The Long and Sick of it

Hello ducklings!

Sorry for my absence.  I’ve been off sick!  It was unpleasant but it was not obscene.  Just a normal cold.  My plan of attack when sick is always to rest intensely, take little to few drugs and let the thing run it’s course.  So that’s what I did and I didn’t tell any of you about it.  I know, boo-effing-hoo!

This is a game called ShakeyFace. It is also how I feel when I'm sick.

I did, however manage to get a few runs in on either end of this ugly bout of snot!

Before my long run on Sunday I was going through my training plan, getting organized and realized that  awww ma-an I messed up my scheduling and was on track to run a phantom marathon the week after the marathon I plan to run.  D’oh! (And by the way, don’t act too surprised, this is just typical, typical Merry.)  Soooo, after due thought I decided the best thing would be to squish 2 weeks into 1 week.  Actually it’s more like 3 weeks into 2..And being sick has prevented me from actually getting in all my planned workouts..But whatever, I don’t imagine you’re too worried about it.  I’m not.  The point is that instead of running 5 miles with sandwich baggies for lungs I upped it to 8.  And all things considered, it felt pretty good!


And then I felt the sickness settle in and stayed pretty damn vertical for the next 3 days before Mister Biscuit and I threw down 5 miles.  5 slow miles that involved slightly more mouth breathing than usual.  I liked this run because it was mostly fueled by gritty mind-grit (I think they call that mental toughness).  Mister Biscuit liked this run because he got to see the Pomeranians 3 whole times!

Did someone say Pomeranians? Thank goodness I'm in my bow tie!

My dog doesn’t usually wear a bow tie.  It was a special occasion. Just, you know, fyi.

So today I will swim.  I’m diving in sans agenda and am just going to do as much as feels nice.  And then probably 2 more laps.  And then I will stop.


Dress for Success

I had another great run today!  Lucky me!  I was worried (uh oh, here comes some talk of the weather) since it was -27C with the windchill but as luck would have it I didn’t start to feel even a little cold until the halfway mark.  At which point I turned around and started to make my way home!  I definitely had icicles on my eyelashes and my toque was a frost dome but for some reason today I was not bothered by this.

It took me a few tries to get it right but I’ve finally figured out how to dress on these really cold days.  In milder weather I often use the Runner’s World “What to Wear” tool.  This tool has helped me to not overdress many-a-time, but I feel like they miss the mark a bit when you start entering in colder temperatures and more extreme conditions.  For example, even upon entering the harshest of options weather wise you still aren’t advised to wear anything covering your face.  I’m pretty sure my face would shatter and fall off  running in -30 gale force winds with all that sensitive skin exposed!  So here are the layers I wear on a day like today.  First socks, long underwear (just cotton but I’d wear running tights if I had them), and a stretchy yogaish tech top (one advantage to this weather is you’re wearing so many layers a built-in shelf bra will do the trick!).  Over that I’ll put on a pair of spandex-y shorts.  This has been a lifesaver on many cold days.  The shorts cut the wind which means no frozen thighs!  Lovely!  Then comes a long-sleeved tech tee and a pair of sweatpants.  Not the baggy bulky kind.  More like less fitted yoga pants.  I round out my layers with a warm running jacket.  Something that will cut the wind and provide one more layer of warmth.  My next step is to cover the skin of my face that will me most consistently exposed (cheeks, nose, eyelids) with a layer of vaseline.  This feels pretty disgusting but it makes all the difference in the world!  Over my slick, greasy face I place a balaclava (ski mask) with a perforated mouth opening then go ahead and top that with a fleece toque and neck warmer.  This might sound like overkill but I do find it’s nice to sort of switch between the neckwarmer and the balaclava covering the lower part of my face during a run.  Both items can get damp but spinning the neckwarmer around a few degrees will give you a dry side for the time being.  Also I wear cheapy mini-mitts type gloves and stash a second pair in my pocket as my hands sweat a lot (gross and weird maybe).  And of course I wear my running shoes (not doing 7 miles in some Kodiaks ya know!).  At the end of the day (run) there are some definite cold spots on my body.  My lower arms and my feet tend to get a little chill.  But growing up in this climate I’ve become accustomed to being a little cold and would take it over being too hot any day of the week!

Oh and as for today..  I covered 7 miles in that outfit!  Yay!  Splits anyone?

Oh.. Do you not find this photo relevant? I think you can see some snow out the window..

Mile 1    12:44

Mile 2     11:58

Mile 3     11:57

Mile 4     11:50

Mile 5     11:38

Mile 6     11:33

Mile 7     11:15

Total time 1 hr 22 min

I find as my pace has picked up I really need a solid warmup mile.  During that first mile I always find myself wondering how on earth I’m going to speed up to a decent pace for the rest of the run and then before I know it I’m there and it doesn’t feel any harder.

Tomorrow morning I’m leaving for a short last-minute vaycay to the city of Montreal with my finest gal pals!   I don’t imagine I will post anything more untill I’m home on Wednesday.  Then on Thursday I’m leaving again to farm-sit for my Mum so please don’t hold your breath, clicking refresh into the wee hours of the morning waiting for me to tell you how my french run went!  That is friendly sarcasm (obviously..?) Au revoir mes amis!

