Friday, December 31, 2004

Resolution Run - I Did It!

What a night! What a hoot! Scary stuff.

I got to the Eau Claire Market about an hour before and looked around. There were actually a few people there before me. Put the final layers on and pinned my number on my front. Then waited.

Some guy was using a PA system to announce stuff, but no one in my vicinity had the slightest idea what he said. From the noise level in the building I would guess not many people cared either. All I could make out was something about flares and chili.

About five to six, I went outside, and got the headsock thing adjusted so I could see and breath (love that thing - thanks, Katie) and stood around, about where I thought the middle of the pack might be.

At the last minute, a whole crowd came out, and some kind of siren noise erupted, and the whole pack took off ahead of me. So I was definitely in the rear.

And they were all so slow. I expected most people in it to be faster. So I had a lot of traffic to try and get through. By the 4 km marker (for which they used flares) the pack had thinned out quite nicely and I was in the bunch that pretty much matched my ability.

The path started from Eau Claire, south a block or two to 2nd Avenue, then back toward the river at 4th Street. From there is was all the way along the river to Crowchild Trail. I didn't even know there was a pedestrian bridge under the Crowchild bridge - cool!

Just across that was the 4 km marker, and we followed the path beside Memorial Drive back towards the east. From that point on, I was pretty much in the groove, where the pace is perfect and everything feels like you could go all day.

At the 10th Street bridge, we were apparently supposed to continue on under it and farther down Memorial. But between the time they set up their orange cones and stuff at mid afternoon, and when we went by, the water in the river had risen a good metre and a half, so the path under the bridge was under water.

So across the 10th Street bridge, back along the river path, then over to Prince's Island. All shale paths there, so unplowed. Even with all the traffic, the snow didn't pack well, and it could be loose and slippery in places.

Then back to Eau Claire and through the gate, which is where I am here:

Then after a few pictures with Val and Katie, I got my bowl of chili and bun and butter. Absolutely perfect way to end. They had so much they were encouraging seconds and I helped out with that.

Didn't win a door prize though.

Shoes performed nicely, had no problems with my foot. However, the mileage now stands at 893 km, so I'll be shopping for new ones next week. Clothing was OK, perhaps I was overdressed. Thank goodness for the technical t-shirts.

Today's run:
Distance: 6.79 km. Time: 44:13. Speed: 9.2 kph.
Rest distance: 1.21 km. Rest time: 11:00.
Total distance: 8.0 km. Total time: 55:13.

Weather: Light snow and -25C. No significant windchill, which was great. And I never had a chance to feel cold.

About the intervals: I couldn't hear the alarms above the noise of several thousand feet crunching in the snow. And the street lighting is not enough to see what the GPS is up to. So I ran through six of the eleven rest intervals. Next time I won't even bother with intervals. Want to re-evaluate the intervals I've been using too.

Now, where was the web address for that St. Patrick's Day run...

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Test Run

Went out this morning in the cold and snow to see if what I've chosen for an ensemble will work for me tomorrow night. It's all in the wash right now. I've got several layers and everything seems to be great.

Just for fun I switched shoes. I bought these Garmont Naghevi day hikers a few months ago, for - what else? - hiking, and I've read some stuff about trail running, so I wondered how they would work in these cold conditions. They have a very stiff sole and a fairly blocky tread. Actually felt really good.

But tomorrow night, I think I'll stick to the Nikes. Get through the evening, then retire them. Near as I can account for, they've traveled about 880 km.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.97 km. Time: 31:02.51. Speed: 9.6 kph.
Rest distance: 622.7 m. Rest time: 7:00.
Total distance: 5.59 km. Total time: 38:03.

Weather: Light snow and -16C, with a wind NNW at 33 kph, and that gives a wind chill of -28C.

Think I'm ready for tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Almost Full Moon Run

I think the moon is two days past full, still huge and still bright. Just going down as I got out to the park right at opening time. Surprised a whitetail in the parking lot, but she wasn't too spooked, I think. Kinda sauntered into the bush, in no hurry at all.

Today's run:
Distance: 5.19 km. Time: 31:41.75. Speed: 9.8 kph.
Rest distance: 653.5 m. Rest time: 7:00.
Total distance: 5.84 km. Total time: 38:42.

Weather: Mainly clear and -1C, though the temperature dropped to -4C by the end. There was a stiff breeze at the start, too, which had me wondering if I was dressed warm enough. I adopted the wisdom of an article on cold weather running that I had read, and started into the wind, which meant going west instead of east. Glad I did though.

