New England Winter Running Gear– Ski Suit or Bikini?

I think 9 times out of 10 I dress inappropriately for a run. This morning was a prime example. I was excited for temps in the high 30’s (with the cold we’ve experienced in the past couple months, that’s basically tropical). I wore full length spandex pants, a tank top, and this running jacket/windbreaker thing I snagged on sale that I thought “maybe I’ll still be chilly with only a tank on underneath but we’ll see”. Also wore an ear-warmer headband but skipped the gloves after stepping out and thinking it was pretty mild.

While the run was awesome, within the first mile I knew everything I was wearing was wrong. I should’ve worn capris, I already took off my ear-warmer and was using it as a glove since my fingers were frozen, and that stupid jacket was like a tin foil insulator. But I looked on that beautiful bright side and was happy to be outside running before the rain/snow mess that supposed to arrive later and not on a treadmill. 6 miles later, I was sweating like it was July but in runners high land so I was OK with it.

Don't let its lightweight-ness fool you. This will keep you warm in Antarctica.

Don’t let its lightweight-ness fool you. This will keep you warm in Antarctica.

When it comes to running in New England, there are those days where the debate between wearing  fleece lined long underwear or a singlet/shorts combo is a real thing. Below is a rough guide I try to follow (and still adjust on a daily basis when elements like wind/rain/snow/solar eclipses/etc. come into play)

  • <15deg F: Shorts or capri’s and a tank….indoors. Days like this it’s 95% likely that I’m going to choose CrossFit, the treadmill, or the couch instead of breathing in that arctic, frozen air.
  • 15-30deg F: cold weather, full length spandex, drifit coldweather long sleeve, sweatshirt/winter vest/or jacket, winter hat or ear-warmer headband, gloves
  • 30-40deg F: full length or capri spandex, drifit coldweather long sleeve, running vest, ear-warmer headband, gloves
  • 40-60degF: capri spandex, light longsleeve or tank w/arm warmers
  • 60degF+: shorts, short sleeve or tank

Like I said, I’m constantly playing with what works and what doesn’t.

Today’s Lesson: For me, anything below 40deg F (yes that even includes 39deg) I need gloves since I swear blood stops flowing to my fingers in the cold. 

What are your running clothes go-to’s? I know it’s different for everybody (there are those who swear by shorts in anything above freezing!) but it’s always good to hear what others are wearing and when to help my eternal experimentation. 

Hyannis Half Marathon 2014. Was the rare occurrence where I dressed correctly for the weather.

Hyannis Half Marathon 2014. Was the rare occurrence where I dressed correctly for the weather.

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Finding Sidewalks after Finding Nemo

So Nemo happened. On Thursday night everyone and their brother seemed to be having a panic attack. Most of the world’s panic stemmed from figuring out how to ration their 17 loaves of bread to last until Sunday. Would 8 RedBox movies be enough (true story, I saw that happen)? How can they be out of Cheetos?!?

milk and bread outage

Mine was more DPW focused. How fast would the plows get out on the roads? Would local businesses adhere to the 6hr rule and shovel their sidewalks? Should I get a Boston Sports Club membership for a day just in case of a treadmill emergency?

To help ease some of this anxiety, I headed to CrossFit on Friday morning for the 6am party. At least if Nemo swallowed all the roads up over the next 36 hours I would have gotten some quality back squatting in. The plan was also to get in 4-6 miles around lunch time before the snow really started to come down, but after a good 1:1 with Coach B that morning, I decided not to beat up my body out of a fear of what if it snows and the roads disappear forever.

And so it begins...

And so it begins…

I had already planned on pushing out the usual Saturday long run to Sunday since my dependable weathermen from Channel 7 said that venturing outside was not a smart decision. So Saturday was spent sleeping in (til 8am!!), baking unhealthy things (just because I happened to have the ingredients), snow shoveling out our cars, and having a few beers to celebrate all our serious hard work..

So it snowed?

So it snowed?

Snow Forts! Memories! Can I play?

Snow Forts! Memories! Can I play?

