RTW Ruminations: Feb 2 – 802/09/2015
Mon – Allenspark Skiing (1:10, 2000′) + Climbing Gym
I headed up to A-park today with plans of logging a few more laps, but my legs had a different idea. Right from the start I was super tired and instead of coming out of it after 20-30min (which is typical), it just worsened as I headed uphill. The weather certainly wasn’t helping things as I was basically in an all-out blizzard with white-out conditions and 30-50mph winds that the tree cover wasn’t even able to fully diffuse. None of this should’ve been a surprise—the wind/snow was forecasted up high—and with 40k’ of vert over the previous four days I should’ve expected some significant accumulated fatigue today. I salvaged things a bit in the afternoon by getting back to the climbing gym with jLu, but even a brand new pair of 5.10 Anasazi’s couldn’t overcome my lethargy. Thanks to Jenny’s psych, though, I still managed a relatively productive 2hr sess.
Tue – Allenspark Skiing (3:38, 6000′)
Today’s laps were marked by surprisingly sticky snow. Sure, it was warm out—I was skinning in a t-shirt—but I’ve skied on warm days before that didn’t result in snow clumping to my skins and having the downhill velocity severely limited. Due to these sticky conditions, I was much more confident in my abilities in the trees, however, and finally felt some proficiency there, swooping smoothly betwixt the trunks, able to actually carve turns in the unconsolidated pack, and even repeatedly taking the final steep, narrow chute (relatively speaking, of course) that cuts the initial switchback on the skin track. I think I’m also just finally starting to accumulate some time and meager confidence on the sticks.
Alas, on my third downhill—in a comically slow-motion sequence on not-steep terrain—I didn’t cut quite hard enough at one point and glancingly coasted into a tree. It was enough to wrench my left knee an alarming amount, though, and as I wallowed around in the fluff, I feared the worst. However, once I’d regained my feet, everything seemed to be in order as I completed the downhill with no issue, but when I put my skins back on and started back up for another lap it was clear my knee wasn’t happy, so I reluctantly limped back to the Roost and drove home. On the drive home I’d contemplated a quick evening lap on the First Flatiron, but the moment I stepped out of the car I knew that wasn’t happening as I could barely limp up to my apartment. God-fucking-dammit. This is exactly the kind of thing I’d feared when I took up this blasted activity.
Wed – No physical activity today as I’d spent a largely sleepless night due to the discomfort in my knee. Even slightly shifting in bed brought on shooting pain and it only seemed worse when I awoke. Standing up was barely an option. My only happiness was that it was a gloomy, snowing day, conducive to being stuck inside with a book, allowing me to finish Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Goldfinch.
Both my Mom and jLu had recommended this book, and it definitely grew on me. At first, my sense was that it wasn’t very “serious” fiction, mostly due to its readability and rollicking, page-turning prose. This was, of course, a lame, even snobbish assessment, and it didn’t take me long to appreciate Tartt’s exquisite character development and deft treatment of obvious themes of morality, loyalty, family, and good and evil. Part way through, my thought was that the story would make a most excellent and entertaining movie, and lo, that apparently is in the works. Count me excited for its release.
Thu – Another goose egg in the mountain log, but there was discernible improvement in my knee this morning. Walking without a limp was still out of the question, but yesterday walking at all wasn’t even an option. In the afternoon I had an appointment with Jeremy Rodgers—he’s been my go-to, first assessment for any structural ailment for over five years now—and came away with much good news regarding my knee. Jeremy’s functional exam determined that I’d strained the adductor attachment at the inside of the knee, and likely the medial collateral ligament (MCL) underneath it, but that the meniscus and ACL were both in good shape (phew!). Low-impact activity (cycling, hiking, ski touring…I’m going to assume scrambling and climbing) would actually be good for it, along with aggressive icing. I feel lucky to have a physio like Jeremy who I trust completely; when I broke my leg in 2011 he actually exactly predicted the results of the MRI that my orthopedic surgeon ordered—which made me feel like I’d wasted $800 but greatly increased my confidence in Jeremy’s expertise.
