A Long-Slow Distance Day with My Sister

Long-slow distance days were my favorite days in Cross Country running when I was in high school. I was already a slow runner so having a day where it was okay to be “slow” was a boost to my morale. Ego aside, the science behind long-slow distance (LSD) days lends well to my current and future fitness goals.

The Kortelopet ski race is a half-marathon on skis. I’ll be skiing farther and longer than I’ve ever gone before. Granted, the true Birkie race has more continual climbing, the Kortelopet still hits some of the most brutal climbs including the 39K Hill, Bitch Hill, Duffy Hill (not on graph) and Sunset Hill. I’ll be climbing over 1,000m of total elevation change before I hit main street. Therefore, I need to boost my aerobic endurance and my muscular endurance to handle the stress on my body. Thus, LSD training days are born.

The Kortelopet starts just before OO Hill

According to Joe Friel, author of The Cyclist’s Training Bible, LSD days build more capillaries which help deliver oxygen-rich blood to your muscles while your mitochondria multiply and enlarge to help you produce more energy (qtd. in “Why Cyclists Should Be Base Training para. 4).

I’ve always been a slow competitor. I was last in 95% of my cross country running races. I was towards the last 1/3 in the 5Ks I’ve ran, and I’ll probably be towards the end in the Kortelopet. That’s okay! Every race needs a first place and last place finisher! But part of me writing this blog is to give me encouragement and accountability. By training now, I’ll be more likely to finish the race with a time that I’m proud of rather than DNFing due to not making the cutoff times.

Sorry…my anxieties are showing again…

Anyways, so my sister and I met up at the Hardwood Trail in Hugo to bike together. This was my sister’s second time on a bike this year, and I’m excited for her to get into the sport.

My sister from the same mister.

My sister braved 40 degree temperatures and biked with me for 90 of my 120 minutes. Because of COVID-19, the last time we saw each other in person was when she skied the Kortelopet for her first time, so us biking together just felt right. (FYI: We social distanced on the trail as much as we could.)

We gossiped, caught up, and strategized about the 2021 Kortelopet. She said that she wants to beat me so she can watch me finish, but I said that I want to catch her so we can finish together as seesters (that’s how we say ‘sisters’). My sister is in Wave 4 while I’m in Wave 5 for the race. There are so many unknowns to contend with when preparing for the Birkie or the Korte. What will the weather be like? What will the snow conditions be like? Will we even get enough snow? It boggles my mind. I need to plan, but I can’t! GAH!

The Hardwood trail in Hugo is quickly becoming my favorite rail trail (…sorry Gandy Dancer…). The trail is well cared for. People respect each other. All dogs are on leashes! The traffic crossing areas have pedestrian lights for bikers to use to alert traffic, and there’s a clean indoor bathroom right outside Forest Lake in the Washington County Transit station. Bike kiosks have tools to fix your bike at every town. The trail is a biker’s paradise.

The only downside to today’s ride was that we encountered some snow. Okay…they were flurries or maybe just really cold rain drops but it overcast day and cool temperatures successfully recreated the wintery conditions that we’ll get at the Kortelopet.

All in all, it was a good day.

Tomorrow: Rest Day from cardio. Bodyweight circuits (No negativity. I can do it!).

Happy Mother’s Day all you moms out there!

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