Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Professional Triathlete's Wish List

What more could they ask for? They get paid(assuming they win) to race, often get free places to stay at the races and free race entry, and are really, really fit. Some athletes also have gear sponsors that can get them free race and training gear. Amber's awesome sponsor, Zoot, has eliminated an expensive element of her lifestyle by comping her a lot of great gear and giving her a nice discount for the rest. So what more could she ask for? [Note: this is my interpretation of things that she would need, not her actual wish list:) ]

A Hen House:
With the expense of traveling with your bike often outweighing the cost to fly yourself to the race, traveling quickly gets really expensive. TriBike Transport is an awesome resource when available but there are times when we can't use them and have to travel with Amber's bike. The Hen House is designed to eliminate the oversized(and overpriced) fee that airlines assess on most bike boxes(One big airline recently charged us $150 each way to carry her bike!).
Better still, an airline sponsorship that allowed her to fly and carry her bike for free would be nice.

Recovery Boots:
A huge part of training is the recovery, and recovery boots like NormaTec MVP Recovery System provides dynamic compression promoting faster recovery times.

Alter G:
A major limiter to run performance is how much pounding your body can take. With an Alter-G offloading a percentage of your body weight, you can run faster and longer with less strain on your body.

Altitude Tent:
Train low, sleep high. The benefits of living at altitude is pretty well documented and we are not leaving Concord so a good compromise is an altitude tent which simulates sleeping at high elevation thus promoting increased red blood cell proliferation and thus improving performance.

An endless pool:
Amber may argue with this, but I view flip turns and the subsequent push off of the wall as wasted time from the actual act of swimming and is unnecessary in open water swimming. You also never have to share lanes or wake up at ungodly hours just to get your swim in. Downside? You must likely won't find other people's hairs on your body when you're done.

While we're being silly here,  a private jet(and pilot) and a Concord Co-op food sponsorship would definitely help as well!

So, if you know anyone who works in any of these areas and think you can work you magic to get Amber sponsored, do it! :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Garfield, Galehead, South Twin and OAK HILL!?!

On Saturday, I headed back up north for an attempt of Garfield, Galehead and North and South Twins. I knew it would be an epic day of hiking especially since there would be a road run on both ends just to get to the access roads which were in turn closed resulting in more running. I was looking at something like 22 miles or so(I didn't want to do the exact math since I figured it would discourage me). Ignorance is bliss and I set out from Concord bright and early.
The bark was falling off the trail-very cool!
I arrived at the trail head for Gale River Trail, parked, talked briefly with a group of hikers that were part of AMC group hike, and headed up the road to get to the access road for the Garfield trail. I make it sound arduous but it's really only like a quarter mile so it only took me a couple minutes to get there. The access road was very packed due to snowmobiles and I was able to quickly jog the 1.2 miles with microspikes to the trailhead and started the hike. From the tracks in the snow, it looked like someone with backcountry skis had been in since the storm but that was about it.

I quickly donned my snowshoes and started my meander up to Garfield. The problem with this ascent is that instead of being a two mile grind it is nearly 5 miles of switchback after switchback after...ad infinitum(or at least ad nauseum). It is totally runnable in the summer or if it was nicely packed but for me it ended up being more of a run a couple steps, trip myself up, curse Eian Proehl for blowing me off morning of, walk, run a couple steps, repeat...

I finally made it to the Garfield Ridge Trail Junction and to my dismay, it was NOT packed at all. In fact, it looked like no one had been there all winter. I took the 1/4 mile turn to Garfield's summit with great views of clouds in every direction debating whether I should just turn around or attempt breaking trail.
Cloudy Day on Garfield
Gale River Trail nicely packed
My huge distaste for mindless switchback finally won out and I started breaking trail. Did I ever! With my butt and belly as well as my snowshoes, tripping over myself on numerous times. While it had taken me less than 2 hours to summit Garfield it took me over 75 minutes to travel the 2.2 miles to the Gale River Junction. Boy was I wiped.
Garfield Ridge Trail(only my footprints)
Once on the packed part of Garfield Ridge, it was smooth sailing up Galehead(great views of trees) where I helped celebrate one of the hiker's last summit for the winter 4k's(not all in one season). I quickly said goodbye and headed over to South Twin.

South Twin rockets over 1,000 feet in the air above the Galehead hut in less than 3/4 quarters of a mile so I was expecting to do some work. But compared to the trail breaking, it seemed like nothing. I summited fairly quickly and realized that, again to my dismay, the trail to North Twin was not broken.
South Twin Summit
A quick estimation of daylight remaining and my previous poor trail breaking performance made me decide to turn back and head down Gale River Trail. I quickly caught up with the AMC hikers again talked with them for a quick and then headed down the remaining trail to the access road.
Crossing a brook
It was definitely not one of my better days hiking getting low on steam a couple times and bailing on North Twin. However, it was another fun day and I cannot think of many things that I would have rather been doing that day.

As of 2/16/2013: 24/48 4,000 footers

The next day I awoke to blustery winds and the daunting task of having to drive back up to the Whites to do another hike. I was going back and forth between Carrigain and Isolation and didn't really want to do either. But I packed up all my things and headed up. To exit 16. Which is when I realized that I wasn't going to have fun wasting a good portion of my day driving only to be cold and miserable on a hike I totally wasn't into doing.
Looking out the back side of Oak Hill
So instead, I drove over to Oak Hill in Loudon and explored the back side of the mountain. It was a blast. It was so nice to just go out an enjoy the winter without any goal or time constraints. In all of my winter hikes so far, it was also the most solitude that I had had-which is pretty amazing considering I did Owl's Head on a Wednesday. It was the perfect amount of time outside and still gave me a chance to have lunch with my parents and brother, Matt. Definitely was a better way to spend my Sunday.