Fri – Road Biking: Lyons & Longmont (2:45, 50mi, 800′)
I had a slow start to the day, reading some Mailer and letting my leg loosen up a little, before getting out for a somewhat begrudging spin on the roads. The 70F+ temps and two days of inactivity actually had me itching to get outside, but I spent most of the time just trying not to grinch about the (mostly insignificant) wind and traffic.
Regarding Mailer, I’m pretty ambivalent about his work. This morning’s selection was The Armies Of The Night, which was notably awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1968. Last year I read The Executioner’s Song (interesting, thought-provoking subject matter; pretty uninspired delivery) and Harlot’s Ghost (quite enjoyable fiction)—both behemoths in the 1100-1300 page category, so at 300+ pages at least this one hasn’t required the same time commitment. In Armies, Mailer assumes a relatively jaunty, semi-self-deprecating, somewhat humorous tone in his account of the 1967 March on the Pentagon protesting the Vietnam War, but instead of being entertaining, I’ve found it to be a bit grating and not entirely commensurate with the subject matter of political activism and civil disobedience. And then, at one point he casually mentions that he’s sitting next to Noam Chomsky in the prison’s holding area (they’ve all intentionally gotten themselves arrested) and it was like I was all of a sudden reminded that this was indeed a serious, political undertaking instead of the bumbling farce that Mailer largely seems to present it as.
Despite my vacillations towards Mailer’s style, any distaste is occasionally completely assuaged by flashes of brilliance such as this: “One had to trick or seize or submit to the grace of each moment, which, except for those unexpected and sometimes well-deserved moments when consciousness and grace came together (and one felt on the consequence, heroic), were usually occasions of some mystery. The pleasure of speaking in public was the sensitivity it offered: with every phrase one was better or worse, close or less close to the existential promise of truth, it feels true, which hovers on good occasions like a presence between speaker and audience. Sometimes one was better, and worse, at the same moment; so strategic choices on the continuation of the attack would soon have to be decided, a moment to know the blood of the gambler in oneself.”
Mailer is writing, as he says, about public speaking, but I completely relate to this passage in the context of any performance that requires the melding of the physical and mental, public or private. Such as, say, running (hiking, scrambling, climbing, moving) or racing through the mountains.
Sat – Flatirons Scrambling (4:30, 6500′)
1st Flatiron-Green Mt-Regency-Royal Arch-5th Flatiron-Fist-Yodeling Moves-Morning After-West Chimney, Green Mt Pinnacle-Challenger-Green Mt-2nd Flatiron-1st Flatiron-Amphitheater 2nd Pinnacle
My knee was feeling quite improved this morning, so with the 70F+ temps I couldn’t help but get out for a bunch of scrambling. This wasn’t maybe the most logical of circuits, but it involved two full ascents of Green and lots of good stuff in between. The only downer was that I’d hoped to finish things off with the usual circuit of classics in the Amphitheater, but wasn’t particularly inspired to pull the steep, tricky moves on the 1st Pinnacle and West Bench with the audience of stoned teenagers out enjoying the incredible weekend weather.
Sun- Allenspark Skiing: Mt Saint Vrain (5:15, 7500′)
I’d wanted to get in four or five laps today (8 or 10k’ vert), but as I headed up on my third lap I found that my skins had gotten wet in the warm, slushy snow in the sun (another +70ish degree (F) day in Boulder, geezus) and then froze once I entered the shade, making my uphill traction frustrating at best. I was getting better purchase in the untracked snow, though, so when I reached my usual saddle highpoint at 10,700′ I continued up the mountain thinking I’d turn around at treeline.
