down.
However, despite opting not to do the epic hike, or going on to Davis (52 With a View) we had a large visitor on the way across Isolation trail – a young moose just hanging out on the trail. We were warned by Mirra who was hiking ahead of us about the moose in the trail. I bolted into the thick brush to hide. Ross and Vicky hid on the trail but made eye contact and took pictures and video. I was scared to death but he was so cool to see.
He slowly made his way down the trail chomping on trees. Flies surrounded his butt and Vicky saw ticks all over his butt. I saw him a bit through the trees enough to know a big, brown moose was 6 feet away. The brush was so thick on this section we couldn’t hike around him. We just had to wait for him to move along.
Mirra then decided to join us the rest of the way down, and we laughed and chatted back to the car. The views of the Presidentials were so much better on the way down; the skies cleared and we hiked together.
I hiked in my new Timp Altras and they were a bad choice. Despite only wearing them a few times, they aren’t as grippy as the Lone Peaks. Vicky only wears Lone Peaks and I like trying different Altra models. I’m now convinced that the Lone Peaks are the choice for hiking on rocks in the Presidentials. This trail had wet rocks at all different angles and I slipped a bunch. The rocks were dry on the exposed trails but in the trees it was very damp. Lone Peaks are the way to go!
Glen Boulder is pretty cool to see every single time; the rock is just hanging there. Rhe views looking south to the peaks in the distance is just stunning, especially in the late afternoon light.
We completed just over 5,000 feet of climbing for 12 miles. It’s one of the tougher routes to Isolation but the alternative is Rocky Branch, which I hiked the last two times. Being above treeline and seeing Mount Washington is one of the pleasures of this trail.
Our original plan was to hike Dry River Trail to Lakes of the Clouds, over Monroe and Eisenhower and down to the car spot. We started a bit late and hiked a bit slower so the plan was curtailed. I’d like to try it another day.
We ran into a woman who was doing a supported Direttissima – she was on peak 5 at Isolation. She was high energy and loving life. Now that’s how you run/hike in the White Mountains for 4 days. I wish I got her name. I would’ve liked to know that she finished.
While I didn’t get to bag three peaks for the July grid I’m happy to finish and take in the views.
Average Resting Heart Rate: 42 Training Status: Productive Total Vert last week: 1,923 Total Hours last week: 7:02 Plan for this week: 7 hours: Swim, Bike, Run, Weights
It’s a whole new ballgame folks. So many races in the coming weeks so let’s get down to it.
I’m doing more morning hikes with these characters:
I’m doing more running and biking at Gunstock. It is so green at the mountain and I love running the Ridge loop and biking on the cross country trails.
And just all around more focused training.
After all this rain the brooks will be running and that is good hiking with the dogs. This week also includes a trip up north to the White Mountains with Vicky and Ross. It’s going to be another epic hike.
“I’ve been thinking about Thoreau as COVID-19 sweeps across the country.”
Thoreau had thoughts about nature; and about death and disaster, writes Gessner. He endorsed slowing down and true withdrawal. The book, Walden is about withdrawing from the world. Gessner argues that COVID is our test run at doing more with less much like Thoreau.
One theme running through ‘Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight’ – a thought for our times and climate change, do more with less. This is a call to action to all readers.
I know it’s easier for me as a single person who never had children to try to do more with less. I really just have to take care of myself, and my two dogs. I read this book while flying west to Spokane from Boston, flying for the first time in a few years, I realize I don’t need to do it again. I think sticking close to home may be my new mantra despite my years of wanderlust and needing to travel four or five times a year.
I flew to Spokane last week for an Ironman. The race was sentimental and it was a challenge “can I still do this at 50”. I love the west and any reason to travel west of the Mississippi I will do it. I wanted to do this race and I wanted to be back racing.
Now, after airline cancellations and an unprecedented heatwave that broke records in the Pacific Northwest, I’m ready to do more with less. This book appeared in my life at a perfect time.
And while this may be a book about the pandemic and sheltering in place, it is a book about writing, and being inspired by writing (which Gessner’s books always do for me). It’s about writing about a place whether you currently live in that place or admiring it from afar. It’s a book about being inspired from writers past (Thoreau, Emerson, Montaigne) and current (Krutch, McKibben). It’s a book about the writing life and how to be a better person.
I preface this review with the idea that maybe staying close to home is a way to save the planet and learn more about the place you call home. Although, I think traveling is still a good way to make the world a better place by understanding different regions and cultures. However, maybe these desperate times are a call to save the place we call home.
“Instead of flying to the Caribbean to be happy, walk down to the creek. Explore what is close at hand” writes Gessner early on in his book.
After this trip west in 100+ degree heat, I will take Gessner’s challenge: “a dare – a bet made that staying still and finding home can be exciting, even thrilling. A bet made that doing with less can be satisfying as getting more.”
