Tuesday, February 24, 2015

my first red nose run!

I knew I had to run this weekend, no matter what the weather, and I knew that the likelihood of jumping on a treadmill was slim to none. The weekend also happened to be the biggest training weekend of the winter for much of the team, with people running upwards of 20 miles.  It's the winter equivalent of the 120/20 weekend which is the biggest pre-Ironman workout weekend... more on that to come in August though.

Coach Ed was kind enough to open his home to the team to host the Red Nose Run.  What's a Red Nose Run?  Well, it's kind of a race, kind of a contest.  You run however far you want, and predict how long it will take you.  Nobody is allowed to wear a watch.  They keep track of start and finish times, and the person closest to their guess wins.  It's a Team Z tradition, and there are usually several per year, except this winter has been crazy stupid and this was the only one (I think... I might have missed one).
My car's temperature reading when I arrived at Coach Ed's house!
Cold was an understatement.  I got dressed and packed a bag with some alternatives and some extra clothes for later.  Ed had set up women and men changing rooms in his house for everyone to use (so nice!).  There were some others there mid-run and post-run (there was an 8am start time option, and I was there for the 9:30 start), so I chatted with them and made some wardrobe adjustments based upon their feedback.  Off with the ski jacket, add an extra layer and top with a fleece.... ready to go!

Then it was time to check in and get my number. My plan was to run 5 miles, 1 loop. I've been sick and haven't been running as much as I should and figured 5 was a good way to ease back in. Except... When it was my turn and I was asked how far I was going, I heard myself say 6 miles! It just came out. I guess my subconscious is keenly aware that my first race of the season is only 6 weeks away.
Race number means it's a race!  hence.. race report! :-)
There were still a few minutes before it was time for my group to start.  A bunch of us sat around putting hand and foot warmers into our gloves and shoes, and I started talking to Mary, someone I had done a ride with awhile back.  She suggested that we run together which made me nervous because I am so slow at running that I typically either hold people back or end up going too fast for myself and burning out.  But she insisted she was slow also, so we decided to give it a try.  We started to get really hot all bundled up inside the house, so we checked in with Siri (who was keeping track of times) and decided to start 5 minutes early at 9:25.  I had predicted 1:20 for the 6 miles.

I ran with Mary for the first mile and a half, and we were actually pretty even on speed!  Unfortunately, she wasn't feeling great and sent me ahead, so then I was on my own... though, with everyone doing 5 mile loops, I was never really on my own for too many big stretches.  I got to see the other Mary, Hillary - who I've been missing at the pool - Tricia, Donna, and countless others.  That part was really nice. 
This was one hilly route.  The weekend email said it was going to be hilly, but for some reason it didn't occur to me that it would be that hilly!  I ran a lot but walked most of the hills.  I literally froze my ass off. My butt was sooooo cold! I should've worn underwear. In this weather the extra layer would've been worth the risk of extra seams.  The best part of this run though was when I saw Kate F and a couple others in their car offering us hot chocolate and cookies.  Yes, please!!  So awesome of them to come out in the cold and cheer and give out treats!

It started snowing about halfway through my first loop.  At first it was "ooh, look, it's snowing!" said with a hint of excitement.  Then, as it starting getting slippery and colder, it was more "ugh, it's still snowing, I kind of wish I was done!"  Shockingly, it wasn't too hard to keep on going after I finished the first loop.  That's usually the toughest mental block for me on multiple loop courses.  This time, it was probably the knowledge that I only had to do one extra mile that made it not so bad.  By this point it was snowing pretty hard and the roads were getting covered.  The loop started with a steep downhill, which mean for an out-and-back portion, it also ended with that steep uphill.  I slipped several times making my way up, but knew I was just about done.  I stopped at my car to take a photo and then headed inside to get warm! 
It's hard for me to go into situations that are outside of my comfort zone where I may not know anybody, and since this was basically like a huge party at Coach Ed's house, it was kind of that situation.  But, it turned out I knew so many people who were there (and met some new people) so it was kind of great.  I changed into some dry clothes and cracked open a hard cider that I brought with me (as a non-beer drinker, I always have to supply my own stash).  It tasted absolutely devine!

I would've liked to stay and socialize with everyone more, but I kept watching the snow pile up through the window and knew that my car doesn't handle great in that.  So, I stayed for about an hour, cheered in some runners finishing up, caught up with some teammates I haven't seen in awhile and enjoyed some wonderful meatballs.  Then, it was time for the trek home.
Cody (left) and Molly love the snow and it was difficult to get them to come back inside!
Luckily, I only experienced a couple skids in the snow, and a LOT of really annoying drivers (seriously people, it's so much worse to go 5mph and have to basically stop every 15 feet and try to get going again!). After reading some of the horror commute stories on the team's email list, I was thankful it only took an hour to get home, 15 minutes of which was trying to get my car up the hill in my neighborhood.  Finally got inside and let the dogs out to play in the snow for a bit before jumping in the shower.
I enjoyed another cider (or two) and curled up in a blanket on my couch... not a bad way to spend the rest of the day while it continued snowing... but... I am pretty much done with winter.  Seriously.

I did take note that the clock said 10:50 when finished the run, but since I started 5 minutes early, I think I was about 5 minutes off on my guess.  Meh.. I'm proud of myself for doing this run.  In the cold.  And the snow.  Only five more training weekends before the first *real* race of the season!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

building mental toughness through winter training

Winter training sucks.  It's dark when I get to the pool.  It's dark when I leave the pool, even when I'm stuck with an extra 15 minutes getting ready because I have to blow dry my hair.  It's lugging extra items in my swim bag to bundle up from the cold.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.
Early morning arrival at Providence pool for swim practice.
In the afternoons, it gets dark way to early to think about biking outside, even if the weather agrees with it (though it rarely does).  All midweek rides are done indoors.  In fact, indoor spin sessions are even built into our training plan.  The team meets at several locations to knock out the workout, but I choose to do mine on my own just because I like to get it out of the way as soon as possible after work, and not sit around until 6:30.
These weekday rides are under and hour; an acceptable time span to spend on the trainer (set up to directly face the television in the living room).  On the weekends, however, we are faced with a decision to brave the conditions or spend a miserable amount of time indoors on the trainer.
My water bottle actually froze on my drive to the ride start; this was one cold & miserable ride!
I've been trying to get outdoors for all of my weekend runs and bikes no matter what the temperature, but sometimes the threat of ice on the roads dictates that it's too dangerous for Xena.
For long runs, I will pretty much face any kind of outside weather.  The idea of spending multiple hours on a treadmill is even more terrible than the bike trainer.
Weekday short runs on the treadmill is semi-bearable, as long as there's something decent to watch on TV, but on my recovery weeks, I cannot justify driving the 1.6 miles to my yoga class, and do a short run to and from the studio, in the dark. It takes a special kind of motivation to get bundled up to run at night in the dark!
And then, there have been mornings I had to choose between running in snow on the track or sucking it up and doing the full track workout on a treadmill.  Those are the worst.  There is no minute longer than a treadmill minute!
I will admit that I've let the crappy weather serve as an excuse to skip a workout here and there, but for the most part I believe I am building up the mental toughness to survive the monotony of the long training rides and runs later in the year.

I freaking cannot wait for spring and warmer weather!!!