Tag Archives: weather

Rain In My Running Shoes

3 Oct

I have never been one to let the weather stop me from running. While I prefer clear, cool conditions, I have been known to go out in the rain, wind and snow in order to rack up the miles on my running shoes. From time to time, the seemingly adverse weather conditions have worked to my advantage. It is amazing how refreshing a light shower of rain can be during a long run.

And so, when I woke up yesterday to the pitter-patter of raindrops against the window, I was not deterred. I had a long run planned, and nothing short of a meteor hitting my driveway would stop me. This was to be my last long run before my half-marathon on October 16th, so I really needed to get out there and get it done.

It was cold enough for me to abandon the running shorts in favour of my longer fall-weather running pants. I stuck to the short-sleeved tech shirt, but added a lightweight running jacket. Although the sun was not shining, I wore my hat: the peaked cap is a great way to keep rain out of my eyes. I stocked my fuel belt, cued my music, laced up my shoes, and hit the road for a 20km run.

Sometime during the second kilometre, I became aware that the gentle rain had intensified, and that raindrops were now hitting my face from the side, hard enough to feel like tiny little pellets. By the time I had completed 5km, I was running in a torrential downpour. The wind was buffeting me from side to side and I was wishing that I had brought my gloves. Worst of all, my socks were squelching inside my running shoes. I had to stop twice to pour water out of my shoes.

Still, I soldiered on. People driving by in their cars were looking at me with astonishment, as if to say, “You’re running in this?” I felt validated when, in the fifteenth kilometre or so, I saw a fellow runner braving the elements. It always helps to know that I’m not alone in my running insanity.

After more than two hours of running, I came to a stop in my driveway, having run my allotted 20km. My hands were so cold that I struggled to fish my front door key out of my pouch. Fortunately, my five-year-old son was waiting just inside the door for my return, so he spared me the necessity of actually having to unlock the door myself.

Twenty-four hours later, I am still hurting. My legs are chock-full of lactic acid, and my left ankle is aching. I feel as if I will never walk normally again (I will, of course, be fine by tomorrow).

There are those who wonder why I put myself through this, what possesses me to go out in dreadful weather conditions for the privilege of having sore legs for the next two days.

Part of it is the joy of the sport, the sense of freedom that comes with being out on the open road, the “Runners High”, and the sense of accomplishment when the run has been completed.

Part of it is that I don’t have a naturally fast metabolism like some people, and if I don’t stay active I fall out of shape very quickly. Running is the only form of exercise that really works for me.

The biggest part of it, though, is that I’m doing it for my kids. In two weeks, I am lacing up for my third annual Run for Autism. All funds that I can raise leading up to this event will go straight to the Geneva Centre for Autism, to be used for much-needed services for children and youth with autism.

It is services like the ones provided by the Geneva Centre that have helped my son achieve phenomenal things in the four years since he was diagnosed with autism. In order to see a continuation of the progress, we need a continuation of the funding. This facility really does help people with autism to touch the stars, while also providing support for their siblings and parents.

Ultiimately, I run so that I can do my own small part in making the world a better place for my children. I think that’s a pretty darned good reason to go running in the wind and the rain every now and then.

To sponsor me for my half-marathon, please visit my fundraising page. All sponsorships are being matched by a donor who wishes to remain anomymous, so any funds raised will be doubled!

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13013135@N00/5879848337. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)

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Running In The Rain

3 Aug

This morning I woke up to the gentle pitter-patter of rain against the window.

Actually, that’s a lie. I woke up to the alarm on my phone going off, making a blaring, raucous noise that set every single one of my nerve endings on edge.

Once my central nervous system had gotten over the initial shock of being awake, then I heard the gentle pitter-patter of rain against the window.

Damn.

I wanted to go running, and I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to run in the rain. Thanks to all of the dental goings-on of the last few days, it had been about a week since I had run at all. I was not in the mood for dodging puddles and having rain drip into my eyes. I was in the mood for a nice, uncomplicated run that didn’t require any actual thinking.

