Posts Tagged ‘Snow



I’d been so good. Running, cycling. Slowly building up distance. Then…

I had planned a 50km cycle for Saturday and a 20km run for Sunday. Early weekend mornings recently have been taken up with this combination for the past 4 weeks. I’d worked my way up from 10k runs and no cycling to a 17k run and 40ish kilometre cycle. Then I heard that snow was forecast for this weekend.

I thought perhaps I could outwit it by waking early on Saturday morning and getting in at least one of my two sessions before the snow hit. Wrong. At 6.45am, I woke – ready, primed – to find that the snow had come down overnight. Bugger. Seems the weather doesn’t keep regular hours after all.

I did see a few hardy souls out in it over the weekend, wrapped up, grimacing their way through the snow. And I could have joined them but for 2 things. I am training for a Trans-European cycle trip and Half Marathon in 5 weeks. A tumble from the bike in the snow or a slip whilst running could easily mean that the trip would need to be cancelled – which I obviously don’t want. Secondly, to force myself out in such harsh conditions would make the training feel like a chore – I had a glimpse of this mindset whilst training for the Marathon last year. Losing the fun of getting out and running / cycling at this stage would be sad – particularly if I am to spend 5 days in the saddle followed by a Half Marathon.

So instead. I head off into the garage where the weights and bench are and go hell for leather on the free weights for an hour. Then spend the rest of the weekend tackling chores and ferrying my kids around feeling just a little guilty that I haven’t got out on the bike or for a run. And it’s this guilty feeling which I am hoping will give me additional momentum for when the snow and ice does clear and I can once again continue to prepare for what will probably be one of the most physically tough but potentially enjoyable things I have attempted.



Everyone gets their fair share of crappy runs. I had one of mine yesterday. After the mild euphoria of my unplanned long(ish) run a couple of Sundays back and then the absurdity of running in the dark and the snow at Grim I came back to Earth with a plop this week. This last week the snow has meant that there was very little I could do in the way of running… normally snow does not stop me from getting out but this was particularly nasty as after the first day it hardened into some kind of superslippery perma-frost which was almost impossible to run on. Then, a little later in the week, another flurry meant that there was a deceptively soft fluffy layer on top of the hard ice beneath. Not running weather.
Becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to get out and run, I vowed to myself that Sunday morning, come hell or high water, I would venture out. So I wrapped up (hat, buff, 2 x long sleeve tops, gloves, tights, shorts etc) and set off.
And I really wanted to enjoy my first run in a week but failed. Within minutes of me leaving the house, in addition to the black ice under foot, everything seemed to become grey as a misty, drizzley moistness hung in the air, dampening everything including my spirits. Hertfordshire Council seemed to have been caught out by the long predicted cold snap that the media had been threatening for weeks and neglected to grit or clear any of the pathways. The frequent slippery patches meant that some parts of my normal route would be impassable so I had to stick to a workmanlike “out and back” along the main road. Even so, the ice under foot did at points have me tottering like a tipsy lady in too high stilletoes.
So an uninspired and uninspirational 11.6kms and the best thing about it was getting home and getting in the shower. Pah! Things can only get better…


dark and cold – a grim night terror review

I set off in the car for this race with a little trepidation. For a week or so people had been warning of heavy snow and all reliable sources pointed to it arriving in Aldershot by 6pm. As I left the motorway at the Aldershot exit around 4.30pm, the first few tentative, tiny flakes began to fall. I met up with Hauling My Carcass and we agreed that this was, without a doubt, the most ridiculous thing we have agreed to do to date… and there have been a few ridiculous things. Some very ridiculous.
Once we had collected our timing chips from the happy and efficient people in charge of timing chip dispensing, we sat in the car with the heater going and sighed and shook our collective heads at the absurdity of it all. It was minus something or other on the thermometer and we were about to run around an Army Vehicle Testing Track in the dark. Ironically, on the drive through Aldershot to the event, I saw a lone soldier pounding the streets in boots, combats and a khaki t-shirt… “poor bastard”, I thought, “he’s probably annoyed a superior and this is his punishment”. And yet I was about to undertake something similar, for fun. What is wrong with me???
When we could not sit in the warm (and in denial) for any longer we ventured out and joined the other be-headtorched runners for the start. We were told that the route had been amended as the large puddles were covered in four inch thick ice that, even if it were broken with a sledgehammer would be impassable because it “would cut you to ribbons”. And on that cheery note we were sent running off into the night.
Anyone who has run the Grim Original would recognise parts of the course although it takes on a very different appearance in the dark and covered with a dusting of snow. Everyone seemed in good spirits as we picked our way round 2 laps of the course. Personally I had a couple of (self inflicted) issues – namely, the day before the race, my new superbright headtorch went “pop” whilst on a final pre-race charge. Never one to miss an opportunity to bastardise something when just buying a replacement would be far more sensible, I took a high power hand torch and gaffer taped it to the existing headtorch’s head band. Obviously, during the race it rattled around on top of my head, dimmed sporadically and gave intermittent light as the contacts inside made and broke the circuit in time with my feet pounding the icy surface. Secondly, I dug out an old pair of running shoes in which to tackle the frozen ground…Another schoolboy error as I have been doing almost all my running in VFF’s and, without wishing to sound like this, I now find it really hard work to run in regular running shoes both because of the additional weight and the way they contort my feet whilst running.
Those minor niggles aside, the event itself was great – plenty of parking, friendly and efficient staff looking after bags, timing chips etc. Plenty of good natured marshalls who stood in the freezing cold to make sure we were all safe and who offered well needed words of encouragement all evening. The route was just challenging enough and the organisers decision to shorten the route for safety reasons (it ended up as just over 10.6kms) was a sound one. The course is a good mixture of forest path, technical and rutted tracks and sandy climbs and descents. Add in the odd strobe light and loudspeakers around the course intermittently blasting out heavy breathing and blood curdling screams and you have a fun and challenging evenings running.
Apparently, there was an after race party, but the ever deepening snow meant that many, like myself, chose to forego post-race festivities and aim to get home before the roads became a slushy, icy mess.
I would definitely do it again… a Spring/Summer one would be great. It could start later, go the full distance and incorporate some of the mud an puddles we all love.


