Tuesday, January 03, 2012
After an unseasonably mild November and December, winter has arrived in upstate New York. I had forgotten what a time suck winter weather can be. This morning reminded me. I was up early, a benefit of being a synthetic morning person; and I spent the entire amount of extra time shoveling my driveway and making sure I got on the road a bit early to beat traffic.
The good news is that the current snow event turned out to be a typical overforecast of lake effect snow. I had a half inch to clear off my driveway this morning, and was blessed with a clear driveway still when I got home from work.
The bad news is that the temperature forecast was right on target. Today hung around the low teens for most of the day. It was 13° F (-11° C) when I went for my lunch walk. That would have been pleasant with sunshine and minimal wind; as it happened, there was a strong enough wind from the west to get me to change my walking route because I didn't have a face cover.
I was walking today because I ran yesterday. I ran yesterday, instead of taking two days off after the long run, in part because of the weather forecast for today. I'm not afraid to run in 13° weather with wind; but that weather means a little more time dressing to walk, then changing to dress to run, then dressing to walk again after cool down and shower. Without actually going through that drill, I'm guessing it could steal 5 minutes of running time from me.
Tomorrow it's supposed to be up near freezing at mid day, perhaps 27° F when I run. That's a more livable temperature for getting between the office and the gym. The open question is what the footing will be like, with minor lake effect snow more likely downtown than where I live. I've got my gym bag packed for running at that temperature, with the standard running shoes rather than the screw shoes. It will be a little bit of an adventure figuring out where to run, as I don't expect enough uncleared areas to justify the screw shoes but I know that my favorite running path will be uncleared.
Tomorrow and Thursday are also very long days with evening tax training, so it's likely I won't be blogging. The open question is whether I end up canceling a planned run due to the intersection of weather, work, and volunteer work.
This will be the first serious test of fitting running into the winter schedule. It was easy to run in bad weather when I had time off from work. It remains to be seen how easy it will be when I have to work the run into a normal schedule and also deal with bad weather.
Hmm. If I wake up early enough, it might be better to run before work at 13° than to try to fit it in at lunch at 27°. I'll have to think about that.
Monday, January 02, 2012
Today is the last day off work before returning to the grind tomorrow. It's a good day for a moderate run, both from a perspective of training schedule and weather forecast. We had snow (apparently after some light freezing rain) overnight, and the temp was just below freezing at 31° F when I got out to run this morning. Wind was from the west, advertised at 20-25 mph. I planned to run the same route I ran last Wednesday and Thursday, and test out my screw shoes. Other than footwear, I dressed mostly like I did last Wednesday, except I wore my older pair of glasses and took the case along for the contingency of taking them off to cover my face.
I stepped very gently to get out of my house, so as not to damage my carpet. I had one insecure step that I had to take on tile in the entryway, between the rug and the front porch. I was reminded of Josephus telling us about the incident of the Roman soldier falling down on the polished marble floor of the temple, because he was wearing hobnailed boots. I filed that away, and made sure during the run that I did not step on any railroad tracks, manhole covers, or sewer grates. Sheet metal screws on steel would certainly slip badly.
The shoulders were indeed slick. There was plenty of black ice, which did not surprise me because I expected it to be everywhere. Some places there was a thin layer of crunch snow on top of the black ice, other places there wasn't. A few places there appeared to be good footing, but it was hard to tell.
I didn't want to run warmup circles in my driveway wearing the screw shoes, so I just set out to run slower at first. That translated into not pushing it anywhere as I got used to how the screw shoes work on slick surfaces. They worked very well indeed where there was crunchy snow. I could still tell that the black ice was slick, but it was much less of an issue than with bare running shoes. It wasn't like running on good footing, but it was closer to that than to the running I did on slick shoulders last week.
About a half mile into the run, the screw shoes started giving me less traction than they did out of the gate. This was not totally unexpected, as some wear on the screws should be normal. Between a half mile and a mile, I thought my right shoe felt different; perhaps I lost a screw or two? Well, I can still push off, so keep running.
As I headed into the west wind, I realized I forgot the lip balm again. But it didn't feel so bad at 31°, even with the wind, so that wasn't a horrible mistake. For two short intervals I had to pull my face cover over my nose, but I didn't need to leave it there long enough to fog the glasses. With my face uncovered, the hills on the southbound stretch were much less intimidating than they had been last week with my face covered. Lesson confirmed.
