Running Conditions in March - 2013 Edition

Last March was so crazy for running that I thought it'd be interesting to keep track of this year's conditions.  See some pictures here

March began with a snow pack but the trails basically clear other than the occasional puddle the size of Lake Michigan.  It was good running weather too; around 30* most of the time.

March 5 marks the surprise SNOW DAY of the month with around a foot of snow falling total.  Running was sort of hilarious.  The block around my condo was the only one that had been reliably shoveled all the way round, so I just set a mileage goal and did laps.    

March 10 (the next weekend) I saw the second best dad ever.  If you'd like to know about the best dad in the world, go here or here for more information.  Second best dad had his little girl in these huge rain boots and let her run through all the knee deep puddles in the neighborhood.  Relevant because my neighborhood is entirely knee deep puddles from the top layer of snow melting.  The bottom layer of snow hasn't melted yet.  It's wet and cold.  Running is awesome.

March 15 - the best way to sum up the month so far is "every time I want to go on a long run, it snows, or rains or sleets or completely friggin ices over".  The irony is only increased because we're experiencing both flooding conditions and drought conditions.  Flooding because, well you've seen the pictures.  Drought conditions because the ground is still frozen, so as the precipitation melts it's just going into the creeks and rivers and not being soaked up by the soil at all.

March 24 - Spring supposedly started this week.  Temperatures hovered between 5* and 8* to welcome spring (or to mock us) and the wind started it's own party.  Also, I fell down a lot on iceAfter I wrote that, I fell again the next day about a block away from there. I actually started having so many aches and pains I swore off running outside for a little while, just to heal, and made peace with the treadmill instead.  The lakes are still frozen, frozen enough people are ice fishing on them.  Moving water, the creeks and especially the river is not frozen.  And the sun is finally still awake after 7pm.

March 26 - I fell down again.  Really hard this time.  I am so f!cking over it.  This time it wasn't ice but uneven concrete that effed me up.  It was made more gross by the puddles and dirt that I rolled through as I went down and ultimately somersaulted.  Even my pack was gross.  I'd made it almost 10 miles by then though, which is better than the less than 1 mile it took me the past two times I went down.

March 28 - I ran outside for the second day in a row without falling down.  It's a bigger deal than you could possibly imagine. I'm told the snow will melt soon.  I'm still in "I'll believe it when I see it" mode, but having much more hope than the beginning of the month.


Long Run Tuesday - In Which I Fall Down

Happy Passover to those who celebrate.  Since I have the day off, I had some time to fill.  I started off my getting my car's oil changed, then making breakfast and taking a morning nap.  In the afternoon, I decided I'd head over to the lakes for a run.  Even though I fell down last week, and then again the next day I decided I needed to be outside, and I needed a long run since I have to run a half marathon in not too long.

I picked running around the lakes because my route was the least likely to give me any trouble.  I could run on a bikeway to the lakes, and then on the trails around the lakes.  Everything, in theory, should have been clear.  On the bike way I stayed on the south-facing side walks.  Sidewalks were mostly clear except for a couple massive puddles where I ran in the street.  The trails around the lakes were similarly mostly clear except for one massive puddle at Lake Calhoun and a bit of a clusterf!ck between Calhoun and Harriet.

The run: Since the longest I've run in a long time is seven miles and this route is 11-12 miles, I decided to do intervals.  I'm all about the injury prevention.  I ran 5:00 and walked 2:00 pretty much the whole time.  I was sure to run 14:00 together to make sure I could count my "mile" of running without stopping.  The thing about intervals which no one told me ahead of time is I get really cold during the 'walks'.  Today I ran in sweat pants, wool socks, long sleeve shirt, arm sleeves (from my second Twin Cities Marathon), wind proof vest, gloves some of the time and an ear band (from my most recent TCM).  I was hotter than blue blazes to begin with but the minute I hit the lakes, the wind picked up and I was glad for all the protection I had.  It was about 40* and 7-10 mph winds.  It was a really good run.  I took the 'run' sections faster than a typical long run pace so I could earn the walks.  I basically kept a 12:30 pace, even with walks, until my spectacular acrobatics right before mile 10.

