Sunday, February 27, 2011

Super Cold Group Run

So it turns out I'm not the only crazy person in Fargo. About two dozen people showed up at the downtown YMCA for our Saturday group run. The temperature when we started was -17 and what little wind there was drove the wind chills to nearly -25. Everyone looked the same all bundled up in layers of clothes, stocking caps, and face masks (some chose not to wear face masks--now that's crazy). After just a few miles everyone still looked the same but for a different reason. A thick layer of frost covered every person's face and head. It looked like we all were wearing snowman costumes. It made me chuckle.

The full marathon route was a twelve mile out and back course through mostly residential neighborhoods. I ran with Rick (who just finished the Arrowhead ultra), Jon (who is training for an ultra-marathon in April), and Erin (Jon's wife who is training for her first marathon). We ran at a very comfortable pace and brought up the back of the pack.

After a few miles my thighs started to get quite cold. I knew that we all had to be very careful to avoid frostbite in this weather. Another mile went by and they were warmed up again. Maybe we had been running into the wind for that short stretch. I'm just happy they got warm. My water bottle didn't fair so well in this cold. It froze up on me after about five miles, and I ended up pulling the spout completely off in order to get anything out of it. I also discovered that GU becomes quite chewy-- but still tasty-- at these temperatures.

Erin had difficulty keeping her hands warm. Rick carried her water bottle and gave her another pair of gloves to wear, but she and Jon cut their run a little short so she could get inside and warm up. I saw her at the Y after my run, and her fingers showed no signs of frostbite. We are all hoping the weather is a little warmer next week.

We received the schedule for the next six weeks. The mileages are going up for the weekday runs as well as the long runs. The weekly runs will be Monday = 7 miles, Wednesday = 7 miles, Thursday = 4 miles. The Saturday long runs will go from 13 miles to 18 miles. I'm really looking forward to these new challenges.

That's all for this week.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Although this week started a little rocky it turned out pretty good. The weather warmed up a bit and started melting some of the snow during the day. By evening the temperatures dropped enough to freeze the water left behind. Monday night I ran through the streets in my neighborhood, but unfortunately they were filled with deeply rutted frozen slush. It was nearly impossible to run on this without the fear of twisting an ankle. The sidewalks were no better as they were coated with black ice. I ended up cutting my run short by about two miles.

By Wednesday the water on most of the streets and sidewalks had dried up. About two miles in my left knee started bothering me. It seemed to be a different problem than before, and I decided not to push it and headed for home. Almost immediately the pain went away, so I turned around and finished all six miles with no problems. I found that I have a tendency to tighten the muscles in my left leg at the first sign of discomfort. I think this reaction is left over from the ACL surgery I had years ago. I am trying to stay on top of this and focus on running with a relaxed stride. It seems to work.

I did the third weeknight run on Friday evening. The sky was clear and the full moon looked gorgeous. It was one of those times where I felt I could run forever. It reminded me of hitting a great shot in golf. It's what keeps me coming back for more. Knowing I had a long run to do on Sunday, I forced myself to stop at a little over four miles.

I had to do this week's long run on Sunday, so I missed the Saturday group run. It was cold (nothing new) and very windy. I knew when I started that I would be running into the wind at the end of my run. I know that "they" say I should start my runs into the wind when I'm strongest. My thinking is that on race day I have to follow the route no matter what the wind is doing. I could end up running a good part of the last thirteen miles into a headwind. I would like to have some experience at this before the race.

The first six miles were great. I took a short walk break after five miles and ate a gel. This really felt refreshing and the run continued to be quite enjoyable. Then the turn back toward home. I ran the last four miles into the wind, and man that was hard. My pace slowed to a very slow jog. My legs felt incredibly heavy, and I worried about tripping over any uneven spots in the pavement. I completed the ten miles, but it took a little longer than I would have liked. I haven't received the schedule for the next six weeks yet. I'm excited to see how many miles we will be doing next.

As they say on Monty Python, "and now for something completely different." I saw this and thought of my oldest brother who is a big Red Green fan. I hope you enjoy it Dave.

I'd like to thank everyone for the encouragement and support. I appreciate it very much.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Double Digit Miles -- Woo Hoo!

I was able to make it to the group run this morning at Fargo Running Company along with twenty-some others. The weather was gorgeous, in the low twenties with hardly any wind. I was finally able to keep my pace slow enough at the beginning that I didn't burn out before the end of the run. I hung out at the back of the pack. I know that's where I will be on most runs and races. What I lack in speed I make up for in bullheaded determination. Slowly but surely I got my eleven miles in. A new longest run!

The people helping us on today's run were great. Everyone offered encouragement and several ran with me for parts of the route which really helped pass the time. The only downside to having company was our different paces. They had to slow way down to a speed they weren't used to, and I had to try to not go faster than I normally run. Still, it was nice to meet some new people, and the conversations were enjoyable.

I didn't get all of my miles in this week due to a crazy work schedule. I missed Monday's six mile run, but I made sure to get the other runs in. I had to spend a night in Jamestown, North Dakota so I put in six miles just running around the downtown area. Let me tell you there's not much happening in Jamestown at four-thirty in the morning when it is seven below zero outside.

Wednesday mornings temp. after the run

A little frosty (and blurry).

Thursday night was pretty uneventful, just a regular weekday run. My biggest concern was finishing in time to watch The Big Bang Theory (my new favorite show). All-in-all it was a great week. I'm looking forward to the warmer temperatures that are coming. It gives us hope that spring will come.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Longest Run & Highest Mileage Week Yet

I finally figured out what was making my knee hurt. On Monday's run it started giving me problems after about two miles. It took a little while before I noticed that my left leg pushed off differently than my right. I concentrated on pushing off more toward the big toe side of my foot and Ta Da no more pain!

Today's nine mile run was my longest yet, and it went very well. About half of my route was on a bike path with mostly clear pavement. The other half was on snow covered side streets.

Clear Pavement -- How Great!!
About an hour into the run I tried my first GU to see if it caused any problems as I ran. Some people might wonder what GU is and why anyone would want to eat it. It's a convenient energy gel, and I thought it was quite tasty. It seemed like a thick vanilla pudding. I need to get used to eating during the longer runs so that there are no unpleasant surprises come race day.

Mmmmm GU

There was one casualty today. I finally blew through the toe of my Kevlar socks. I inherited my whacky flip-back toes from my mom. My toes naturally point upwards like I'm trying to pull them back. This was great when I was in Tae Kwon Do. I was able to pull them waaayyyy back when I kicked through boards or concrete blocks thus preventing me from breaking bones. The bad news is I can put a hole in a new sock in less than a day even with well trimmed toenails. I found socks with Kevlar toes and they have lasted a couple of years. I guess I better start thinking about ordering up some new ones.

I put in my highest mileage this week -- twenty-three miles (Monday - 5 miles, Wednesday - 5 miles, Thursday - 4 miles, Saturday - 9 miles). Next week's runs on Monday and Wednesday increase to 6 miles, Thursday's stays at 4 miles, and Saturday's run is 11 miles. I can hardly wait.

I want to take a moment to congatulate Rick Wagar for completing the Arrowhead 135 race in 54 hours 25 minutes. Not only did he have to run while pulling his gear in a sled, he had to do it in temperatures of -40 not counting wind chill. That is pretty hard core racing!