Thursday, December 12, 2013

Winter Running! (and JFK!)

Well it's been a month, so I figured I'd update all of my devoted followers on what I've been up to! So for the 3 of you, here it is:

It's winter! And I am training! This is new. I haven't actually trained through a winter in a really long time. I've run...but mostly inside and never for very long distances. Usually for spring marathons (OK, for Grandma's Marathon) I don't really get going until February. But I don't have that option this time: I am training to run 50 miles!

My first "long" run outside in years was a success!
Winter running is a challenge for everyone, but for me the biggest challenge is that I have cold-induced asthma. It's landed me in the ER twice in the past 4 years (as the result of very short runs in the cold) and, well, the goal is to not end up there again. So what can I do? Well, for one thing, I can adjust to it gradually. Which is what I have been trying to do and so far so good. Thankfully(?) it got pretty cold for DC during November so my lungs had to adapt to the 20s and 30s pretty early in the season. That's cold for the mid-Atlantic in November.

But then I went and hopped a plane to Wisconsin, where I am now. It's obviously much colder here. So I've been doing a mix of treadmill runs when I have to, and outside runs when the temperatures get up into the teens.  I also bought a "Buff" face mask thingy that has worked out well. So far so good.

So that's what I've got going on right now. I'm hangin' in Wisconsin. Writing a paper. Taking some (take-home) exams. And trying to keep up with my training.

I head to Duluth in a little over a week. Given the temperatures they've been having, it's quite possible that I'll be relegated to the treadmill for my runs over vacation. It's not such a terrible thing. Yes, I feel slightly less hard-core than some of my Duluth running friends. But it gets the job done.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the JFK-50, the race I was supposed to be running as a part of my fundraiser, before I got hurt, was a few weeks back! Though I couldn't compete, I was at the race anyway, crewing and pacing, and it was an awesome day. My coach and friend Wendy ran a stellar time and placed 16th overall female. You can read all about that here.
Me and Michele, waiting for our runners to come through

My day was spent first crewing, and then pacing. What does that mean? Well, 50-miles is a long way to run, so it helps to have some people there to assist you along the way. The first access point for friends and crews was at mile 15ish and that is where me and some other pals first parked ourselves to assist the 5 runners we had in the race. They dropped clothes, changed shoes, grabbed food, replenished Gu stashes, topped off water, etc. We were there with their stuff - and some chairs - to help them with their effort. Kinda like a pit crew.

OK, who am I kidding, I stood there with my camera waiting to take pictures while everyone else did the work.
Tim getting his chip moved as part of his shoe change.

Tim, husband of Coach Wendy, came through looking great. This was good news as he came into the race with a pretty messed up ACL. Wendy arrived a bit too chipper to have just run 15 rugged and technical miles on steep trails. But that was all part of her race plan (to take it really easy at the start) and she executed her plan perfectly. 

Wendy: "That felt so easy! I'm fresh as a daisy!"

After crewing, I got ready to pace my friend Vivian. By "pace" I mean "run with." It's nice to have some company when you run 50 miles, and my plan was to run with Vivian from miles 15 to the next crew stop at 27. And that's what I did. We chatted (OK, I talked her ears off, she was probably happy to see me go!) and ran on the beautiful C&O Canal towpath alongside the Potomac River. It was beautiful. During this time I was incredibly bummed not to be running the race myself. That said, I was grateful I was healthy enough to be out there to take in 12 miles of the course -- and glad to have a friend I could help along the way.

Vivian and I at mile 27
All in all it was an incredibly fun and beautiful (if cold!) day. It definitely got me energized to keep training hard to run my own 50-miler in the spring. 

OK. On with winter running. And, as previously promised, I do hope to have my spring 50-miler picked out soon. Definitely by the end of the year!