dressing in the dark

Christmas Eve and I decided to run. With snow and ice still thick on the ground I set off and followed what I suspected would be a fairly clear route. And by and large it was clear up to a point… a few nimble skips into the road to avoid the icy patches but mostly clear. Until I reached the other side of town where, it appears, the gritter gave up and thought “Sod it… they can get to the train station, they can get to Tesco, what more could they possibly want!”. So I found myself at the opposite end of the town to where I wanted to be and surrounded lots of very icy patches that needed to be traversed if anything like a reasonable running distance was to be accomplished. So I carried on, picking my way through black ice and snowy patches, running on the road where I had to, sometimes resorting to gingerly tip-toeing whilst hanging on to something all the while getting more frustrated that this wasn’t really a run if most of it was spent at less than walking pace. I did however learn 2 very important running truths, namely;

1) Running shoes are useless in snow & ice – for all the grip they gave me I may as well have been wearing roller skates smeared in lard
2) Sometimes a bad run is worse than no run at all – had I stayed at home I would have just felt a little guilty about not getting out to run and reached for another mince pie. As it was, I was cold, pissed off and disappointed that I had wasted nigh on an hour to creep, fearfully, for little over 7kms. Pathetic.

I vowed not to venture out until all that nasty snow and ice had melted which was, it turned out, the 29th Dec. The day I had agreed to get up early to run my parents to the train station.
Now, agreeing to get up at 5.30am to drive to my parents house, collect parents and luggage and then drive them to the train station is entirely different to actually dragging myself out of bed at 5.30am, getting dressed in the dark, making a hurried breakfast before setting off in a cold car in the fog. But, the upside of this was that by 7.30am, I had completed my good deed for the day and was able to get out for a run before the rest of the family had even woken. It did require an enormous amount of creeping around and, for the second time that morning, getting dressed in the dark. Running gear is very difficult to identify using only the gift of touch but a quick check before leaving did verify that everything was in the correct place and the right way round. The only flaw in my plan came not long after I left the house and was merrily getting into my stride. It was still a bit cold and I reached into my pocket to pull out what I thought was my gloves only to find that in the darkness I had mistakenly stuffed a pair of socks into my pocket. Still, 10.7kms and back just as the family were waking and in time for my second breakfast of the day.
Soundtrack to this post – Pablo Gargano – The Runner (trance mix)


once more before the snow

Random. That’s what my last few runs have been. Now, deep into “the season to be jolly”, I’ve had to get creative to squish in those runs. The day after our works party last week (which consisted of a Jack The Ripper Tour (after all, nothing says Christmas quite like the murder and mutilation of East End prostitutes!!!!!) followed by a curry in Brick Lane), I felt the urge to get out and run even though I suspected the remains of the curry was still gurgling and fermenting within. So an 11.8km run was executed late in the day, in the dark and still with the odd patch of black ice to spice up the proceedings. Clearly I wasn’t going to be breaking any land speed records.

Then Sunday morning, and with a packed day ahead, I managed to convince SonNumberOne that it would be fun for him to accompany me on his pushbike. And it was – but it did make for another very slow run what with the frequent stops to wipe dripping noses, the pushing of Son and bike up hills and one impromptu stop to administer help and sympathy when he wiped out – his front wheel losing grip on the wet leaves beneath.