I am a forefoot strike runner. However, going down hills I found that while my forefoot still struck first, I was putting my heel down with some force behind it. This is where the screw shoes really shone, as I was able to securely run downhill on the slick shoulders. I still didn't push for speed, but speed wasn't the point today. The point was a moderate run and learning how the screw shoes worked.
Got home, and it timed out to 35 minutes even for 4.64 miles, for a 7:33 pace per mile. That's slow for me, but quite acceptable for the conditions and goals of today. Did my walking cooldown along the shoulders of my street, and noticed that walking in the screw shoes on the slick shoulders was identical to walking on a good surface, apart from the "crunch" sound.
Got inside and checked the shoes. I lost 3 screws from my left shoe, which never felt like I was losing traction. Go figure. Some of the forefoot screws were worn down considerably, and all of the forefoot screws had the small ridge on the top of the hex worn off. The heel screws were almost like new on both shoes. No surprise there for a forefoot strike runner.
The left shoe is the one I had done first. Today I'll replace the missing screws, and be sure to tighten them adequately. After the next time I need to run in the screw shoes, I'll re-evaluate the wear pattern. If the second run doesn't produce massive additional wear, I'll consider the screw shoes project a success. Right now, I rate it as being on probation for the three lost screws (possible learning experience for installation) and the wear on the remaining screws (possibly not enough forefoot screws, possible the screws are too soft to be a long term solution.)
Tomorrow is supposed to be the worst weather day of the week, temps around 15° F and lake effect snow. I'll take tomorrow off from running, and try to get a lunch run in on Wednesday when the weather is better. With luck, I'll get a lunch run in on Thursday as well; it remains to be seen whether I'll need to pack the screw shoes to run at lunch on Wednesday and/or Thursday.
Sunday, January 01, 2012
I'm a New Years contrarian this year. I didn't stay up to greet the new year. I got up at a normal time for a Sunday morning, ate a normal breakfast, went to church as I normally do. I also made no New Years Resolutions. It's not that I have anything against resolving to make my life better; it's that my timetable for starting a self-improvement project rarely coincides with January 1.
So if I basically ignore the traditional New Years stuff, what do I do on New Years Day? Well, I would have liked to go for a run. But yesterday was my long run, and today seemed like a good day to take a day off running. To be fair, I don't think I *could* have run before church. I probably could have done a short run, no more than 5K, in the early afternoon when it was 48° F out before the wind and precipitation started up; but I decided not to. "Could" and "should" are two different things. The weather will be worse tomorrow, but my legs will be in better shape for a modest run.
Without running, Sunday is a tough day to get in my 10K steps. I did a slow 15 minute walk before church, and was still under 5K steps in the early afternoon. So I decided to take the brief time of good weather and go visit Mt. Hope Cemetary. No, I don't know anyone buried there; but the route of the Flower City Half Marathon goes through the cemetary.
The runner I know at work tells me that there's a short, steep hill to climb (on cobblestones!) just after the HM route gets into the cemetary. Sure enough, there it was. It took me a while to figure out how to translate the crude route map and the text list of course directions, but I found the route. There's that short steep hill, followed by more uphill at lesser grade and better footing, then a longer downhill, then some distance of modest inclines and declines before the route exits. There's a bit over 2 miles of the HM in the cemetary, and it was the only part of the route than I was totally unfamiliar with.
The hills in the cemetary look runnable; but they come after running over 7 miles outside the cemetary, with most of the two miles before the cemetary being on upgrades. One training idea would be to go and run parts of the actual HM course in advance. The cemetary is certainly one of the more attractive places to accomplish this. I'll think about that, but probably fail to do it because of inertia and unwillingness to add time to training driving somewhere to run.
It also occurs to me that I'm likely going to want to take the day after the long run off from running most or all of the time. Scheduling being what it is in the first quarter, this means having my long run on Sunday should work better than having it on Saturday. Let me think about that. If I run Monday, then do lunch hour runs Wednesday and Thursday, I can maybe do a light run Saturday morning and a long run Sunday afternoon. It's a plan, but it's not written in stone. If nothing comes along to disrupt that schedule, I'll see how it works out this week. Then I can decide whether or how to change it.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
I was up at 5:30 or so, but didn't move very efficiently. It was 6:51 by the time I hit the road for my long run of the week. Temperature was a balmy 41° F (5° C), and of course it was still dark. I put my light gloves in my pockets, but put them back in the house after a few warmup circles in my driveway. Didn't need gloves today.
