The weather sucks and I don’t care

Because I get to run!

Tuesday it was 40-something and drizzling, but instead of complaining I found an older pair of shoes and ran 3.25 miles. Fortunately I mostly avoided the puddles, and the one time I misjudged and drenched my whole right foot, I had maybe .1 left to go.

Thursday it was 30-something and windy. But I didn’t care. I grabbed my gloves and a windbreaker and ran just over three miles. This one was a little harder since the route had quite a few hilly sections. Not big hills, but enough to out some extra strain on my calf.

Tomorrow I’m bringing out the big guns: I’m going to increase my distance to FOUR miles instead of three.

Six weeks ago, a four-mile Saturday run sounded ridiculous. Who gets out of bed just to run four miles? Well, after my involuntary hiatus, four sounds glorious. It could rain, snow, sleet, or hail and you’ll still find me out there.

Someday, after this injury train has chugged off into the sunset, I am sure I will forget this feeling of post-injury euphoria. But for now, the weather sucks and I don’t care.

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I almost forgot to write a title for this post.

I’ve been a scatterbrain this week.

When I met my training group Tuesday, I realized I had forgotten my Garmin. On Thursday, I left my blinky smiley face and my ankle light on the kitchen table. So last night, I set out everything I’d need for 12 miles in the cold this morning. And when I got to Rogue, I couldn’t find my flip belt or my backup Spibelt.

I’d worn two shirts, figuring that’d be comfortable given the temperature. But once I realized I only had the tiny pocket on the back of my running tights for my phone, inhaler, gels, etc. I had to regroup. I had a windbreaker with pockets, but that would be too warm with two shirts, so I took off the base layer shirt and stuffed everything in my jacket pockets. Except my chapstick–I forgot that, which I realized about a half-mile into the run. Ugh!

The first mile we ran directly into the wind. My left ear started to hurt. At the first water stop, one off the coaches was handing out tissues, and my running partner shared her lip balm. We turned into the neighborhood where houses blocked the wind for a mile or so, which helped my ear. We wound around residential streets, up and down hills, then eventually reached one of the main roads. The wind had changed direction, and we ran into it for the next two miles.

At the six-mile mark, my friend and I split up. She has a half-marathon next weekend and only wanted to run ten today, while I had committed to 12. It was difficult not to turn around with her, but I knew I’d be annoyed with myself if I bailed on the longer distance.

I turned on my ESPN podcasts and got caught up on the week in college football as I plodded along. This neighborhood has its own airstrip, and I watched a small plane take off. But I didn’t see many people out and about in the cold. A dog and a horse, yes. An occasional runner. But judging from the fireplace smells, I think most people were tucked inside their cozy homes. And when I reached the main road again, guess what? Ran right into the wind. Quite the contrast to the cozy-home thing.

Finally, I finished 12 miles–the first time I’ve run more than ten since the Austin Half Marathon in February. Other than stopping for water, and once to answer a phone call from home, I ran the whole thing. Even without my friend to keep me honest! I’m good at chasing her, but on my own I’ve occasionally succumbed to walk breaks. Not this time though! And more good news: the last couple of ten-mile runs, I’ve felt soreness in my hips and quads as early as five miles, and I’m aching by the end of the run. Today, even with the cold temperatures, I got to mile eight or nine before I noticed some minor soreness. Yeah, I was cold and I was dragging a bit at the end, but I felt pretty good.

What felt better? My car’s heated seats on the drive home.

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I’m pretty sure I made it home with all of my accessories and gear, so maybe my bout with forgetfulness is over.

Second Annual Icecrack of Dawn Run

Last February, when I brought my National Junior Honor Society students to Washington, D.C., we stayed in a hotel near J’s house. So one morning she met me in the lobby and we ran exactly 5K before the sun came up. We called it our Asscrack of Dawn run.

This year, NJHS stayed at the same hotel and we therefore arranged the Asscrack of Dawn Run II, which I desperately needed. The tour company schedules our meals at food courts and all-you-can-eat buffets: great for the 14-year olds but not ideal for older people with slower metabolisms. I will pay dearly for four days of large portions, restaurant food, and a steady supply of coffee.

So our run is almost perfect–a relaxed 5K with my friend, a brief respite from chaperone responsibilities, and a bit of exercise to offset whatever the hell it was I just ate. The drawback, of course, is the time. Breakfast is at 7 and we are on the tour bus by 7:45 every day, which means in order to run, I had to set the alarm–three days into a trip where I’m lucky to sleep for six hours each night–for 5:15 A.M. Not only that, the area is somewhat hilly and I’d only run once since the Austin half, so I wasn’t exactly in peak form. Neither was J though–since the Army Ten-Miler, she’s been rehabbing an Achilles injury and this was only her second foray back into running. But none of that mattered because I needed this run–and time with my friend–both physically and emotionally.

