The Olympics are coming! The Olympics are coming!

I love the Olympics. I'm partial to the individual sports - no surprise - but I will watch any event NBC plans to pipe to my living room. From ice hockey to skeleton (whatever that is), it's all good. But why not add running? It is a winter sport for some of us, even if we're not always thought sane for running in sub-zero temperatures. Most people consider Usain Bolt unnatural and he's not even out there in the cold!

It's about time we change up these old school Olympic events and add some variety for those not as coordinated on skates, skis or boards. Here's my proposal:

Dear Winter Olympics Committee,

I understand I may be too late sending this submission for Vancouver, so please add the following events to the agenda for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

  • Short Track Yak Trax Ice Sprinting
  • Cross Country Snow Shoeing
  • Alpine Downhill Run Tumbling
  • Sleet Speed Slope Climbing
  • Freestyle Snow Striding
  • Run, Slip and Slide Ice Luging
  • Pairs Figure Pacing (must run in figure eights or unique formation)
  • Fetal Position Curling (closing ceremony)
Thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing you all in a few weeks!

Yours truly,
Long time follower and Paul Wiley fan (he should have won gold),
Today's Run: Awful. Ran almost 11 miles in just over 9 minute pace. Was supposed to be a 13 mile run at faster than marathon pace.

I haven't had a bad run in a while, so I guess I was due. Today's run ended with my stomach wrenched in one of those debilitating knots that take great pleasure in bringing you to your knees.

Didn't help that I drove to Vermont and back yesterday - and not for something fun like skiing.

I was expected at my father's house just west of Killington by 11 am Saturday morning. Knowing that I'd be spending the day there, I stayed up till almost 2 am Friday night tackling a random mess of odd jobs around the house. Got most of it all done, but had to wake up four hours later to drive my husband to basketball before I stole our car off to VT alone. (We share one car since I usually never use one.) Either way, I had to get my butt out the door bright and early to get in a full day of quality time with my dad.

Made it to my dad's house by 11:30 (bit delayed by a missed turn and ski traffic), then went promptly to lunch, movie and shopping, then helped him clean his house of pet hair, had a huge slab of pecan pie, then got back in my car and drove home. By then my allergies were screaming. I grew up with pets, but have little tolerance for furry animals nowadays.

Made it home on my fourth cup of coffee of the day. I usually have no more than one. Dad likes coffee, so it's always in front of me, and I needed it to handle both the ride there and back. I also don't think I had more than one glass of water the whole day yesterday. Didn't make it far on that New Year's resolution!

Keeping tally, in one day's time I've had less than 4 hours sleep, almost no water, lots of coffee, heavy foods, two 3-1/2 hour drives, no time to slow down/rest/nap, and an allergic reaction to my dad's eight pets. Did I mention my dad is also going through a divorce? Add some stress to the list.

Surprisingly, I was not looking forward to today's run. I was still exhausted and unsettled from yesterday. I had a few glasses of water today, but not enough to hydrate. Still I forced myself to get out the door and run, knowing I'd feel better once I did. Unfortunately, I got the get-up-and-go less than one hour after having some lunch. Yet another bad idea.

Today's run was supposed to start out semi easy, then gain speed till I was just above marathon pace (8:10-8:15). The total distance planned was 13 miles. I started out just fine, except for some stiffness in my ankles. Nothing unusual for a sub-20 degree run. My ankles warmed up and I warmed up and started getting faster as I approached miles 3 and 4. By mile 5, I had to start using more muscles to kick in the slightly faster pace, and my core, stomach muscles were one of the first recruits. I started getting mild stomach cramps right about then, but nothing I hadn't dealt with before. From there, my run went something like this.

Feeling ok.

Bit faster.

Push the up hill a bit harder.

Cramp. Cramp. Cramp.

Hmm.... Ignore.

Run. Run. Run.

Bit faster still to top of hill.


Ok, it will go away. IGNORE. Downhill now.


After that, it was an interesting dance of run harder (cramp) and run easier (relief). That continued through miles 6-9. By mile 10, no matter how slow or fast I ran, I cramped up. Then the nauseau set in. So what did I do? Run harder! At that point, I just wanted to get home, no matter how much it hurt. It was freezing.... I felt like crap.... I didn't want to call my husband and quit the run.... My body felt otherwise. Mile 10.8, I shut down completely, doubled over in pain and almost became violently ill, right into the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. (I didn't, but it was close.)

I had no choice but to listen to my body at that point. I was still too stubborn to get a lift home from my husband, but I did walk/jog the rest of the way - about 2.5 miles. I was an ice cube when I finally got there, but I got there. Hugged my husband, had a big glass of water, jumped in a too-hot shower and almost burned off my freezing skin, but I was home! YAY!

