Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Big Chill

It's cold out there. Not quite upper Midwest cold, or Buffalo cold, or Siberia cold, but well below freezing. I believe the always-reliable said 11 degrees but felt like 6, during the time I was scheduled to be running this morning. The normal high for this time of year is in the upper 30s, while today's high was only in the mid-20s.

I like running in the cold, but that's pretty ridiculous.

My normal winter running attire is a long-sleeve cotton or technical (allegedly moisture-wicking magical running gear that is probably overpriced) t-shirt, shorts, running gloves, and a running headband to keep my ears warm. Even on chilly days, I tend to get uncomfortably hot when I wear long pants. I prefer to be cool when I run, so if I'm freezing at the start of the run, I'm usually comfortably cool by the end. My cold tolerance does not seem quite as good as it was last year, when I would routinely be down to a short-sleeve shirt by the end of my runs even in the depth of winter.

A day like today presents me with a challenge; it's well below even my cold-weather preferences, to the point that I worry about frostbite (I'm a hypochondriac as well as runner) if I wear shorts, but if I break out the wind pants I fear that I'll quickly overheat. I erred on the side of caution though, and wore my favorite running pants, Under Armor Extreme Cold Gear gloves, which are I admit considerably warmer than regular running gloves, and considerably more overpriced, and a windbreaker, which I've worn a few times but only with shorts, over my long-sleeve shirt. I brought a lighter pair of gloves in case my hands got too hot.

It ended up being a wise decision. I was comfortable for most of the run, and even switched to the lighter gloves.

Because of the cold, I wasn't sure what to expect today as I headed down to Timonium Maryland for the run with my marathon training group. I ended up doing a 10.5 mile loop with some other members of the group, and felt great. After a pit stop, I then set out alone for another 7-mile loop. At about mile 15, I think I got a little preview of what marathoners refer to as "the Wall" (not to be confused with Pink Floyd album of the same name). The last 2.5 miles were very challenging, but I made it back the starting point at Charm City Run exhausted and sore, but alive and uninjured. I got in my car and discovered a baggie of two chocolate Oreos that I got last night for a $1 charitable donation. Starving after my 17.5 miles, I devoured them. Let me tell you that I don't think anything I've ever eaten tasted as good as those two cookies did at that moment, although the breakfast sandwich and well-earned donut I had when I got back to York came very close.

The total for the day was 17.5 miles in 3:08:55, my longest run ever in both distance and duration. I'm quite happy with it, and looking forward to next Saturday's 18-mile goal.

I got some good news before run: I'm doing everything wrong as far as eating before the long runs, something I just don't do. My water, Gatorade, and Sports Beans during the run just aren't enough -- I should be eating at least a slice or two of bread, or something at a similar calorie value. I'm hoping that if I start eating before long runs, I'll have more energy at the end. We'll see.

Today was also a demonstration of the positives and negatives of beard ownership. On the plus side , it keeps my face warm without paying for additional overpriced running gear, but on the negative side it becomes completely caked with ice and makes me look like a caveman or Viking.


  1. VIKING BEARDs RULE! Did you cook a bison over a fire pit when you got home?

  2. Yes! And then I spent the rest of the day limping around like I was 100 years old.

    Thanks for the great company, Nick!