Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Winter Running Blues

I guess when I started running in July and braved the 100 degree heat (mainly by getting up really early to run), somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew winter would come.  I had no idea how big an impact it would have on my psyche -- mainly because of running.

The good part is that I have had the opportunity to run outside quite a bit.  Even in temperatures that are hovering just below freezing, I have dressed in tons of layers and hit the street running.  I really believe that the cold, fresh air has kept me from getting the usual amount of colds and sicknesses.  The fresh air has been good for my health and my soul.  Even when the windchill dips into the teens, I get out and run.  For someone that has always hated cold weather, this has been mind boggling.  I love running that much.

The bad part is when the ice and snow hit.  All summer, I avoided running on the treadmill.  I own a treadmill, so it's not a huge inconvenience.  One might say it could be easier.  It's indoor, climate controlled, a television is there for entertainment, and a bathroom nearby.  The first time that I HAD to run indoors was pure torture.  I couldn't believe how hard it was to run indoors.  It's not more physically exerting, however, I do tend to run slower.  I just miss the wind in my face, the scenery passing by, waving at friends and strangers, outrunning the occasional dog and the other turns and twists an outdoor run provides.

The weather has turned worse in January, and if I didn't use the treadmill, it would be hard to keep my running schedule.  So I do it.  When I get that outdoor opportunity, it is so exciting.  I often run longer and faster than ever.  I did my longest and hilliest run last Tuesday outdoors.  Running up the hill behind Kohl's even felt good when I compared it to a treadmill run.   That gave me the extra "oomph" to run the whole way up.

Right now, there is snow on the ground and ice on the streets and sidewalks (at least near the edges where I run).  Guess it's the treadmill for a few more days.  Unfortunately, the weatherman is forecasting another "significant winter weather event" for Tuesday.  I need to learn to embrace the treadmill or at least accept it.

Never fear, Wednesday is "Ground Hog Day".  Maybe we will get an early spring.  One can only hope.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year's Day 5K and Hills

Happy New Year!

The weather was forecasted to be nice (high 30's) for New Year's Day, so we (Grace, Debbie, Nancy and I) all signed up to run the Inaugural Reston New Year's Day 5K.  It was a sensible 10 a.m. start, so it was definitely do-able.

I usually set "loose" goals for my races, such as "do my best", "try to run all the way", etc.  Not knowing the course, it's hard to set any specific time/pace goals.  There were about 500 runners in the race, the weather was nice, and they gave us a really nice long sleeve technical "t shirt".  So what more could I want?  Everyone was in a festive mood.

We got there early and warmed up.  I made sure my chip was tied securely to my shoe, got my ipod fired up and got in line.  Deb and I always try to get towards the middle/back.  We don't want to get run over, but we also want to be ahead of the walkers, dogs and strollers.  I wore my Garmin, just to give me an idea of my time/pace. 

The course started off through Reston Town Center and headed to the WO&D trail.  We ran down the trail about 1.25 miles and back.  I noticed on the way down the trail that it was downhill.  I tried not to think about running back up the hill until I had to.  I ran a very comfortable 10:20 pace for most of the race.  Most of the way, I ran with a man and his little boy.  The boy couldn't have been more than 5 years old and he was adorable.  He had a chip on his shoe (meant he paid the entry fee) and was wearing good shoes and running attire.  I was amazed that not only was he keeping up with his dad, he could have gone faster.  He ran the whole way.  I was totally impressed and inspired.

I also ran with a couple that he gotten married the day before.  They were wearing running shirts that said "Just Married - 12/31/10".  Everyone was shouting congratulations to them as they went by!  The most inspiring was a lady, about 60 years old, who completed the whole course on crutches.  She was the last across the line, but finished in under an hour to a roar of applause. 

The last 400 meters of the course was all up hill, including a very steep hill to get off the WO&D trail.  I ran up the hills, but really felt like I was going to heave.  At that moment, I decided that my New Year's Resolution was going to be to spend at least one day a week running hills, when possible.  I never want to have that much trouble with a climb again. 

I was very happy with my time of 32:40.4.  That is a PR for a 5K for me, even with all of the hills!

We decided to check out the course for the 5K that I am running in February and it also has a lot of hills.  More incentive to get out there and practice climbing.

I wasn't sure where to start, so I asked the advice of some of my fellow runners.  They suggested that I pick a hill and run up and down it.  On Tuesday, I did an "easy" warmup mile, ran up and down Helmsdale (a 0.5 mile long hill) 3 times and did an "easy" cooldown mile.  My 5 mile run was mostly hills.  I didn't focus on pace, just trying to keep my breathing steady.  My garmin said that I kept my pace under 12 minute miles for most of it.  I'm happy with that.  It felt good, both while I was doing it and when I was done. 

I was worried about some test results from Tom's colonoscopy (which turned out to be okay), so conquering the hill was a good distraction.  The rest of this week has been crazy busy trying to get Jessica ready to go back to school.  I hope to squeeze a run in tomorrow (Saturday) and to get a nice run in while in Nashville.  I miss my running, but sometimes the schedule just doesn't work!

Here's hoping for no snow on our journey to Tennessee!