Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Short and Sweet Steep

Chippewa was a tough race. But I felt good enough to run 7M the next evening. I swear by the ice bath. And another 13 yesterday - 10 @ 7:20 pace, with a few 200M sprints at the end for good measure. So I guess the legs are recovering well. Just in time to thrash them again this weekend. I fly back to Ireland tomorrow night and of course it wouldn't be enough to simply hang out with family, work crazy long days bridging the time zones and travel around the country catching up with friends. Noooooo, I had to find a race. And not just any race.

The run up and down Croagh Patrick in County Mayo is one of the many things I once thought ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY CRAZY. Perfect, then. Check out the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) website for more info on the Irish variety of trail running.

The race is not even 7K. It does climb up 800m and then right back down again. But still, a course record of around 40 mins for the men and an hour for the women doesn't seem quite right. That it, until you see the pictures...

The man himself guarding his hill

The back straight

July pilgrims. With shoes. Ah, not real pilgrims.

Crazy camera angle or crazy steep? Or just plain crazy.

Some mud. Some singletrack. And rock scree. Lots of it. I cannot wait to see my knees after this one.

I'm not comtemplating the double BUT there is a sister race up and down
Ben Gorm the following day to complete the regional (Connaught) championships...

The First Ascent out of Aasleagh Falls. Photo by Rachel Walters.

More rocks. But look at that view. Photo by Paul Nolan.

Let the madness begin. I mean, continue...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chippewa Moraine 50K - 2009 ed.

If it's possible to run the same race two years in a row but feel like you've never seen the trail before... today was the day. The inaugural Chippewa Moraine 50K was held last year, a few weeks earlier and in the middle of a snowstorm (ref. 2008 pictures and race report).

2009 promised to be a different story. And so it was...

Eric, Guy, Kami and I met at Lifetime in Plymouth at 4:30am. Delightful hour to be setting off at. At least I was feeling better than the same hour Friday morning - after a too rare tuna steak on Thursday night I spent many hours between the bathroom and my bed until finally my stomach started to settle down by lunchtime yesterday. To offset the dehydration I took several electrolyte drinks for the rest of the evening and felt like I was almost back to normal by this morning.

The drive was pretty uneventful - comapred to last year where we got lost in the snow and arrived 10 minutes before race start. This time we got there right at 7am, checked-in (since I had already signed up before earning a 'free' entry Wynn graciously allowed Kami to use it) and had plenty of time to get organized and chat with just about every trail runner I know from MN or WI! The men's field was pretty stacked - Andy Holak, Chris Gardener, John Storkamp, Adam Harmer and several other names I knew but was less familiar with. Joe Z was also there coming off a super run at Trail Mix last weekend. Steve Q was on his 3-weekend streak - great stuff! And I got to meet Nic just a few minutes before we took off. Hoping not to see him again until I finished and then he finished :)

It had rained pretty solidly for most of the drive but had eased off as we got close to Chippewa Falls and by the time we were getting ready to gather for Wynn's pre-race briefing it was actually pretty pleasant with temperatures probably in the mid-40's. So I decided to ditch the light rain jacket and just go with longsleeves over a tank top and shorts. And hat. Worked great - got a little hot at times and I could probably have taken off the hat but it wasn't really bothering me. After describing the course, markings, aid stations, etc - the cowbell was rang and off we went - down a ridiculously steep hill start. Knowing that the out and back course would end with this climb! But we weren't thinking about that right now...

The first mile or so was pretty wide grassy trail so there was plenty of space and time to figure out where to fit into the pack before we hit the singletrack. The front guys sped off into the distance and I settled into a nice pace with a few guys ahead of me and Eric behind me. We stayed pretty much that way for the first several miles until I started to pass a few people as I felt like my legs were ready to pick it up a little. I figured I'd follow the same strategy as Terrapin and just go with how my legs felt and not worry too much about heart rate. Not that I was wearing my HRM but I had a fair idea that I was hitting my threshold more than I should be! Those rolling hills really pushed me. It was hard to catch a break. Very little opportunity to relax into a smooth pace.

I refilled my water bottle at the first AS at around 5 miles and kept moving pretty quickly. I decided to stick with gels and clif blocks and water. This has worked well for me in the last several ultras. And apparently has not gone unnoticed - the guys were saying on the ride home that my race reports have become more about running and less about eating :)

If only I could translate my disciplined running eating habits to real life.