Above treeline the snow mostly disappeared (the Front Range is notoriously windswept all winter), but I could see a party of three skiing off the summit of the peak just on the other side of the shallow drainage, so I strapped the planks to my pack and headed over there to check things out, psyched to tag an actual summit and also actually ski off of it. The summit snowfield was lower angle than it first appeared—I was just able to skin straight up the fall-line—and the snow was hopelessly wind-blasted, but the top of the mountain (~12,200′) afforded brilliant views of Longs Peak and the Wild Basin to the north and Paiute Peak and the other Indian Peaks to the south, so I was a happy man. The ski down was highly variable conditions-wise, but the summit and the unexpected extra 1500′ at the end of the day made it all worthwhile, capping a 17h18min/22,800′ week. Not bad considering the mid-week injury scare.
I’ve recently gotten into Alec Baldwin’s podcast Here’s The Thing, where he interviews—or, really, just has a rather casual, often wide-ranging conversation with various artists, performers, and politicians. This week I listened to his interview with Thom Yorke—I’ve been a fan of Radiohead ever since a friend burned me CD’s of OK Computer and Kid A my freshman year of college—and was surprised at how agreeable and interesting the episode was; Yorke generally has a reputation for being a pretty moody, angsty bugger. Anyways, the interview reminded me of this SNL performance of The National Anthem. F’ing incredible.
dude. word up on the radiohead.
were you able to see Inherent Vice?
also, you came through in SPADES on mailer. very insightful. i’ll be honest and admit that i put Ancient Evenings away before finishing it. somewhere along the way it just got really tiresome. i’ve always just been in awe of the breadth of his net-casting, so to speak. Executioner’s Song always felt a little like a giant newspaper article, but still impressive in its sheer size, both physical and otherwise.
Yes. I was…underwhelmed. I think maybe my expectations were too high after reading the book and seeing the trailer. It was (understandably) a very dialogue-based movie, and, with my hearing issues, the fact that it seemed nearly every scene was either/both mumbled and whispered, well, I’m looking forward to re-watching it once it hits the Redbox. Loved the book, though.
Fuck. Shit. Fuck.
Glad the knee wasn’t much more serious than it ended up being. Been dealing with a tweaky knee thing for the past year myself and I still get scares on occasion. Thankfully I got through AC100 just fine and now hopefully WS w/o too much incident.
Radiohead is one of my favorite bands and just so fantastic to see live. I went to see a ton of shows last year and while RH didn’t tour, I saw Atoms for Peace (Yorke + Flea) and they were hands down my favorite concert I saw that year. Thom just fucking brings it, each time. This SNL performance of The National Anthem being no exception.
Take care of that knee Tony. Hope all else is well.
Dude bummer on the knee glad its okay though.
I see you been to Allenspark a ton what a cool area. I was dating a girl over the summer (Highlands Ranch) and was all about the Wild Basin. Copeland was favorite summit, and so was Meeker via Wild Basin TH. Proper bushwhacking and steep shit to gain the summit. Meadow Mt, and St Vrain is a fun tag as well and of course Twin Sisters are all worth seeing if you can.
God damn Radiohead never disappoints, I was able to see them at the Hollywood Bowl during their Kid A / Amnesiac tour and it remains in my top 3 concerts of all time…
High five’s on the knee injury being only a strain.
A touch of ski wax applied to your skins (the same wax on your skis) will stop the annoying snow accumulation. Andrew McLean does a nice tutorial on youtube. I’ll have to check Allenspark out I’ve been looking for closer, low avy, places to ski than RMNP. Hope the knee is well, thanks for sharing.
Anton, how ya doing?
Loving the updates… makes my day during lunch at work when I check and there’s a new one! 😀 lol
Gonna get all parent-y now though about the skiing… I appreciate it is a lot of fun and you are keen to develop new skills and experiences but do you never think of the dangers of this sport relative to the enjoyment and livlehood that running gives you?… Unskilled skiers have nothing to lose… but you my friend are a running god and I’d hate to loose you to the toothpicks and a tree 😉
Okay, lecture over lol 😛
Radiohead – well cool. I was at T in the Park in 1996 and never watched them cause I didn’t know who they were!!! D’oh!!! :-S
More parental advice – I agree with Dave (Scotland) – Be careful…blew out my MCL skiing 20 years ago and it took me months to be able to run again.