Finally, yesterday lunchtime, with my head spinning from proofreading a document so riddled with typos that it resembled a foreign language, I decided to get out for a quick run before the snow that had been forecast plunged us into a New Ice Age. So, with rain and wind threatening to turn into a snowstorm, I set off for a quick exploratory 10kms to see if my favourite towpath route had reopened after it’s closure for engineering works a few weeks back. Fortunately it had and the towpath did a passable job of shielding me from the wind. Unfortunately, the return leg is not along the towpath, so I spent the last 4.5kms running headlong into the wind and now icy rain. 10kms exactly in 58 mins exactly. Not fast, but a run nontheless.

Work has now begun on events for next year… Grim happens midway through January and I’m also now signed up for the Wokingham Half Marathon in February. And there are plans afoot for another European Running Excursion / Road Trip with Hauling My Carcass. More details will follow as and when they become confirmed…

Soundtrack to this post: Harmonia – Watussi


this is davina – don’t swear

2k Too Far – Quicker Sorer or Slower Colder – Portugeasy Does It

I didn’t want this entry to be an expletive riddled rant that would shock Gordon-f***ing-Ramsay so waited a few days before typing to see if the situation had improved. And it has. A bit.

Saturday’s 12km run was a cold and uncomfortable affair after the dusting of snow that fell Friday night and then froze solid Saturday morning. I’d set off along the canal towpath thinking that it would be more sheltered only to discover that it wasn’t anymore sheltered and was probably a little more treacherous than the paths and roads that I could have chosen for my route.

The first 7kms seemed quite easy despite having to watch my footing and keep a look out for icy patches but something wasn’t right. I had been feeling confident after my 10kms a few days prior but had still strapped up the knee, taken some pre-emptive Ibuprofen and smothered my left leg in freeze gel. Despite all this, by 8kms, my left leg was sore. Very sore. I had a dilemma as I was 4kms from home and it was freezing. Running was barely keeping me warm so stopping to walk would have meant that I got very cold very quickly and it would have been a long, slow, bitterly cold walk home. The alternative was to keep running, stay warmer, get home quicker but with a left leg that seemed to be getting more painful by the minute. I chose the latter and spent the next 4kms doing a strange grimacey running limp back home.

Once back home, the leg hurt like hell and I spent much of that evening hobbling around and cursing. It feels a lot like the Illiotibial Band again but coupled with a strange, hamstring type ache at the back of the left knee. And the kneecap itself feels quite tender.

The last few days has seen an improvement but there are definitely still twinges around the knee and the back of the calf when faced with stairs and walking after a period of sitting. All of which is really annoying. After last weeks 10km, I was positive I could slowly build up my distance. Now it looks like I will have to stop completely for a while, try and stretch and ice etc. and then start again from a much reduced distance. It is very frustrating as I hate it when my body stops working properly and reminds me that it’s not actually indestructible. It is doubly frustrating as I think I may now have to duck out of the Wokingham Half and concentrate on getting fit for Lisbon.

Soundtrack to this post: Can – Vitamin C


knee supports and new shoes

Early Start – Would You Mind Getting Out Of The Car Please Sir – Exterminate

In the last 10 days, I have had the unusual opportunity to skate. Twice. Once on ice and once on roller skates. Now, it is unusual if I skate once a year, let alone twice in less than 2 weeks which might be why my left knee region is sore and it hurts when I walk up and down stairs. Which is bad news as it feels very similar to the Iliotibial Band problem I have had in the past, so for now, I’m back to wearing a knee support whilst running and hitting the foam roller twice a day.
Fortunately, my lovely new running shoes have arrived. The Saucony ProGrid Guide 2… an updated version of the ProGrid Guide that have served me so well. First impressions are that they are lovely and supportive and cushioned although that may be down to the shocking disrepair I let my last pair get into. I know that when I ran in them yesterday, there was none of the soreness in my calves and the balls of my feet so it looks like they are doing the trick.
Yesterdays run was a welcome antidote to the days events. Nothing makes me feel so sluggish as getting up early in the morning or having to spend prolonged periods of time in the car. So waking at 5.30 am and being on the road by 6.30 am for a 300ish mile round trip to the Midlands left me feeling weary and jaded. Fortunately, a run usually invigorates me and wakes me up so as soon as I arrived home, I threw on the tights, many layers, my lovely comfortable, supportive new running shoes, a fluorescent jacket and (a new addition to my winter running attire) a head torch. The pavements were still largely untouched by salt and looked pretty treacherous so I opted to run on the road again. 11.3kms covered and only 1 uptight car driver as opposed to about ten times as many the last time I attempted to run on the road because of the snow. And I have a theory that it was the head-torch that made all the difference. After all, who would argue with what appears to be a 5’9″ day glo Dalek running towards them.

Soundtrack to this post: Florence And The Machine – Drumming Song

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