Winters tightening grip

After a long anticipation period waiting for my new “Solomon Spike Cross” winter running shoes, U.P.S. surprised me with a knock on the door Wednesday.   Immediately, I could see these shoes were the same as my Solomon Speed Cross trail running shoes but with the addition of metal studs embedded into the lugs of the sole; perfect for winter running and will  provide the needed traction on ice so I don’t slip and break something.    No matter how determined I can be, I know that breaking a bone would definitely be a training schedule setback!

Thursday I had an appointment to have my pacemaker checked and to schedule an appointment for surgery to replace my current ICD since my current battery how lower than the recommended service voltage.   The Duluth Running Store is right across the street from my doctor’s office so I stopped in after my appointment and purchased a pair of “Nike” winter running pants, a “Mizuno” compression shirt that is very heavy and warm looking, along with a new pair of “Saucony” Triumph ISO 2 to replace my wore out Brooks running shoes.   It was 30 degrees out and I couldn’t wait to get home and go for a run to try out all my new gear.

It was dark out by the time I got home but still around 28 degrees Fahrenheit so an evening run still held appeal.  Running on the highway where I live is scary enough during the day with good visibility so normally running in the dark is not something I am very comfortable with but then you add snow covered roads with steady traffic and uncomfortable becomes an understatement but Heidi had given me a light for nighttime running so, after putting all my new gear on, I actually felt pretty  well prepared and set off.

The road I live on is half a mile long so I decided to turning around at the highway would still give me a full mile each lap yet allow me to avoid any major traffic.  Of course, it would not be the most scenic route but when you live out in country where there are no streetlights or reflective city lights, you aren’t going to see much anyway.   Half of the road was snow covered with about two to three inches of fresh heavy snow.  The other half was had been packed down from traffic but the surface was very slippery.   With my new studded running shoes, running on the packed surface wasn’t much different than running on dry pavement in terms of effort or speed.  On the other hand, running in the snow where it wasn’t packed down proved to be much harder then I would have anticipated; it actually reminded me of the treadmill incline set around 5 which is a good work out on the calves but still unexpected.

After I put about 3 miles or so on it became obvious that my new winter clothing worked great.  I was actually overheating and either I needed to shed some clothing or call it a night.   Since I planning on running the following day, I called it a night.

The following day was still  30 degrees so once all my responsibilities for the day had been met, I suited up for a run.  Remembering how I had overheated the night before, I opted to only wear wear shorts, heavy shirt, and a light windbreaker.   On my way out the door I shot a glance at the thermometer to confirm the temperature hadn’t dropped.  It still read  28 degrees so I didn’t give the weather another thought and was out the door in a flash; not even once did the idea of checking the weather forecast cross my mind.  I won’t make that mistake again!

I cheerfully headed down the road, the wind at my back and life was good.   Once out on the highway, I did encounter a slight cross wind that seemed to put a little chill in me which attributed to not having fully warmed up yet.   Another half mile down the highway  I turned onto a road heading north and into a pretty stout headwind. After a mile or so of running into the wind, I ran out of excuses and had to admit I was way under dressed; I was getting colder the further I ran rather than warmer.  Doggedly,  I continued on for another mile.  Now  that “chilly” headwind felt like it was sucking every bit of energy out of me, the cold sinking in deep into my chest and spreading.   At this point, I decided I better turn around and head home, especially since there wasn’t anyone close by I could call if something went wrong.   My decision to turn back gave me a reprieve from the bitter effects of the now frigid temps as the wind at my back  was much warmer but I still couldn’t seem to muster more then a snail’s pace going home.  I finally had to admit to defeat; winter had won this battle.

After a few days of moping over how I lost a battle with winter, I mean re-plotting my strategy, I decided to try again only this time I would stay closer to home and add a few more layers of clothes… and pants.  I realized wearing shorts the last time may have been a bit too cocky. 🙂  The added clothing was just what I needed.  Everything felt good so when I returned I began plan on taking a long run, that is until the temperature plunged down to sub 20-30 degree temps for the remainder of the week.  Finally today, Sunday, I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to try going for a run despite the fact it was -22F with around a 10 mph headwind; I know, cocky once again.

A mile and a half down the road my eyes were starting freeze shut and certain other areas were feeling on the edge of frost bite so I turned back around and headed home.  Once I turned around, the wind was on my back and everything felt great!  I didn’t have any cold spots; hands and feet were warm; eyes didn’t feel like they were burning.  Eureka! Running at -22f with the wind on your back is possible!   …Until you turn around to go home.

Luckily, common sense did kick in and I quickly realized I would eventually have to face the head wind to get home if I kept going so I gave in to reason and headed home.  Although I felt as if I kept running into obstacles this week, I had to admit I also gained valuable learning experiences which will help me train safely throughout these long cold spells northern Minnesota is so famous for.

I finished up my day at the gym doing legs with Tony.  I only have two more weeks or so before I have surgery to change out my pacemaker so I’m trying to get all the gym sessions in before I go in because I know that will slow me down for a little while.  Strength training is my priority right now but once surgery is behind me and I am back on my feet,  running will be taking the spotlight once again and I can’t wait!

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