The fall: I totally tanked, for the third time this month, a my second fall on a City of Minneapolis sidewalk.  This time it wasn't ice but uneven payment that sent my flying.  I literally went head over heals on this one.  Dirt was every where.  I screamed while I was falling and a guy walking near by stopped to help me.  The most awesome proof of the fall is the dirt on my Camelbak from where I rolled over it.  Proof I really was head over heals.
I took gymnastics when I was younger and we started every time with safety rolls and safety drops which taught us to protect our heads, backs and wrists during a fall.  Thank you to all my coaches because I think I came out of this fall in better shape than the first fall, despite the somersault and other acrobatics.

Ultimately, even with the fall, I managed a pretty good pace for such long walk breaks, and stopping to take so many pictures.  The first mile is always slow because I'm still getting myself arranged, pants tied up, etc.  Mile 9 involved waiting for a long stop light, mile 10 was the fall, and mile 12 was a cool down mile.

As I alluded to, I did take lots of pictures on this run. The ones of Lake Harriet and the bandshell didn't turn out quite as well. All of my walking periods at the lake were in the wooded areas where there were lots of trees and not too much scenic. I had much better luck at Lake Calhoun. The sky was also pretty spectacular by the time I got over there.

Bottom right: Is Minneapolis the only place that has these Little Free Libraries?  I see them all over the place when I run or bike around.  This one is a couple blocks from my house, but there are some others closer to the lakes I saw too.

When I got home, I decided to give my legs a break.  I found that $80 pair of compression shorts I got at the Nike Outlet for $20, threw those on, along with my calf compression sleeves and said a prayer that my leg didn't re-bruise.  Not sure about the leg but the shoulder was definitely not improved by the fall.  Fingers crossed but the ankle seems fine for the moment.  My hand and my knee stopped feeling like hamburger shortly after I got home and calmed down.


Spring - HA!

Spring supposedly started this week in Minnesota.  I went out Saturday for a walk around my happy place, and took some pictures as the sun was starting to set.  I'll let you judge for yourself if they look like spring.



Great Treadmill Workouts to Survive the Winter

Well there's a title I never thought I'd use.  I've never really tried to hide my feelings about the dreadmill.  Panic attacks is the word I use most frequently.  However, I just took a week 'off' running because of my ankle and needed to ease it back into use.  After seven days I was worried I'd go insane.  That was a real possibility.  Try finding an exercise that doesn't use your ankle.  I'm still not wanting to run outside because of the ice and snow, and also wanting to take some time off the track because of all the turns.  Guess what that leaves.

I've run more miles this week on a treadmill than on the road and track combined.  What?!?
I know there are lots of people who do tons of training miles on a treadmill.  I know because I read several of their blogs.  SkinnyRunner and The Hungry Runner Girl are two examples.  Hungry Runner Girl also shares my love of Brooks Shoes.  I so understand.  If you are one of those people, who can just be on the treadmill for ever and enjoy it - congratulations to you.  Keep it up.   For me, treadmill workouts have to be short.  The end of the workout must be in sight the entire time.  And I need a way to keep my mind busy, and my head entertained the entire time.

Things that make running on the treadmill more bearable:
  • Short workouts - these are mentally easier.  I tend to get the panic attacks from thinking "I have to keep up this pace for the next 45 minutes. Oh no."  Workouts between 1 and 3 miles are good for me.
  • Vary the speed - this helps break the workout into nice segments. Helps keep my mind occupied too, because I'm planning ahead for the next speed change.
  • The treadmill is not for every day.  The treadmill, like cookies, is a sometimes food.  One thing that helps me want to climb on from time to time is knowing I don't have to see it too often.
  • Plan something entertaining to watch and listen toThey don't have to be the same thing.  At my gym I can't see the televisions from the treadmills.  I look out the window.  Today (and yesterday) I watched cars drive around the parking lot for five and ten minutes looking for spaces.  I derrived more pleasure from that than was really appropriate..  I have some tried and true playlists for the iPod.  Noise isolating or noise cancelling headphones are a big plus here too.
  • Don't run in front of the mirror.  It's not a vanity thing.  It's a balance thing.   I need a fixed focal point, something that's not moving otherwise I get really unbalanced and kind of sea sick.  My first choice is always to run in front of the window, with the wall being my second choice.

