Should I go Hypothermic?

Does a winter half marathon sound appealing to you?  If the weather is perfect it sounds like a great idea to me.  But… if it is icy or if there are gale force winter winds I am not convinced a 2 hour run would be fun.  Throw in the fact that the course is that same rolling golf course that I ran in the fall and I am left wondering if I should register.  But there is a little part of me that thinks if I really want to consider myself a true winter runner ( or perhaps a true Canadian runner?) I should have one winter half marathon medal.  Particularly if it looks like this:

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Now throw in a full brunch for the price of registration, and access to lockers, showers, indoor bathrooms and no lining up in an corral for ages before the race.  Those are a lot of perks that could outweigh the weather.

Average temperatures on February 7th here in Ottawa is a reasonable -8 C (about 17F) but lows of about -30 C (-22F) have occurred on that date.  The course is also very open, any kind of wind would definitely be felt.  Here is a picture from the website of what it looked like one year at the race:

Note what looks to be ice on the path.  But did I mention the brunch???  You also get these in your kit, neither of which I really need but it is always fun to get stuff:

If I ever manage to start my Prague Half Marathon training schedule (I should be in my third week but have done virtually no running due to being sick) I would only be scheduled to run a 16k on the Sunday of the Hypothermic.  This would be a much longer, tougher run than I would really need to do.  But I could treat it as a training run, keeping it slow, which let’s face it, if the footing is awful I won’t have a choice!

One way or the other I will have to make up my mind…believe it or not I think this race actually sells out.  Yes, there are that many crazy winter runners out there!

 

 

Really, I Meant to Keep Running in December

Anyone who knows me knows I do not shy away from winter running.  Sure it takes me a little while to adapt to sub zero temperatures, but not nearly as long as it takes me to adapt to the heat.  I only really become used to running in the heat and humidity sometime in late August, just in time for the temperatures to cool.

December, however, never manages to be a good running month.  I swore this year would be different.  Last December I managed a grand total of 52 km in the entire month.  This year I promised myself to double that.  I know it is only Dec. 12th but the writing is on the wall; there is no way I will be running 100+ kms this month.  I’m not sure I’ll even be matching last year’s somewhat sad 52k.  At the moment I have managed about 16, and a few of those kms I would be hesitant to classify as running.  Two weeks of a never-ending cold (or two different colds, I really don’t know) have knocked me down and I don’t seem to be getting back up.

I tried, I really did.  At the end of last week I was feeling better and headed out for a reasonable 10k trail run.  I was quite proud of myself getting out there, letting the fresh air get into my unhappy lungs, making my body do something other than slumping off to my bed after work.  Of course cocky things went through my head.  “Look at me, aren’t I the athlete getting out there and running when still sick.”  The next day I was miserable again, but I still tried.  My goal was 5k.  I ended up having to take a walk break after every km of running.  At one point I just wanted to lay down in the snow and have a nap.  The thought of running anything more seemed nothing short of impossible.  Rather than feeling amazing at the end of the run, I just ended up going home to bed… again.

The only good thing about these runs is I did get to try out my new winter trail/snow running shoes:

My new Saucony Speedcross 3's with Climate Shield

My new Salomon Speedcross 3’s with Climate Shield

I have only had a couple of runs in my new Salomon Speedcross 3’s CS but so far I am really liking them.  And it is a good thing too since I now have two pairs.  When I first went shopping I came home with these:

 

Salomon Speedcross 3's without Climate Shield.

Salomon Speedcross 3’s without Climate Shield.

I was told that they had the “Climate Shield”, the equivalent of Gore-tex.  When I did my research though I discovered that this version, the exact same shoe, was water resistant but did not have the extra protection of C.S.  I have always run in my regular road shoes, sometimes with a bit of duct tape over the mesh, when winter running.  But this year I wanted all the warmth, dryness and traction I could get so I could use them on snowy trails for both running and snowshoeing.  Two days later I was buying the shoes with C.S.  I could have returned the pair without, but I love these shoes so much I figured I might as well keep them for spring and fall running as I am sure the extra protection of C.S. would make them too hot in any temperatures above 0 degrees.  It also didn’t hurt that they were cheaper than any of my regular road shoes.

My favourite things about both sets of shoes?  They are incredibly light.  I was shocked when I picked them up and even more shocked when I put them on.  They look heavy duty and therefore, well, heavy.  While they are certainly not as light as minimalist shoes, I have no complaints about the weight.  The other thing I love about these shoes is the traction on the soles.  Take a look:

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I couldn’t get over the traction when I was on the trails.  Uphill and downhill these shoes dug right into the snow and I had no fear of slipping.  In some ways it was almost a strange feeling being so anchored to the ground.  The only downside of these soles –  you really don’t want to do any distance on pavement with them.  I am pretty sure it would not take long to ruin the treads.