Shoveling rewards nicely

Shoveling rewards nicely

From seeing what the roads looked like on the news (because during a snow storm there is news coverage ALL. Day. Long.) and from what I could see right around our apartment on Saturday, I knew Sunday’s planned mileage probably wasn’t going to happen.  I wanted to get in 17. I decided to just shoot for 10. Seeing as though I had no clue what the rest of the city really looked like I decided when I ventured out down my what seemed to be unplowed street, I would do at least 6 and see how it goes from there.

Well, I’m surprised I didn’t throw in the towel after the first mile. I headed up to Broadway and there were zero sidewalks. None. And the street was slush. Awesome.

At mile .5 I took a left and in an attempt to get onto the makeshift sidewalk, I slipped and fell. Nothing serious, I bounced right back up, but it was enough to mess with my head for a bit.

At around mile 3 there was a group of runners all finishing up at the Tufts gym and some had BAA jackets on. Head, thank you for returning to the game. Knowing there were other Boston bound or Boston been-theres out running in this mess was enough to help me make a mental comeback.

From there it was a decent run. Sidewalks were few and far between. However, anyone getting anywhere this morning was walking in the street and the cars that were out were going slowly due to the amount of foot traffic in the streets. A majority of the run felt like I was in a winter wonderland obstacle course, with most sidewalks being treated like an agility ladder to keep my footing and the leaps necessary to get over the slush oceans separating the crosswalk from the curb. But it was also fun to be able to see the aftermath of the storm in all different parts of the city.

Oh Mass Ave, you haven't met my friend The Plow? Awesome.

Oh Mass Ave, you haven’t met my friend The Plow? Awesome.

Davis Square looking nice and clear (and completely blocked off to any thru traffic which made my life a million times easier :)

Davis Square looking nice and clear (and completely blocked off to any thru traffic which made my life a million times easier 🙂

Final mile down a side street that seemed to just be waking up to discover it snowed..

Final mile down a side street that seemed to just be waking up to discover it snowed..

In the end, I got in 10 up and down miles. They were by no means pretty but it felt good to be outside moving. It helped that the sun was shining and temps had increased about 15 degrees since the overnight 7 degrees we were holding down.

Now you go: What do you do when the weather interferes with your workout? Did you also have to deal with Nemo? Anyone break out the board games? 

“The Hardest Part is Stepping out the Front Door”

I was all set for Saturday’s long run. I only hit the snooze on my alarm once. I was up by 6am. By 7am I had drank a mini protein shake, a glass of water, and a cup of coffee. I had gotten dressed in my multiple layers. I had even toileted 3 times! (Please watch this fantastic video to get that reference.)

If you are a runner (or think runners training prep is ridiculous or just like to laugh) you will love this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2TRUUu2uHo

If you are a runner (or think runners training prep is ridiculous or just like to laugh) you will love this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2TRUUu2uHo

And then I went online. The weather said 34degrees with 20mph winds. That was just the depressing thing I needed to see to kick my procrastinating self into high gear. I proceeded to watch the news, scroll through my Twitter feed looking for run-spiration, and go to the hourly weather report on weather.com 1,345 times to see if it had changed. I even tweeted at weather people in search of a different response.

 

I know, I have a weather problem.

I know, I have a weather problem.

I completely understand how wimpy this all sounds. The sun was out. It wasn’t snowing or raining. I don’t even think there was a cloud out there! But the wind is something that makes winter running pretty close to miserable. Even with milder January temps, wind can send chills through your body no matter how many sweat wicking layers you’re wearing.

However, because I actually had things to do on Saturday besides sit and wait for the perfect running conditions, I finally forced myself out the door at 9:30. Well the first couple of miles proved to be exactly what I didn’t want to run in. Bitter wind burning my neck and face and every ounce of my being wishing I was in sweats on my couch. Around mile 3 however I started to get into a groove and finally felt psyched to be outside. At mile 6 I took a wrong a turn and got a surprise tour of Cambridge’s historical and HUGE homes. By mile 13, while I was happy that I only had a mile left, I was also happy I finally just took that step out the front door. It’s so true “The first step out the front door is the hardest”. The best trick in the book is to tell yourself, “FINE I’ll just run for 10 minutes.” Chances are once you’re out there you’ll be happy to stick it out.