Trouble with going west, is there isn't enough paved path. It runs out after about two and a half km, and from there, there are several shale paths to choose from. They plowed the paved path quite nicely, but the shale still has eight or ten inches of snow piled on, with numerous tracks from walkers, runners, dog walkers, snow-shoers, skiers, and the like. Rough and uneven, and not completely solid. I slowed down a lot near my turn around point, just so I would struggle so much to stay straight and upright, and to give my knees a break. You can tell from my interval speeds too, where I ran out of pavement. They're all around 10 kph, but the middle two, on the shale, I was only doing 8.5 kph.

But overall, a good run, fun, and at a pretty time of the day.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Plowing Snow on Boxing Day

We got dumped on yesterday, with I don't know how much snow. Driving back from Medicine Hat wasn't bad, but also not great, with snow piling up on the highway, and blowing pretty good. We stopped to switch drivers once, and getting going was slippy-swipey until we got some speed up. Took our time just the same.

Today, all that snow is just laying there, and the park paths are thick with it. Some places the wind has cleaned down to the pavement of the path, but mostly the grasses have kept it neatly covering everything. Mostly ankle deep, some places a lot deeper. I'd say 95% of the time I was lifting my feet totally out of the snow as I ran.

The toughest part is that the damn stuff just rolls out from under my feet. No traction, no real speed, and it's tiring.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.88 km. Time: 32:46.78. Speed: 8.9 kph.
Rest distance: 674.0 m. Rest time: 8:00.
Total distance: 5.55 km. Total time: 40:47.

Weather: Mainly sunny and -19C. Just an ever-so-slight breeze from the north east.

I worried about the short running socks in the snow, but never was a problem. The head sock thing worked great, except maybe it's too tight a material, or it iced up too much. After a bit of running, it became hard to breath through it. Still, I love it. It's the perfect face and head cover in the cold.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Feeling the Burn

Two and a half hours, twenty one and some kilometres - I'm amazed at myself.

I didn't get out as early as I wanted to, as I had to run an errand or two first thing this morning. I finally got out about 9:30. Beautiful morning, the sun is sort of shining, through a high hazy cloud layer. There was a layer of snow on the path, but it was melting pretty good, buy the time I finished.

The burn: Since it was so nice out, I undid my wind jacket after about an hour. The wind came up out of the west quite briskly, when I had about forty minutes to go, and if I would have been aware of the consequences, I would have zipped up about then.

Good old prairie mountains. They're a lot tougher to climb on a bike, but they still challenge when running. I felt like I was being pushed back with every step, and I was getting pretty tired by the time I got back to the parking lot. Just because of fighting the wind on the last five or six intervals.

I didn't feel the wind burn, until I got in the car and out of the wind, when I could sweat freely without drying. It's not quite as bad as a bad sunburn, but it's gonna hurt to shave tomorrow. I'm red and raw from the collar of my t-shirt to the headband of my ballcap. Gotta love those dry winter winds.

Today's run:
Distance: 18.90 km. Time: 2:00:00. Speed: 9.5 kph.
Rest distance: 2.79 km. Rest time: 29:40.
Total distance: 21.69 km. Total time: 2:29:40.

Weather: To start, mainly sunny and 7C, with west winds at 18 kph gusting to 28. At the end, partly cloudy and 10C, winds west 32 kph, gusting to 41.

After Wendy left yesterday, I went to The Running Room and bought some running socks and a couple of gels. Thought I'd try both today. The gels didn't seem to make much difference. The socks did.

I've had a bit of soreness dogging me since summer, under the right big toe. Usually after ten minutes or so, things warm up and I don't have any problem. With the running socks, I didn't even feel it for the first ten minutes.

And I was thinking as I was running, I should get another three pack, so I don't have to do laundry so often to have clean running socks. And when I got home, I found a birthday present from my brother, Shane - another three pack of socks. Thanks, bro!

Also for my birthday, my daughter got me a hood/head sock thing. Nice and warm, and you can fold it up so it covers your face. Looking at the forecast for the next few days, I'm gonna need just that thing on Sunday if I get out.

And, I got slippers! I was so excited to get them. I've been holding off getting some myself, as my old ones were completely worn out. But every time I thought about doing so, I'd get barked at because I "might get them for Christmas". Now the old ones await their destiny in the garbage can in the alley. Cool.