I’ve been skiing again this year and running in lots of snow (Upstate NY) and my knee is NOT happy! Check that risk/benefit analysis.
(Now back to doing stupid things myself that I tell others not to do)
I can understand the comments about skiing not being worth the risk but not doing something that you get a good deal of pleasure from because you are worried about getting hurt is no way to live. Also, flip the coin, it could be really good cross training/injury prevention.
I also tweaked my knee while in the middle of an end-of-season break from running this autumn. Walking down stairs, landed awkwardly, bang! Eff it, I’m done with resting. It’s too dangerous.
Okay, that Radiohead performance gave me chills. It was the sax equivalent of Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom”, which I appreciate as a former bari-sax player. Their ability to bring a highly produced, yet crunchy, multi-layer sound to a live performance is incredible.
Love your intelligent response to an injury. Skiing terrifies me for this reason so they have remained more or less stowed over the winter.
gary – I have no quibble with paying valid contracts (in fact, I haven’t represented any position to the contrary, I don’t believe). So let’s move forward and put in place stringent requirements on companies receiving bailout money. And if those people leave, so be it. Their replacements can’t do any worse. I don’t believe that there’s any ୀtalentࢭ in the troubled sectors of AIG worth keeping.DKL – Is this a variant of an NRA argument: “Bad mortgage brokers and financiers don’t mess up economies, Congress messes up economies”?
I made the Quinoa Tebouleh recipe from the informational packet and it rocks! I did add some chopped tomatoes. I also woke up after 24 hours of no gluten and dairy with a lot less mucous in my head and a general feeling of less inflammation in my sinuses, so I am pretty excited about that.
That's great, Turkey raffles are excellent, at least here most everyone wins something. I used to run 300 pound rollers and a tough broad was on the machine next to me and got her hair caught in the roller. Ripped it right out by the roots and she just held her head and moaned.
Tony, out of curiosity have you ever delved into any travel writing? I assume that would greatly interest you.
Skin maintenance can be frustrating. A little glide wax helps. With sticky snow. If they freeze your screwed until they unfreeze, which you probably learned. Stuff them under your jacket for the descent. Your base layer is likely soaked anyway, I bet even Killian sweats in the skin track.
Be cognizant of your hip mobility. Climbing should be helping with that but just a warning, I lost enough to cause an issue.
I discovered a new fav. band/album and wanted to share:
for King@Country Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.
I had a nasty fall in mid-December; toe caught the pavement (ironically after leaving a trail) and I landed hard on my knee. Strained MCL, bone bruise, etc. I feel your pain! After some gimpy days, I started rugged hiking on some technical trails, a bit uncomfortable on the knee but surprisingly less painful than mere walking. Quickly was back to walk-run, then run, now fine. Scary, though, indeed! Our outdoor interests are risky but oh so rewarding!
See you at Hardrock!
Anton – are you going to run in the Dirty Thirty? Just curious. Hope the knee’s ok. Diggin the blog.
Oh if we could travel back in time I would take you with me to the Against Demons tour – one of the most memorable and beautiful things I’ve ever seen or heard
Nice live Radiohead – never heard that live and love the studio version.
I’m glad you cussed on your blog. I was starting to think you really were a god. It must be so frustrating to be at the top of the game and have shit go wrong. I’m nowhere near the top – but I’m at MY top and shit went wrong with a stress fracture the other week – R 5th metatarsal. Six weeks of rest and finally today I was able to go climb my little 500m mountain trail in Krabi, Thailand. I’m ALIVE AGAIN. You will be too champ… hold tight.