Who’s in any fit state to think at five in the morning, anyway?

I had a choice to make. Don’t run at all, run in the rain, or run on the treadmill.

I knew that not running at all would lead to a day filled with angst and guilt, and I had no desire to see the inside of a gym (almost a month of showering in the gym due to our dearth of hot water at home has left me a little gym-weary). So that left me with no choice but to run in the rain.

I threw on my running clothes and added a hat as a measure against the rain. Music cued, training watch set, and off I went. Following the logic that the faster I went, the sooner I’d have this over and done with, I set off at a hearty pace.

The run went surprisingly well. Not only did I find the rain to be refreshing and soothing, I actually managed to maintain the pace that I set at the beginning. Usually when I charge out of the starting blocks like a racehorse on steroids, I kind of peter out after three kilometres or so. Today, though, I finished my 5.65km in just a touch over 31 minutes, at a very respectable pace of around 5:42 minutes per kilometre.

I really should wake up more often feeling half-hearted about running. These runs always turn out to be the best ones.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/angee09/2264408983/. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.)

Running Through The Fields On A Summers Day

20 Jun

My next half-marathon, which takes place a month from now, will involve a variety of running surfaces. The route will take runners along trails, on the streets, through a tunnel going under the highway, and through a number of fields in the farming community hosting the run.

Training for this event is proving to be interesting. For one thing, I have to do my training runs on a mix of terrains – easier said than done, for someone who lives in a definitively urban area. But still, there are ways and means, and I’ve been trying to incorporate the trails in our local parks into my routes.

The bigger challenge for me is the fact that this race is happening on July 17th, in other words, slap-bang in the middle of summer. Although I hail from sunny climes, and probably have more endurance for hot-weather running than most North American runners, I’m not a complete masochist, and still opt to run in cooler conditions where possible.

But this race, taking place at a time of year when the mercury is already hitting 30° Celsius by eight in the morning, is forcing me to change my usual training strategy. Because where I would usually go running at 5:00 a.m., I am now looking for opportunities to run later in the day, when it’s warmer. It’s all about acclimatization. When race day rolls around, I don’t want to be the weasel who cannot handle running in the heat. I want to be the one who runs strongly throughout.

And that is why I voluntarily headed out for a 16km  run shortly after lunchtime on Saturday. It was hot. Blisteringly. Although the actual temperature was only 19° Celsius, the humidity reading was pushing it up to the mid-thirties. Although this would never have potential to be a run I would describe as “pleasant”, the heat in itself was not the whole problem. I had not fueled myself properly for the run. More importantly, I had not hydrated myself. So not only was I hot, I was intensely thirsty as well, and I just didn’t have the energy stores I needed.

After 6km I gave up, and decided to do the long run the following morning when it was cooler. Usually I would hate the idea of cutting a run short, but since I had initially intended to run on Sunday anyway, I felt OK about it. I just chalked this up as a bonus 6km run.

When I got home I looked at my training schedule and saw that I wasn’t even supposed to do 16km this weekend. I was only supposed to do 10km. If I’d realized that I would have stuck out my Saturday run for the full 10km.

Maybe next time I will consult my training schedule before I hit the road.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stamargo/4894061863/)

I Made It Down The Aisle!!!

9 May

Just married!

I tried, really I did.

I had the best of intentions to keep posting every day during the time leading up to my wedding. I thought it would be easy. Reposts. Pictures. A few sentences thrown together for the sake of getting something published.

Little did I know just what the final week of wedding planning would be like.

There was stress. There was much driving around getting things finalized. There were late nights spent at the computer finishing seating charts, printing place cards and drawing up itineraries as friends and family members helped wrap guest favours and keep me supplied with wine.

There was chaos, there were arguments, there were final negotiations with vendors.

What there wasn’t, was time. Not a scrap of it. Every second counted in that last week. The night before my wedding, I was still printing place cards at midnight.

So much for going for de-stressing runs.

So much for relaxing and going for a manicure on the final day.

