Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Montezuma's Revenge

Traveling around in exciting countries can be so eventful. After my altercation with a stingray I had a visit from Montezuma. Anyone that has been to Mexico or one of the less developed Mediterranean countries knows what that means. Travelers diarrhea.

So that means another two days of rest from running, lots of running actually just not the right kind.
Any runner knows that so much interference with training is not beneficial for mental well being. It plays tricks with our minds that all is lost. Of course that is not true so I need to repeat that many times. I'will be ok I will be ok etc

This morning I had a nice little run around Little Corn Island. It's a tiny Island in the Caribbean. Different Ocean than last week. We were at the Pacific coast last week and at the Atlantic Coast this week.
Since I am still very weak from not eating and lots of fluid loss the last two day I took it easy but it still felt hard. Did 55 minutes of running/walking and taking pictures. Also I hate humidity.

This little girl thought it was fun to run with me for a while.

Anybody knows what kind of bird this is? You can't really tell but it's really big.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Post stingray survival run

I had two days of rest after my debacle with a stingray. Make sure you never get stung by one of those babies because it's seriously painful. My foot is still swollen from the venom but it doesn't hurt anymore. Actually I think I could have run yesterday but I did not want to push it.

We are in the north of Nicaragua now and it's the area of eternal spring. It's nice and warm but never hot like in the rest of this country. It's the area of coffee. 

I did a 55 minute run in town this morning. When I got outside at 5.30 am I saw a guy with a shotgun sitting across the street. No uniform or anything just a regular guy. I did not know if this was a good or bad sign so I just started my run. It seemed there was a guy like that on the sidewalk every other block or so. Lot's of people out running and exercising here so all seemed good.

I wanted to take a picture of the guy with the gun but when I was done running he was gone. I did see him in the park where I took my last loop so I snagged a picture from the back. Him and his buddy.

I love early morning runs and see people get ready for the day. People in Nicaragua are extremely friendly and happy.  It's a great country to visit. That is if you are a bit adventurous. If you are an all inclusive resort type this country is not for you. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Barefoot rancheros

800 meter repeats barefoot on the beach how does that sound?

Not too bad right? 

Yes after feeling sorry for me for the last few weeks  you may now envy me. 

We landed in Costa Rica on Sunday and I did a few easy miles early in the morning. There's nothing better than explore a new city on an early morning run. Great way to get to know the new place.

Yesterday we traveled up to Nicaragua, San Juan Del Sur to be precise. Met a great girl that I had missed for too long!

So this morning I did my 800 meter repeats barefoot on the beach. 6 of them, all in around 3.50-3,55. Not too bad after a night of margaritas.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Travel time

Long run this Saturday morning. Last one before my trip to Nicaragua. I'm flying out tomorrow but we're heading to Edmonton today. The flight is at 6 am and the drive there is 3 hours so leaving tomorrow is not an option. I'm writing this blog lying in the most cloud like bed you can imagine. Very unfortunate that I can only enjoy that for a few hours.

Long run was 2.5 hours, about 15 miles. Nice crisp cold weather, nothing crazy.
Every day I use the lacrosse ball and a foam roller to self massage and hit trigger points. Even more so after a long run. Now that I am going on a trip the lacrosse ball is coming along. It's small but can hurt oh so good.
I highly recommend lacrosse ball self massaging. It's painful in the beginning though.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cool off!

This is my Allie after a run in 7C/44F. She got so hot that when we came home she threw herself in a snow bank to cool off. So funny! She did not want to come in knowing that would be way too hot.

I guess it's a warm spell here, just a few days but so much fun to run in. Yesterday I ran 5 easy miles. Today 20 minutes warm up/cool down and 2 X 9 minutes @ tempo effort. I took my watch and actually ran a good tempo for the 9 minutes. Ran about 8.50 which would be about right for a tempo run. I am pretty happy with that because it means that when it's warmer I do run a bit faster even though there is still a lot of snow on the ground which is slushy.