 

How do the seasons affect your running schedule? Do you plan your runs around the weather? Do you live somewhere tropical and get to run on the beach even in January? (and if so would you like a running visitor??)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Best moment of this morning’s 27 degree run? Turning the corner off my street and seeing the Somerville Public works people out decorating the lampposts for the holidays. Winning! (do people still use this term anymore? I know, Charlie Sheen is so last week.)

Wreaths! Lights! Bows! Oh My!

Wreaths! Lights! Bows! Oh My!

The holidays are one of my favorite times of year. Even when people are having a bad day, when Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is coming to town” comes on the radio, all of the sudden things seem better. That school of thought also applies to running in sub-freezing temperatures. Today’s pre-sunrise run included ear muffs, gloves, running tights, and a sweatshirt (I know all you lightweight, dri-fit people are probably cringing but sometimes when it’s this cold out a good ol’ hoodie is so cozy to run in). When I checked the temps after my alarm went off at 4:55 and read 27 degrees and 13mph wind, the tiniest part of me wanted to get right back under the covers and hit the snooze. BUT—a bigger part of me got really excited about listening to the Glee Holiday radio station on Pandora for the next 45 minutes – so off I went!

 

It helped that this past weekend kicked off some serious holiday sweating. Saturday was “Formal Wear Fran” at CrossFit. Those not familiar with CrossFit, “Fran” can be a bitch. And she doesn’t get any nicer when you try and attack her in a strapless dress. (“Fran”: 21-15-9 reps of Thrusters and Pull-ups for time). Despite the dress, I PR’d this workout by 2min 15 sec compared to when I did it (in normal workout attire) back in September. Yay for getting stronger! There was also a Paleo Potluck cook-off holiday party afterwards where I ate lots and lots of really awesome (and good for you) food!

Formal Wear Fran. We sweat with class.

Formal Wear Fran. We sweat with class.

 

Sunday was the Cambridge Yulefest 5K. This was really cool because I only heard about and signed up for this race because of a Twitter shout out. Dani, a really cool tweeter who’s always tweeting about different and fun ways to be active and healthy, posted that she was looking to fill the last couple spots on her team for the race. I figured why not, and without knowing much else besides the date, said most definitely count me in. The team was the Slumbrew Humbugs, which is instantly cool since it was a brewery’s team (representing the Somerville brewing company—who’s beer by the way, is fantastic) Everyone on the team was really awesome and welcoming to me with the Hi-I-know-nobody-here look I’m sure I was wearing.

So mini race recap:

-Weather: Freezing and cloudy

-Course: Started in Harvard Square. Loop, relatively flat with a couple hills thrown in

-Hangover: Slightly present thanks to a late night with too much red wine

-Other runners: Awesomely decked out in holiday swag from Santa hats to full on Reindeer gear. There was even a marching band that ran together, playing instruments and singing Christmas carols the whole way.

-My run: Finished in 22:43. Was only going to run this as a fun run then felt OK so tried to push out a PR halfway through. No PR, but was the top female finisher on my team so that was cool!!

28 seconds slower than 5k PR on Turkey day. But still such a fun run!

28 seconds slower than 5k PR on Turkey day. But still such a fun run!

Awesome race. Bonus: Cousin Eddie was on my team!

Awesome race. Bonus: Cousin Eddie was on my team!

Post race was all you could drink beer in a heated beer tent. Needless to say it got packed pretty quick (beer is the reason 99.9% of runners run…trust me, there was a poll). I stayed for one since I needed to try the Slumbrew booze—I tried the Happy Sol which was awesome. Even more awesome? Just for running on their team, I got to take home a giant bottle of it! Moral of this racing story: Thanks to Twitter and Blogs meeting people from the Internet is not as creepy as it sounds. In fact, it can introduce you to a whole lot of cool people!

