Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You Know It's Cold When...

... your teeth are sensitive to the cold air outside

... your water bottles freeze

... the tips of your ears are painful and you wonder about frostbite

... gels become sludge and GU chomps become... unchompable...

I was out for my long run in beautiful, picturesque Inglewood on Sunday morning after my swim.  Such a pretty little village from which all roads seemingly go uphilll.  I was excited to be there because the sun was finally shining and it's such a pretty place!  I was also excited to be there because I was on a character-building mission: to run hills on my LSD run.

I've decided that now I'm starting to build some speed and strength on my run, I owe it to myself to frequent hillier locales for my long runs.  (Actually until now, I've been too afraid that I would have to walk most of the hills and not be able to run them, so I've put it off...) No more copping out by running the relatively flat streets around my house (not very scenic anyhow) or quietly creeping onto the treadmill at the gym for a long session of boredom-induced fantasy life.  Nope - I'm headed for the hills!

It was actually a lovely day for a run.  Lucky for me, before I hit the trail, I stuffed a few "Honey Stingers" (something I picked up in Lake Placid in the summertime - really yummy!) sport chews into my mouth and washed them down.  I started off with about a 3k warmup on a 'flat' trail - of course, that was more like an agility course, because of the water, snow and ice which was solidly packed but broken up by oh so many foot and pawprints and downed tree limbs... so I hopped from place to place, trying not to break an ankle as I nimbly leaped over tree branches and super icy patches.  After about 20 minutes of constantly telling myself to relax so that I wouldn't be as likely to injure anything if I went down, I'd had more than enough fun, so I ended up veering off my chosen path and going due north for a long, steady climb towards Forks of the Credit Road.

Wow.  That was pretty miserable.  I ran on the soft shoulder, facing oncoming traffic but it was ssssooooo..... ccccc-cold... I trundled along, looking lovingly at the outside of Flapjack's and trying to come up with a good reason to scrap my run and sit inside for warmth (and maybe a few pancakes...) but I wasn't in the mood to invent a reason to quit, so I went on. Slowly. Steadily.  Uphill.

By the time I hit Forks of the Credit Road, life was looking up and I had hit the small rollers part of my route.  I have no problem climbing a hill when I know that I get to descend on the other side :)

Right about then, I realized that I should really be eating... and imagine my delight to find my GU chomps (favourite fuel of choice) had frozen so hard that the only way I could describe them was as a lozenge.  UGH!  I sucked on a couple, trying vainly to run my frozen tongue around my mouth and the lump of stuff in my mouth - to melt it... so I could have a drink to wash it down and then spent about the last 5k of my run vainly trying to pick the sticky bits out of my teeth with my still frozen tongue.  Not my finest hour.  I think I was muttering aloud at that point.  I gave up at that point, and instead just focused on drinking my icy-cold slushee - I mean, my E-Load, that I had carefully packed in my Fuel Belt...

Winter running is an acquired taste, I think.  I've spoken to several people this year who will not run outside.  They have been doing all of their training on a treadmill.  While I like the treadmill for certain shorter training sessions, nothing bores me faster and makes me want to scream aloud, than thumping along going nowhere for an hour or more...   We are so lucky that we have such pretty places to run that are within a 30 minute drive from home:  Inglewood, Caledon, Terra Cotta, Milton, Niagara Escarpment... just to name a few.

I'm going to have to figure out a way to keep my fuel from freezing... clearly, having it in a fuel belt or fanny pack doesn't work, even though I wear them next to skin to provide warmth... Maybe it's time to try wrapping them in wool socks inside my carriers?  Anyone else got any good ideas??

Happy Trails!