I was very warm myself and had to take off my ear warmers and gloves. I bet I could have been running in just a long sleeve! Crazy for this time of year here.

I better get used to it since I will be traveling to Nicaragua coming Sunday for 17 days. Hope you guys don't mind tagging along and see some colorful pictures instead of these blue and grey winter ones.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

800 meters

Yes 800 meters are my nemesis. It's mentally one of the hardest workouts for me. I am usually procrastinating on that day of training.

I had 800 meters on my schedule this morning but it's a going by feel schedule. However it was not too cold so I thought it would be a great idea to measure out half a mile and do some repeats.

Ouch! Hello wake up call. I even took my gps watch with me and I really tried hard but gave up on the watch pretty quick. No matter how much I tried to pump my arms fast my legs just did not want to follow. I did the 800 meters in about 4 minute and 15 seconds while usually with good weather on the track I do my repeats at about 3.45-3.50.

What am I trying to proof and what was I thinking? I read everywhere that cold weather running is harder on the muscles and joints and there is no way you can get to your normal speed. Also there was quite a bit of snow on the ground so it's not that the surface is like a nice smooth athletic track. But somehow I thought that I might be the exception to the rule. NOT!

Sigh, oh well. I did 6 repeats and it was really hard. Physically I would say it was just as hard as when I do them in summer on the track. It felt hard and now, half a day later I can still feel it so I definitely had a good training. Oh and I am super hungry.

Today is a good day to remind myself why I am running through winter outside. It's not to break any personal record but to stay healthy and happy during the winter and be curious about my potential and what it will result to comes spring.

Monday, December 8, 2014


It's true. I'm doing my recovery run and another runner passed me. Seriously there are hardly any runners here. In summer there are lots of bikers and hikers but never runners. Getting passed by another runner in winter is truly traumatic. Of course I tried to speed up but this lady was fast too! Not cool!

This is not her. I was even too slow to get my phone out from under all my layers. 

Did 4 miles, 2 with my favorite puppy and 2 by myself.

Then some weight training. Squats and Turkish Get Ups. At the same time watching netflix at home. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

2 thoughts that get me through the long run

Temperature: -8C/17F windchill -13C/8Fb

Long run of 2 hours. 11 miles.

One of those days that the temperature felt colder than it should. Went back because my face was cold in the wind but I didn't want to put my balaclava on because I knew it would be too warm. Lathered a lot of vaseline on my face and went back out. Sure enough that did the trick. Can't do without vaseline in a cold climate!

One other pair of footsteps on the trail. Somebody's been brave!!

One of the things that keeps me going on a long run is thinking about the treats I am going to enjoy when back. Hot chocolate is one of them, the other is a hot bath with scented epsom salts. That's about it, I'm a simple woman.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Trees grow through roofs

Everybody knows that!

5 miles today at an easy pace. Beautiful sunny day. Nice and crisp. 
Temperature -10C -17C with windchill (13F/8F)

The wind came strong over the lake and that made one stretch pretty cold. The rest felt really nice. 

All the snow on the trails has been cleared now so that makes it easier.

I'm also doing Turkish Get Ups with kettlebells for strength daily (well I try). I definitely need to work on strength! It's the perfect strength exercise for runners, more about that another time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Heat wave

Just kidding of course. But -5C/20F feels mighty warm after crazy cold temperatures.

I only had a 40 minute run on my schedule but I wanted to take advantage of these warmer temperatures so I ran 1.15 minutes with some fartlek in the middle.
Felt great! Days like these are awesome!

A colleague at work brought her puppies. OMG YES PLEASE!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Running before work

Wasn't sure if I would make an early run before work. Had to start at 8 so I was out running at 6. In the end cold is cold, darkness doesn't really make it colder, well maybe a little....

I really need this ^^

Did one hour with 4 X 3 minutes at 85% effort. Temperature about 0F/-18C. I wanted to do at least 6 repeats but ran out of time because my app did not want to cooperate.