I know colour is not at all important in shoes, but the great colours of both pairs also made me want to buy these shoes.  The colour adds a little fun to some hard working shoes.

So, if I actually manage to get rid of this cold before the snow melts, I will be looking forward to hitting the snow in my new shoes!

 

 

Check Out My Article in Running Room Magazine

In this month’s Running Room Magazine you can find my article “Why kids Should Run”, a version of a post I originally wrote for the blog RunRodRun.  If you did not pick up a copy, check out the online version by clicking here. Needless to say my kids were pretty excited to be featured in a national magazine!

Happy Reading!

(And yes, this is what I would call a lazy post – just give you a link and let you check it out!)

 

Somersault Champion Challenge Awards

Last week we attended the annual Somersault awards ceremony. Somersault organizes a fairly extensive list of running, triathlon and duathlon races in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario. Their tag line is “Events for Everyone”, which considering you could participate in anything from a 3k run to a marathon to a kayak or canoe multi sport race, is certainly true.

One added bonus to participating in at least three Somersault events is you will collect points for your placing at each race. At the end of the season your top three race points will be added up and you can see where you rank in your age category.  Your race distance does not come into play so whether you focused on 5k’s or marathons or a combination of distances, you still “compete” against everyone in your age group. Awards, a nice certificate with a race photo, are handed out at the end of season banquet.  If you also manage to win, as Evan did, an overall top three spot you win a free race entry and a personalized bag with your name and placing.

This year Evan placed first in the boys 13 and under category and also won the top junior male award. Luke just missed the podium, coming in fourth in the 13 and under group. I won for my age category of 45-49.  And while it wasn’t announced, I’m sure my husband won best fan support and chauffeur award.

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To be truthful, my award is also a bit of a participation award.  I know there are some faster runners than me who participate in these races but they did not complete the required three runs to qualify for points.  I consider my first place ranking a reward for some half decent times and for managing to roll out of bed and make it to an early morning race a few times!

So with the awards ceremony done, my last official race of the season complete and the changing of the month, it really does feel like the end of the 2014 season.  Next weekend I will do a fun run to earn my “A Christmas Story” medal that will be hung with pride on our Christmas tree.  That will be it until January, when I plan to start the new season with the Richmond Road Race.  Then there will be Winterman and not long after will be Prague!  Can’t wait :)

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Are You a Fan of “A Christmas Story”?

If you are a fan of the classic movie “A Christmas Story”, time is running out to register for a virtual run that will get you this awesome medal:

2014 Finisher’s Medal

If you haven’t seen the movie, the picture on the medal will mean nothing to you.  But if you have seen it, you are giggling right now.

Thirty one years ago this movie was released in theatres, but its real success did not come until it was played on television.  It is now considered a Christmas classic.  Many (including myself) consider it to be one of the top Christmas films ever made.  In my opinion it was a movie that was a little ahead of its time, somehow managing a sweet, nostalgic feel, combined with a wicked sense of humour.

Last year the first “A Christmas Story Run” was held in Cleveland, where there is actually a museum  housed in the same home used for the movie.  When I read about this race, after the fact, on the blog Salty Running, I was so upset I had missed out.  Not that I would have made it to Cleveland, but the race also holds a virtual version, sending out the medal and shirt , plus some Olvatine (again, you have to know the movie) to registrants.  “Pepper” at Salty Running kindly offered up her medal to me (both she and her husband had one)  if I was willing to donate to charity and run 10k.  The boys and I went shopping for the local charity Toy Mountain and then our family went out for a winter run…

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earning what is my favourite medal ever…

2013 Finisher’s Medal

You may notice a leg lamp theme!  I am expecting one year to see a pink bunny, a bar of soap, Chinese food, and a Red Rider BB gun.  Again, watch the movie if you want any of this to make sense!

If you are interested in the virtual run, check out their website at http://www.achristmasstoryrun.com/

While Visions of Marathons Dance Through My Head

It took me forever to call myself a runner.  I understand that that is not uncommon.  For a long time if someone asked if I was a runner my reply would be “I’m trying to be one.”  Now though I have no issue with the moniker.

