Monday, February 27, 2006

All This Cold Affects The Fire

For an apt description of Sunday's run, please tab over to Mike's blog. But let me add that following some insane plan of his during the coldest day of the year, I found myself battling fierce winds, steep hills, and tired legs in wind chills piercing the core of my body for the final 4 miles of a 21 mile run. Quite honestly, it didn't start out that way.

Last Sunday, the initial miles were brutal as I warmed up but I gradually got used to the temps by the time we turned out of the wind and back toward the cars. This week, the high winds and drop in temperature waited for our watches to near the 3 hour mark. At our weakest point, the wind gusted hard as we struggled to climb the hills. Literally reduced to the apparent form of a runner but lacking any forward motion, the wind sucked my breath away as I realized just how far 4 miles can be. What could we do but retire into our own thoughts and carry on? Conversation ceased except for some kind remarks about the weather. As we approached the car my watch said 3:16, Mike's said 3:10. I was done, he was not. I was sore and I couldn't imagine any benefit for me running any further today. I mean, if it was 40 degrees warmer, we would be nearing the 26 mile mark! But Mike soldiered on for another 10 minutes as I left him to his possible death in the woods of Perry.

I tried to feel some sympathy for him as I drove away, but I barely had the mental capacity left to operate the vehicle to carry me home. Frozen, dehydrated, hungry, sore, and befuddled I toppled into the shower and turned on 'hot'. About 30 minutes later I was thawed out and capable of wondering how poor Mike made out.

A last comment about our time differences on our watches. It turns out Mike is a purist. If he's not running, he's not timing it. I, on the other hand, believe in timing the whole experience - which includes chat time around the cars waiting for Stephanie to stretch. My philosophy stems from my winter running with Marc last year. We'd lap the house in 5 mile increments, then come in the house each time for warmth, refreshment, and basically a break from the elements. I couldn't justify not including the 'break time' in the total because I felt my pace when actually running was probably enhanced by the break. So if I only used the actual 'run time' my pace would not be truly representative of what could be done that day without the break. So in this light it's a conservative take on timing. But it came in handy Sunday when we were sort of running 'for time' which meant my 3:16 was plenty!!

Alas, no company this morning to get me out of bed. The wind was blowing hard, the chill factor 20 below zero and I had absolutely no desire to go out and run 90 minutes or even 30. Tomorrow is not looking promising either. More of the same nastiness is on tap until Thursday. I am not confident in my ability to get out by myself in this weather. We shall see.

Last week: 53 miles - all in the beginning of the week as I came down with something on Wednesday. At least I have 21 in so far this week...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cold Crew

Today's (Sunday) run was cold. Zero degrees with a 10 - 20 mph wind brought the wind chill factor between -16 and -22 degrees Farenheit. Just the sort of nastiness to bring out the group for a cold 20 mile run around Boyden's Lake.

I arrived early to put in 4.6 miles before Mike and Jon arrived since I knew 16 was on Mike's docket. I find 16 - 18 miles is the limit for a 7am start to get back to Eastport before church. So when I want to do additional miles, I try to do them ahead of the group run. I forgot to tell Jon of this plan so he had to run his final miles by himself after we completed the 16 together. I was going to run the 4 miles around the house before I drove out to Perry in order to have another chance to tend the woodstove. But once I had on my seven layers of clothing, I just wanted to get to Perry and start the abuse.

And abuse it was. The wind was so biting it felt like needles being stuck into my forehead and the cold fought its way through my double mittens and attacked my thumbs. Out 2.3 miles to the turnaround, I turned out of the wind and felt much better as the wind attacked my back. I got back to the car just as Mike arrived and we sat and chatted in his van while we waited for Jon. So I had a nice 16 minute break between the initial 4.6 miles and the final 16 but it wasn't intentional and my log joins the two runs together for one complete mileage total.

Jon arrived and we were pleased he was actually wearing winter clothes. Notorious for underdressing, he had a hat and mittens to go with his light running clothes. We pleaded with him to add wind pants to his layers and he reluctantly agreed. Mike snuck an additional face mask into his running jacket and we strode off into the cold but tree protected first leg of the Boyden loop.

From the get-go I was happy I had a warmup of 4 miles. The boys were off at a good pace given the temperature. My natural pace would have been "crawl". Not so for these guys - no fooling around. After 4 miles we turned into the wind and the comfort level of the run dropped precipitously. Into the brutal wind Mike offers his extra face mask and Jon accepts. I pull my two scarves up over my face and start blowing warm air into the fabric to thaw my cheeks. My glasses fog up to the point where all I can see is the vague image of Mike's form running in front of me. I don't care, I am intent on warming up my frozen face. Not surprisingly, but thankfully just the same, we finally got used to the freezing wind and was able to pick up conversation again, albeit in a slightly modified form of the English language - words not fully formed, grunts of agreement, and long pauses between questions and answers.

After 6 miles of this leg, we turned sideways to the wind and shortly after we turned our back on it. Comfort came back, the face masks removed, and life was good yet again.

The value of the group run was evident to me today as I realized that I probably wouldn't have stayed out in the extreme cold weather that long by myself. Another busted long run would have entered my log. So a thank you to Mike & Jon for putting the 20 in there today.