I continued to feel good through the next section, running by myself pretty much all the time. I refilled water again at the next AS but ran through the following one just a mile or two later. At that point I was focused on the turnaround. I knew it would not come as soon as I hoped but I felt like I was making good progress and was just hoping I had not gone out too fast. As I write this I am still not sure if I did or not.

The trail was in great shape. A few muddy sections here and there but nothing that lasted more than a few yards and nothing too messy. Of course that didn't stop me falling. And then there were the boardwalks. Thankfully I managed to stay upright on those. Some were very slippery on the way out. A few people did take a spill with some nice bruising to show for it. But nothing compared to Bruce's swim last year. The lakes were beautiful. Wynn reckons he's counted 55 in total along the trail and I would believe it. I would love to come back and run here again in the fall.

Just over 2 hours in I met the lead guys - John was first and his usual focused self, followed by Andy and a few others close behind including Chris, Joe and Adam. It was great to see them all running strong. Though I knew the speed they were going meant I still had some distance to cover. I hit the turnaround with 2:18 on the clock. Happy with that. Now, to just get back in around the same time. When planning my 2009 races, assuming the weather would be decent and the trail in good shape, I'd set my goal at 4:40. I figured that was still possible. It was great to see Julie B and Eve (another super run at Trail Mix last weekend) and others at the turnaround. Huge thanks to all the volunteers and supporters along the way. And to the photographers - Londell and Bryan seemed to be everywhere!

The return journey started out pretty well. I was just behind a guy that I'd almost caught at the turnaround and we ran together for the next 5 miles. When we got to the AS he 'complained' that I was torturing him but he was glad I was behind him a few minutes later when he kept going straight on the road instead of turning left onto the trail... good thing I got his attention as I don't think I was able for a sprint to catch him!

I'd met Nic a few minutes after turning around. He was telling me to slow down but I was pretty sure that even without that he'd be catching me at some point. Oh well... we couldn't have him getting chicked, right??!! A few minutes later, I met the next female, Karen S, whom I had the chance to chat to after the race. I was more focused on hitting my goal time than winning the race but no question I was happy to be out in front and seeing someone no more than 10 mins behind was a good incentive. I enjoyed the out and back course as it meant seeing so many people along the way. For the most part everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves - definitely more smiling faces than last year! I was glad to see Eric running strong, and Kami enjoying herself as always, running with Todd and Pierre when I met her. And Guy looking great on his first 50K. Good choice for your first!

My stomach had been doing pretty well most of the run but I was feeling a bit queasy soon after half way. I remembered the porta-loo at the next AS (a welcome luxury!) so held on for that. Things settled down and I continued to take either a gel or 2-3 clif blocks every 30 minutes or so. And electrolytes also though probably not enough given the layer of salt on my face at the finish. The next few miles I started to hurt and felt like I was slowing down a lot though in reality I was probably moving at about the same pace as the way out. I'd moved ahead of the guy I'd been running behind and was passed by another guy so mostly I was running by myself. I'd really enjoyed the several miles by myself on the way out but at this point I could have done with someone to follow or push me. My right knee was a little painful from time to time but nothing too severe. My foot was the main issue. The ball of my right foot has been numb since Terrapin - due to a trapped nerve along the inside of my ankle. The PT massaging and lasering it seemed to be working at first but this past week it seemed to get worse. It hasn't been bothering me too much during my runs but after a few hours out there it was bugging me. And I was also getting a blister along the side of my foot which is weird given that I was wearing my usual Asics Gel Trail Attacks - albeit a new pair which have been ungraded slightly. Still, I think it's more to do with the numbness issue rather than the shoes. At my last session the PT mentioned I may have a cyst given that it's not getting any better so I'll probably have to get it imaged next week. Anyway, no excuses. I am just not in as good a shape as I'd hoped to be at the end of April. With 7 8 weeks until Grandma's I have some work to do!

