Tag Archives: snow

Whatever The Weather

17 Apr

This morning I woke up, somewhat hungover after yesterday’s party at which Gerard and I were the guests of honour, looked out of the window, and said, “Oh crap.” April 17th, and it was snowing. We’re not talking about minor flurries here – we’re talking about copious quantities of the white stuff falling out of the sky and settling on the ground.

I had a problem with this for three reasons. First, my wedding is less than two weeks away, and that doesn’t give the weather much time to get its act together. Second, I really wanted to get in a decent run today and I didn’t relish the idea of running in the snow and the wind. And third, I’m just fed up with crappy weather. Anyone who knows me knows that I turn into a pathetic crybaby at the slightest sign of winter.

Nonetheless, I needed to go running. I have a half-marathon six weeks from now and my training lately has not been up to scratch. So I waited for a couple of hours to see if the weather would improve, and then I got dressed, laced up my shoes and braved the elements.

As I stood at the end of my driveway waiting for the satellites to find my training watch, I thought, Hey, this isn’t bad. The snow had stopped, the wind had died down to a tame breeze, and it wasn’t all that cold. It actually seemed like perfect conditions for a run.

I set off down the road at a moderate pace, and after about three minutes, it started to rain a little. I don’t really mind running in the rain, but this was not normal rain. Normal rain does not feel like icicles against your skin. The air temperature was fine, but the rain temperature was bizarrely cold. I kept going, though. I’ve run in worse conditions.

As I was running over the Rouge Valley bridge, though, the wind suddenly kicked up about ten notches, and it started to hail. The  hailstones were tiny, the size of the gravel you get for fish tanks, but it hurt. Believe me, those little hailstones flying at you with a hefty wind behind them can feel like tiny but very effective jackhammers against your face.

I came very close to turning around at that point, but I kept going. I knew that I would not feel good about myself if I gave up on my run after just a mile.

The hail continued for the next 2km or so. After that it gave way to snow. Not the cute little snowflakes that gently drift to the ground like you see in romantic comedies. These were big fat snowflakes that were flying to the ground like missiles. I felt like I was in Space Invaders. A snowflake flew into my eye at high speed. It hurt.

But still, I kept going.

At around the 6km mark, I suddenly realized that I was enjoying myself. The weather had righted itself without me really noticing it. There was no snow, no hail, no rain, and no wind. The sun was even peeking out from behind the clouds. I had a lovely time for the next 3km or so.

Right after I had completed 9km, a gust of wind came from nowhere and almost blew me away. If I’d had an umbrella I would have looked like Mary Poppins. This wind was unbelievable. It was blowing straight at me with such force that it actually took my breath away.

I still had 2km to go, which in the scheme of things is almost nothing, but when you’re running into wind that feels like a solid wall, it’s a long way. Those last two kilometres were really, really tough. I had to slow my pace because the wind was so strong and I’m not a Kenyan.

By the time my aching legs carried me back into my driveway, I was absolutely spent. My time for the 11km run was not great, but it was well within the range of what it should be. Most importantly, though, I had done it. After several weeks of poor training that had made me wonder whether I still had the right to call myself a real runner, I was once again the kind of runner I love to be.

The kind of runner who goes out and logs the miles, whatever the weather.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hanspama/4199315435/)

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Random Things That Happened Today

6 Mar

Today has been busy. I have had a house full of people, as most of of the wedding party came over to toss around ideas and go over to-do lists. At the same time, I have been running on no sleep as my son George seems to have developed yet another tummy bug (please, God, don’t let either of my kids end up in hospital this time).

Anyway, with all of this going on, it’s a bit difficult to put together a coherent blog post. So for today, I’m going with the random.

Things that happened today, in no particular order, are the following:

  • I woke up this morning and saw a fresh layer of snow outside. My first thought was, “Cripes, more f*cking snow.”
  • I failed to go for my run. After no sleep it would have been virtually impossible. I would have been found wandering aimlessly around the neighbourhood chanting incoherently to myself.
  • I dragged a massive pile of laundry into the laundry room and then failed to actually put it into the washing machine to wash.
  • I delegated a list of wedding planning items to the best man. He will be receiving many emails from me from this point forth.
  • I cleaned out George’s designated puke bucket several times.
  • I made a giant pot of coffee and drank most of it myself, and ended up feeling jittery, but still exhausted. Not a pleasant feeling.
  • I realized that I need stuff to put in the kids’ lunches during the week and I haven’t been to the grocery store. I decided to just wing it with what I have for the next day.
  • I realized that I since I don’t actually have the capacity to make a lot of sense right now, I should just give up today’s blog post as a bad job and try again tomorrow.

 

Weight a Minute

1 Mar

This morning I realized that after a long, bitter winter, I am done with the treadmill. I actually dragged my feet into the gym and sighed wearily as I punched the buttons on the machine to get the damned thing going.

