Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winter running often means lots of snow


So two things happened on Saturday. First it started snowing sometime overnight and by my 6:30 a.m. alarm, there were several inches on the ground and it was still coming down. The second thing that happened was that my mom  ran her first 5k ever. Her race started an hour and a half later and about 2 miles south of my 8 mile run, so I made the executive decision to sleep in, go and cheer her on and then do my 8 miles later (hopefully when the snow had stopped and magically melted because the temperature went up to 45).

I did do those 8 miles with only a little snow falling (and all the snow still on the ground that had previously fallen and in about 30 degree temperatures - so much for Christmas magic) with Mr. H.'s help. Again, I wasn't able to hold to a 10 minute pace, but with all that snow on the ground, I'm not beating myself up too much about it. We ran  down to the lake and back, and getting down there was interesting as I had to change my running stride depending on if the sidewalk was shoveled or not. Once we got to the lake it was great because the whole inner path is kept clear. But then of course we had to run the last two miles back through the un-shoveledness and slush and what not that is Chicago sidewalks in winter. In the end, it was worth it to get out there and do my miles and I am ever thankful for Mr. H. for going with me.
That's mom with the red gloves.
That' s me in the big coat. I did not run the whole race.
Just the last little bit to help cheer her on.

Of course, the real news of the day is that my mom completed her first 5k race (the Jingle Bell 5k) AND she placed 3rd in her age group. The race started near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on the inner gravel path and it wasn't at all shoveled. So not only did she complete her first 5k race, she did it through ankle deep snow. As we waited at the finish line for her to come in, it was funny hearing the fast runners come in complaining about their 22 minute 5k times - the snow having slowed them down by almost 5 minutes (not that it made them wear anymore clothes as they all had shorts and short sleeves on).

The end of the course went past the finish line and looped back (which just sucks as a runner, but is great for spectators), so I was able to hop in and run the last half mile with her. I looked pretty silly with my big winter coat and snow boots, but it was great giving her support and assuring her that you are supposed to feel like you're going to throw up when you race - that's how you know you've left it all out on the course. And she certainly did. I'm now trying to talk her into a New Year's Day 5k.

Real Santa does not run 5ks. He doesn't need to.
To top off the morning, Baby H. got to visit Santa after the race. Actually he got to see several Santa's as there were quite a few people dressed as Santa running the race. He did ask if that was the 'real Santa' and I had to tell him no, those were just some fools dressed as Santa running through ankle deep snow in the freezing cold. The 'real Santa' was in the museum after the race and he was a much more befitting Santa. Plus, he had Mrs. Claus with him. Baby H. was a bit shy at first, saying he didn't want to meet Santa right then "maybe later." But after a quick talk from Mrs. Claus (and a candy cane and a Rudolph nose) he decided he better take this opportunity lest he not receive those Legos he wants.

Another week of training down. I've been running on the treadmill for my midweek runs. It is torture, but worth it not to be outside. Next Saturday's weather forecast: Intermittent freezing drizzle in the morning will evolve to a wintry mix in the afternoon. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precip 70%.......lovely.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Running is Not Always Fun

Last year when I started training for the winter half marathon, I was coming off of having run the marathon. Even though it had been several weeks since I had put in any long runs, when I picked it up again, that muscle memory was pretty much there.

This year I don't have that. I've been running throughout the year, but none of my runs have gone over 5 miles. Added to that, the weather has turned colder much quicker. I am already wearing clothes that I was wearing only toward the end of training, in January, and it's barely December.

So yesterday morning, while checking the temperature and seeing it was hovering around 10 degrees with a -2 windchill, I waited for the text, email, Facebook update, anything to tell me the training run was cancelled. CARA cancels the runs when it hits zero (either in real or windchill temps). So as I got ready, I kept an eye on the weather. But once you don three layers of running clothes, you might as well go out.

Of course, almost as soon as I got down there, the training run site director let us know that it was cancelled. But, like me, there were too many others of us out there ready to go. What's a little zero degree weather to stop us? So out we went. And really, with the clothes, it was fine. Sure, I was cold at the beginning, but by mile 1 I was warm. I was ready to have yet another great 10 min pace training run.

But around mile 2.5 I was starting to feel pretty winded. We had gone out a little fast (possibly in an attempt to get our 7 miles done with quicker). And while we had slowed back down to pace, it wasn't enough for me. So I dropped back. Assuring the group I was OK, and wondering where the 10.5 min pace group was, I kept my own pace for the last half.

Ironically, I came in before my pace group because I turned around before they did. I turned around at what my watch said was the half way point and that was good enough for me. Especially in that weather. So in the end I didn't keep up my 10 min pace - more like 10:40. And I'm worried that 10 min, in this weather, is just going to be too fast for me. But I'm going to give it one more shot next weekend. Right now the forecast temperature is 30...but there's also a 40% chance of snow and 10-20 mph winds.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Winter Half Training

Running through the winter in Chicago can be difficult. I managed it last year by training for the F3 Winter Half Marathon - that in the end I didn't run. But it did keep me out of doors and on the lakefront path over most of the winter. This year, with Mr. H. working for CARA team, I decided to see how training with a group would be. I signed up for CARA's winter half marathon training and now run with a group on Saturday mornings rather than go it alone.

I've never trained with a group before. As with many things, I think I've come at this running thing backwards (though I don't run backwards cause I don't need to make it any harder on myself than it already is). I probably should have started with a training group, say like when I signed up for my first half marathon, or the full marathon. But the first time I trained for a half marathon, I ran with my sister, indoors, on a treadmill. We signed up for the Cowtown Half in Fort Worth, Texas in February. And at that time, running outdoors during the winter in Chicago seemed downright silly (if not dangerous and not possible) to me. So every Saturday we saddled up on a treadmill and ran our miles. Actually, it was kinda nice because my sister runs faster than I do and  this way I could actually run with her - at least until she was done. Last year, when I started training for this half, I committed to doing at least my long runs outdoors. And I did. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, and after having trained by myself for the marathon, I was used to being out on the path alone (though you're never really alone on the lakefront path in Chicago, but that's a post for another day). 

I have found that I actually kind of like running alone. It let's me tune out. I listen to music (sometimes) and just let my feet fall one in front of the other. The problem I find is that I don't push myself as much as I could if I were running with other people. Sure, there are days when I'm feeling great and I get home, look at my pace and am amazed. But I need people around for the days that when I get home and look at my pace I say "oh well, I guess that's as good as I could do today." While that's true sometimes, it's probably  not as true as often as I let it be.

So joining a group not only promised to help keep me on schedule and on pace, but also was a way to push myself just a little bit. The fastest time I've run 13 miles is somewhere around a 10:30 pace. That was while I was training for the marathon and wasn't pushing myself, just trying to get the miles done. I signed up for the 10 mile pace group (knowing I could always drop back to the 10:30s if I want, and ignoring Mr. H telling me I should be with the 9:30s). But I like 10 minute miles. It's my default pace. I know I can go faster, but it's just so comfortable at 10 (which is probably why I should be running faster). And if I run a 10 minute, half marathon in the Chicago winter, well, I will be pretty darn proud of myself.

And that's my plan, run 10 min miles for this half in January. And then in February, we're headed to Fort Worth where I plan to obliterate my first half marathon time and run a pace somewhere less than 10 min miles. The promise of a warm run in February is keeping me going these frigid Saturday mornings. That and the dozen or so other people in my group and the very cheery CARA group leaders. 

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