The day I realized I was gridding it

On Tuesday Vicky agreed to meet for a hike. We both had peaks to bag in January but we agreed on Whiteface Passaconaway. We didn’t discuss route or anything significant other than I wanted to run/hike. Vicky wanted clarification on shoe/boot type. We both wore boots and spikes. While I had visions of a bit of running it – ha – wishful thinking as always: it was a hike.

However, in the parking lot I told her I wanted to do the counterclockwise route since the granite ledges on the approach to Whiteface on Blueberry Ledge induces anxiety for me going up. Last year I did the loop counter clockwise and it was so much better going down the ledges than going up. I wanted to repeat what worked. Vicky is the most laid back, open for anything hiker friend I know. She didn’t care what route – she needed a long hike. Although I will note that three hikers who passed near the real summit of Whiteface as we headed to the ledges seemed worried for us. 

But let’s start from the beginning.

Great weather, clear skies and no wind. Dicey’s Mill to Passaconaway has a bunch of steep parts but doable. Spikes were clearly the best choice. We get to the “boring” summit (sorry but it is), but the views between trees showed us Mount Washington in its glory.

Back to Rollins Trail and the ridge.

It is on this amazing ridge where I realized that I was gridding. Where I knew I was In. I am gridding. I knew these trails. I knew where I was going. I knew this ridge. I knew where the true summit was. 

This may be the heart of why we want to know things so intimately. We know the familiarity that brings clarity. In the wilderness, things can change on a dime but yet we know trail junctions (and celebrate them) and can anticipate ledges or difficult river crossings. You know this place so well; and that is why I’m gridding because I love knowing a trail or route because I figured it out. I looked at the map and I hiked/ran/walked it over and over. I figured it out. I got oriented to this place.

Now, I know, I’m so gridding it. Every 4,000 footer in New Hampshire, in every month. Hells Ya. I say. 

This Passaconaway-Whiteface Loop is glorious. We saw two cute dogs; the one with a bell that warned us of his presence and number two had the cutest ears. Spikes were the wrong choice when we got to the ridge; soft snow. We should’ve brought our snowshoes.

While we wished for our snowshoes but wondered: would we have put them on if we had them since it was “yeah spikes” more then “we wished we had snowshoes”. I know – it’s a dilemma. So much energy to put them on. 


We got to the place on Whiteface where I knew it was going to be tough. Vicky is fearless. She is taking in the views of the Presidentials and grabbing photos. I’m like, “Hey Vicky, I’m going to keep going.” I start the “bad part” and it isn’t really bad, yet. And I can’t remember which is the very hard part because I think there are three sections that are hard.

“Is this the bad part?” I ask Vicky.

“No, it’s coming up,” she said. 

We go past the crevasse and it’s okay. 

“Was this the bad part?” I ask Vicky.

“No, it’s coming up,” she said. 

We get to a part where I butt slide a bit and jump; but it’s not super hard. 

“Is this the bad part?” I ask VIcky.

“Yes, that was it,” she said. 

“Wow, that was easy,” I said.

And just like that, the bad part is over. I estimate it’s about 1% of the hike. Blueberry Ledge Trail was perfection. 

I’m gridding it. I have the best hiking partners. That is all.

Whiteface looking south. Can you see Gunstock in the distance?

Clean Slate Monday

Despite Monday and Tuesday being my weekend and when I complete my long runs, today’s Training Peak Calendar shows a clean slate: A full 7 days of running aheads and 11 hours of it.

Last week I missed one day but I’m happy with the training I did but alas, today is a new week, a blank slate to do everything I want to do. New this week will be swimming and signing up for lanes with the hope that being on the waitlist materializes. Also new, weight training. And possibly new is completed a second run on the days that are optional.

Training Stats for January:

I’m staying healthy and not getting injured so these are very good signs. I’m eating well and decided to cancel my Hello Fresh subscription. While I liked the different meals I don’t think they were necessarily super healthy options. I want to eat more local, fresh food instead of wherever the food came from with the subscription (I think California).

Let’s get to it.

How I fell back in love with skiing

Usually with most tasks (come on, let’s face it everything is a task) I want to get it done and move on to the next thing. Even with running and biking; I can’t wait to be done. 

I know people who tell me running is their release, their escape. Not me. I run to get in the zone, complete the training plan and get on with my day. 

Then there is skiing. 

When I ski, I can go and go and go – like the energizer bunny. 

There is that moment when you can call it a day or head back to the lift. I want to go back to the lift; every time. It’s easy to choose one more run. Not so with running one more mile, or biking one more mile. 

I forgot this when I moved from Colorado to Tucson. I moved to the desert southwest primarily to road bike year-round. I chose biking over skiing. Now, I’ve fallen back in love with skiing. 

There is so much joy in skiing. It is one of few sports that make you laugh out loud while living in the exact moment. As I fly down the  mountain I am thinking of nothing except what is in front of me. Mountain biking is like this, too. 

There is joy in exploring the mountains and playing in the snow, and the views – the views are pretty amazing.  

Right now I’m happy getting to know every trail at Gunstock. I will eventually go to other mountains and explore more but for now, I’m studying the terrain, watching the skiers in the terrain parks, naming the mountain peaks in the distance and using new muscles I don’t normally use. 

I’m going to try to ski a few runs every day. My goal is 60 ski days.

Training Update January 2020

Train, walk dogs, work, eat, sleep, repeat. This is my life.

Ultra running training is getting real. And I’m getting really tired. 

My stats for January:

This year, or at least these winter months, my big training days are Monday and Tuesday since these are my days off now. 

The last two weeks my long runs have been around 15 miles and they are tough. I remember two years ago at this time I was doing an occasional 30 mile run. I can’t imagine getting back there but I’m working towards it. 

I really like having a training plan on Training Peaks and it synchs to my watch. When I start my run it knows what to do. Last week, the plan called for a Fartlek Workout. So 12-15 times I ran 1 minute at a slightly harder pace. My watch would beep every minute with “Fun Faster” and then the next minute “rest”. It was fun. 

Other Training Peaks workouts are a count down by miles or time. It makes each run interesting which is what I need to keep going. 

Last Week’s Summary:

From Training Peaks

Next up: add biking and more swimming. This should be interesting.

I’m just breathing

I heard Peggy sing this song at a house concert shortly before my first Ironman. I was living in Granby, Colo. at the time. I thought of this song as I swam my first Ironman swim course in Idaho. It calmed me. “I’m just breathing.” That was 2009.

I thought of this song a few days ago and I can’t stop listening to it in the car. It has so much more meaning for me now, and confirms what I believe in and what I still struggle with. 

I’m just breathing. Living one day at a time.

Our world, our nation is out of control. Music helps.