Back to the trail... I was so glad to see the final AS at mile 26.5. Karen was taking care of things and Nic's parents were also there. It wouldn't be long until they'd see him coming through. Checked the watch and started to count down the miles. I left there right at 11:45am so I'd have to say it might be a bit longer than 4.5 miles... Wynn does mention "Horton miles" in the race info and I know all about them. I knew it was about 2 miles from the section where you are right below the visitor center so I figured I'd just not think about the finish line until then. 20 minutes later Nic blew by me - he was running so strong. No chance of me staying with him. In fact, the thought didn't enter my head. I did wonder though if it had been a girl would I have tried to pick it up? I am not sure I'd have been able to. Despite all the blog commentry the past few weeks I was delighted to see how well he was running. Negative splits always feel good!

I was really counting down the minutes at this stage. Trying not to look at the watch too often but hearing shouts in the distance so I knew that the trail would pass by the visitor center before long. I had to walk a few of the hills along here. Earlier in the day I'd had grand ideas of not walking any hill... that lasted oh until about mile 8! The course might not have the same climbs as Afton but the constant rolling hills were taking their toll on me. Tried to pick it up in that final mile of singletrack before hitting the grassy section and seeing the finish area. I could make out a few guys spread out ahead of me. Just getting through it now. Knowing that delightful hill was ahead of me. As I was nearing the bottom of the climb I could see Nic heading towards the finish line. I ended up more than a minute behind him so that's how slow I was moving up that hill! A few people - including Eric and Kami - actually ran that hill. Not me. Even with Nancy taking photographs at the top!

Oh it was so nice to turn right at the top of the hill and run down the finishing chute. 4:41:20. Close enough to my goal. I would have been happier to feel stronger in the final few miles but I can't complain. Nothing good comes easy. Another beautiful finishers print from Wynn - and the fine piece of artwork that comes with being the first female across the line. As he explained later it was basically put together with 'bits of crap I picked up while out running trails'. How appropriate!

Thanks for the photo Matt!

A few bowls of chilli, my recovery drink, another recovery drink (although, the photographic evidence below would suggest I stuck with the former thus losing the second battle of the day!), and several bottles of water later I was feeling somewhat human again. It was great hanging out with everyone for a few hours while we watched all the runners finish. Sharing stories from today and other recent outings on the trails. A huge thanks to Wynn for an awesome race, and to co-RDs Adam and Matt. Congrats to all who participated in what is quickly becoming a must-do on everyone's race calendar.

(staged) Photo courtesy of Nic

A final piece of advice: when taking an ice bath (which I highly recommend after a hard run) I'd suggest reading material other than "Swimming to Antartica" - it's a wonderful book about an amazing lady - but it reads much better if you're wrapped up in a warm blanket as opposed to sitting in 20lbs of ice!

Thanks to Karen S who sent along the link to her local paper which featured the race - clearly Andy didn't have enough dirt to get photographed :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boston Marathon 2009

I caught the last half hour of the marathon online today. Even though it seemed inevitable for the last several miles of the race it was still heartbreaking to watch Kara Goucher being passed in the final stretch. I think she got it wrong tactically, pulling the lead pack for many miles taking the head-wind while they tucked in behind her. Despite her 10,000m speed she didn't have the kick in the end. But it was only her second marathon so I've no doubt her best races are yet to come. In her own words:

“I felt great, I knew I was going to finish strongly. The pain did not set in until I finished and my heart was totally broken. I just didn’t have it at the end.”

The men's finish was less dramatic but Ryan Hall deserves great credit for the way he refused to give up and fought his way to the 3rd place spot.

I was equally impressed by Colleen S. De Reuck - a 45yr old with a 21mth old daugher - she proved her mettle once again to finish in 8th place.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Joe Plant Memorial 5K

This morning Pam and I ran the 2nd Annual Joe Plant Memorial 5K. Joe was a regular runner at Lake Phalen who died suddenly shortly after achieving his dream of becoming a St. Paul police officer.

Last year the run was held in March so it was a little warmer this morning but unfortunately not quite the ideal running conditions of recent days. We decided to get there a little early to do a warm-up lap. I'm not sure it helped much but at least it was good to know that it got warmer on the far side of the lake and that we had to deal with a head-wind for the last mile. Not to mention a few speed bumps along the way.

We met up with Karen and Tanya just before we took off. They'd considered the 1M walk but opted for the spectator spot instead! It was a pretty small crowd and since the starter asked anyone hoping to run sub-20 to come to the front... there we were toes to the line and ready for off. Joe's friend and running partner Joel had said a few words about Joe earlier, introducing us to his family and to a kid who's benefiting from the Charities Challenge fund. And at 9am he sent us on our way.