Happily holding my first marathon medal

Happily holding my first marathon medal

I still however have a problem calling myself a marathoner, despite the fact that I have completed two.  Somehow doing just one, no matter how proud I was of myself, didn’t make me feel like I was truly part of that special group.  When my second fell apart due to nausea and dizziness – but I still crossed the finish line – I felt even less like a marathoner.  None of this makes any sense at all, and it even makes less sense that I somehow think a third marathon is necessary to change my mind.  Somehow though, in the last month or so, the thought of doing another marathon has taken over my running thoughts.

I know I am a better runner than I was when I first tried the marathon distance.  I think, maybe, I am a smarter runner.  I have realized that slow runs do make me faster, the logic of which still confuses me but I know there is science there to back it up.  I also know I spent a rather remarkable amount of time running really, I mean really, slowly this summer and fall and yet I had several P.B’s at races.  I have even managed to train myself to take a brief walk at water tables during my half marathons and still finish faster than when I ran with no breaks at all.  Though don’t try to tell me to run 10 and ones for a half marathon or marathon, it does nothing more than frustrate me mentally and make me want to walk off the course.

This urge to try again is why I have recently found myself reading everything about a race this weekend that I am not even in.  Tomorrow is the Philadelphia Marathon and I am reading everything I can about it, from the Facebook page to previous years’ reviews.  At the moment it is my number one choice for another attempt at 42.2 km.

Why Philly?  The main reason would be the date.  I have no intention of ever running a spring marathon again.  Unlike many, the issue is not the winter training.  I had no difficulty training in last year’s “polar vortex” and I never once hit the treadmill.  The problem with spring is that there is just too much risk of a sudden heat wave.  I don’t like running in heat at the best of times, but if it comes suddenly with no time to adjust I am essentially doomed before I even hit the start line.  I can live with that risk for a half marathon; if a half falls apart because of heat I will just turn around and run another in two or three weeks to make up for it.  That is never, ever going to happen for a marathon!

Philly is not the only marathon I have considered.  I have looked at the Niagara Falls International Marathon, but I am not sure I would enjoy the course.  The logistics also sound a little too complicated, what with starting in one country and finishing in another.  I’m sure the NYC Marathon would be a blast but I don’t feel like dealing with a lottery, it is crazy expensive and again there are the logistics of getting to the start line.  I found a couple of other small, low key marathons but at this point I think I still need the excitement of the crowds.  Mind you, I learned the hard way last spring way that when a race has gone south, those cheering, energetic spectators, no matter their good intentions, just make you feel worse.  I still feel guilty about the number of times I seriously wanted to tell a spectator where to go.  But for now I think I will avoid a marathon where there is a potential for me to run entirely alone.

Of course there is the option of doing the Toronto Waterfront, my first marathon, again.  It is only just over 4 hours away, it is relatively cheap, the crowds and course were great and I would be able to compare times on the same course.  But the downside is it is a month earlier than Philadelphia.  Running Toronto means starting to train in the summer.  Summer is when I like to keep my runs short and fast.  Summer is also when I want to enjoy weekends at the cabin and not have the worry of fitting in a long run.  To be blunt, I am very happy being lazy in the summer.  I may love running, but when the choice is a long, lonely run in the heat along deserted, hilly Quebec roads, in an area in which I have never, ever seen another runner (though there is no shortage of shirtless older men smoking cigarettes and driving ATVs) or sitting on a dock reading a book and enjoying a cold beverage, well the running is going to lose. Every time.

So I will be searching the internet for the next week, anxiously reading any Philadelphia Marathon reviews I can find, trying to decide if this will be the race that will make me officially feel like a marathoner.

The Philadelphia Marathon, photo from the race website.

I Love Winter Running

There is no hidden sarcasm in the title of this post. Give me time, I’m sure at some point I will write about the difficulties winter presents to all of us who choose to run.

But for now… today was the first real snowfall of the season. If you listened carefully I’m sure you would have been able to hear the rhythmic sound of all of the treadmills starting up for the season.  But if you insist on climbing aboard the “dreadmill”, how will you ever enjoy this:

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Yes, you have to slow down, pick up your feet, watch where you place them, but when you do you get to experience runs like no others.  It was nothing short of gorgeous today running in the woods.  It was exhilarating, calming, tranquil and energizing all at once.  How is that even possible?

My advice to all; remember the treadmill isn’t our only winter option.  I know I am lucky, I am able to fit in runs in daylight hours several times a week.  It makes it easier to get out there.  But I encourage every runner to get outside whenever possible this winter, let it offer what only the cold and snow can.  You can love it too.