You see a gps/garmin only works if kept warm somewhere under my coat so I couldn't use that. My stopwatch also quits in the cold besides I can't see it in the dark anyway. 
So I downloaded a few apps that beep on intervals that you can select yourself. You can hear it when listening to music as well. 
I tried the gymboss app first but it really sucks, it stops beeping in the middle of the workout which is terrible. Now I have something else, can't remember the name but it's not perfect either. I will try a few different ones in the next few weeks.

By the way my phone quits too when getting too cold but I keep it inside a mitten in my pocket and that works so far. 

I bought these and tested them out today. I'm very impressed with the performance. I had the microspikes before and really liked those too. However these are more specific for runners. They are lighter. You can really run fast on ice and packed snow. Love them! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Running by effort

You would be surprised to know that running in -13C/8F feels extremely balmy after those brutally cold days. Well maybe not balmy but it did not feel cold at all.


I'm training by effort. That means that I do not go by speed. Going by speed in this cold and all this snow on the ground means only frustration. No way you can keep the same tempo as when the temps. are fairly normal. Also all the snow makes it feel like you're running on a sandy trail. 

I guess runners who live in an extremely hot part of the world do something similar in summer. 

A gps watch is a great training tool. However I know myself and have the tendency to check it way too much and that way not be so much in touch with how I feel. Last year I started doing all my easy and unimportant runs without a gps and I have to say I loved it. It felt more relaxing and I had more time to actually enjoy my surroundings.

This winter I will run mostly by time and effort. This is how a week could look like:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 50 minutes
Wednesday: speed, 6 X 3 minutes at 85% effort with 2,3 minutes recovery (plus warm up and cool down off course)
Thursday: 40 minutes
Friday: 50 minutes plus pick ups (fartlek)
Saturday:  40 minutes
Sunday: long run, time equivalent of 13 miles (probably around 2 hours)

Obviously I have to consider the weather every day. If Tuesday is a beautiful day with little wind that would be the day I do my speed and not wait for Wednesday when disaster can strike again. Flexibility and ready to adjust without freaking out will be key.  I know I will also miss runs here and there and that's ok too.

If any of you have other tips or experiences please let me know!! It's a lot of trial and error for me. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

As cold as it gets

If I can handle this I probably will be ok this winter.

This seems brutally cold but I was actually getting too hot after the first 4 miles and went home to take off some layers.

This is what I learned so far from running in extreme cold:

- With the right gear you can run in pretty much any cold weather.
- Most important areas to protect: head, neck, hands and legs. If your neck and head are warm you feel good. 
- No gloves, use thick windstopping mitts. 
- Protect your legs. Especially your butt! This area gets very cold and one layer is not enough. I wear a thick running tight and as a second layer a wind stopper. Still my butt is cold but it is doable.
- No wind stopper jackets, I'm serious, you get too hot. No hard shells either. You  will overheat.
- Wear a second hat or take one with. Nothing is worse when your head covering starts to get wet from your sweat and then that starts to freeze. You will need a second layer to stay protected.
- Use your head and hands as regulator for temperature. Even in brutal cold you will have moments that you get too hot. For instance you start against the wind but another part of the run the wind is behind you. This will feel like it's super hot and you'll start to sweat. The best way to regulate that is via your gloves or hat. Either take them off or allow some wind to cool off your skin partially.
- Drink! You will not be thirsty but running in extreme cold dehydrates you quickly. It's very dry. Water will freeze and I don't want to buy more gear. I am wearing enough weight as it is. I just go home more often and drink. 

Kids still playing outside. Shows that as long as you are well dressed you still can have fun and enjoy the outdoors.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Failed attempt...............

This is not me but if could have been. I tried to go for a run but stopped at 1.5 mile, a very hard 1.5 mile. 

My inside runner person feels like freaking out but I know it will be ok. Just rationalize those crazy OCD thoughts away. I worked the kettlebells instead. 