I started out way fast and within about 300 yards felt a rush through every vein of my body quite unlike anything I've ever felt before! OK. Either I'm going to crash and burn or just push through this. Pam sped on ahead of me - I knew I wouldn't be able stay with her but would try to keep her in my sights. Two guys were up in front and another two between us. And things stayed this way to the finish. Mile 1 in 6:16, mile 2 in 6:37 and the rest in 6:14 - which makes me pretty sure the course was short but it was the same as last year so to finish in 19:07 versus 20:12 makes me pretty happy. Pam smoked it in 18:22. She'll be in great shape for her duathlon in a month's time.

After the race we feasted at my fav breakfast spot - the Egg & I - there is no pancake as good as their Kamikaze!! Shared one with Pam so I could legitimately enjoy the veggie omelet...

Good times.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Check it out

If you don't already follow Kurt's blog - check it out to see an awesome video of Ryan Hall training. It's a beautiful piece.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The week so far...

The ice bath on Saturday evening worked wonders so I was feeling pretty good Sunday morning. The calf pain was gone and while I still had numbness along the ball of my foot, overall things felt surprisingly good. One thing the (new) PT pointed out on my first visit a month ago was how much weaker my left hamstring/glute is compared to my right. No question, I always push off with my right leg when running, step forward first with the right leg in yoga, bike stronger with the right leg... and so on. However, this was never made so clear to me as after Saturday's run. While my right leg was sore and tired, the left one felt like it had done diddly-squat. So as well as the PT exercises, every time I run/bike/swim/practice yoga I am trying to focus as much as possible on using my left leg.

And you think running is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.

Anyway, the week so far...

Sunday: Swam in the morning - trying to focus as much as possible on my left leg with lots of kickboard. I'd planned to take it easy for the rest of the day but the weather was so beautiful I had to be outside... with my running shoes on... running... I ended up at Lake Nokomis running harder and faster than planned. 9M in about 1:08 with a final lap at 6:48 avg pace.

Monday: Yoga in the morning (new mantra: left leg, left leg, left leg) and swim after work (endless laps of kickboard powered by left leg).

I also had PT and a massage Monday night (it was a late one) with some insightful thoughts from the professionals...

Upon hearing of my new ailment* the PT asked "Am I ever going to get rid of you?" An hour later, while working on my still-new-to-rock-climbing triceps Sue commented "Well, you always give me plenty to work on"

* My internet-assisted self-diagnosis on the numb foot was confirmed by the PT as Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome - caused by repeatedly tying my shoelaces too tight at Terrapin as they kept loosening getting wet with the multiple creek crossings, and catching a nerve along the inside of my ankle. Should work itself out with some ART and ice-massage. I think REST might also have been mentioned but I am not sure...

Tuesday: Ran 12M in the late afternoon sunshine... LOVE this weather... was not quite sure how I was feeling so I started out with an 8:20 warm-up and soon found my groove... 7:20, 7:10, 7:00 etc - ended up with a few sub-7:00's plus some recovery miles to average 7:18 overall. Happy with that for a tempo run. I am not really following the "Run Less. Run Faster" program but according to the plan I seem to be close enough to my Grandma's goal. Though I will probably not get in my long runs at the correct pace for the next few weeks due to other race plans... oh well, as much as I'd like to PR for the marathon it's becoming less of a priority than just enjoying spring running and ramping up for the second half of the year of trail fun. Later, I headed over to VE for an hour on the walls - almost got a bouldering route I've been trying for a while but was a bit nervous going so high without anyone spotting me (Val couldn't make it last night so I was by myself). Did a few auto-belays downstairs - no joy on the 5.8 routes - well, I shouldn't say no joy as I am loving every moment of just trying them - but got a few 5.7's. Equally awesome was watching a 10-year old kid lead climbing one of the toughest routes in the entire place. He is something else.

Wednesday: Yoga in the morning and this evening my first visit to Hyland ski hill since last August! And I haven't exactly missed it... 10 trips up and down with Guy, Eric, Igor x 2, and Jim... followed by a few miles cooldown. Despite the pain I think it'll have to become a regular trip.