If you made it to the end of this long entry, thanks for humoring me.

If you've had a similar experience, I'm sorry to hear it. Every once in a while guess we just have to remember our bodies have as much say in our training schedules as our minds do. Now I need to go to sleep.
Today's Run: Is the last run of the decade! It will be taking place in the snowy weather of Westchester, NY this afternoon.

Running Resolution #1: Be Thankful

It's not easy being a year-round road runner in New England. Here is a laundry list of reasons why:
  • It steals away your free time with loved ones.
  • It means running even when you hate the idea of stepping outside.
  • It requires a lot of expensive cold weather running gear.
  • It is dangerous running roads in the dark/snow/sleet.
  • It makes speed work tricky (hard to run hard when running hard on ice).
  • It often necessitate a huge shift in your daily routine.
  • It may require leaving work early/going late to fit in a run before a storm.
  • It could mean planning vacation around a race or long training run.
  • It may mean delaying a huge life event for a marathon. (As I did last spring, inadvertently pushing back our wedding day to run the Big Sur Marathon.)
This list goes on, but so does the running.

I do my best not to forget how lucky I am to be able to run every day. I'm healthy, strong and fully supported by my husband, who often has to eat dinner or breakfast late, take on extra housework or handle errands so I have time to run. I've never felt any pressure to run faster or qualify for Boston, but I want to. I want to show that all of the time dedicated to my running is paying off in more ways than one. I'm healthier for it. I'm stronger for it. And I can try to make myself and the people I love most proud.

What better inspiration for 2010?

Happy New Year!
Today's Run: ~6 miles this morning with a pause in the middle to run up 6 flights of stairs and check on a friend's cats. More than happy to run over there every day!

My featured quote is personally fitting this week: "A run begins the moment you forget you are running." - Adidas.

Have to admit, I'm not a fan of Adidas. Never wear their sneakers (haven't tried) and I find their running clothes just ok. But as far as slogans go, they're not bad. I couldn't agree more with that one, especially now.

I'm one of those people who rarely warms up to a run with a jog or walk. I may start at a slower pace, but it's still a run. However, now that the temperatures have reached single digits, my body is rejecting my warmer weather ways.

When I start my long runs, everything is stiff. I feel my feet hitting the ground loudly, too loud, and no bone in my body wants to move. I have to force myself to move my arms away from their clamped position at my sides, and my legs to stretch farther ahead than my head can slightly lean. I don't even begin to feel blood flow until about three miles in...

Then that blood flow hits. That's when everything feels great. My hands finally start to sweat a little. My legs stride, my arms swing and my steps lighten. I enjoy myself! I'm able to run two or three times longer than I originally anticipated. And I start to really look forward to my 16 miler in New Hampshire next month. (Talk about cold!)

That's when I know I've started my run.

While I don't anticipate I'll keep up the warm ups forever, no sense fighting it now. May as well settle in and listen to what my legs are telling me. They're usually right.

The temperatures have dropped drastically over the past two days and snow is on the way. My friends assume I'm switching to the treadmill. But I hate the treadmill: I find myself either running into the handlebar, forcing myself to keep an unnatural stride or just bored out of my mind. I'd rather run around a track 20 times than run even a half hour on the treadmill. So I have to start getting creative with my cold weather running. That means gearing up in some unusual outfits to stay warm.

I've read in multiple running articles that you should dress for 20 degrees warmer when running in the cold. For example, if it's 20 degrees outside, dress for 40 degrees. I've lived by that rule of thumb the past few years and it's worked pretty well. But, even with that, I really bundle up when it gets down into negative or single digits like today (13 degrees with windchill that makes it feel like 4 degrees). My biggest concern is skin exposure, so I layer well. It's easy to peel off a fleece or a jacket if needed.

My Cold Weather Running Outfit

* Thermal running pants (sometimes tights and thermal running pants)
* Thermal long sleeve top (love ones with thumb hooks to keep my wrists warm)
* Zip-up fleece or running jacket over that turtleneck
* Water resistant windbreakers (to go over clothes in wind, rain, snow...)
* Running balaclava or buff (a must-have to easily cover/uncover your face!)
* Running gloves, of course
* Thermal running cap or headband (depending on how cold)
* Reflective vest (at night and often during the day)
* Smartwool running socks (love these!)
* Nike Vomeros (more stable than my Nike Frees)
* Fuel Belt (if long run)
* Chapstick and sunscreen! (not really part of outfit, but necessities)

When all is said and done, I barely recognize myself. My husband gets a kick out of it though, maybe because getting ready is like a circus act. Clip this... cover up... twist and jump with one leg into that. Guess you could just think of the dressing for cold weather running as a warm up.