Temps around -22C/-4F don't know the wind chill but it was cold.

There's always tomorrow....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Creepy me!

This is me after my 40 minute easy run with frozen eye lashes. It looks bad but actually doesn't feel bad at all. 

These were the temps on my run:

-20C/-3F temp,
-26C/-15F with wind chill

I will probably be ok this winter because it felt not that bad. I must say my new balaclava is super awesome. It really makes a big difference compared to others, especially the wind mouth protection.

Go outside!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The wolf of Bonnyville

Not my pic, but looked like this.
I am sure I saw a wolf on my run today. Tom says it was probably a coyote but this was a big ole animal bigger than a german shepherd. Maybe it was a coyote but if it was then it was ginormous. It ran too fast for me to take a picture so you have to believe me at my word. 

Headed out early because the forecast was a big blizzard today, it was already snowing pretty hard.  Got myself a new balaclava so I was excited to try it out today.

I'm very impressed with it. Although you can't really see the mouth piece that it has in this picture. It works well in the cold and keeps the balaclava from getting wet because of the heavy breathing. 

This is a better picture. It's a sonic outdoor research balaclava. Recommended for the arctic so I guess it will work well for me.

6 miles today, temperature around -17C/0F. I actually got very hot with this balaclava. 

First the trail looked like this ^

Then the plow came by and it looked like this ^

The plow lady looked at me in awe and admiration. At least that's what I like to think, she might also think I'm nuts. Unfortunately you can't see from this pictures that it's snowing pretty hard. 

Yesterday I had my first fall so I wore my Kahtoola's today. Best purchase ever for winter running. You can seriously run down hill on a sheet of ice with these things. 

Have a great day all! Go outdoors, it will make you feel happier!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Long Shadows


Long shadows on a sunny afternoon. It's the middle of the day but the sun stays quite low on the horizon. Temp was -11C/12F but it felt a lot warmer than yesterday. Lots of sunshine and practically no wind.

Did 1.5 hour run plodding through lots of snow. Snow in the weekend in a small town means no plows. So I had to run on the road dodging cars. I actually only ran about 5.5 miles so that tells you how slow it went. Kinda feels like running on a sandy beach. 

Just for fun, this is what my neighbor wears when he goes for a smoke outside when it's 12F.  He's a nice guy though :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

wind chill

I have not officially started my training yet, I am just keeping up with my mileage and doing easy runs. Total mileage around 30 now but adding a little every week.

Easy 6 miles today. Lots of snow in the forecast for today so I didn't want to go too late in the day knowing that it would be harder with all the fresh snow on the ground. Temp was -8C/19F but the wind chill forecast was -17C/1F. 
You can't really see it but the snow was blowing horizontal because of the crazy wind. Still I enjoyed it and started sweating quite a bit. However because of the wind chill I didn't take any layers off.  

According to wikipedia wind chill is the "perceived decrease in air temperature felt by the body on exposed skin due to the flow of air." If you stand still in air that is 20 degrees F and there is no wind, your skint will be warmer than 20 degrees. Wind carries some of that heat away and the faster the wind the faster the heat loss. Once the wind surpasses 25 mph or so, it whisks away heat more quickly than your body can emit it. 

That is important information. First of all I hate to feel cold so I rather overdress, do a warm up, come home and adjust my layers. Second if the wind chill is bad it means ones you cool off you really don't warm up anymore, at least not outside. So if the wind chill gets real bad like -20F or below than I don't go too far from home. That way I can go home if I start to feel cold. No need to take unnecessary risks. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's decided. I am going to run outside in the Northern Alberta winter. No excuses just do it.

I know there will be many challenges but hopefully just as many solutions. Anything is possible.

Please follow me and help me to keep going!!!!

Today was 4 miles easy. There was freezing rain so it was very slick. I ran on the snow to avoid falling. Not too cold around 32F/0C. The above picture is from last year.
Still running easy, recovering after the NYC marathon.