The rest of the week involves a few easier workouts, with the 5K race on Sunday morning - which will be anything but easy. My goal is sub-20, i.e. a PR... last year was 20:12 - following a 20 miler on the Saturday. So this year should be easier, right? In any case, breakfast with the girls at the Egg & I afterwards will be most enjoyable regardless of the finish time!

And then a nice taper in the lead up to Chippewa.

I am not sure if a week qualifies as a taper for a 50K.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pacing the Pacer

That's pretty much what Valeria (the runner) was doing for me (the pacer) during the last 15 miles of her 100K!

The inaugural Zumbro 100 was a major success. Thanks to Larry, Colleen, their family, the volunteers, spectators and of course, the runners, it went down as a weekend to remember. Even the weather cooperated - quite the change from this same weekend at Chippewa last year!

Val picked me up Friday afternoon and we set off for Thielman. I'd been down there twice last year - for the early April fat-ass to run on the snow packed trails and then in June to run on the muddy trails. So I was really looking forward to seeing what the trails would be like given the recent dry weather.

And we were not to be disappointed. We arrived around 6pm, got the tent set-up and caught up with other 100K runners, 100M pacers, crew etc - hearing good reports on trail conditions and on the race in general. The 100 milers had started out at 8am that morning and for the most part things were going well.

Val slept (sort of) for a few hours while I hung out at the bonfire. Several others showed up as the midnight start drew closer - Maria, Matt, Kim and others I had not met before but some I knew from the blogosphere. The temperatures were dropping but the moon was rising which made for a picture perfect start. As Larry was giving the pre-race briefing, 100M runners were coming from either side - the 5+ mile loop in one direction and the remaining ~15 mile loop in the other. The 100K runners started out with a mile out and back to get that out of way before 3 full loops.

I hit the sack a few minutes after seeing them pass back through the start/finish area, setting the alarm for 4:45am. I was planning to run with Val from mile 22. It turned out she got done with the first loop just as I was beginning to stir so she continued to the short loop and I caught her on the way back through the start/finish area (mile ~28) just after 6am. She was in good spirits and we chatted easily for the next several miles. I could tell she was tired from lack of sleep and her knee had started to bother her, but she was making great progress.

We passed Scott between the 2nd AS on his last loop - he was moving pretty slow so Val suggested I offer to pace him which I did but he said he was doing ok and wanted some time alone. Knowing what a strong runner he is having enjoyed his company for several miles at Sawtooth I continued on with Val.

The 6 mile section between the AS on the loop started to take it's toll on both of us - Val with good reason - but me - I couldn't figure out what was going on with my leg. I've been experiencing some numbness in the sole of my right foot since Terrapin but hadn't really thought about it much as it only bothered me slightly when running. However, it was definitely spreading and my foot soon felt heavy and dead, and then my calf started to ache. Once we passed back though the start/finish area and to the relatively flat 5 mile loop I had to stop several times to stretch it. Running fast to catch back up with Val actually felt good. But that's not exactly how you pace someone! I also managed to lose my runner during one of these catch-ups - Val had taken a wrong turn and I went by as she was making her way back to the trail - so I ended up back at the start/finish area without her - to much laughter from those gathered there! A few minutes later we made it back together and got ready for the last 15 mile push.

I was a bit worried about how Val was doing - while her knees were bothering her less, her turnover had slowed a good bit on the flat section so I was thinking the hills would be tough. Not so! We took off from the start/finish and literally within yards she was running stronger than at any point while we'd been together. John also caught up with us along here as he started out on a recovery run from hill repeats the previous day. John's normal recovery pace is probably well above what we were doing but he decided to stick with us anyway. I had to stop several times along here to stretch my leg so I was glad he was there to run with Val as she was keeping a seriously good pace for the last miles of a 100K. Not only was she running the flats and downhills with no problems - she hardly walked any of the uphills in the final 10 miles! Seriously impressive.

We rolled into the final AS and Val zipped right through it and up the hill for the final push. She didn't let up the pace at all through this section and reached the finish line in a strong 14:43 for her first 100K trail finish.

Congrats to all who participated in the event. It was one tough course - and get this - next year Larry plans to make it even tougher - no 'sissy' flat section for the first 5 miles!