The desert options at the Tuscan Kitchen where I had lunch

I probably will get re-motivated to drive up north for a hike this Wednesday but I realized that I am not going to let a contrived goal of hiking contrived trails on summits that are arbitrarily deemed high enough ruin my time outside. I will go when I'm up for it and do it on my on pace and volition. The goal was a good way to get me outdoors and I may still achieve it, but I will not let it own me. Nor should any of you with your own goals because remember, all of the are just as contrived and if they are ruining your lives, it certainly is not worth it. Go out and ENJOY!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Slow Progress towards the 48

Little ol' Nemo was not very helpful this past weekend, hindering my chances at working towards the 48 4,000 footers. I was able to get out yesterday and do the North and South Hancocks so I'm up to 21 now. The epic hikes still ahead- trying to convince Amber to do the Wildcat-Carter-Moriah traverse with me this Sunday:)

A look back at North Hancock from South

Some blue sky poking through

Sneaking a peak through the trees

Heading down North Hancock

Anyone up for the Twins, Galehead and Garfield on Saturday? My mom doesn't want me hiking them alone:)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ferreira Places 2nd in Quebec and Danny Heads up Owl's Head

This past weekend, Amber and I headed up to Quebec City to compete in the GV snowshoe race which was part of Quebec City's Carnaval. We would join J Massa and Kevin Tilton as the only Americans competing in the event. The race director, Francois, had invited Kevin and Amber up after their excellent performance at last year's World Championships and somehow J and I got in too.
Just like last year's world championships, Amber had to do a bike before the race. As the high for the day was 5 degrees, she wisely opted to do the ride on the trainer.

Amber's trainer set-up

The view from the hotel

After Amber had warmed herself up on the bike and gave a short interview to a local newspaper, we were ready to race. Kevin pointed out the athlete who had just beaten him at Worlds so he knew who to stick with. It would be an interesting race as it was a four lap course that traced around the perimeter of the Carnaval.
Despite being very cold, there was actually very little snow due to the rain that they had gotten earlier in the week. What snow they did have was hard packed or icy. Big divots where people had postholed did work to slow the pace down as did a fair amount of steep little kickers throughout the course.
The inside lap was for skaters while we started and inside just to the left.
The race took off a bit slower than I had predicted especially with the terrain and level of competition. I was surprised where I found myself especially considering how easy it felt.
That soon changed...
I tried to pick up the pace and felt a little homunculus start stabbing me with a knife in my lungs. The air was so cold that it literally was my limiting factor. Well, that and the five face plants I took during the second lap as I was still trying to get used to the Red Feather snowshoes Amber wanted me to try out for the race. The deep cleats felt like I trying to run on ice skates. I do think they will be good for some of my winter hikes though especially since I just destroyed my Atlas snowshoes.

After my fifth fall, I was fairly confident, I was feel a slap on my butt as Amber passed me but between the morning bike, her being sick and benevolent, she let me finish ahead of her. That's right: she was sick. She had spent the night awake hacking up a lung(I didn't see any little men with knives though) and still put together a good enough race for second place.  Both Kevin and J also had good races and once we all had taken loooong showers to regain feeling in our extremities we were ready to explore Carnaval.

Kevin Tilton-4th Place 43:26
Danny Ferreira-13th Place- 47:19
Jason Massa-19th Place: 50:01
Amber Ferreira: 27th Place(2nd Female): 51:37
The back side of the race course looking down on Old Quebec
Carnaval had a snow sculpting competition and as can be seen from the pictures, they were pretty darn good. It was really amazing to see the huge blocks of ice(bigger than most Boston apartments) become transformed into artwork.
I think it's supposed to be Hugh Hefner

Amber in the foreground, our hotel in the background(the high-rise)
We also did a walk through of the ice palace which this year was in tribute to Russia and was modeled after an area in St. Petersburg. The rest of the weekend was spent eating, exploring, and eating some more.

The ice palace

Amber looking for some Raspberries(if you don't get the joke look up where artificial raspberries are from-gross!)
Amber and I headed back to the states just in time to catch the Super Bowl on the radio. While it was fun to hear a relatively exciting second half, it wasn't the same as watching the commercials.

The unfortunate thing about the weekend was that I wasn't able to go for a hike so I am now a little behind for the 48 4,000 footers. I went out yesterday in hopes of getting Owl's Head.

Owl's Head is often described fairly negatively for its long length with paltry views. While it is true that the summit doesn't afford much in the ways of scenery, the hike in is pretty nice and is totally runnable so it makes for a shorter day than the eighteen miles would imply. The trouble comes with the brook crossing which at high water can be pretty treacherous. To remedy this, you can bushwhack from Black Pond or Franconia Falls Trail and link up with the trail beyond the crossings.

Franconia Brook-not quite frozen- In the background Mt Bond is poking its head through.
We went out Franconia Falls hugging the brook to our right and while we definitely didn't get lost, we did lose time(it took me 36 minutes for the first 3.3 miles and another 30+ minutes for the next 1.5). We came out the on trail and found some fresh footprints so followed them and soon came across two other hikers. After sticking with them for a little bit, we realized that we were going quite a bit faster and soon said goodbye. A short hike to the summit cairn(not nearly as steep as I thought it would be) and we were off. We bushwhacked down to the ravine and decided that instead of Franconia Falls we'd take the Black Pond bushwhack. Big mistake. It runs through a beaver pond(those darn beavers!) and with one missed turn I was nearly waist deep in mud which acted very similarly to quick sand. After struggling to get out, we trudged the rest of the way back to Lincoln woods and ran the rest of the way out.

All in all, about 16.5 miles in 4:48.

As of 2/6/2013: 19 peaks "bagged", 29 to go!

The long flat stretch in Lincoln Woods