Do you know what, though? On the day, everything came together perfectly. I had a beautiful, beautiful day. The flowers were lovely. The kids were absolute stars. I felt like a princess, sitting in the limo sipping champagne. The people surrounding me all day snapping pictures made me feel like I had my own paparazzi.

Even the weather cooperated. We got one perfect day of sunshine, that my Mom says was ordered by my Dad.

Best of all, most amazing of all, is that at the end of the day, I had the most amazing husband a girl could wish for. Every now and then, my heart flips as I look at my man and think, “I’m married to him!”

I feel like the princess who got her prince.

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/)

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!

Winter Trail Running

20 Feb

This morning, for the first time in weeks, I went running with my running club (it’s not my club in the sense that I own it, it’s my club in the sense that I’m a member). I have been kept away since early January by a combination of illness, kids’ hospital visits, and temperatures that would make Hell freeze over. I had been looking forward to this morning all week. I’ve missed my running buddies, and the support and companionship that comes with running in a group.

I woke up and turned on the TV to check the weather. -10 Celsius (about 14 Fahrenheit). OK, that’s cold, but it’s certainly a temperature that the runner in me can live with. According to the TV, there was a hefty wind chill, so I put on my windbreaker running pants and took along gloves, hat and lightweight running jacket that doesn’t add to warmth but is superb at blocking out the wind. I grabbed my water bottle and my post-run coffee money, and headed to the community centre.

There were three of us running today. There was Alan, a veteran marathoner who hadn’t run since November due to a nasty knee injury. There was me, who has only run intermittently for the last three months and has definitely fallen a bit out of shape. And there was Penny, who has religiously shown up for the runs every week, no matter what the weather was doing, and gone for the runs even on days when she was the only one to show up.

Alan and I both needed to take it slow as a result of being out of practice. Penny suggested a route that went along the lake and through the Rouge Valley park. It was about 7km and included a long hill – something that both Penny and I need, since we are registered for a very hilly race in early April. Alan and I agreed to the route, and off we went.

We started off well enough. The weather was perfect for running: crisp and cold, but no wind to speak of. We had a big thaw at the end of last week, so the ice on the sidewalks was almost all gone. Running along the lake, I marvelled at the scenic beauty. Not for the first time, I lamented the fact that I did not have my BlackBerry with me – I would really love to take some pictures of what I get to look at when I’m running on that trail. It is so beautiful along there that it almost makes me believe in God again.

While we were running along the lake, Alan decided to cut his run short. It was his first run after hurting his knee, and he didn’t want to push it. He took the next cutoff to the road that would take him back to the community centre, and Penny and I continued on our way.

It was lovely. The wind stayed down and the path was completely clear of ice, although we did have to dodge a couple of large trees that had blown down across the path during this weekend’s wind storm. I was running better than I had expected to. I was maintaining about 6:17 minutes per kilometre and I was feeling good.

Somewhere around the 4km mark, we left the lakeshore trail and cut into the park. And that’s where the fun really started.

Clearly the big thaw that we had on Thursday and Friday did not extend to the park. We crossed from the nice clear ice-free waterfront trail onto an uneven surface of solid ice, at least two inches thick. We gamely continued running, albeit at a slower pace, crisscrossing from one side of the path to the other in an attempt to find some traction. At one point, we had to slow all the way to a walk just to avoid landing on our asses.

We were heartened to see a lone runner bravely passing us, going the other way. At least we weren’t the only ones crazy enough to be running on a sheet of solid ice.

Finally we made it to the long, icy hill leading back up to the road. We ran up the slippery hill, with Penny several paces ahead of me. Somehow I maintained a run all the way to the top, and then the two of us paused for a moment to catch our breath. From this point it was only about a kilometre back to the community centre.

That last kilometre was all on the sidewalk. It was heavenly. Running on a clear flat surface made us appreciate just how hard our legs had had to work in order to get through 2 km of ice.

Back at the community centre, we agreed that it had been a good run. Tough, but good.

We totally deserved that post-run cup of coffee.

Tomorrow my legs and my core muscles will tell me what they think of all this.