I met J in the lobby at 5:30 and we headed out.

A few days earlier, the DC area had been covered in about a foot of snow. This morning, though, the temperature hovered just above freezing and most of the snow had melted. We both wore our Army Ten-Miler shirts, tights, and gloves, and except when the occasional frigid gust of wind stung my cheeks, I felt comfortable.

I found myself breathing heavily at first, which made me wonder just how quickly a person can lose fitness while taking a few days off after a strenuous distance race. But I got it under control and fell into step behind J. We chatted, laughed, and dodged road construction and slushy snow remnants. We passed her house and and looked for lights to indicate whether her family had awakened yet. She pointed out the coffee shop I visit when I stay at her house. We looked in the gym windows and felt superiority pride for braving the cold. We cracked up at an inside joke. It was just what I needed.

Before long, we arrived back at my hotel. I went to stop my Garmin and realized it had never actually started, even though I remember pressing the button to start it when we began. J assured me it was exactly a 5K. I wasn’t concerned with the specific distance though–I just like having each run’s data and map recorded in My Garmin. But as it turns out, the distance would be significant.

Inside the hotel lobby, J produced two medals from her pocket. The front side said “Victory” and the back was engraved:

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They wouldn’t let her engrave “Asscrack of Dawn” so she had to improvise.

You know what this means, right? Not only did we get medals for our little 5K, we also each won our age groups!

I love this medal. I love that this early-morning run, before the city wakes up, is important to both of us. And I love the time I got to spend with her in the middle of a whirlwind trip.

I’ll need to run a lot more than 3.1 miles to atone for my culinary sins these past four days. A couple of pounds is temporary though. My Icecrack of Dawn medal is forever.

Icepocalypse 3.0

Last night around 8:30 PM, with no precipitation in sight or on weather radar, the Austin school district canceled classes for today. That’s right, this year we have lost THREE days because of the weather, plus had two delayed starts.

But the crazy thing about this one? School officials didn’t even wait for freezing rain to fall. Or even form in the atmosphere. Or think about forming in the atmosphere. Even though the weather forecasters gave it just a 20% chance, calling it “very light accumulation not even detected by the computer model,” that was enough for widespread cancellation. Because as soon as AISD canceled, every other district fell  like dominoes. My Facebook news feed was full of people making a “WTF?” face–it seemed too early to make that call.

This morning I woke up to… nothing. No ice, no rain. Yeah, it was 25*, but my street was clear and the television traffic reports showed no problems anywhere in the metro area. The weather guy said, “There really isn’t a lot happening out there, except some ice on windshields in Blanco County.” Which is about an hour southwest of here. So I built a fire in the fireplace and settled down with a second cup of coffee.

After a while, I got to thinking. I am supposed to run six miles tomorrow morning, but we have plans this evening that might make waking up at 6:15 tomorrow morning a bit of a challenge. Fridays are normally rest days, but what if I ran my six miles today, then slept in and took a rest day tomorrow? I let the idea swirl around in my head for a while, and then decided to brave the cold and get it done today.

When I left the house, it was 26* and dry. I had on two layers plus gloves, a scarf, and a hat. That first step out the door made my eyes water and my cheeks freeze, but nothing was falling from the sky to make it worse.

It’s funny to run through a community that’s supposedly closed down due to bad weather. Lots of cars were out and about (I mean, really, there wasn’t ANY ice!) but as I passed a couple of schools, the emptiness of the parking lots reminded me that we were supposed to be paralyzed by ice and trapped in our homes.

This school usually has an enrollment of 2500 students. Today, zero.

I encountered a few intrepid folks walking dogs, but for the most part there weren’t many people on foot out there. A police car had a truck pulled over, an ambulance sat outside an apartment complex, and at one point I heard sirens a few blocks away. But overall, it was quiet.

On the way back I noticed a light, fine mist starting to fall. It was almost undetectable–I’m certain it wasn’t enough for drivers to notice on their windshields, let alone cause trouble on the roadways. Gah. We will have yet another school makeup day tacked on to the end of the year–for nothing. Yeah, it’s cold, but even though cold is somewhat alien to us, we don’t close schools because of it.

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Calling it a Wintry Mix was reaching a bit, I think.

I ended up running 6.5 miles, and I’m glad I got that done today so I can sleep in tomorrow. I never really warmed up, but it didn’t feel miserably cold either. I certainly appreciated the warm fireplace and hot shower when I got home, though!

