Saturday, December 12, 2009

The accidental thirteen.

7:00 AM.

The weather reports says it's 15 degrees (F) outside, but it feels like 3. I lace up and head out for a 10 or 11 mile run. This morning's run is my second (>5k) in the freezing temperatures. Just like the first time, I've got some new gear and a new layering strategy to test. And oh yeah, I got some cat crap.

I wanted cat crap to see if it could help with foggy glasses when wearing the balaclava. You can grab some cat crap at EMS. That's where I was, last night, when I was also convinced to get a new wind blocking layer. I met a couple there that is in the middle of training for a couple of events, including a triathlon and the 2010 Boston Marathon. The guy swore by it, so I figured why not give it a shot?

This I morning I layered up with compression shorts, running tights, and jogging pants over my legs. My torso covered with a tech wick t-shirt base, a long sleeved wick away Hind shirt, and the EMS wind blocker. I threw on my North Face wind-breaker as an outer shell. Combined with the balaclava and doubled up on gloves is how I embarked.

Out on the road, I start out fairly slow. The middle portion of my run takes me by the Wachusett Reservoir, and up and down some hills. After the Hot Chocolate 5k, I realized that I need to work on getting comfortable on hills, so I used the map route feature on Sparkpeople to plan out a course with hills, but finishing with some flat stretches. I feel pretty comfortable as I come by the old stone church and as I cross the reservoir, I am greeted by the rising sun.

Sun rising over Wachusett Reservoir

The air is cold, but manageable. The cat crap seems to work, a little. I started out wearing the mask up above my nose, but now, 5 miles into the run, the fogging is too much. I'm guessing I need to lather on the crap a little thicker next time. At any rate, I continue on. Up by the little common in West Boylston and back down the other side of the reservoir. I am keeping a pretty decent pace. I stop to fiddle with my socks. My achilles is rubbing against my shoe oddly. Maybe its the new socks?

It's now about 65-70 minutes in and I'm coming up on River Rd. I down a Gu (Chocolate Outrage) and have some more water. I get to River Rd, which I thought might be a nice scenic portion of the run.

River Rd.

What you can't see, is that in the distance, the road is closed. I run down the street anyways. It's barricaded. Inches of snow and ice are all I can see beyond the block. I turn around. I call home. Navigate alternate route.

I've been out here in the 15 degree weather for 90 minutes or so, and I'm still feeling pretty good. My water is maybe 2/3 gone. Surprisingly, it is not frozen. Also, I am not that sore. My breathing is regular and my heart rate seems pretty steady. My alternate route takes me on a stretch of road that runs parallel to highway 190. It is a shining example of how a road seems less hilly in a car than it does when you are running it. I push through the hills and get back to my road.

Only a mile and a half left. How the hell long have I actually run? Seems like longer than 10 miles already. Something must be off with that route mapping that my navigational assistant provided.

I push on. Suddenly, a new challenge decided to smack me in the face. My street turned into a wind-tunnel about 1/2 mile from home. I began to climb the final (back breaking at a run's end) hill, wind gusts punching me in the face and chest.

I was met by the kids at the living room window as my run completed. Not a bad end to a good run in the freezing sun.

Something didn't feel right about the mileage. So we went out in the car to see exactly how long I had run.

12.9 miles.

Now the time of 2:14 made a bit more sense. I ran the 13.1 two weeks ago in 2:09. I was pretty happy with that time despite not being focused on time at all. I still ran around a 10:25 average, even with the extra hills, the cold, fiddling with my shoe and being on the phone for 3/4 or a mile while we figured out an alternate route.

Lessons learned from this run:

- I didn't use enough cat crap.
- Layering gloves is a great approach, as you can shed as needed.
- I might need to look at another mask. Maybe one that is a little tighter.

Time to rest.

Until next time: run, run, run.

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