Monday, December 21, 2009

Slip-Sliding Away

I've just read a discussion on the Ultra list about running in cold temperatures, and (according to some, at least) the worst conditions are “just above freezing with very high humidity - that combination seems to suck out the body heat”. Of course, these are the exact conditions that make up our Kerry winters. Though, in all fairness, until I can test running in very cold conditions myself one day, I cannot personally state which is worse.

But it’s the driving conditions that are more concerning me at the moment. The roads have been covered by a layer of ice for three days now, and there is no sign whatsoever of them being gritted or salted. What the hell is going on with the council? All they do is warning drivers of bad conditions, and at the same time the f*****s are doing nothing to improve the situation. According to the weather forecast, this is going to last for several more days. We might have a White Christmas, as long as we manage to survive that long.

I’d better get back to the usual running content before I really start venting what I think about services here. On Saturday we were scheduled to drive to Cork for Lola’s final class and accordingly I got up early for my run. I had hill repeats on the schedule and headed off towards my normal hill. Once again I left my headlamp at home, but this time it proved to be a mistake. On the first hill repeat I tried to go all-out, but the mind simply refused because I simply could not see the road in the darkness. I aborted the attempt and moved half a mile further down the road where there is another hill with better visibility, and that’s where I did 9 more sprints, which turned to quads into some kind of jelly.

We set off on the road to Cork, but had not even got into Killorglin when we passed the site of an accident involving no less than 3 vehicles. That was the final straw and we (ok, Niamh did) decided to turn around and stay at home. Driving 70 miles each way in those conditions simply was not on.

I finally managed some sort of a lie-in on Sunday, though that was cut short by no less than 3 children joining us in bed. I got up at 7:30 (yes, that’s a lie-in) to make them breakfast and Niamh got 90 more minutes of rest, lucky her. Eventually I headed out into the cold, dressed in black tights and black long sleeves, which I called my Ninja outfit. Niamh usually frowns upon me heading out dressed in tights when it’s bright enough to be seen, but I was gone before she could react. I decided on running at a steady pace and was pleasantly surprised how easy that felt. The pace kept dropping from 7:50 for the first mile to 7:20 for much of the run and below 7:00 pace for the last few miles without any apparent change in effort. I still felt great when I got home. The road was rather slippery at times at the beginning, but noticeably improved over the next hour, which was good because I had a busy afternoon ahead of me.

First on the cards was an hour swimming in Killarney, where the coach wore me out with several sets of drills, both for the legs and the arms. I did not know that swimming could be tougher on the legs than steady running, but that’s the lesson I took home on that occasion. There was still no rest for the weary, as I spent the entire rest of the day Christmas shopping, in sync with half the population of Kerry. The battle for parking spaces was vicious at times, and the shops were just as manic. To make matter worse, I didn’t get half the stuff I wanted in Killarney and had to go to Tralee as well, or we would have ended up with a very disappointed set of kids on Friday.

I was so exhausted in the evening that I decided to bin Monday’s long run and set the alarm clock for 10 miles instead. I even chickened out of that and slept in for 15 extra minutes, which left me with enough time for 8 slow miles. Things were ok on the outbound leg, the crunch-crunch sound confirmed ice on the roads but provided plenty of traction. Things changed, and on the way home I was running over a blanket of fully frozen ice and had to be really careful.

Because of the ridiculous road conditions Niamh held off with the school run, and I just about made it into work on the bike, after only one fall and that didn’t hurt because I was almost standing still at the time. Right now it is actually snowing outside. At least the kids will be happy!
19 Dec
8 miles, 1:10:19, 8:47 pace, HR 148
incl. 10 hill sprints
pm: 30 mins drills on bike trainer
20 Dec
10.5 miles, 1:16:22, 7:16 pace, HT 158
pm: 1 hour swimming drills
21 Dec
8 miles, 1:05:30, 8:11 pace, HR 143

Weekly Mileage: 64.5


  1. The weather trials sound just lovely! Have a Merry Christmas Thomas, and enjoy your day with a houseful of children!

  2. Interesting you should say that about cold weather with high humidity being hard to run in.

    Todays marathon was just that, about 70 to 80% humidity and 4 to 8degrees, and although I did a good time it may very well have been better with better weather. I'll take that as a plus for my next race. Thanks Thomas.