Sunday, January 24, 2016

Winter Running...

As Lee Anne and I prepared to brave the Creemore elements yesterday, I was surprised at how effective procrastination can be during the winter.  We woke up late to a sunny -16C day.  There was a gentle wind from the north, which at -16 can be considered a death threat.  We were in no hurry to don our gear and start the run.  Ah!  Winter running!

Since I was running short (24K - which I quickly changed to 15K after starting the run), we spent some time trying to figure out how to keep Lee Anne's camelback from freezing.  We tried threading the tube under her running jacket, but it was awkward and part of the tube remained exposed.  Next, we tried placing her extra small jacket on top of the camelback, but Lee Anne would have trouble breathing.  Finally, after delaying until the temperature was -11C, we settled on the traditional blowback approach, with the camelback outside her jacket.

Another 15 minutes spent donning 14 layers of clothes, gloves, hats, those things that warm your neck (I don't wear one - I'm almost a man) and 2 layers of pants, and we were ready.  Since we planned to run roads, we started by heading north.  Into that gentle breeze.  After 30 seconds, I asked Lee Anne if she would like to run on the treadmill.  Being the irrational and obstinate person that she is (the category is called "Runner"), we continued on our way.  I have to admit that I enjoy the reaction of cars that pass us during these Arctic runs.  They slow right down.  I imagine the driver is wondering if they should offer assistance or head for high ground.

Let's talk pace for a moment.  We are running with more clothes than I pack for a week's vacation during the summer.  Footing ranges from icy pavement to frozen salt, unless the footing is bad.  That gentle -11C breeze is dense enough to move tractors frozen in mud.  Since we live on the Mad river, the terrain is uphill in all directions, unless we run in or on the river.  About now I would like to take exception to the term "warm-up".  Five minutes into our run, I can't feel my face.  My fingers are frozen near the holes in my gloves.  A graph of my core body temperature would look like a swan dive.  I can't wait to warm up, he says with caustic sarcasm.  Our legs are moving in slow motion, the pace sometimes approaching a 7 minute kilometre.  When we stop to walk, our pace increases.

For some reason I have never been able to fathom, my mileage drops during the winter...

I have to laugh; the above struggle takes place during one of the warmest January's I can remember, in Creemore.  We have had virtually no snow, so the trails are still runnable.  A great winter for running!

Lee Anne started a running log this year.  I started one last year.  I have offered to help track her mileage, which could be a mistake.  Although my mileage has suffered so far this year (I am helping with a construction project in Toronto), even my best months would pale in comparison to Lee Anne's.  So far in January 2016, the comparison is sad.  Due to work, I only have 3 days per week in which I can run.  Lee Anne continues with her one day off (Thursday) and back-to-backs every Friday and Saturday.

During my last week before starting to work in Toronto, I logged 56K.  Since then, my mileage has dropped dramatically.  My total for the month is 103.5K.

For the first 3 full weeks this month, Lee Anne has logged 150K, 158K and 147K.  Her monthly total is 518K.  She is on pace to exceed 650K this month.  I'm hoping to break 150K.

On the bright side, we are preparing for some altitude training.  Actually, we might not be running as much in February, as we will be hiking in Ecuador.  After a few days acclimatizing in Quito, we plan to hike the Quilotoa Loop.  This hike is up fairly high (2800M to 3900M), so running may not be an option.  Along the loop is the Quilotoa crater lake, a fascinating remnant of massive eruption circa 800 years ago.  After the Loop, we plan to climb the Imbabura volcano, although hikers write of scrambles and tricky trails, which might not be much fun at 4630 meters (15,000 feet)!  Our fallback plan is to visit the Otavalo market, just north of Quito.

Strange how events transpire in life.  I understand that we are in the proper demographic (recently retired), but it is still strange how many friends are also travelling to Ecuador.  We will be travelling with Manny and Barb, mutual friends of our good friend Sharon,  Jane from book club has already flown south and our long time friends Mel and Al are flying down on the same day as us!  We plan to meet with Mel and Al in Quito for some sightseeing.

Try to enjoy the great outdoors this month.  There is no doubt that hiking or running in January is tough, but there are sites to see and you can gain a new perspective on the outdoors, during the winter.  Dress warm!

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