Increasing speed workout.  Looks fun right?
Yasso 800s - I really let lose with the speed button there at the end, and that was more like a 1200.

Ideas for treadmill workouts:
  • Increasing speed workout - One of my favorite workouts on the treadmill is to do a bit of a walking warmup and then run for one mile.  I start at a reasonable speed and then tick up the speed 0.1 miles/hour for every .05 miles that I run.  The time goes by so fast.  I love letting my body feel what it's like to run 8:00 miles without the panic attack of "I have to keep this pace for how long?".
  • Yasso 800s - Todays workouts was Yasso 800s with a little variation. I increased the speed incrementally in a couple of the 800s, starting at the suggested pace and then picking it up.  Also, my 'recovery speed' was a little faster than technically suggested, but I only did five 800s so I think it's okay.
  • Run-walk intervals - I've always wanted to try this on a treadmill.  I haven't yet because I have a hard time transitioning between two speeds that a really different (like 3.5mph to 6.5 mph) because I'm always worried I'll fall down, especially if I'm not paying attention.  It'd be nice to have the walk recovery with the treadmill to help me really pick up the race during the run portions though.
  • Any workout with a really specific target speed.  "I want to run a 7:00 mile" or something.  Treadmills are perfect for this because it takes out all the guess work and helps your body keep a really consistent speed.


Learned while filing my taxes

I filed my taxes last week.  Thank you IRS Free File.  I used TaxACT which is one that works with the Minnesota state returns too.

One cool thing, I think new this year, is the program offered to fill out my FAFSA for me.  I hope I never have to fill that form out again, because it means I'd be back in school.  Nonetheless, that form was a bear and I'd take any help I could get.

Second thing I learned, and slightly more aggravating is this.  Qat Lady and I apparently found a way to use our AmeriCorps education awards during like the one year they were taxable income in this state.  First they weren't income, then they were, now they're back to 'not so much'.  You must be joking.  The years I used those Education Awards, my federal refund basically covered the taxes I owed to the state.  I just timed it wrong.  Sigh.


Fail for the day - Blogger Spam

From time to time, I check the little "stats" box on blogger to tell me what searches bring people to this blog, what posts are read more than others, etc.  Hint - anything with "running songs" or "running music", or names of popular companies like Ikea and Delta seems big. 

There's also this phenomenon called referrer spam, which are fake sites making it look like more people read a particular post than actually happened.  For more info on referrer spam, check here, here, and here.  How will I know referrer spam when I see it?  Well today almost 1,000 people read a post from 2008, 700 of their friends read one from 2007 and 100 people read something about Delta I wrote two years ago.  Or not.

Music for Running and for the Weekend

Since I'm not running or working very hard at all this week, I'll share some of the music that has been invading my iPod lately. 


One Hot Mess

What?  I have a blog?  Oy.  Ever since I fell on Sunday I've been grumpy as shit.  I actually fell again on Monday when we had a snow storm.  The snow covered all the ice so I couldn't see it.  The second fall wasn't as bad as the first one.  The first one jacked my wrist, shoulder, and leg, and possibly my ankle.  Yes.  I am a hot mess now.

My ankle had already been having issues, perhaps from running on too much ice and snow to begin with.  It feels stiff in one ligament/tendon/muscle fiber (I'm not so good at the anatomy thing) but improves the more I stretch it.  I'd already decided to make this week a recovery week when I bruised my leg so bad it hurts to run on it anyways.


I was a total piss pot most of Monday.  Between the cold and the snow and cleaning off my car and falling down... It all got better right at the end of the day though.  Calling you was the only thing that would make him stop crying.

The rest of the week has been similarly colder than hell.  First day of Spring my foot.  I've been similarly grumpy with moments of not so much.  My mood improved considerably today when I got a social work compliment ('you must be a Masters trained social worker') then ended the day with Circuit and Zumba.