Training Status Update; It’s Monday

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.

Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight by David Gessner, a review

Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight

“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.

Read my review of Gessner’s other works: Leave It As It Is, My Green Manifesto.

This is how I read books:

Ironman Coeur d’Alene DNF

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. 

This is the day before race day, hot but at least there are clouds.

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.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene update

I didn’t do much right this time. 

Some days I trained hard and didn’t take time off.

Some days I took too many days off. 

I started the real training too late.

I have so many excuses. 

But then again, despite logging every training run, swim and bike – I don’t refer back to it to remember I did train well, sometimes. I just have selective memory. 

While I feel ready for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.

It’s part of the endurance lifestyle – you just never feel ready.

You think “I could’ve done more”. 

Come Sunday, the test will be real: can I finish an Ironman when the high temperature of the day is 100.

This is the forecast for Coeur d’Alene.

Two of my DNFs happened in the best training conditions possible. I want to finish this.

Right now I’m not thinking too much about race day (other than the weather). I told Mark, who is racing with me that the Friday before we will strategize on race nutrition. I can’t think about it now. 

I have two more regular days then Thursday is a travel day. Then it is race weekend.

Thursday I will drop off dogs at the kennel, drive to Boston, fly across the country to Spokane and hope that I get there before midnight. Friday we will drive to Idaho and then I will have time to be nervous.

Right now there is work and dogs and tapering. I love it all. 

Adventure starts on Thursday. Who knows what will happen? I for sure don’t know.  

But I’m in. I’m going in with the hope to finish and cross that line for Ironman # 7.

Training Update, 4 weeks to IMCDA

While this past week was only 6.5 training hours (let’s just call it an unplanned recovery week) I’m ready to gear up for a big training week. The goal: 20 hours. I’m not following the training plan exactly since my work schedule changed but I’m cranky and irritable and fatigued so I know I’m doing something right. 

Saturday is the 15 mile Chocorua race and then Sunday will be a big bike mile day – hoping for 80+.

Somehow I need to fit mountain biking in too. I didn’t mountain bike at all last week. 

Despite the cold temps the last few days, summer is right around the corning. Here is the updated race calendar for the summer.

This is how yesterday felt when I went swimming at my new gym. The entire pool to myself for 3,336 yards.