I ran mostly the same route from a week ago, with one minor distance addition. Roads were damp, but nothing was slick. Where I found the ice last week, it was mud. I ran on the grass until that turned into all mud; then I ran a short distance in the road until there was sidewalk again. #!&^ construction tearing up the pedestrian path!
Bearing in mind that the point was to run 65 minutes, I just ran the early part of the route without trying to be particularly fast or slow. My 3 mile split was 21:39, for a 7:13 pace. I got a later split at a point that mapped out as 4.05 miles for 29:18, for a 7:14 pace through that point. A half mile later, I slowed down a bit to accommodate the big hill.
Ran the big hill and all the little hills on the back side, including a couple of cross-hill segments near the top of the back side. Then I ran the most direct route home, because the time looked like it was working out well. I tried to sprint the last 100 meters or so, but I didn't have much of a sprint left in the tank at that point.
It mapped out to 8.89 miles in 1:05:53, for an average pace of 7:25 per mile. Subtracting out the first 4.05 miles, the last 4.84 miles had an average pace of 7:34 per mile. I believe I'm seeing the beginning of a slower pace for longer distance. That's okay.
I think I *could* have pushed on to 9 miles, if I'd known exactly how far I'd run while I was still running. It's likely a good thing that I didn't know; the point was to consolidate my ability to run for 65 minutes, not to push for more at this point. Weekly mileage this week is 23. .38, down from the 26.67 that was too much last week. Deliberately holding back on the miles shouldn't be an issue next week; the work schedule will hold down the workday miles for me.
The real test will be how my legs feel tomorrow. I could tell that I needed to be standing and moving around quite a bit today after running. Sitting down at McDonald's with daughter left me with some annoying aches that got better with normal leg use.
The down side of today was the timing. I was a few minutes late to meeting daughter at McDonald's. The long runs need to get longer over time. So I need to get up earlier, or be more efficient at getting to the road, or be more efficient between running and McD's, or some combination of the above. Either that, or move the long run to Sunday. That will probably happen at some point; but I don't have to do that just quite yet. When/if the long run goes to Sunday, I need to figure out whether I can afford a short run (maybe 5K?) on Saturday, or just need to always take Saturday off from running.
Oh, well. I've figured out scheduling so far, I'll figure out migrating the long run to Sunday when I need to do that.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Today was a rare thing: A day off work, and also a planned non-running day. It featured an unexpected bonus, no fire drills from work on the last vacation day of the year. I had expected that there would be a last minute drill, which was part of why today was a non-running day.
I decided that today I would try to accomplish some more or less sedentary things. Of course, "sedentary" is a relative term these days. I did take a walk that mapped out to 3.67 miles, so I could get my 10K steps in; but I didn't push the walk hard.
Today I went and bought my next pair of running shoes. I've noticed some wear on the tread of my "new" running shoes, and I want a pair in the closet to pull out and use on short notice. This is a bit more urgent than it was, because I did this to my older pair:
I buy shoes at Dick's, which also carries YakTrax. I took a look, and saw only one pair of YakTrax Pro (for running); it wasn't my size. But at least I know what they look like now. If the do it yourself job above doesn't work out, I can order YakTrax for my size online. But if it does work out, I can do a total of 4 pair of shoes like that for 40% of the cost of one pair of YakTrax. Gotta try the cheap solution first; but I do like the idea that YakTrax can be put on and taken off of whatever shoes I normally run in.
Looking forward to 2012, it's almost tax season. I volunteer to prepare tax returns for low income people during tax season, and training of volunteers starts next week. I will be answering questions from new volunteers during training, so I had to get my certification done early. It's nice that most of the volunteers are only going to certify through the intermediate level; the advanced level and optional module tests were big on situations that we won't see in the low income client base.
Having got my tax training out of the way, today I did my traditional year end estimate of my tax return. The interest income will jiggle a little from my estimate with a dab to be posted tomorrow, but that shouldn't be a major change.
The first quarter of 2012 will be interesting. I'll be back at work full time, and work promises to be busy. I'll be putting 8 hours a week into volunteer work. And I want to find time to train for a half marathon on April 29. I may have bit off more than I can chew; weekends are looking pretty full from late January to mid April.
We'll see. If I can pull off training for a half marathon between now and April, training for a full marathon by September ought to be possible. But first, I need to see how practical a half is. It may be that the half is stretching the distance as much as (or more than) I should.
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