Now, if this weather could get its act together, that’d be great. I live in the south for a reason—this weather is not it.

Did you get out and run today? What were the conditions like?

Fourteen

“Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get.” –Mark Twain

As late as Friday night, the weather forecast for Saturday morning predicted drizzle and temps in the 60s. But when I woke up, it was 43 and pouring. Perfect weather for 14 miles, yes?

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This is a lie–it never got above about 45.

Based on the forecast I had originally planned to wear short sleeves, but what I saw out my back door made me change into a long sleeved shirt, and at the last minute I grabbed the Columbia jacket I’d bought back in May when it looked like rain at the Cleveland half. I tossed my phone into a ziplock bag and headed out.

The route starts through a residential neighborhood, then turns onto a wide concrete path that runs alongside a major highway. Somewhere around mile five, as I ran into a 45-degree headwind, I asked myself why the hell I signed up for yet another half marathon. Even with my jacket, I was cold, and I had so far yet to go. I regretted the capris and wished I’d worn my warmer tights. The exposed skin of my shins had turned a rosy pink from the cold.

It seemed to take forever to get to the seven-mile turnaround. Long stretches on busy roads led me to make bargains with myself–things like “run to that stoplight, then rest while waiting for the crossing signal.” This strategy afforded me few walking breaks, though, since I think I encountered only four stoplights along the three-mile stretch of road.

Finally I reached seven miles at an intersection with a convenience store on the corner. Their “Fresh Tacos!” sign taunted me–I wanted nothing more than to stop for a taco. But I settled for a watermelon Gu Chomp and started the return trip.

I thought perhaps the most interesting thing I’d encounter was the cattle drive mural under the highway.

Only in Texas

Only in Texas

But I was wrong. As I took this picture, I noticed the drizzle turning to real raindrops. And in the two minutes it took the light to change and give me a Walk signal, the raindrops got bigger and more numerous. I dropped my headphones into a ziplock and stuck it in my jacket pocket, checked that my phone was sealed in another ziplock, pulled up the hood on my jacket, and crossed at the light. By the time I hit the path, it had become a downpour. Thunder and lightning cracked in the not-so distance. For a while, as I ran up the path along the highway, I was the tallest thing around, which made me kind of nervous about the lightning. But I did the only thing I could–kept going.

They say if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute and it will change. No such luck this morning. For the next four miles, I ran through sheets of rain and the resulting ankle-deep rivers of runoff. My shoes and socks were completely saturated, and I saw no point in jumping over puddles. Did I mention it was still about 45 degrees and windy?

As I approached 12 miles, a car pulled alongside and asked if I wanted a ride back to Rogue. Damn, that was tempting. It took massive willpower to say, “Thanks, but I’m okay.” A couple of minutes later, another Rogue stopped with the same offer, and again it was tempting. I was touched that folks were looking out for us and appreciated the gesture, but I was determined to finish under my own power.

And eventually, I did, although it took me forever. My shoes squished, my gloves dripped water all over Rogue’s floor, and my entire lower half was soaked. My jacket had done a decent job repelling the worst of the rain, but my shirt was damp. One of the coaches offered me a t-shirt from their freebie pile, which I accepted gratefully. After some foam rolling and general defrosting, I activated the heated seats in my car and headed home.

On this run, I burned more than 1500 calories. So for the rest of the day, I think I will sit by the fireplace and work on correcting that deficit. So far I’ve had coffee, a breakfast taco, and three pieces of pizza. Naturally, now that I’m done, the sun is coming out and things are warming up, but I’m going to enjoy the first day of my winter break on the couch.

Did you #JFR today?

How do you recover from a long run?

What’s your favorite post-run food?

Frozen

On Wednesday, it was 80 degrees, but an Arctic cold front came in Thursday morning and temps started dropping. By Friday morning, the freezing temperature combined with overnight drizzle and sleet caused schools to start two hours late. No one turned on the heat in my part of the building, and my little thermometer informed me it was 58 in my classroom. The heater came on sometime after lunch and my hands finally thawed a bit.

Initially the weather reports indicated more icy rain would hit overnight, and combined with temperatures in the 20s, even Rogue talked about canceling Saturday long runs because getting there could be dangerous. I had 12 miles on the schedule, and like a kid wishing for a snow day, I kind of hoped for a weather reprieve. The thought of running 12 miles in 20-degree temps did NOT appeal to me, especially after last week’s miserable attempt at 12 miles. But when the alarm went off, I checked my phone and saw a message from Rogue that it was a go.

