I would buy a chunk of land just outside the city where there was some mixed wild terrain, construct some asphalt and some single track trails, build some warming shelters and a bunch of endurance sport infrastructure, inflate a heated dome over about quarter of it (for running on those REALLY cold days) and operate a world-class Nordic-style running & x-country sport facility. Ah… dreams.
Ok, so I haven’t exactly been diligently posting on here about anything lately. Here’s the status of my life:
Work. Busy. And you don’t care about that.
Home. We’ve been ramping up a renovation of our main floor. Walls, flooring, kitchen, cabinets, and all the little doodads that connect it all into a livable space. Finally things seem like they are moving. We’ve got help, but because we’re cheap idiots, we’re doing a bunch of the work ourselves: demo, painting, flooring, etc. One guess how I spend every spare moment these days.
Violin. I try to hobble down to the basement, my music space, and get in at least –at least– thirty minutes of practice per day. Somehow, maybe because I’m making up for my sad lack of effort in my teens on the last instrument I learned to play, I’m actually putting in about twice that much time on an average day with the violin. Yeah, it’s more like an hour of squeaky music. I don’t sound amazing yet, but I can actually play songs. With notes. And it kinda, almost, sorta sounds like there might be some potential there.
And then Running. Yeah. That thing. I’m still training, of course, and with less than three weeks until race day, my panic mode has mellowed into a kind of resigned state of taper: there’s really not much more that can be done at this point.
Which leads me to this post:
I ran 32 klicks on Sunday morning.
Thirty-two. Three-quarters of the full marathon distance. Despite the fact we got hit by a premature winter. Despite the fact that the ground is white, in mid-October. Despite the fact that when I woke up at 6am there was freezing rain coming down in a direction I wasn’t entirely sure was vertical. I looked out the window, let out a sad little whimpering gasp (or I assume I did) and set to figuring out how to cope with the uncooperative climate.
I ran. I plodded through the local asphalt, never really more than three or four klicks radially from home. Those who remember their high school math would tell you now that a four klick radius from home would net just exactly the right amount of distance. Those who live in reality would tell you that streets don’t work out that way. In other words I covered some ground twice in that I pretty much did two lopsided laps of the neighbourhood, partly solo, partly with some motivational company.
And then somewhere in that blur of cold, wind, distance, footsteps, ice, snow, convo, traffic, asphalt, sweat, tears, pain, and quiet perserverence, I crossed an invisible finish line. I’m going to say it was at roughly 24 klicks, though unnoted, somewhere plodding along the trails skirting the nearby creek. This was when my goal-setting odometer ticked over to that seemingly optimistic (and somewhat randomly set) goal I’d written herein, way back in January: I’d run 1390 km for the year. And then I just kept running.
Goal achieved, in mid-October no less, with still a whole full and a half marathon to run before the year ends. Granted, I hadn’t planned on training for or running a marathon this year, at least not back in January when I set my pragmatic target for 2016. But now that I’ve trained, now that I’ve crossed the invisible virtual finish line for 2016, a couple of the weights of the effort have been gently lifted from my shoulders.
After all, what’s a short little marathon when you’ve logged almost fourteen hundred klicks since New Years?
The fact that daylight savings time made it an hour earlier than it really should have been was a slap in the face to the fact it was the second time change I had to endure in less than a week.
First world problems, eh?
We ran into the river valley, willfully ignoring the cold wind and the specks of icy rain, dropping down a slippery hill and under the bridge, emerging back on the other side of the ice-dammed water only to start the long, steady climb back out into civilization.
“You need to touch the wall.” Emma instructed. “Touch it. You can’t go back until you’ve actually put your hand on it.”
So we did. And then we ran back the same way we came, maybe a little slower, but knowing that we’d reached some little abstract goal and returned.
Leading into the Hypo Half I’d argue that fate was conspiring against me.
Not only is the run traditionally the coldest race of the year, frequently tanking temperatures measuring in the low sub-zero teens, or colder, but the conditions are iffy at best. A cold winter run, a river-valley-view neighbourhood street with a base of snow and ice, a cold wind blowing off the frozen river valley, and nothing driving you forward save for the thought of a buffet brunch at the finish line.
Top that off with the consideration that my training hadn’t gone exactly as planned. I spent most of January sick and still I have this lingering cough that I can’t seem to shake. I’d run about half as much as I would have liked, completed but a single long training run, and didn’t do any of the other supplementary building such as hills, speed training, or whatever.
Oh, and then we were out of town for the day yesterday, at a birthday party for my dad eating pizza and straining my calves crouch-walking around the shallow swimming pool, and then eating some cake and ice cream before driving home in the pitch of night to get a restless night of sleep.
Fate was prodding me.
But I got up at six, ate, caffeinated, dressed, drove (stopping half way to pick up Lynda) and we skittered our way across the ice towards the start line.
And then the temperature wasn’t too bad.
And the wind gusted a few times, but it wasn’t worth complaining about.
And the company was great.
And the sun came out.
And we ran.
Our first half marathon of the year (and Cody’s first half race ever) and our times were so-so but we had modest expectations, and cute finisher medals, and then we ate brunch, took lots of silly photos and dranks lots of coffee before we called it a success and went home to rest.
The ice doesn’t want to cooperate.
If it was only consistent, I’d be happy. I mean, today half the route was clear and dry, the other half was slick and glazed like so much uneaten birthday cake.
You just can’t plan for that.
