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July 14, 2006

On Vacation

Next week, when I wake up in the morning, this is where I’ll be:

That would be Lake Alpine, at the top of Highway 4 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The lake sits at an elevation of 7400 feet, and is part of the Stanislaus National Forest, with 750 miles of trails that go as high as 11,000 feet. It’s the hub of a vast wilderness of rugged, beautiful, challenging terrain – in other words, a trail runner’s dream.

There is a network of roads and paved paths around the lake for bike riding. And for swimming, um...did I mention that there’s a lake? If you’re an amateur triathlete seeking an ideal setting for high-altitude training about two months before your goal race, this is a pretty darn perfect place to spend a week.

On the other hand, if you’re a father of three taking the family along on vacation, all training bets are off.

We typically travel to this area of the mountains twice per year as a family getaway, and I’m never quite sure how the week will to unfold in regards to getting a few workouts in. Whenever the kids are in an exciting, unfamiliar setting, and when none of us have any structured schedules to adhere to, everything becomes unpredictable. They might sleep in, or (more likely) they might wake up at 5:30. They may spend four hours fishing, or just hang out at the cabin or campsite playing under the trees.

The uncertainty of everything pretty much prohibits my having a scheduled time to go running. Whatever exercise regimen I happen to be on at the time quickly goes from a very high priority (to me, that is) to an afterthought in favor of other activities.

That’s not a bad thing. We love spending time with the kids, doing things we don’t get to do at home. It’s also great just to relax and watch them have fun in the beautiful surroundings. And honestly, it’s usually a nice relief for me to not worry about keeping pace with the previous week’s training. In the big picture, the forced rest usually does my body more good than harm.

Sure, the altitude training would be fantastic. But even in a best case scenario, how much time would it help me me shave off of my upcoming race - maybe a couple of minutes? In the “time spent to reward gained” equation, that’s just not enough of a payoff to justify making my exercise a point of emphasis for the trip. There are certainly other enjoyable things to do.

Despite all this, my saintly wife usually acknowledges my need to sneak off for some sort of activity, so I may in fact do some running up there. I tend to pack in anticipation of the best (exercising a lot), but mentally expect the worst (no exercise at all). In recent trips I’ve hit both extremes, but more often I manage to find some middle ground.

The only downside of the whole trip is relatively minor, but directly affects this blog. There is a small lodge near the lake, but it’s not exactly the kind of place where you expect to find Wi-Fi capability or remote blogging access. I anticipate that Running and Rambling will be unoccupied for the next week or so.

However, be sure to check back here next week, because I think I can put together something to help you kill some time during your so-called “work breaks”.

In the meantime, if I don’t leave comments on your blog for a while, don’t take it personally. Honestly, you’re a great blogger. I mean it. Any reader should feel lucky to have you. I’ll think about you when I’m gone. Really. It’s not you, it’s me. I just need some time away right now.

And when I come back, we’ll have some catching up to do.


olga 7/14/06, 9:56 AM  

It looks wonderful and sounds like a great plan! I am just back from one of those myself:) Enjoy!

backofpack 7/14/06, 10:40 AM  

It looks gorgeous!

And really, would a week at high altitude even help you out two months down the road? It seems to me that when we were in Tahoe for the Triple, we were told you need three weeks to acclimate and start seeing benefits. I don't think I ever heard how long the benefits would last. So, relax, enjoy your surroundings, your children and your wonderful, saintly wife.

And by the way, thanks for reassuring me that I am a wonderful blogger...I would have worried you know.

Cliff 7/14/06, 11:01 AM  


You know if u are up there, you shouldn't even have one thought about blogging :). Let alone, do it.

The place sounds gorgeous. Enjoy your trip with your family.

stronger 7/14/06, 11:51 AM  

Are you sure you're not breaking up with us? Have a great vacation with your family.

susie 7/14/06, 12:18 PM  

All of us need a vacation, even from blogging. Enjoy the break...whether it involves running or not.

Anne 7/14/06, 12:28 PM  

Have a great trip. That part of Calfornia is one of my favorites. Can't wait to hear about your adventure.

angie's pink fuzzy 7/14/06, 2:02 PM  

mmm looks and sounds beautiful...

Robb 7/14/06, 5:09 PM  

I hope you are not offended by my 'old Donald' ref on Matt's blog. Sage...as in wise Donald. You get it anyway. I'm quirky with the humour.

So, you're away with the family in the mountains. You do realize the Tour de France is on OLN? How can you stay away?

robtherunner 7/14/06, 5:55 PM  

Looks like a great place to spend a vacation. I hope you get the chance to get in some good workouts while you're there, but more importantly get in some good family time.

craig 7/14/06, 10:02 PM  

The place looks beautiful. Enjoy your time away.

Darrell 7/15/06, 12:02 AM  

Catching up is so hard to do. I've been up late every night since I got back from Bellevue. Enjoy the vacation and the beautiful scenery. Are you taking your bike?

Deene 7/18/06, 1:41 PM  

looks like a lovely place for a vacation. have fun!

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