Saturday, November 20, 2010

Running in a Winter Wonderland

I'm going on vacation tomorrow, so I wouldn't be around to do the Sunday long run with the Running Room. Instead, I opted to take part in a Running Room event on Saturday night...Sight Night, an after dark run that benefits vision impaired athletes. Not only is that a great cause, but it was 8K (just one km short of the run I'm supposed to do tomorrow) on a really nice route and I get a cool headlamp! You had me at hello, Sight Night! Crystal had to work (boo) but Christi decides to keep me company (probably so she can sleep in on a Sunday)

Princess Chris meets me at Eau Claire bearing gifts---Fancy grippies for our shoes and head gloves to keep our foreheads, ears, chins and necks warm on a -17C run. Paired with our jazzy new headlamps, we looked like pros! After a few speeches and a quick warm up, we were off! The grippies felt weird in the mall, but were awesome on the snow; nary a slip or skid along the snow covered paths. Running along Memorial with 500 people in headlamps and reflective gear was pretty amazing, and we actually saw a few blind runners being guided along the route, which was pretty neat too. We cheered for all the volunteers along the route---I'm guessing standing around in -17C for an hour is harder than running in -17C for an hour, but they were all cheerful as they pointed us along our way. Unless that clapping we heard was actually teeth chattering. We got quite a few compliments on our snazzy matching head gloves too, which princesses always love to hear.

Product not exactly as shown,
but still totally awesome
We cross the finish line in 52 minutes flat and stay at the finish line for a few minutes cheering runners in until we started freezing. Both our Ipods say we ran 9K, not 8, so we're actually right on track for the long run this week, hurray! We head inside to discover they're handing out hot chocolate WITH AS MANY MARSHMALLOWS AS WE WANT in them along with some of Calgary's best sandwiches, bananas, chips and the biggest oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I've ever seen (full disclosure: I had 2 once I confirmed they weren't raisins). We plop ourselves down on the floor with our bounty, hastily take off every sweaty outer layer (Christi almost has a wardrobe malfunction forgetting which layer was the last one) and devour what is probably the best meal I've had in weeks, picnic style. Neither of us wins a door prize, but the shower I have when I get home is prize enough for me.

I think I've become addicted to entering races. I love the energy of the runners, the volunteers and the people who just want to stand there and cheer. I love the swag, the whole experience start to finish, and the pride I feel at the finish line. And I've loved every new thing I've tried so far---running with other people, running without headphones, running at night, running in the snow and combining all of the above! Now I'm off to follow the Flames on a road trip through New York, New Jersey, Philly and Pittsburgh, so I'm hoping I can get some runs in this week in exotic new destinations...stay tuned!

Friday, November 19, 2010

100 Days to Go!

So, we have 100 days to go before the Princess Half Marathon and I think we've come a long way so far.  We still have lots to do-hill training, fartleks, speed intervals, book hotel, make costumes, lots!  But, we've had quite a few firsts...including this week, when WINTER finally hit Calgary.  After weeks and weeks of unseasonably warm weather this fall, Calgary was hit with 10-15cm of snow this week and the average daily highs dropped from 10C to...minus 20C.  For our running clinic this week, we spent all day Tuesday just dreading our 4K run.  None of us had ever run at a temperature below zero, and certainly never in -10C and not in the snow at night.  It was cold and icy, and only 6 people showed up for the clinic (I'm guessing most people were stuck in traffic rather than outright skipping it)  Fortunately, we had all stocked up on fleecy cold weather gear on our recent US trip, so we did a few outfit changes before deciding on an assortment of toques, mittens, layers, fleeces, shells and liners. 

We headed out on Tuesday full of trepidation, but as soon as we started running, things got pretty great pretty darn fast.  The snow was still falling, and it was pretty neat to run through fresh snow in near deafening quiet.  And none of us were cold, our new stuff was awesome!  There were no slips or near slips and I spent most of the run exclaiming how great I felt and how much I liked running in the snow.  At one house we passed, all the kids playing in the snow in their backyards cheered for us runners as we went by, which felt good.  When we got back, we all had icy eyelashes and frosty hair---we looked like Snow Princesses!

The next day  the temperature dropped further and  the snow kept up.  We eyed the weather network online all morning, and decided what the heck, let's head out at lunchtime instead of running on treadmills at the gym.  So, we bundle up and head out.  It's colder and windier out by the airport, so even though it was daytime, it was a good 10C colder.  We opted to do laps around the parking lot just in case we got too cold, then we wouldn't be more than 3 minutes away from going inside at any point.  Plus, then everyone inside would see how badass we are.  Turns out the parking lot is an exact 1K loop, so 4 laps later we were done!  It was so cold and windy, that every loop we did, our previous tracks were already gone.  Yikes!  But hitting the showers afterwards felt fantastic!