Grips on for a bit, grips off for a bit, slip for a bit, crackle uncomfortably across the asphalt for the other bit. If you’ve never tried running with the slip-on treads, it’s an experience that is balanced somewhere between “why am I doing this it feels like rocks in my shoes” to “ohmygod it’s a good thing I wore these or I’d be concussed and bruised.”
Just pick one, weather…
At least the temperatures were mostly comfortable. And I think I’m as ready as I’m gonna be for that race next weekend.
After weeks of bitterly cold temperatures, the weather did a quick switch and rose above freezing this afternoon… then promptly dropped a bunch of rain on the streets as night arrived and the cold returned. With a brisk wind blowing from the west, the puddles and soft shoulders of snow were punctuated with icy sidewalks and slippery intersections.
But we ran anyhow.
We missed the worst of it, but sometimes the after effects of a January rain can be the unexpected hurdles in the darkness. I strapped my spikes to my shoes –which made for a slightly more uncomfortable run than I prefer but– that kept me from being bothered by the worst of the ice, but a few little steel nubs on the soles of your feet don’t make as much difference as you’d think.
It’s going to be messy out there for a few days.
The temperatures are starting to rise.. but only a little. It was a balmy -8C when we drove down to the parking lot near Fort Edmonton, and set off through the river valley trails. Something different, besides the standard runs from the rec centre or my house. Mixing it up a bit.
The trails were not fresh, but a dusting of snow –literally not much more than just a single-flake layer of the stuff– the previous night had made everything fresh and bright again.
We ran through the dog park, over the bridge and around the park beside where the giant ice castle gleamed in the daylight, and then looped back up and through the trails, jutting up some tree-lined wooden stairs before dodging back into the trails for our home stretch.
I was over-dressed, but it’s so tough to decide what to wear in these fluctuating temps, the sun warming bit here and the wind cooling bits over there, but in the end it was all good (even if it did feel a little slow on the slippery trails.)
I’m now pretty much officially at the end of three straight weeks of this darn head-cold.
I’m managing, medicating, and dealing with the unpredictability of this stupid illness, mostly, but there is this lingering bit of congestion that is holding me back. And yet, the darned cold doesn’t seem to be going anywhere very fast. Just like me.
So, running along on a gentle night run had be feeling a bit bagged. Tired. Slow-ish.
My crew showed up a bit late, so we ended up missing the main group and doing our own meandering route around the old standard loop, fending off traffic and fighting back the chill of the quickly dropping temperatures.
We did a quick not-quite-seven, then retreated inside for some hot tea and friendly chat. But my feets are still a bit cold, even a couple hours later.
I guess you could call it a make-up run, though I think that just delaying a frosty Sunday run for a few hours in lieu of some slightly warmer weather still counts as a frosty Sunday run no matter how you calculate it.
Leon met me down near the Mill Creek Pool, a spot I’ve never run from but it was only a couple klicks from his house so (due to the fact his truck was frozen and wouldn’t start) he could jog there.
It was still cold, of course. Freaking cold. Three layer of shirts cold. But the sun had been out for a few hours and the sun had warmed it by a few degrees and the wind wasn’t nearly as bad as the weatherman predicted, so we ran towards downtown, across the river and along the various detouring trails by the construction there.
Then we went for brunch.
Bacon, eggs, toast, and enough hot coffee refills over the duration to ensure the waitress earned her tip.
The thing is this: when you wake up early on a Sunday morning, no matter how good your intentions, and you look at your phone to discover that the temperature is a balmy minus-twenty-five degrees (which feels like minus thirty-four when you count windchill factor) then you look long and hard at the reflection in the mirror and contemplate other options. Like, say, waiting until later, when the sun has warmed the air to something in, say, the minus-teens and you don’t necessarily need to question your own sanity at the prospect of running today. So, assuming nothing goes too far off the rails before lunchtime, this week’s Sunday run has been brought to you by the letters W and D… for Weather Delay.
A few months ago I wrote that I was going to try to be more positive about winter running, so here goes: Running this winter has be POSITIVELY brutal.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. I’ll be here all weekend.
I’m going to be trapped inside all weekend because it’s supposed to go down to a balmy “feels-like” minus thirty-four tomorrow morning. I’m going to stay in my pajamas and skip my usual Saturday morning run. Maybe play some video games with Claire. You know… do something sane.
I told myself that would be an acceptable compromise if instead I laced up after work and did at least five klicks in the not-quite-as-cold-as-tomorrow chill of the dusk of this still-very-cold Friday evening. So I did. I laced up. Wrapped myself in three layers of synthetic fibers. And kicked out into the still-snowy streets of the suburbs as the sun set under the pale grey blanket of icy frozen air.
But really… it was lovely. Winter running… huzzah… *cough-cough*
I’ve been off sick. I finally relented a took a couple sick days and stayed home to nurse myself back to health.
Drum roll… the results of which, after lots of sitting around doing nothing much more than watch television and play video games, drinking hot tea and having long afternoon naps with my Kindle hanging limply from my hands, I am feeling significantly better. Maybe not cured, but better.
Even though I was still a bit tired, I was also going stir crazy. And the snow had started to fall, just lightly though, but with the dude on the radio promising a long bitterly cold weekend full of more snow and more ugly weather, and as he put it “a great weekend to stay indoors and watch a movie.”
So, I tempted fate and went for a short jaunt around the local neighborhood, just enough to get the blood flowing but not enough to crash me on the couch for another two days… at least not because of my health.