Team Slumbrew Humbugs!

Team Slumbrew Humbugs! (Team Photo credit goes to Dani, team captain)

 

I want to know: Are you more of an Elf or Grinch this time of year? How are you staying active over the holidays? Have you ever met up with internet friends?

A Tale of Two Winter Morning Runs…

Happy Post-Thanksgiving week! Is everyone else still in a food coma? In typical Katie fashion I ate normal portions of good things until the dessert showed up and it was oh sure I’ll have a cookie…you know the drill, one thing lead to another and I ended up leaving NY on Saturday in a sugar induced coma.

Bailey was Thanksgiving’d out too…

Good news is I got some running in over the holiday! First was the Thanksgiving day 5K in Schenectady’s Central Park where I joined Joe, Andrew, and 1700 other thankful people for a brisk 3.1 run. I was feeling surprisingly good even though I knew absolutely nothing about this race except that it was going to help me justify Thanksgiving dessert. No clue about the course’s route, elevation, etc. or even what the weather was supposed to be like (clearly, since Joe graciously gave me his gloves to run in since my bare fingers had turned blue). The course turned out to be a figure-eight type loop with rolling hills and the weather was nice in the sun and freezing in the shade. I definitely pushed every step of this run and was able to squeeze a PR out of it! I beat my October 5k race PR by 5 whole seconds!

PR! (what, you don’t keep track of all your races in an excel spreadsheet??)

Joe, Me, and Andrew Post Turkey-Trot

Saturday’s run was even more scenic than a run in the park. Ryan’s parents basically live at the top of a mountain so even though it means killer hill work, it also means the greatest running views.

How could you pass up a run with views like these??

It also means be prepared for National Geographic like encounters at all times. At mile 2 of this run I legit almost got run over by a reindeer. OK, maybe it was just a regular deer. But it was a HUGE deer. I stopped so short and almost screamed. The deer jumped right out of some bushes in front of me, hopped across the street (yes, deer hop like bunny rabbits), and into a field. I tried to get a pic but my gloves (Joe sorry those gloves are officially mine, I will get you more for Christmas 🙂 ) and iPhone don’t work well together.  Lesson learned, always have one ear bud out when running outdoors to listen for things like cars, people, WILD ANIMALS.

Now if that vacation running wasn’t exciting enough, I got to meet this cutie pie before we headed back to Boston.

Ryan’s friend’s 8wk old english bull dog, Halo. I almost took her home in my purse, but then realized they might miss her. I know, nothing to do with running BUT ISN’T SHE SO CUTE?!?!

Bailey’s trying to figure out WHY her mom is holding this thing..

Since the Thanksgiving holiday left me feeling slightly lethargic and sugar-soaked I was determined to start the week off sweating. So even though the forecast was 28 degrees with 15-20mph winds, I suited up in my winter wear and hit the road. 5AM is a very cold, dark place in November. And on windy days it is that much less enjoyable. After 5 miles I was happy I sucked it up and got out there, but I also had no feeling in my body.

Fast forward to this morning. I was determined to keep it going. Again, temps were forecasted in the 28-32degree range so I Underarmoured and earmuffed it up. I stepped outside and it felt surprisingly comfortable. Difference? Almost zero wind. I set out to cover similar mileage as yesterday and enjoyed every minute. Don’t get me wrong, it was still pretty chilly. But not having to bow your head into the wind just to move forward and still having some feeling in your extremities makes the world of difference.

I guess that’s one thing that makes New England runners special. Even though our weather is moodier than me on a day without running, we still suck it up and get out there regardless. So happy winter running season!

ONE LAST THING! According to this article it’s “Giving Tuesday” today, the unofficial holiday to be generous and earn back some good karma after spending ridiculous amounts on TV’s and iPads and tickle-me-Elmos (ok, maybe that phase has passed) between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Either way, if you’re looking to give back in some way today, please consider donating to the Boston Bruins Foundation through my marathon fundraising. CLICK HERE to donate. An enormous THANK YOU to all of my family and friends who have already shown their support.

