Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Road testing winter gear and too much excitement

I don't believe I've specifically blogged about an indvidual training run in detail so far. While I love every step I run, there's not too much to report really. Not this time...

Calgary just had a very sudden jab of winter over the weekend. Time to test out some winter stuff. I've only got the one balaclava - Running Room - and it's a touch thin, so I wore a double layer Under Armour hat on top. Ski goggles were a new purchase, I didn't like icicles on my eyelashes in January this year, but more than that - when it's -20 and you blink too slowly, your eyes can freeze shut which is some scary sh!t.
Also over 2 thin pairs of gloves I tried out new Sugoi mittens. Finally, it was my first time out in my new Salomon cross country runners. One day when it's -25 or worse I'll take a picture of everything before I put it all on. Any readers from warmer climates might be a bit taken aback by it all.
First hill above - and I didn't slip once on toe-off. Amazing shoes. A sterner test will come when the slopes are truly icy, or the melt/freeze stuff starts in the spring. My googles were stopping my eyeballs from hurting, though they did steam up a bit. An essential purchase nevertheless.
I was trying out a new route, going along the north ridge of Fish Creek Park, but didn't study the map well enough as I turned off early. There's a river (Fish Creek) and a series of streams below and normally I'm on the other side on paved pathways I've run on for years. I go to one stream, and crossed slowly and heard cracking - it had only been this cold for 2 days - jumped up the other side and ended up at the river. Turning around I knew I'd have to cross the same stream again, did some cartoonish tippy-toes across, then followed the path round. I tripped on a tree root, but somehow didn't fall flat on my face by grabbing at dry grass, perhaps it was enough to slow down my top half and re-balance?
After seeing this fella, I came to an eroded pathway which went either back up to the ridge or down and through some trees and I thought towards the familiar path the other side of Fish Creek. Just as I was getting going, I saw a knee height dog-like animal with a thick tail dart into a clump of trees. I could take a coyote, I thought, but there's no point trying to find out. I got to the top of the hill very quickly, partly because of the Salomons' phenomenal grip and if I'm honest partly due to wanting to put distance between me and fido.

After getting uncomfortable, lost then scared, the run home was a little tough. This cold snap came on so quickly, and acclimatization will take around a month. It was a dull fatigue that set in, and unlike most of my training runs, I was looking forward to finishing.
To top things off, and not for the first time, I got "runner's nipple". I wore 3 layers under my jacket, and wasn't cold. I sweated a lot, and they must've been, ahem, standing up a little more. All 3 shirts got a little blood on them, but it all washed off easily.
So next time, no improvising the route, stay in open areas and I'll make sure I keep those 2 naughty bits protected...


  1. Kyle and I were out in it too. The goggles look like a really great idea. My lashes were covered in ice, I didn't know that my eyes could freeze shut. Also your gloves look awesome. My pinky fingers freeze on every run even in my mitts.

  2. Last winter I wore 3 thin pairs of gloves. This run it was 2 + mitts. Neither seemed quite enough, so I think I'll go with the 3 pairs and mitts next time.