Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Fret the Weather

I have this tendency to worry about things over which I have little or no control. The weather is a perfect example. Especially during the extreme seasons of cold and heat, I routinely check the next day's weather forecast to determine how I should dress (layer)for my training run. Last Saturday evening, I looked at the forecast and was rewarded with a prediction of single digits with wind rising into the mid 30's, with snow accumulations during the night. Well, that was more than enough to fuel my "worry genes." If I dressed for single digit temps I would surely be overheated as the temperature began to rise. Then too, I started to fret about the depth of the snow. I was going to be running a long run on a nearby Forest Service road that is not plowed. Typically a few brave souls have driven in or out and packed a track in the deep snow. Nevertheless, I worried about getting too deep into the "forest" at my turn around and becoming fatigued before finishing my workout. Long runs fatigue us anyway, but slogging through deep snow really saps the spring from our legs and creates the possibility for a serious bonk. I awakened Sunday morning and decided to delay the start of my run until mid morning. I nuked a bowl of oatmeal and garnished it with cinnamon and buckwheat honey; ate a banana and chased it with a cup of coffee and set of for whatever the morning had in store for me. The temperatures had begun climbing before I left home, so I layered lightly, knowing I would be cold for the first 2 or 3 miles. I arrived at my pullout and cranked up the GPS and set off at an easy pace. Thankfully there wasn't a lot of wind, and even though the snow was fairly deep, there were some truck tracks I was able to run in. I was a little chilled for a couple of miles, but then (as almost always happens)I began to warm up. I was actually comfortable and feeling good. I started to wonder, "Why do you always fret about the weather?" Turns out, I had a great run. Temps were good and the snow was pretty nicley packed, save for the final mile before my turnaround. I slogged through 2 miles of untrammeled snow, but then was back into the packed stuff. Legs felt no worse for the wear and I just really enjoyed the rest of the morning, watching the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River as it was freezing over, and just being into the solitude of a pretty nice winterscape. I guess the moral of this blog must be pretty obvious. Don't Fret the Weather! Easy for me to say, but I'm sure I'll find some weather forecast over which to worry. Tomorrow for example is predicted to have negative 25 to negative 35 wind chills. How will I dress. How far should I risk running in the extreme cold. And on and on...... Stay warm & dry Happy Trails, jim

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter Wonderland

For the last two days, the weather prognosticators have been warning of another winter storm for the Appalachians. Before bed last night, I thought I should take our Golden (Lola) out to one of my favorite Forest Service roads. I figured with it being the middle of the week, there wouldn't be any 4-wheelers or snowmobilers out running the roads. I got up and had a cup of "Joe" and a banana, grabed a couple of cookies to eat on the way to the trail head (well, not really a trail head but a parking area adjacent to the FS road), loaded my furry 4 legged friend and off we went. Lola gets so excited when she knows were going for a run. I really should take her more often, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. We pulled into the parking area and I stowed my keys and got out of the car, and immediately stepped into snow well over my ankles. I mean, it was drop dead beautiful. I let Lola out and off we went. She was going crazy, running wind sprints as hard as she could go. Ah, to have just a little of her energy. My plan was to run 4 miles and then turn around and head back. Lola is often the limiting factor. She does well at 8 miles, but 10 is about her max. Turns out today, I was the limiting factor for Lola. About 75 or 80% of that section of FS road is up hill. I've run it many times with no snow cover, but the deep snow made it another story. At 2 miles I'm thinking, "is there any way I'll make 4 miles in this?" There were some frozen ruts from 4 WD's that had been through over the weekend. The fresh snow covered the ruts, and I came close to "nicking" an ankle a couple of times. I finally found some even footing and managed to stay out of the ruts. That helped tremendously, but the climbing was a real challenge in the (fairly) heavy snow. I stopped and took a few pictures, or was it to catch my breath? We topped the first serious climb and hit a section of rolling road, for which I was grateful. Then my GPS buzzed the 3 mile split and I decided to call it a day. Lola was slowing down and having trouble with snowballs on her feet to boot. I took a couple more pictures and then headed back down. I was a little nervous about stepping into a rut or pot hole on the down hill run, so I really didn't just turn it loose. Nevertheless, the run back to the car was a blast. Snow blanked forest, no cars, hell not even any other warm bodies which suited me just fine. As much as I love the beauty of winter, I'm at the point where I'm beginning to long for Spring. Only two months away, as of today. No major layering up. Shorts & a light windbreaker. Yeah, that's it. I invite you to follow me on Twitter (I put up some nice pictures) Happy Trails & Stay Warm jim

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Vermont or Bust

Monday January 6 dawned bitterly cold with snow squalls. The weather folks were calling it a Polar Vortex, a term not familiar to many, if any lay people. Online registration for the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run was opening at 10:00 a.m. I had tried to register for the 2013 version, but got wait listed. I was determined to hit the registration page precisely at 10:00. Each time I refreshed the page, the website's clock was providing a countdown. Finally the registration site opened and I began filling out the online form. I had visions of the server getting overloaded or my internet connection getting hit up by the storm. Low and behold, I was able to complete the entire app, provide payment information & hit the submit button. Now I was holding my breath to see if I had everything in, in time to beat the cut off. In a few minutes I got my emailed confirmation number and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I did NOT want to be wait listed again. I just cannot motivate myself if I'm not "in." I learned later in the day, the race closed after 1 1/2 hours. By 4:00 p.m. there were over 50 runners wait listed. Unbelievable! So Tuesday night with zero temperatures under a waxing moon, I'm sitting at Adam Casseday's kitchen table discussing the pros and cons of long back to backs, total weekly mileage and many of the other strategies that come into play when preparing for an Ultra Marathon. Even though I've run several Ultras, I still consider myself a newbie. I have never tackled a 100 miler, and I plan on soliciting as much sage advice as I can. We're fortunate here in the mountains of North Central WV, because there are several seasoned Ultra runners. Hell, Adam ran the entire Applachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. He knows something about distance running. Anyway, I left Adam and Kadra's new home with a plan, and after all, isn't that the first step? I feel good about the plan, and all we need now is to begin implentation. Oh btw, I'm not one for New Years resolutions, but I made one this year. Several followers of my humble blog have asked me why I quit blogging, and the answer to that is....I really don't know. I just stopped, but my promise to myself is to make every attempt to keep my blog current and share the many emotions, both high and low, I will encounter in the coming months. July 19, 0400. Toe the line. Happy trails & Stay Warm, Jim