Lord, I'm getting old. Getting excited over socks and slippers for my birthday. *sigh*

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Slow and Snowy, With Sibling

My sister Wendy is in town for a couple of days, and we've been planning to run since she decided to come. We were going to go yesterday around noon, before heading for some serious shopping, but it was -20C with a wind chill dropping that another 10C. So we figured, "naaaahhh."

Today, it's considerably warmer, so we went out this morning. Snowing big fluffy flakes, and only a little breeze.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.20 km. Time: 32:00. Speed: 7.9 kph.
Rest distance: 740.2 m. Rest time: 7:30.
Total distance: 4.93 km. Total time: 39:30.

Weather: Light snow and -3C, with a light west wind. Much, much nicer than yesterday.

Wendy runs at a slower pace than I do, and I found it challenging to stay with her. I could sure feel it in the shins, where I think I was pushing more off the ball of the foot. Usually, I don't roll forward on my ankle so much, because my forward momentum keeps me from needing to.

Still, was a good loosening up kind of run. And that wicked sprint at the end was totally surprising and not a little challenging to keep up with.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Quick Run Through the Forest

Since my sister Wendy is coming to town for a couple of days, I thought about taking her through the forest in Fish Creek for a run, since she doesn't see much forest out Moose Jaw way. And I'm off work this week and next, too, so I can get out reasonably early.

So I drove to the Votier Flats area of the park (off the end of Elbow Drive for those who know a bit about Calgary) and went west from there, across all those bridges, to see if it would be a good place to show her a run. Not really a fun place at the moment. We've had great weather the past couple of weeks, but yesterday we had rain and snow, and in the forest, the paths are slick. Lots of opportunities for curling slides. Last night's snow fall is like flour on a plate of glass in a lot of places.

Speed was affected, of course, but what was tough was that much of the motion was up and down since there wasn't much to push off from. I'm feeling it in the calves.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.76 km. Time: 31:45.93. Speed: 9.0 kph.
Rest distance: 622.4 m. Rest time: 7:00.
Total distance: 5.38 km. Total time: 38:46.

Weather: Partly cloudy and -8C - a bit cool, but not bad if you dress right. I think I'm finally getting that part right.

Wildlife: two whitetails came down the hill into the picnic area beside the parking lot while I was stretching and warming up. Usually there are nothing but mule deer in that part of the park. The whitetail seem to like it farther east, by the heron colony. The ice on the paths was making it tough for deer, too. at several points where lots of deer tracks crossed, there were signs of hooves slipping and sliding. At one place, one may even have fallen, judging by how the snow was disturbed. Treacherous!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Chinook's Over

Wow, that was some weather change! 24 hours ago it was 1C, then a couple of hours later it was up to 9C. We peaked at 13C at about noon today, dropped to 9C by about 4:30, and an hour later when I went out to run, we were below 2C. And it had rained/snowed.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.66 km. Time: 26:27.82. Speed: 10.6 kph.
Rest distance: 576.8 m. Rest time: 6:00.
Total distance: 5.24 km. Total time: 32.28.

Weather: Cloudy and 1C, winds WSW at 26 kph. There's been a wind warning all day: "Very strong winds of 60 gusting to 100 km/h..."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

70 Metres Short of a Half.

Wonderful day for a run, especially a distance run. I decided to get out first thing this morning, so I was in the parking lot at the park just after 8:00. Then I headed east, along the usual path. Managed to get all the way from Glennfield to Mallard Point, which is pretty much the northern most point in the park.

And the parks people, bless them, had unlocked the Mallard Point bathrooms. Things was getting tense! Cottonwoods just don't grow that thickly, and there's nothing out that way but cottonwoods and grass - nothing to hide behind!

Today's run:
Distance: 17.43 km. Time: 1:52:00. Speed: 9.3 kph.
Rest distance: 2.50 km. Rest time: 27:36.
Total distance: 19.93 km. Total time: 2:19:36.

Weather: Partly cloudy and -5C to start, but getting to about 1C by the end. I was out about a half hour before sunrise (at 8:35) but it was another 20 minutes past that before I was in actual sunlight. I was screened by the bluff across the river with all the monster houses on it. I think the subdivision is called Mountain Park.

Ran the paved path all the way out, and the shale on the way back. The shale path hugs the river most places and in some of those sheltered little draws it stays pretty chilly.

Great morning, great run. I felt great, and still do. Awesome.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Fast night

Didn't get to run a couple of days ago, due to an appointment at Canadian Blood Services for a donation, and later I attended a Conversation Cafe. Blood Services had one of the local radio stations visiting, so there were some great after-donation treats, aside from their usual great assortment.