Now you go. How was your Thanksgiving?? Did you have retail rage on Black Friday? What’s your favorite way to sweat during the Winter months? 

Eat Happy, Run Happy

Wow, it’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve last blogged. Since then we’ve had Halloween, a snowstorm, and a presidential election! Don’t worry I’m not getting political on you—more important things, Halloween workouts! A CrossFit Halloween workout is exactly how it sounds—spooktacular.

Costume Encouraged WOD @ CrossFit. Teamed up with Christine to tackle this one.

 

CrossFitting Tinker Bell

Buy in for WOD, bobbing for apples. Option to run 400m if you were not a successful bobber…..

…well after a few tries, 400 it is!

I was good this Halloween; I didn’t have one piece of Halloween candy. I think this is the first Halloween in my lifetime that has happened. Now, before you go patting me on the back, this doesn’t mean I went all chocolate free or anything. Quite the opposite. While I was almost a perfect Paleo follower, last week was a chocolate chip fest for some reason. I somehow justified it because I was putting chocolate chips in almond butter and dipping apple slices in it (that makes it healthy right?….no—so wrong). Anyways, all that time I was getting chocolate-wastedddd (yes, I just made a “Grown Ups” reference) I was feeling more “blahhh I just want to nap” than “Hoorah lets go workout and attack the day!” I still got out there to run and WOD but wasn’t feeling the usual fantastic endorphin rush. While a beautiful surprise floral delivery to my office definitely brightened my day, I still wanted to nap.

Someone’s campaigning for husband of the year… 🙂

So Saturday I started with the right mind set—and meal. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know!

My staple breakfast: Egg whites & hot sauce, fruit, turkey bacon, coffee, and water. Not gourmet, but oh so good.

Saturday was an awesome day of sweating. The weather was gorgeous. Started out at CrossFit and a great team workout with Jill and Hannah. Then stayed for 45min of mobility. Then headed to Brighton for a run date with Jess. We set out for a lovely 5 miler around the reservoir and through Chestnut Hill. It felt more like early September outside instead of mid-November. No complaints here!

Sunday was an unintentional rest day as it was full of exciting things like laundry, grocery shopping, brunching, and football. So I woke up Monday feeling refreshed and ready to go. I laced up the Brooks and hit the pavement by 5:30. I didn’t have a route planned but I DID have a new playlist. So I just went and rocked out. I was planning on around 6 miles. I got to the first bridge over the Charles and the sun was just trying to make an appearance.

Gooood Morning Cambridge!

I was feeling good so I figured I would run for a while along the river. Well, combination of running on rested legs and the unseasonably warm temps got me caught up in the run and before I knew it I was 5 miles away and realized I still needed to run home. Woops. It didn’t help that I was supposed to be home well before 7am so Mr.-Born-to-Run could use my AAA card to get his car towed to fix the battery. All of these factors resulted in a very fast 5.5 miles home (yay negative splits!)

Wouldn’t you want to get up at 5am for this view??

So my planned 6 miler turned into a 10.8 miler. A Monday morning long run, dropping Ryan at the car dealership, and still making it to work by 9? Yep, I’d call that a successful start to the week.

Moral of the story, my body performs better when I don’t have dark chocolate running through my veins (no matter how strong our love is) and I am at my best in the morning, and need to plan to get back into my 5am wakeup call routine.

Do you have any nutrition vices? What’s your favorite time of day to work out? What were you for Halloween? I wanna know! 

Friday Favorites

Here’s a few things this week that have qualified as Friday Favorite worthy…

FastPaleo.com. This website has become my new favorite recipe website. It’s essentially a site where anyone can share their Paleo recipes. I’m not exactly known for my skills in the kitchen (that’s Mr. Born-to-Run’s area of expertise!) BUT when I find something that sounds manageable, seasonal, and delicious I get excited and go all Rachel Ray. So Tuesday night I made this Farmers Market Chicken and it was pretty freakin awesome. Definitely bookmarking this bad boy.

Farmers Market Chicken– AMAZING!