Sub-humane temperatures

At least it's pretty...

I don’t want to get into the habit of commenting on the weather every single post but it’s been a real in your face weather week! Today I learned that -40 is the same in celsius and fahrenheit!  Although I like learning new things I take little joy from the reality of this nugget!  And thus I took my chilly bones to the gym.

For this round of marathon training I’m following Hal Higdon’s “Marathon 3” plan.  3 as in the number of running days each week (+ 2 cross trains).  Admittedly I’m only one week in but so far I like it!  Like really like it.  Last year at this time I started training for my first marathon basing my training on the easiest plan I could find for free on the internet.  I know!  Brilliant!  Ha!  What I’ve learned from my experiences over this past year (training for my first marathon, completing my first marathon, hating running for a good while after completing my first marathon, falling back in love with running) is that I don’t actually want an easy plan but a varied plan.   I am just one of those people who do better on less running.  Not to mention when I’m adding other activities (swimming primarily but also some irregular strength training, cycling and random goodies) I feel so much stronger.

So obviously I will let you know if the novelty of this plan starts to wear thin.  But for now put me in coach I’m ready to play!

On the docket today was a 30 minute tempo run.  I have never consciously run a tempo run of any definition.  To Ol’Higgy (Oh, don’t you call Hal Hidgon Higgy?  I guess it’s only close friends who do that.) a tempo run is as follows: “you start easy, then gradually accelerate to near 10-K pace halfway through the workout. Hold that pace for five minutes or more, then gradually slow down.

This run felt AH-MA-ZING!  Maybe it was the fact that I was wearing shorts.  Or that the only treadmill free was the deluxe one.  Or maybe it’s just a sweet template for a run! Regardless, my mp3 player was totally in on the joke (I use the shuffle function.  Playlist?  I don’t know how to make one of those.) and sang me such gems as Bryan Adams’ Never be Another Tonight, Amy Winehouse’s Rehab, Reef’s Place Your Hands.  And then, for the last 4 minutes or so Queen’s Somebody to Love!  Ahhhhh!  This song was a dream come true! I may or may not have been mouthing the words and dancing with my hands.  People on the treadmills next to mine may or may not have been looking at me out of the corner of their amused eyes.  It was all I could do to keep myself from throwing my arms up in the air (you know, like I was breaking a ribbon at a finish line.  This is the closest I’ve will come to that experience) and running with total reckless abandon for the last few triumphant bars of the song.  No, that kind of behaviour is more suited to outdoor running where if need be onlookers can simply turn around and walk away from me.  For realz though!  It felt great and I’ve been bouncy and pleasant all day.  Thanks Higgy!

The only downside to today’s magical tempo run was that I didn’t get to share it with my canine life partner Mister Biscuit.  I hope he enjoyed his nap.  To make up for it I bought him booties and treats.  He likes the treats better then the booties.

This is Mister Biscuit in his shabby old booties and mismatched sweater. He is not a fashion dog.

P.S. tomorrow I’ll be resting so..  Come back Saturday to find out how my long run goes!

4 Frigid Miles

Yesterday I ran a fah-reeeeeezing 4 miles!  The temperature was roughly -25C (or -15F) + the windchill.  Gaahhhh!  I think many North Americans are enjoying some rather lovely winter temperatures  (lovely when you force yourself not to think that it’s likely global warming tipping the mercury).  We here in my typically blustery city have had days that are a whole 20 degrees above the norm’.  And thus, weather wise, I have become soft!  This weeks marks are first real cold snap and it was a shock.  I know it’s only a matter of time and acclimation before all is well again but till then would somebody please put my magic bag in the microwave for me?  Thanks!

You know who else didn’t love running in yesterday’s weather?

Mister Biscuit

This guy.

Oh..  and just so you know..  Today is a rest day (!!) so I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about my 30 minute tempo run.


I swam a mile this afternoon.  It took me 45-50 minutes.  Sometimes my knee can bother me during a swim the day after a long or hard run but no trouble today.  Hooray!  I am pretty ignorant about swim workouts.  Today I just started out slow then built up to an intense 10 laps in the middle (of 36 total laps) and gradually slowed down after.

My biggest problem with swimming?  What the effing chlorine does to my skin!  I already live in one cold & dry city, add an hour in a chemical dip and my skin protests!  I combat this as best I can by slathering an oil rich salve (calendula ointment) on my face pre and post swim but it just barely keeps things under control.  In my early 20’s I vainly quit swimming because it made my skin splotchy and my blonde dye job greenish.  Sheesh!  Nowadays I’d rather be brunette and a little dry (even mildly blotchy) if it means regular swim time!  Funny how these things change.

The first long run

Logged 6 miles today.  Didn’t feel as easy as I thought it would.  totally doable though.  Kept each mile under 12 minutes and finished my final mile in under 11.  That’s feeling pretty normal these days.