Great run tonight, with some fast intervals. Just wanted to cut loose. And I got an early Christmas present in the form of a technical fibre t-shirt, so I had to get good and sweaty to try it out. Very nice.

Today's run:
Distance: 5.39 km. Time: 30:17.19. Speed: 10.7 kph.
Rest distance: 686.1 m. Rest time: 7:00.
Total distance: 6.08 km. Total time: 37:17.

Weather: Cloudy and 5C. Very nice evening, with the snow almost gone.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Started in a Rush

I was a bit rushed at the end of the afternoon from doing some pre-Christmas running around, and that carried over into my run. Had some pretty good times on my intervals.

It felt really good, too. When I go faster, I stretch out my pace, and it feels more like I'm gliding than pounding on my feet. Trouble is, it's more strenuous, so I'm huffing and puffing more, too.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.69 km. Time: 26:26.84. Speed: 10.6 kph.
Rest distance: 600.2 m. Rest time: 6:00.
Total distance: 5.29 km. Total time: 32:27.

Weather: Clear and -4C. Lovely evening for a run. Some icy spots on the sidewalk, but mostly just a thin layer of loose snow, or bare sidewalk.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Icy, Treacherous Run

It was a good workout for the knees and ankles, I must admit. We had a chinook blow through between 8:00 and 9:00 last night. According to Environment Canada, the temp at 8:00 was -4c, at 9:00 it was +10C, which is pretty typical. The temperatures started to fall off rapidly about 7:00 this morning, and during all that time it was raining nicely, after snowing late yesterday.

Because of the stiff west winds, I thought I'd go west into the forest, where the trees would cut most of it, and where an article on winter running I'd read in Runner's World said it was best to head into the wind at the start. Unfortunately the article said nothing about running on black ice. (And thanks for the subscription, Shane.)

Some parts were pretty good. There was a long, reasonably flat paved stretch, where the snow gave just enough traction to keep from slipping, but I could easily do the curler's slide if I wanted to (and I did, several times). Some parts were just bumpy and slippery, so I tried to keep to the foot-wide strip of crusty grass between the ice and the bush, when it existed.

There are twelve bridges to cross out that way in the park. I crossed eleven going out and the same back, as two bridges are parallel but on different sides of the park. All but one arc over the creek quite picturesquely, and the approaches tend to match the angles of the ends of the bridges. Say a ten degree slope, iced and polished. Almost every bridge, I had to run/climb down the side of the approach, then climb up on the bridge deck, then climb down the other side. A couple, however, I took slow and skated down the slope. A lot of fun, actually.

I really appreciate the morning excersizes I do, as every slip and slide was accompanied by a thrown arm or flying foot. Six months ago I would have been ripping muscle and tendon to shreds, but now I don't even notice. Sweet.

Today's run:
Distance: 12.4 km. Time: 1:26:21.14. Speed: 8.6 kph.
Rest distance: 1.88 km. Rest time: 21:00.
Total distance: 14.29 km. Total time: 1:47:21.

Weather: Light snow and -1C, with winds N 45 kph, gusting to 54 kph. The snow was pretty off and on the whole time, and the wind swung to the north west by the end.

The reason I only did 12 km was that I ran out of park. I think there was more path that headed north towards and along 37th Street, but I was getting a pretty good workout with the ice and snow and all.

And slushy puddles, did I mention slushy puddles? When you stomp in a slushy puddle, the foot you stomp with stays dry as the slush splooshes away like the ejecta from a meteor strike. It's the foot flying by at the time, getting into position for the next step that gets shlogged. I did this at least a half a dozen times and always stomping with the left foot. My right toes were cold and wet for most of the run.

All bitching aside, it was a fun time. All the achy parts got worked out by the third or forth interval, and only the knees complained occasionally when things got a bit slippy.

Oh, yeah, got myself a water bottle and holster thingy, and it made a big difference.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Out of the Cold

Back into warmer weather today, with nice clear skies. Lots of the snow left lying around though, and it's tricky to run on. Sometimes it's like sand, sometimes it hides ice. It's sticky and tends to lump up under the ball of the foot.

Things hurt tonight, perhaps because of the leftover snow. I tried an ice pack when I got home, but that got messy. It must have been an old one, because it was froze solid, not like a gel pack. And it didn't soften. It sprung a leak after awhile and dribbled whatever that liquid was inside down into my slipper and all over the floor.So gel packs are on my Christmas list too.