Fall Weather. Like I said in my earlier post , I have welcomed fall weather with open arms this year. It has been ideal running weather lately and has actually felt like fall (as opposed to last year where we had summer and then “Happy Halloween, here’s 8 feet of snow!”) Plus my utility bills are appreciating this in-between state where neither the AC or heat is needed—Bonus!

“Routine”. Since the marathon, I’ve been able to get back into what was my normal routine.  I’m going out for runs with no plan just to run for fun. Not that training isn’t fun—sometimes it’s just nice to step out the door and go without having a mileage or pace number to hit. I also am back at CrossFit 3x/wk. I was starting to fall into a 2x/wk habit the last few weeks to fit in some final mileage. Speaking of CrossFit…

CrossFit H2O. I love it here. Where else can you go to lift heavy things AND have dance parties AND play dodgeball all before 7am? Nowhere else I can think of. Even though I’ll be in Boston Marathon training soon enough, the next couple of months I really want to focus on getting stronger. I noticed  how much it helped improve my running since starting (umm hello 18+min marathon PR!) and want to keep it going!

Chocolate. Yes, the paleo gods are gasping right now. Since the end of the Paleo Challenge in September I’ve been sticking to eating Paleo for the most part. But I recently discovered “Enjoy Life” chocolate chips which are dairy, nut, and soy free (so of course they are healthy, RIGHT?) Almost every night this week I’ve had dessert of apple slices dipped in a mixture of almond butter and those “healthy” chocolate chips. Well let’s face it, chocolate is chocolate. I don’t feel guilty about eating it, but do realize that for me chocolate and portion control have never lived in the same school of thought. Moral of this story: I am the poster child for people in need of single serving packages.

Steve’s Original Pumpkin Spice KRUNCH bar. This time of year, anything Pumpkin is pretty great. But these babies are the best! I tend to need something to hold me over between lunch and the end of the work day so I don’t completely fade out. These are those perfect only-a-few-REAL-ingredients type bars that are Paleo friendly, SOOO delicious and the proceeds go to an awesome cause .

Your turn! What are some of your favorite things of this week? Or that you’re looking forward to this weekend? Anyone else share an addiction to chocolate?? 

Fall Running

As a New Englander, I love my four seasons. Yes I have my favorites, but I look forward to and enjoy the quarterly change. Growing up, summer was always my favorite. As a kid it meant vacation from school, poolside afternoons, days at the beach, trips for ice-cream, and late night games of man-hunt. Even as I got older, summer was still the “season of all seasons” (except instead of ice-cream and man-hunt it was cocktails on the patio and hunting for anywhere with outdoor dining—actually who am I kidding, ice-cream has always been a constant). In fact, I loved summer so much that every other season was spent looking forward to it.

Well becoming a runner has completely changed that. I am now a full-fledged super fan of spring and fall. In fact, my ideal day is high 50’s to high 60’s, 0% humidity, sunny skies, and a slight cool breeze. Anything less and you have to start piling on the layers. Anything more and you are sweating within the first 10 minutes.

Yesterday morning was one of those perfect fall days. I had stayed at my parents’ house the night before and was pretty excited for some hometown running. I was out the door at 8am, just as the really cold air was disappearing and the sun was starting to get higher. I wanted to go all out and keep up with double digit weekend mileage, but coming off marathon weekend last weekend I didn’t want to push it so I planned for an easy paced 6-7 miles. Even though I was running on around 5 hours of sleep, I had a ton of energy and was feeling awesome (thank you fall weather!) so I picked up the pace and ran about 30sec/mi faster than originally intended. I finished my 7.5mile jaunt of leaf peeping (trees are at their prime right now!) with a lovely runners high. What’s even better than that? A post run coffee and leg soak in the hot tub! 🙂

Thanks for the reminder, coffee mug, life IS good

I’m hoping this fall weather sticks around for a while— I’m not ready yet for the snow covered sidewalks, the arctic air, the gloves, the earmuffs, and all the layers that come with winter running.

Now you! How was your weekend? Any races or awesome runs? What’s YOUR favorite season?  Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!