Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Cold As Ice

Conditions have been challenging in the past, but we’ve entered a new level. The problem isn’t so much the weather, which is far from extreme, but the level of unpreparedness by the councils all across Ireland (which can definitely be called extreme). Niamh was so worried about the drive that she planned to send me back to Kerry on Sunday on my own and, should I survive the journey, follow later via public transport once the roads were better. But with the present cold snap supposed to last for at least another week, this wasn’t ideal either, and when there was a thaw in Dublin on Sunday morning I managed to persuade her to come with me after all.

We managed to cross the island without incident, even though it turned out that the thaw was confined to Dublin only and the rest of the country’s roads in bad condition, only to find that the water pipe at home had frozen solid and we were without water. No baths or shower, no washing machine, no toilet, no nothing. It’s when you’re left without basic amenities that you realise how much you depend on them.

Btw, do you remember me complaining about the Lunar Trainers cutting into my achilles? I finally bothered to check the shoes. Not only is the back of the right shoe rubbed through, closer inspection revealed some soaked blood on the area. No wonder it hurt. After 608 miles, these once trusty companions got dumped rather unceremoniously.

Up to Monday I had managed to keep the daily morning run going despite the road conditions. Sunday in Dublin was awkward. The roads were clear but the sidewalk were deadly, and I jumped on and off the road each time a car approached. Luckily it wasn’t too bust at 8 o’clock on a Sunday, but after 6 miles I had enough of that. It left me with exactly 70 mile for the week.

Because my hamstrings tend to dislike long car journeys I didn’t do my long run on Monday morning, opting for 12 miles around Cromane instead. The roads were challenging again, but provided just enough grip to make a run feasible, as long as I stepped off the road one a couple of occasions when a car came along on a narrow country lane. The closer I got to Cromane the colder it became, and I was freezing despite wearing two layers. Later, when I got into the car to drive to work, the car’s thermometer displayed –6C/21F, the coldest I have seen so far in Ireland, and that did not include wind chill, which was significant. It seemed to be getting better again on the way back though. But after 12 miles my hands and feet were frozen stiff.

The adventures kept coming – the car’s handbrake was frozen solid when I tried to set off to work, was still frozen 20 minutes later and I ended up cycling to work, which resembled a balancing act but remarkably I got there without falling once.

I had the best intentions for this morning. I went to bed early in order to be ok for a very early start. I set the alarm for 4:30. I woke at midnight, partially dismayed by the sound of rain against the window, partially glad because it gave hopes to the water pipe returning to life. After a few hours of fitful sleep I got up, got dressed (into an unwashed running top – yuck!) and headed out. I had thought that the rain (which should have meant temperatures above freezing) would wash the remaining ice off the roads, but I was mistaken. The road surface must have been below freezing, because the rain water froze and provided a perfectly even and extremely slippery ice rink for miles each way. I tried running, but it was way too dangerous. At one stage I stopped running, and just kept on sliding off the camber until I ended up on the grass verge. No point. I turned around after less than a mile and since it was still before 5 o’clock in the morning and I was wide awake I set up the indoors bike trainer and spun on that for an hour. I would have done more, but Shea woke and that was the end of that. On the plus side, the water supply did indeed return – which was good because I needed the shower after sweating buckets on the bike.

The commute into town was ridiculously dangerous. Cars, including mine, were sliding all over the place.

I’m undecided what to do for tomorrow. I’d like to do a long run, but I don’t want to wake at 4:30 again and then be unable to run. That just sucks.
3 Jan
6 miles, 47:47, 7:58 pace, HR 149
4 Jan
12 miles, 1:33:15, 7:46 pace, HR 145
5 Jan
1.54 miles, 13:49, 8:56 pace, HR 134 – impossible!
60 minutes on bike, HR 119


  1. Well Nike makes some good shoes but I have had some bad ones as well. I tried Nike victory shoes last winter and had a lot of injuries....it was the shoe....I remember looking at the moon shoe and thought I wouldn't try it. I am now onto Nike air-motos the 4th pair and no problems at all. If you're looking for a safe trainer that is one I have tested thoroughly along with some running friends. Good luck and I hope your new shoes serve you well with no injuries or irritations:)

  2. Mother Nature is getting the upper hand in your neck of the woods. Nothing to do but wait it out. Some down time isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'd hate to see you get hurt trying to force a run when it's so icy. Take care out there!

  3. Nasty conditions! That'd be one time when a treadmill would come in handy.

    My experience is that the shoe rubbing on the achilles, or insufficient padding on that part of the shoe is a major cause of achilles tendinitis. Something to look out for when buying new shoes.

  4. The kids have grown so much!!! Happy New Year and happy training. Stay warm.

  5. I hear the Farranfore to Firies race will be on Sun 31st Jan at 2pm. Would like to do it but it's a long journey for 4 miles and the timing doesn't suit. Good luck with your training.