I wore a Nike Pro Combat fleece-lined shirt, my Brooks cold-weather jacket, my Brooks fleece-lined tights, compression socks, regular socks, ear-warmers, a hat, gloves, and a scarf over my face to help my breathing. My car’s thermometer informed me it was cold–although I looked at my Garmin data later and learned with the wind chill it felt like 16. Yes, yes it did.

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My car also has a snowflake icon that alerts me to coldness.

The route was Heely Sonova, the torturous hilly course that goes up and down the same hill, just along adjacent streets. Up one, down the next, up again, back down. Then turn around and run it in reverse. Most of these are residential streets, so the houses blocked the worst of the wind. But the last leg ran alongside a major highway, and the wind rushed down that path, seeping through my gloves and making my eyes water.

The Rogue water jug near my halfway point had developed an icicle on the spout, a little stalactite taunting me.  And a few residents had forgotten to turn off their automatic sprinkler systems, coating the sidewalks with ice. As if running in 25-degree temperatures doesn’t have high enough degree of difficulty.

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Ice ice baby

I won’t lie–this run hurt.

Even with reasonable cold-weather gear, even with the exertion required by the hills, I never warmed up. My quads became completely numb, and if my hip flexors hurt, I couldn’t feel them. My nose ran like a faucet. Taking my gloves off to change podcasts hurt my fingers. Despite being in my inside jacket pocket, my Gu Chomp gummy gels were stuck together and I couldn’t separate one without taking my gloves off, so I went without.

Finally, three hours later (and one degree warmer), I finished 12 miles. Hallelujah.

I should have stayed in bed

I woke up with a hacking cough about two hours before my alarm: bad omen

A deer nearly ran out in front of me as I drove out to Rogue, but changed its mind: good omen

I snagged the best parking space at Rogue: good omen

Two out of three looks pretty good, huh? Except not. The deer could have been a bad omen just by virtue of its presence near the road as I was driving at 50mph. And getting the good parking space maybe meant I wouldn’t be able to walk really far after my run.

Nothing like seeing the glass half-empty, huh?

I was supposed to run 12 miles today, but really, the deck was stacked against me from the start. After Thursday’s five-mile Turkey Trot, I went to the Texas – Texas Tech football game. It was in the low 40s by the end of the game–a temperature Texans really aren’t accustomed to. Screaming for hours in the cold didn’t do great things for my asthmatic lungs, and on Friday I developed the same cough B had on Thanksgiving.

So when I woke up this morning–two hours early–and was coughing up a lung or two, I really should have just taken it as a sign and gone back to sleep. But alas, the schedule called for 12 miles, so 12 miles I would attempt. K called that dedicated. In hindsight, I think idiotic is a better word.

Today’s course was the 10-mile route through Brushy Creek Park, with a two-mile detour loop after exiting the park, before turning for home. I figured I’d shoot for 12 but bail on that detour if I needed to. As it turns out, even that was optimistic.

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Hello Mr. Scorpion at Brushy Creek Park. I think you’re dead, so technically I’m having a better day than you are. Just barely.

I’m not going to relive every painful, miserable mile here. Let’s just say it was unpleasant from the start, and I walked a lot. My legs ached and felt heavy. The cold wind burned my throat and lungs. I breathed through my towel now and then, trying to get warm air to loosen up my airways, but it was a temporary fix at best. I’d worn only a short-sleeved shirt, thinking I’d warm up quickly in the 50-degree morning, but it turns out I wasn’t moving quickly enough for that. My hands hurt from the cold.

I turned around at the five-mile mark, and the whole way back I debated with myself about whether to turn right and go another two miles, or turn left and head back. I almost convinced myself that because I’d walked so much, I needed to do the extra leg to compensate. But as I came out of the park, I looked toward the detour street–it just looked so far away. I turned left.

I’m angry with myself for wimping out. But I hurt inside and out, and I finally decided it wasn’t worth it for two extra miles. Next week’s schedule calls for another 12 miles, and I’ll try again.

After a shower, coffee, and leftover turkey, I no longer feel like crying. But I am parking myself on my butt under my quilt to watch college football all day. Maybe I can shake this off with some rest.

Because…  did I mention we’re running a 5K tomorrow? A few weeks ago we signed up for the Jingle Bell 5K since we’ve run it the last couple of years. But it didn’t occur to me that December 1st is actually the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend! So yesterday I drove downtown and picked up race stuff for our second race in four days. Brilliant.

How do you rebound from a miserable run?

Ever done multiple races over a couple of days?

Can anyone make me stop coughing??