Running in the winter

…or, why people look at me like I’m nuts.

Not Pittsburgh
This is not Pittsburgh. Or Cleveland. This is Minnesota.

I was listening to the weather forecast as I was changing into a singlet and shorts at the gym this morning, preparing for a grueling legs workout (I’ll go into that later), and hearing the weatherman talk about “lake effect snow” and wind chill, the former of which bothers me to here. As a former Clevelander now living in a city nowhere near a major lake, knowing that lake effect snow means a DUMP of one to two feet in the snow belt, the pittance of three to four inches overnight we get here in the ‘Burgh… not the same.

Then they had a weathergirl (I suppose that’s a bit of a sexist label, but whatever. I also like the word “chicking,” but that’s a discussion for another day and another post) was going around to show viewers the mayhem the weather had caused, and pointed to a runner, a middle-aged bloke in a reflective vest, running in the dark, frigid morning. Why? Because he runs every day. That’s what he does. And, aloud, in the locker room, I said, “Rock on, dude. Rock on.”

Anyway. So Tuesday morning I get up bright and early at 5:45. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. It’s taking me a little longer to settle down, though not too badly, but I keep waking up in the wee hours. I wake up. Look at the clock. 3 a.m. I go back to sleep. Wake up. Check the clock. 4:15.

Rinse. repeat.

So I pretty much popped right out of bed at 5:45, and was greeted by some version of the sight in the above image. Only it was pitch black. And windy. And actively snowing.

So I bundled: sports bra, tights, barely-too-small running pants, short-sleeved base layer Under Armour shirt, long sleeve Cold Gear Under Armour shirt, Saucony tech jacket, and my red Pearl Izumi jacket to block wind, rain and increase visibility, cause the rest of me was dressed in all black. I donned my earband and gloves (also black), grabbed my iPod and Garmin and hit the road. I had planned on doing a couple Negley-Wilkins hill circuits. But mother nature  had other plans.

I brought the Garmin strictly to measure distance. I knew my time would be slow because of the conditions. Boy, I didn’t even know how slow I could go. I took my time, not trusting cars, not trusting my own eyes in spotting slick patches or ridges in the sidewalk beneath a good inch or two of snow. I thanked everyone I saw out there plowing and shoveling and salting at that ungodly hour, and got to Negley hill, where I got stuck at the light (this happened a lot). I felt good. I was ready to tackle the Beast. But my treads… not so much. Not even a quarter of the way up, I felt my feet slipping back with each foot fall, a little too much and with too little control for my taste. So I walked. Yeah, it sucked, but walking that hill is still rough, especially in those conditions.

I knew I was doing something near a 12 minute pace (my usual easy pace is anywhere between 9 and 10 minute miles) but I was just out there to get through a few miles. And I did. And I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was nuts. Even Nerdy Boyfriend said he was shocked when he saw on my twitter that I had run outside. I checked the weather when I got to work just before 9, and even then the wind chill was -3. Negative three. I must be insane.

Today, as I said earlier, was a leg day: I did a hard route on the Expresso bike (Nerdy Boyfriend: that “wicked workout” one we did last year together. I kicked my pacer’s ASS), then did a badass leg workout: a full lap, with some rests, around the indoor track doing walking lunges; squats, single-leg squats, calf raises (parallel, turned out and turned in), leg press, hip abduction and adduction, and some floor work for my hamstrings. Then I foam rolled a bit and was in agony as I did, but my legs will thank me tomorrow. Maybe.

Tomorrow I’ll be running outside again, an easy five I think. Hopefully conditions will be a little better. BUT I just got my new headlamp in the mail yesterday (of course AFTER that crazy morning run, oh well). I told my boss I’d try working from home Tuesdays and Thursdays next week, but I may still do morning runs on days where conditions are good. Otherwise I’ll start working around 6:30 or 7, break to run around 11, then clock back in after I shower and finish the day.

Now I have some editing to (try to) do, then sleep. 5:45 alarm is unforgiving.

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I'm a 30-year-old writer and runner. This is my running blog.

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