Monday, March 30, 2009

In the Snow

Ah, running in the snow - so hard, but so good at the same time.

Running in fresh snow - the only footprints you see are from non-humans - mostly deer, some birds, a few squirrels and possibly a racoon. So awesome. You feel alone, but alive.

Running down the service road to hit the single track trails was exhillirating in itself - how can you describe?? I had my trusty mascot (lol - just kidding, but my most awesome mountain biker pal - seriously who can ride single track in the snow anyway - he can!!) with me. Since I'm not a fast runner or moutain biker, me running in the snow while he bikes (with no traction) is finally somewhat equal playing field!! ;-) HA!

So, running in the snow - it makes you feel so many muscles you haven't felt while running on the roads. It was painful, beautiful, pristine - a run I won't soon forget. Really, that's all I want to say......

Friday, March 6, 2009

Going clipless - Again

Last spring I bought my first road bike - mostly because of a stress fracture that was keeping me from running. Anyway, shortly after the purchase I was encouraged to go to clipless pedals by some biker-savy friends. It was a good choice - it's helped a lot - not that I don't still have work to do - but it really has helped a lot.
So, cut to this year - I've been dying to get back on the mountain bike and hit the trails so I'll be better prepared for Adventure Racing this season. Then, cut to yesterday - first really beautiful day of the year - the weather was awesome so I talked the main man into going to the trails with me to work on my technique. (Not that it was twisting his arm or anything - he loves the trails - I'm sure he'd just prefer to hit them hard rather than 'babysit', but he humors me!! ;-)).
He gets off before me though so the plan was just to meet there, but a 1/2 hour after he leaves I get a call reminding me his shoes are in my car - so a new plan emerges - he will work on his bike till I get there then we hit the trails together - no worries. Well, the part of this plan he didn't tell me was he was going to slap some clipless pedals on my mountain bike?!? I know I've talked about doing it, but I wasn't thinking I would try it first time out this year. Ahhhh, but what better way to start - right? ;-) Seriously it went well - he really showed me how much more power I have going up hills with clipless. I'm still a little shaky getting in/out, but I only fell twice - not bad for me! We tried a climb at the beginning - I hit a root 1/2 way up and fell, but went back and tried it again and made it! He wanted me to start at it mid-way up the hill by clipping in and holding onto a tree, but I just couldn't - that will be next time!! The rest of the trip was on pretty smooth, flat single track - quite a few turns and a few narrow trees, but nothing terrible so we were able to hit it pretty hard. We mostly worked on me NOT using my breaks - I would say I just need to remove them, but he'd take me up on that and I'm just not quite ready!

So, after the first session my top 3 lessons I'm taking are:

1. Keep spinning no matter what
2. Stand and put pedals horizonal when going down nasty rough hills (the only time I don't have to be spinning)
3. Don't use the breaks!!

I know there will be more lessons to learn, but those are it for now - oh, those and don't unclip to stop - just grab a tree - hopefully that will help with my balance!

I just have to remember my moto - It doesn't hurt that bad to fall!!! :-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mid-day Running

It's in the low 40's today, but pretty clear. Brooke and I just went for a 4-1/2 mile run over the lunch hour. It's been a few months since I've done that, but it felt so good. The wind is coming out of the south today so running that direction was a little chilly, but the run back to the office was nice - I even got a little hot.
It made me so ready for spring and summer when I can just take off and run at any given time and not have to be overly prepared with all the cold weather gear to keep from freezing. Knowing you have a gym bag with shorts, shirt, jog bra, socks, running shoes and a hair tie at all times is a liberating feeling. Knowing you can leave the headaches, politics, paperwork, emails all behind in moments notice! Times like these make me really question why I still live in southwest Missouri and not somewhere where it stays at a tolerable temperature year round??

Regardless, I got to get in a lunch run today and it felt good, really good to have that mid-day break! :-)

On a side note and possible future blog - it seems that a severe fault of American business lies in not giving employees sufficient breaks during the day - or making their workdays too long - or in my case, both of those. There is so much to be said for a break in the day to refresh and rejuvinate you - helping you to be a more productive employee! And, if we all utilized breaks for runs, brisk walks, bike rides, or even a game of frisbee toss - we would also be healthier - lowering our respective companies health costs...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Do the WAVE!

When out running, Brooke and I always try to wave at the people in cars who pass by. It is always interesting to see how many will wave back. Brooke has even classified the waves in one of her blogs (ex. head nod, one hand up, and passenger waves).
We have, in the past, attributed bad weather as one reason for the 'no waves' (of any classification). When the weather's great, people seem much happier and more eager to 'put a hand up". This last weekend blew that theory out of the water. We did our run on a cloudy day with a windchill of 12-14 degrees, a 12+ mile an hour wind, and blowing snow and there were tons of wavers and even some honkers. I should also clarify, this wasn't a 4 mile mid-week jaunt - it was our 20 mile long run so we were out there for a few hours doing this 'research'!

What does this mean? Is there a cut off point where the weather gets so bad, so miserable that people can actually break out of their grumpy, dreary moods for a moment to wave at the crazies who are braving the elements in the pursuit of fitness?? (OK, so maybe fitness isn't our sole pursuit, but it is a part of it - other reasons we actually get out there should be addressed in another blog! ;-)).
Are they just in shock to see people so silly that they just throw up an involuntary wave back before they realize what they are doing?? Before they remember their doldrum mood and reasons for not waving at people they don't know. On our run, we had a streak running down Fir Road (a two lane paved country road with no shoulder) where every car had people that waved (well, only one crabby lady that looked perturbed at having to scoot over a bit to give us room didn't). One big dump truck (that passed us twice) even gave us a honk. From both directions people waved and smiled - one even rolled down their window as they passed to put a hand out (and did I mention how COLD it was??). Does this mean that weather has nothing to do with whether someone will wave???

Another theory that's been proposed - if the road we are on requires people to go out of their way to get around us they are less likely to wave. As I said - a lot of our run this weekend was on two lane country roads with no shoulder so there was a lot of maneuvering around us and it didn't seem to adversely affect our results. Again, you have to ask why? What does make people wave?

This isn't just a random thought we have had on a singular run, it's something we talk about and test out frequently. For instance we know that if we wave first it's more likely that someone will wave back - I know, duh. But, then we also figured out if we wave up by our face rather than down at our waist where your hands are naturally when you are running we get more waves. Side to side waves seem to generate more than just throwing up a hand. And, if you make eye contact along with the wave the chances improve even more. But even with all that there are still days that are better - days that more people wave - if it's not weather and it's not the burden we cause them - what is it? Or, is there a line between 20 degrees and 55 degrees (or some variation thereof) that causes them not too, but outside of those ranges they will?

All this said, does it really matter why?? Just know that a wave, smile, nod, etc. - whether from a complete stranger, someone you see at the Y, a co-worker, or a good friend goes a long way in motivating us runners - us crazy asphalt pounders. I guess I can't speak for all runners, but for the CRC we hope you can take time to 'put a hand up' and slap a smile on your face when you pass - it does help!