Sunday, December 19, 2010

Iced In

Unlike the last cold spell which affected mainly the eastern part of the island, the present one dumped most of its load on the West and this time it's our roads that are converted into ice rinks. I cannot overstate how unusual this is. This is my eighth winter here in Kerry; until a year ago, I had seen snow here only once and that was gone within a day. Now we're in the middle of the third Big Freeze in 12 months, and for the third time the powers that be are completely unprepared and unable to cope. I just laugh when they say on the news that they have to stop treating secondary roads – the 5 miles between here and Killorglin have not seen a single grain of salt or grit, ever, and it's left to us to cope. The fact that there is no complete carnage on the roads is a tribute to drivers here. As much as I moan about the ones that can't be bothered to leave more than a couple of inches of space when overtaking or can't be bothered to dip their headlights in the dark for a mere cyclist, the majority is obviously able to manage highly dangerous road conditions for weeks just fine.

Anyway, we woke yesterday to yet more snow. This turned out to be a godsend. I set off for my long run at about 7:30 in the morning, planning to run the road to Killorglin and then somehow come up with a second loop to make up the miles. The road was covered in maybe an inch of fresh snow, covering the ice from the day before and it was only this new layer that rendered the surface runnable. I pondered which route to take and then decided to run around the lake after all. This turned out to be an inspired choice. While I kept running on virginal roads, the Killorglin road was made more and more impassable by every passing car, compacting the snow into perfectly flat and extremely slippery ice. I, on the other hand, really got to enjoy the scenery. The area is stunning as it is, but a layer of fresh and untouched snow added yet a new dimension to it, it was just breathtakingly beautiful. It took 14.84 miles (yes, I checked the Garmin) to come across the first other human being on my run (and that was a boy racer in his souped up car, obviously trying to find a quiet spot for spinning his wheels). The distance did not bother me, I was still feeling fine after 18 miles, but I was surprised to find the HR so high. I'm sure the running surface added a bit, but I'm also still affected by that bug I caught last week.

There was no further snowfall last night and this morning I was left to find some runnable road surface. The road into Killorglin was out and I decided to try my luck alongside Caragh Lake again. It was probably the best choice available. Parts of the road were clear, some were icy and on some I could still see my footprints from the day before! It was borderline, but as mentioned before, if in doubt I always go running. After 12 miles I started to feel rather low. My suspicion is that I ran low on glycogen – after yesterday's long run I may have been starting out with partially empty stores, especially since my appetite isn't great at the moment and the last 2 miles home were a bit of a drag. For once I was glad to be done, something I have not had to say for quite some time.

Say, is this normal or is it just our kids that are apparently unable to cope with Christmas? They know Santa is watching but they are constantly fighting, hurting, punching, screaming, crying, .... Niamh is seriously considering chucking out the presents and replacing them with a lump of coal and it has been the same every Christmas since ... since they have been old enough to misbehave, really.

18 Dec
18.1 miles, 2:24:27, 7:58 pace, HR 148
19 Dec
14.25 miles, 1:50:40, 7:45 pace, HR 145

Weekly Mileage: 83+ miles


  1. wow - that's commitment. great running thomas. my runs were hard work when i ran in the snow a couple of weeks back. my 13 miler, for example, felt like 20 miles and my recovery was pretty slow afterwards. this might suggest that you are in better shape than you think

  2. Good work Thomas. You really should try out the yaktraks for icy roads. The weigh very little and can easily be taken off midrun if you don't need them and give you very sure footing (esp in the dark)

  3. It's normal in this household too. The yaktraks seem to be the business but by the time they arrive the snow and ice could be gone for the year. Luckily I have a park nearby to get the ice/traffic free miles in.

  4. The northern weather you're experiencing will allow you to add snowball fights to the kids normal list of fighting, punching, screaming etc. activities. I would like to think a handful of snow runs per year would be a nice novelty - assuming no broken limbs from slipping on ice. Several months of snow runs per year is more akin to a test of patience.

  5. Thomas - YakTrax are your man for the snow and ice. Did 24 in them yesterday and they work like a dream.



  6. Yes, Yaktrak!

    Build more snowmen...Santa loves snowmen and the peace and quiet of fighting children - outside.

  7. The excitement of Christmas leaves the kids in a high state of trouble making - at least it always did when I was growning up!

    Great runs in the weather - I've been letting our cold psych myself out and limit my running. Time to harden up!