Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Running When It's REALLY Cold, Our Christmas & What's Coming

Over the past ten days I have had to come to terms with the fact that winter weather has truly arrived.  Anyone that knows me very well understands that snow is just NOT my thing.  What you might hear me say in any given conversation about winter is that I don't mind cold, it's the snow I hate (really, I don't hate snow, I just hate driving in it).  But it has been pretty darn cold lately and when you are trying to keep up a running streak, that can be down-right crushing!
By the way, I'm on day 26.
In order to maintain said streak, I often need to go for a short run after work.  No matter what, I have to run for at least a mile.  When it's cold, getting to the gym for my scheduled training runs is a must or there is a good chance it's not going to happen.  We all know how much I love the treadmill, right?
About 3 days a week, I expect only to get out for that one mile and while it has occasionally happened in the morning, evening is usually my poison of choice.  This is what evenings have looked like lately....

It's dark by the time I can drive home from work and get dressed for a run.  Note (in case I haven't already mentioned it in previous posts): for a one mile run it takes longer to get dressed than to actually run.  Darkness means some measures are important to insure my safety and a headlamp is a must.  I'm less concerned about being visible than I am about being able to see the road in front of me.  I bought this one for The Rut and I will get a ton of use out of it.  The funny looking tag on the band is a piece of KT Tape I stuck to it with my race number for the race!

I get a lot of strange looks when the weather gets really cold and I go out for a run.  My husband has accused me flat out of being crazy, but I know he's proud of me anyway (evidence later).  Going out in super chilly weather requires planning and gear.  On Saturday,  I had a ten miler on the schedule and it was only 9 degrees.  I couldn't handle the idea of more treadmill so I dressed out for the occasion.
These booties are an investment Mitch made for cycling to keep his toes warm.  They are a simple neoprene toe cover you wear inside your shoes.  He has a few other types of foot covers so he let me use these.  I cannot tell you how much they helped!  In nine miles (my run was cut just a tad bit short), my feet stayed warm even though I ran in single digit temps and in 2-3 inches of fresh snow.  I have since worn the same shoes just for a 3/4 mile walk in similar conditions without the toe covers and froze my toes off.  Those booties really work and they are now a staple for my winter gear.

Mitch took my picture before I set off for my run.  I am wearing leggings (only one layer this time though I often wear two), calf-length socks with the toe warmers, a sports bra, tank top, long sleeve tech shirt and wind proof jacket. Sometime I also wear a jacket from my track suit over all of that.  Add gloves with hand warmers (you can get these at any camp store), a neck cover that pulls over my face and has breathing mesh and a hat.  I think that's all of it.

For the first half of my run, snow did not stick to my shoes at all.  I'm not sure what happened but by the end I had ice chunks growing off of the upper.  My feet stayed warm, at least until the snow melted and they became wet.  I was afraid the snow on my socks would be a problem, but ultimately they insulated themselves.

I wish this picture did a better job of showing it but my eyelashes were completely crusted in ice.

I seriously needed a good meal and time to warm up after that experience so we went to Bin 119 for lunch and I had the apple-cranberry-brie panini and French onion soup.  Ahhhh.  I asked the waitress for a class of Sangria and a hot cup of water.  She offered me hot mulled wine instead.  She was my hero and I had two cups.  Amazing!  I'll be back for more.

After a long run, hot showers are important but getting in a hot water when you are still frozen in spots is never a good idea.  Proper pre-warming is in order and for me that means a warm electric blanket, topped with more fuzzy blankets and a hot beverage.  A half hour or so of this and I was ready to hit the showers.

I mentioned earlier that Mitch tells me I'm crazy, but then does stuff like this so I feel good about myself.....

 This blog might make it seem like all I do is run.  That's not entirely true.  I do other things sometimes.  This last weekend, we had our family Christmas at our house. 
We got our tree last week, but I decided to let the kids put on the ornaments.  When you let the littles decorate the tree, you can't expect a perfectly symmetrical arrangement.  In multiple places, they thought there needed to be more than one ornament or bow.  I considered changing things around later, but I have left everything just as they placed them.  My tree has character.