They’re great machines, treadmills, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them. I’m definitely an open road kind of girl. I like the freedom, and the sunshine (assuming there is any), and the feel of a light wind on my face. Road running makes me feel invigorated and carefree.

Treadmill running makes me feel like a lab rat doing an experiment. I can picture the men in white coats standing on the other side of a one-way mirror, observing my every move and deciding what mind-altering drugs to inject into my brain next.

I have a history of using the treadmill only in extreme circumstances. Last winter I didn’t use the treadmill at all because it was so mild, and there was very little snow. Even though it was dark, I could go running at five in the morning and not worry about ice.

I did have to worry about a chiropractic injury that had me crying like a baby for three months, but that’s another story.

This winter I’ve been making extensive use of the treadmill because the weather has been so messed up. We have spent some time in a deep, deep freeze, with temperatures going down to -30 degrees Celsius (or -22 degrees Fahrenheit). When it’s that cold out, I cannot even breathe, and despite layer upon layer of clothing, my entire body goes numb within about five minutes.

Along with the cold, there has been snow and ice. When the cold has abated, the snow and ice have remained. It has been treacherous out there, and so I have only been willing to run outside at times when I can actually see where I’m going. Without the ability to see where I’m planting my foot, I run the risk of landing on my ass while anyone who happens to be nearby points and laughs. Since I only have time to run before work when it’s still dark, this has meant a long sentence of treadmill running.

This morning, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I got onto the treadmill and decided on a hill training workout. Just fifteen minutes in, though, I’d had enough and I had to stop. It wasn’t that I was tired (I wasn’t). It wasn’t that my legs were sore (they weren’t). I was just out-and-out fed up with running on the treadmill.

Despite cutting my run short – something that did not sit well with my consciousness – I managed to make a decent workout out of the whole thing. I headed over to the weights section and pumped iron for a while.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It has been months since I did a decent weights workout, and this morning convinced me that I should reinstate it in my regular routine. I liked feeling the burn in my muscles, that sensation that allows you to visualize the cells in your muscles knitting together and getting stronger.

Regular weight training will make me a better runner.

It won’t hurt when I want to look pretty on my wedding day, either!

The Good Run

9 Jan

I have been struggling with my running lately.  Not in any big way, but just enough for me to have been craving a Good Run.  I have had several enjoyable and satisfying runs lately, but a Good Run is something special.  It is one where, even if you struggle a bit at first, you suddenly realize, a couple of kilometres in, that you have found your groove.  A Good Run is not necessarily easy – in fact, the challenging nature of it is part of what makes it Good.  When you finish the run and hit the “Stop” button on your watch, you have a feeling of accomplishment.  You have done the distance you promised yourself, and you have reserves left in the tank.  You would be able to go further if you wanted to, and yet you feel that you have pushed yourself.

I have not had a Good Run for about six weeks.

Until this morning.

I drove to the community centre to see which other members of my running club were venturing out for a run in the snow.  As it turned out, there were only two of us, and the other runner is one that I can pace myself to fairly well.  Because of the snow on the ground, we agreed on seven kilometres.  We briefly contemplated a trail by the lake, but rejected that idea due to the possibility of ice.  We are two women running by ourselves in very wintery conditions: we chose to play it safe and stick to the roads.

The snow on the sidewalk made it a little difficult for us to keep our footing, and it took me about 1.5km to find my rhythm.  Once I was going though, I was going pretty well.  I resisted the temptation to outpace myself in the beginning, and although I did not make it all the way up the one and only (and very, very long and steep) hill on our route, I gave it a good shot and did pretty well.   A water break and short breather at the top, and both of us were ready to go again.  The sidewalks were a lot more slippery towards the end of the run, but I finished pretty strong.

The seven kilometres took a little more than 43 minutes.  Considering the snowy conditions we were running in, I was happy with that time.  But as with any Good Run, the time wasn’t even the point (that’s the other thing: Good Runs are not necessarily the fastest runs).  The point was that I set out with a distance in mind, and I completed that distance feeling good about it the whole way.  I felt that I had accomplished something, and maybe set myself back on track to actually follow a proper training program.

I have a little story that illustrates what a Good Run is like.  Recently – on Christmas Day, as it happens – my younger son celebrated his 5th birthday.  In honour of the occasion, I made him a cake.  The trouble was, I didn’t have any icing to put on the cake.  I dug around in the kitchen cupboards and did some research on the Internet, and came up with a recipe for icing sugar.  A couple of hours and a big giant mess in the kitchen later, I had produced an iced, decorated cake.  I had worked really hard to make it, and I had poured into it lots of love for my son.

It was not the best cake I had ever made.  The icing was not as nice as the stuff you buy in the stores, and my “Happy Birthday James” lettering was not the neatest.  But you know what?  Because of what had gone into the making of it, and because of the look on my son’s face when he saw this cake that had been made just for him, it was the best cake I ever had.

A Good Run is like that – what makes it Good is not how fast you do it or whether it is easy – what makes it Good is the heart and soul that goes into it, and the feeling of reward that you have at the end.