I’ve read all of Gessner’s books and he always wrote about hating the label of nature writer. But in this book he has evolved to being a nature writer:
“Suddenly I don’t mind being called a nature writer. Maybe, it occurs to me, nature writers are what this fucked-up world really need. People who connect things, who see and speak about those connections, and who listen to people and science. There are certainly worse things to be.”
I’ve always tried to write about the details of the place I’ve chosen to live. I want my stories to be about finding and writing about home.
“The need to know the birds, plants, trees, coffee shops, bars, creek streams, and the people where we live. To know our places. To tell the story of our place,” he writes.
I like how he maps his new world in North Carolina. When Thoreau writes in his journals about rivers and his observations, Gessner records everything, too. During the pandemic Gessner goes out on his boat and maps his river. He knows every inch of his place and this is what I want to do.
“We can fight for the world, but for each of us the world starts in our own neighborhoods. To know our neighbors, both human and otherwise, and to know our places is a worthwhile pursuit.”
This book has themes of nature writing and themes about how to save the world (or at least your little corner). It’s about a choice to be a better citizen in the world with tips on how to do this.
The pandemic made all of us stay still but once everything opened up again, we all started moving again. Me too. Unprecedented numbers traveling and flying, according to news reports over the Fourth of July holiday.
There is much to be said about staying put, Gessner writes, but we are a country of movers and many of us are not content to stay still. Me for one.
But after a weary trip west to the hottest place in the country last week, and simultaneously reading this book, I’m going to plant my butt in this place.
Is it really possible to be content with less? I’m going to give it a try.
It was a big ole DNF on June 27, 2021. We started in the lake too late in the morning and got on the road too late – it was HOT. Brutally Hot. Not a cloud in the sky all day long.
The Swim – the water was perfect. The first 300 yards I struggled to breathe. I couldn’t catch my breath and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. My wetsuit was perfect and the water temperature was perfect, but I couldn’t breathe. Was it anxiety? I’m not sure. Somehow I self-talked my way to getting into a rhythm. My first lap was 50 minutes. The second lap was glorious. I was breathing well, my arms felt strong and I made it to the shore.
The Bike – the first part of the bike felt really good. I drank so much lake water that I thought I was hydrated pretty well however, even after 10 minutes on the bike I needed to drink. The aid stations were great and I stopped and got off my bike every other one. Towards the end of the first loop I poured ice down my top and bottoms, and water over my head. The highway section of the loop was pure torture. So boring and so hot. The bike course in 2009 was rural roads, just glorious. This course – awful. The climbs were long, and hilly and mind numbing, with cars rushing past you. As I headed back to transition after the first loop it was tough to imagine doing that loop again. There were sections that were so steep on the downhill you weren’t permitted to pass and you couldn’t be in aerobars.
After the first loop and seeing Bethany and Gabe cheering I got my second wind and knew I could finish the last loop. I felt positive and ready. I stopped at the aid station before the first big climb and realized my legs were burnt to a crisp. I got some sunblock but knew it was too late. I poured water all over me and ice down the shirt. I started to climb up the narrow lane and saw a man on the ground, off his bike moaning in pain. Two intersection workers were trying to help and the man yelled “don’t move me”. It was bad. One man was calling 911 on his phone. I kept biking and then about one minute later I turned around and headed back to transition – I was done. I notified the police who were near the accident before getting back on my bike to be done, and then turned in my chip.
Bethany and Gabe picked me up from transition to take me back to the hotel to cool down, shower and come back to cheer on Mark. While we were at the hotel Mark was back in transition and needed to be picked up. He DNF’d on the bike too.
Such a disappointment but we both did the right thing. We would’ve been zombies on the run, and doubt we would’ve made it to the finish in the heat of late afternoon – it just kept getting hotter and hotter. Some said on the highway they had temperature readings of 112. That is just too hot to race. A big congrats to all who made it. What an amazing feat to cross that finish line.
Traveling post-pandemic was a nightmare on Southwest: cancelled flights on both to and from Spokane. Instead of staying in Spokane for two days (the earliest they could fly me out) Bethany and Gabe offered to drive me to Seattle to fly out from there. I got a one way ticket, non-stop from Seattle to Boston on Alaska Air. The drive west was spectacular: high desert, mountain passes.
We stopped to have a beer on Snoqualmie Pass and then take in a scenic Seattle view. It was the hottest temperature ever in Seattle and we were beat. We fell asleep shortly and I flew back to Boston the next morning.
It was a great trip. I love going west. My friends are amazing people. It was a trip of a lifetime of endurance, racing, being out west, spending time with your true friends and seeing the world.
The world is getting hotter and hotter. We need to take action to change this. It will not be easy but everyone must play a part.