We had a lot going on throughout the day.  The biggest hit was sledding down the hills in our back yard.  I adore this picture.  I might have to frame it.

Seven of our eleven grandchildren made it for our gathering (one had to leave early, though).  We are so blessed! 
We had a gift-opening frenzy!
I wish I could say that the coldest days for running are behind me, but sadly that is not the case.  The next few days are going to be brutal!  Just look at Friday!  At least Sunday looks decent so I can postpone my long run for a day.

My training plan has me doing some different workouts for the next two weeks.  I'm barely keeping up, but keeping up none-the-less.  I'll post more about that next time.
Are you bold enough to run in the cold?  What do you do to make it bearable?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

First Week on the Training Plan, a Little Randomness & Merry Shoemas to Me!!

Today I wrapped up my first week on the training plan and I feel like I can pat myself on the back and say "Kudos, Angie!"  For the most part I stayed on schedule and did most of the workouts.  The plan has specific routines for non-running workouts and while I did some of them, I felt that some of my own gym training would work in place of them.  The running workouts I followed to the letter.  The schedule said I would have 23 miles this week, and I ended up with 27.  This was a result of my run streak (so I am doing a mile on the rest days) and also a few of the runs called for "strides" after the run which added a little.

Strides (in case you are wondering) - 100m accelerations where you start at a jog, build to about 95% of your max speed, and then gradually slow to a stop.
Credit: Jason Fitzgerald @ Strength Running.

The hardest day by far was 6 miles on the treadmill.  I did 4 miles at 10:31 min/mile and 2 miles at 9:45 min/mile.  I did a couple of short walk breaks to drink water and switch music but I held my paces admirably!  But it was still over an hour on the treadmill.  Ugh!

On Saturday I was scheduled for my long run, but postponed it until Sunday because it was extremely windy.  Instead I did 3.6 miles (1 easy, 2 steady state and .6 strides).  My run was followed by our annual pilgrimage to Red Lodge to find a Christmas tree in the mountains.
We took our snow shoes (a fun Black Friday purchase), but sadly there was not enough snow to wear them.  But aside from being windy, it was a beautiful day.  We bought one tag and while hiking through the trees we found another one that someone had lost.  Sadly, we did not find our tree so we went home with an empty truck and one extra tree tag.

My favorite run of the week is always my long run.  No other run day gives me quite the same feeling of accomplishment that a long run does.  Today was 10 miles.  The last time I did double digits was the beginning of October so I'm pretty much pleased with myself right now.  I'm supposed to run at "easy" pace for the entire distance, but it's more difficult to hold a 10:30 or slower pace on the road. The good thing about it is that I can go much further without walking... but only if I can make myself hold the pace.  It feels like I'm crawling!
I was hungry after my run today and we went to Montana Brewing Company for lunch.  Southern Mac for the win!

The Brew Pub (the name we usually call this place by) is decked out so festive.  I love the holidays and Christmas lights just make me happy.  I tried four times to get good picture of Mitch, but he kept making faces (or obscene gestures) so I'm posting the one that looks like his eyes are closed.

 Since we didn't find our tree in the mountains, we bought a White Pine from the Boy Scouts.  I've never had this kind of tree before.  It's pretty and it smells good, but putting lights on it was a challenge!  I haven't put the ornaments on yet.  I'll do that later this week after it snows and I'm all in the holiday mood again.

This last week was Shoemas at my house!  I bought these lovely Altra Superior 2.0s to replace the ones I wore for the Rut and had to retire.  I have the privilege of being a Brooks wear tester and my newest pair of test shoes showed up the next day!  I'm not allowed to post pictures of those.

Next week's training is identical to this past week.  We are expecting snow and arctic cold to come in over the next few days so there will definitely be long miles on the treadmill again.  The weekend should be decent enough to enjoy my ten-miler outside though.

Have a great week everyone!

For those of you that get a Christmas tree, do you prefer real or fake?  Do you cut your own or buy?  (BTW... Is my city the only place the Walmart isn't selling them this year???)