Today's run:
Distance: 5.36 km. Time: 33:06.18. Speed: 9.7 kph.
Rest distance: 824.5 m. Rest time: 8:00.
Total distance: 6.18 km. Total time: 41:06.

Weather: Mostly cloudy and 1C. Very nice evening.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Cold Adapted

This time I got a little better covering for running in the cold. I put a ball cap under the touque, which cut the wind completely. And I found a scarf to wrap around my face and to breath through. It was pretty loose weave, but it worked perfectly. I had no trouble with cold air in the throat, and even the dryness wasn't a factor, since the scarf got pretty saturated pretty quickly.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.54 km. Time: 31:36.54. Speed: 8.6 kph.
Rest distance: 638.9 m. Rest time: 7:00.
Total distance: 5.18 km. Total time: 38.37.

Weather: Partly cloudy, -17C with winds SE at 17 kph. Which kind of dogged me on my return half as I was running into it.

One minor trouble: today was the day the firm took the admin staff out for lunch, where we eat and drink as we would never be able to afford on our own. Managed it in three hours and I was stuffed. That, needless to say, had an effect on the run.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Wussed out

I originally wasn't going to go tonight because of the cold, but then I started to get antsy, so I thought, why not? Didn't take long before I'd had enough. I think I was OK for clothing, but it was huffing and puffing in the cold that did me in - hard on the throat. And the wind was especially biting too.

Today's run:
Distance: 1.70 km. Time: 11:17.68. Speed: 9.0 kph.
Rest distance: 198.4 m. Rest time: 2:00.
Total distance: 1.90 km. Total time: 13:18.

Weather: Light snow, -15C and winds NNW at 28kph.

Gotta figure out how to breath in the cold without freezing my windpipe. I'll have to go shopping for something, or if this cold snap is over quick, I'll ask Santa. The touque I have is pretty porous in the wind, too.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Starting to Look a Bit Like Christmas...

Seemed like the park was deserted this morning. Except there were lots of cars in all the parking lots, and lots of fairly fresh footprints in the snow. Actually, in the first hour, I met people on the path pretty regularly. It was on the return that everyone seemed to have disappeared, and the foot prints were not so fresh due to the very light snow fall that has been going on all morning.

One thing I like about running in the park is the relative quiet. Sometimes on my short runs I miss one of the alarms because the traffic noise drowns it out, but not in the park. Except along the river. Thousands of Canada geese and various species of ducks all honking and quacking and flapping.

Every minute or so, something would spook the geese and they would take to the air with a great racket, circle around over the park, then drop back to the river. On one stretch, where there are large gaps in the line of trees between the river and the shale path, they come in ten and twenty at a time, about five or ten metres off the deck. Very cool to watch a great clutch of 20 pound birds streaking toward you at horizon level, seeming to whoosh past within arms reach of your head. You almost want to, er, duck.

Today's run:
Distance: 15.51 km. Time: 1:41:13.02. Speed: 9.2 kph.
Rest distance: 2.21 km. Rest time: 25:00.
Total distance: 17.72 km. Total time: 2:06:13.

Weather: Light snow and -2C to start, climbing to -1C by the end. Really nice in that the snow was coming down very lightly so that it wasn't clumpy on the path.

Here's a map of my run from my GPS:
It starts on the left at a parking lot in the Glennfield area of Fish Creek Park, past the Bow Valley Ranch and across Bow Bottom Trail, then around the south end of the sewage treatment plant, and north along the Bow River.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Calmer Day

Must have been a little calmer today, as I ran the same circuit that I've been doing the past couple of weeks at over 40 minutes. Just taking it a little slower on purpose, but then I feel it more. I think with the longer stride it's easier on the legs. With the shorter stride tonight, it felt more plodding.

I also had a more consistent run tonight. All my intervals were close to 630 to 635 m, except for that third one at 661. And I think the explanation for the third is that at the beginning of it I'm finally at the top of the hill and I can stretch out a bit.

Today's run:
Distance: 5.36 km. Time: 33:40.33. Speed: 9.5 kph.
Rest distance: 724.4 m. Rest time: 8:00.
Total distance: 6.08 km. Total time: 41:40.

Weather: Cloudy and 5C. Went with a layer less than I have been wearing, as it was a pretty nice evening. Ah, but only in Calgary: tomorrow the forecast is 9C, but by Sunday the high is forecast at -18C. Given the weatherman's record this past couple of months, I'll believe it when I see it.

And more Christmas lights are up. Probably double the number of houses on this route are now lit as there were a couple of days ago. I like the new LED lights, not very bright, but vivid and deep colours.