I think we spent the rest of the afternoon in a happy glow, so proud of ourselves for having faced the elements and not only won, but actually had some fun doing it.  And now we know that if we can do back-to-back runs under Arctic conditions, then we can handle anything that running throws at us.  We're going to do this half marathon in 100 days, and it's going to be GREAT!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yeah, I’m treating it like a temple all right (Part II)

I have to agree with Felic on this one.. You know better and can definitely blame the fact that we haven’t had a nutritionist come in on why we eat what we eat, but in actual fact we know that eating right gives you the energy to perform better and is better for you. This all being said, we use the “we run SO we can eat what we want”.. there should be a bar for what that actually means!

This weekend I may just have pushed that bar way more than a little past it’s breaking point. I went up to my sister’s for my nephew’s 4th birthday. We stopped at Buttercream Bake Shoppe on the way out of town for a dozen buttercream cupcakes.. the full size ones, not the little bit sized ones (which Crystal still eats with a knife and fork and cuts in fours.. another story for another day). We get in at 8:30 and after being fed a great dinner of roast beef and potatoes.. the weekend of “eats” started.

Each of us finished off a cupcake before bed (obviously) then up in the early am to join the nephews for a bowl of cereal. Off to the rink for a quick hockey practice, home for lunch (jalapeƱo poppers, hot beef sandwiches then a cupcake for dessert. Pizza and breadsticks for dinner and Safeway cake for dessert (might have been two pieces?!?). Seafood dip while watching tv later then to bed. Sensing a pattern here?

Up again early, eat a bowl of Christmas Rice Krispies then finally decided to do my long run for the week. I convinced my sister to join me on this 9+km run. Now using copious amounts of cake and icing for “energy” my sister and I started our run. Partly cloudy start, dry sidewalks, and 10 and 1’s .. I mean this sound like a perfect day! Around 4km, it clouds over, 5km it starts to snow, 6km my sis tells me that she forgot to eat breakfast (might be why she isn’t feeling so well). She’s a trooper and we finish the run and deserve a reward! How about uh.. Dairy Queen burger, onion rings, pop and finish with a mini blizzard? Huh… I’ve heard and Crystal can quote me on this, that DQ is a GREAT after run meal..

Overall .. not the best weekend in regards to nutrition per say.. oh well, bring on the Nutritionist.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yeah, I'm treating it like a temple all right!

Since we have yet to have a nutrition talk at our running clinic, I think I can feign ignorance here...on Sunday we ran our 9K, which at the end we discovered was almost 11K...10.8K including our cooldown. No wonder I felt so tired and sore, I'd done almost 2 extra "fun" kilometers and it wasn't even 10am on a Sunday! Before I left, I ate half a whole wheat bagel and some spoons of yogurt. I think I've decided bagels are pretty much the best running food ever, so that was great, but I ended up regretting the yogurt. Although delicious vanilla sweetened with honey, it kept ummm....repeating on me the second half of the run. No pre-run dairy? Lesson learned, belly!

Anyways, after I got home and had the world's greatest shower (not much feels better after an hour of running in zero C than a shower so hot it melts your skin right off and the steam burns your lungs) I headed out with my fella to our local pub for their $3.99 breakfast.  I was so hungry by the time it arrived, I kept burning my mouth on the molten hash browns while I frantically slathered peanut butter and jam on the toast, then ate it like a gull (right down the hatch, no time to chew!) The bacon and eggs suffered a similar fate of barely grazing my taste buds on their way down.  Three cups of coffee later, we headed out for some Sunday shopping!

Next stop: Fabricland to see if they carry "activewear" fabric if I was going to give making a Disney Princess dress a go instead of buying it.  Advantages: would be wicking fabric, custom and awesome and fit an adult instead of trying to cram into a child's costume.  Disadvantages: fabric was ludicrously priced at $30 a meter and oh, yeah, I don't know how to sew or have a sewing machine. I felt like a failure as a woman wandering the aisles as the other women expertly talked about darts and basting and serging.  So, off for a bit more (less depressing) shopping.  At Toys R Us, I stock up on Christmas presents for munchkins, and a bunch of awesome candy for myself to eat in the car.

We're happy in your belly, Princess Fliss!
After a few more shops (and a few more dollars spent) I was starving again.  I guess running 11K after a week of sleeping off a fever on the couch really works up the 'ol appetite! Off to the very conveniently priced Ikea for hotdogs!  We order 2 hotdogs each, pop, chips and cinnamon buns (that the lady warned me to be careful on as they were freshly iced and hot out of the oven...mmmmm.....) for an early dinner (it was 330) and again, devour like a gull.

At 530pm, was starving again. Time to make more nutritionally sound decisions!  Remembering there were chicken potstickers in the freezer, I fry up a batch and according to the label on the back, eat 3 servings.  Who are these servings actually supposed to satisfy? Not the giant North American who ran 11k this morning, I told myself as I surreptitiously licked the last bits of greasy goodness off my fingers and drank the rest of the dipping sauce.

Without divulging my calorific intake for the day (even attempting the math fills me with remorse), I can say I probably had a weeks worth of sodium in 7 hours. And not a single vegetable.  And ALL the protein and  carbs were either deep fried or covered in icing. It doesn't take an expert to see that I probably didn't refuel properly today, and my diet probably contributed to the increasing pain I'm feeling in the back of my legs.  At least I drank a few gallons of water, even if it was mostly to wash down the Advil.