Key Rules of Pacing

Do offer massage at every AS...*

Don't arrive at the AS sans runner...**

* Jen Pierce Photo
** Londell Pease Photo

Friday, April 10, 2009


Heading off shortly to Zumbro with Val. She is running the 100K tonight and I will run some with her tomorrow - one loop for sure and maybe 2 - depending how she is doing. Or maybe depending how I am doing - as I sit here icing my knee! Ran a little too fast this morning... Pam came over at 6am and we set off for Nokomis - 2m easy, 2m fast - repeat - 4m easy, for a total of 12m. We averaged 7:38's so the easy miles were really not that easy. But the fast ones were fast (for us) - just above and just under 7:00. My knee bothered me a bit after running at Afton last Sunday - after the race on Saturday - but after icing and some massage work with the PT on Tuesday it felt fine. Ran Tuesday night - not far but some short pick-ups - and it was good. But I should have been icing it all week as a preventative measure and of course I did not...

Anyway, it should be a really fun weekend, especially with the glorious weather. And the full moon tonight. Looking forward to seeing the usual suspects down there. Hope the 100 milers are getting on well thoughtout today.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ron Daws 25K

So much for starting at 7:30 pace... Pam and I went out at 7 flat and stayed there for a few miles... until we hit those hills! And if we thought they were bad on the first loop... well, they near killed me on the second. But it was a fun race and great to feel relatively strong for at least the first 10 miles or so just a week after the 50K. I finished in 1:52:20 about 20 seconds behind Pam - and I suspect she could have left me sooner than the final mile :)

That's 7:15 pace so I'm happy to be able do that in early April with Grandma's still several weeks away. There's no way I could have held that pace for another 10 miles today but hopefully more tempo and interval training, not to mention a decent taper, and it might just come together for my goal of 3:12 (7:19 pace).

As well as a 25K PR (ok, I've only ever done that distance on the trails before...), I hit a 10M PR at 72:12. Just missed my Half Marathon PR at 1:35:13 (the last half of Grandma's in '07 was 1:35:04).

Carrie and Patty ran also. And it was great to see some of the trail running folks out there - Joe Z (representing TC running co. along with several other speedy guys), John S, Steve Q... as well as Jenny and Guy, and several others I know from races and/or blogs. And the choc chip cookies at the finish - yes Susan, they did live up to their reputation!

Celebrated with my first ice-bath of the year. It felt great once I got in. Definitely helped. My legs went from tight and achy to relaxed and refreshed. I'm sure there'll be residual pain tomorrow but not as bad as otherwise. Stretched a fair bit right after the race and some more when I got home so that should help also.

Afton in the morning for a few (easy) hours on the trails, followed by relaxation and good conversation with the crew to celebrate Jeffrey's b'day. I had great intentions of actually baking something but the day seemed to disappear on me. Then again, Kowalski's bakery does a better job than I ever could...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Recovery and Race

I had to abandon my plans for no running this week when I saw how lovely it was outside this evening! Called Vale on my way from work and we met up for a nice 10 miler around the lakes. I can't say my legs felt full of energy but it was lovely to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. Got a little chilly by the end but spring feels oh so close... even the ducks were saying so.

Went a bit mad with yoga this week but think it helped flush out my legs. Also a massage Monday night was a good idea. I used to hold off on massage until at least 3-4 days post-race but last year started to get them the next day or 2 days later. Pretty painful for the first few minutes on any given area but I think it works well for me.

Looking forward to Ron Daws 25K on Saturday. It'll be my first time at this race. Not sure how I'll feel. I don't think my legs will be too fresh. But I'm going to try to go out at 7:30 pace and see how it goes...

Climbing last night started our pretty frustrating - 1. they changed the bouldering route we've been trying for weeks! and 2. I couldn't for the life of me get past the 2nd move on a route I got at first attempt last week! spent quite a while upstairs checking out the new routes. And then ended on a good note when we did a trad route downstairs and I made it a few moves higher than last week. It's a 5.8 so I'm sure it'll be a while until I get it. It's funny - I think I expend more energy between thinking about the route and hitting the wall when I don't get it vs actually climbing :) Hopefully will be able to keep it up twice a week. Though already it's getting hard to do everything on the plan... just not enough hours in the week. But it's impossible not to be out doing something when the weather is decent.