Warming Up

This weekend was an exercise in JFDI. A northern cold front blew into town and dropped the base temperature to -18 Celsius.  It was the coldest base temperature of the season. With a bit of wind, it dropped to -24 with the windchill on Sunday. While not as bad as my first Sunday run of the year, even for us Canucks, it’s the kind of weather that makes you want to stay inside.

Instead: JFDI (c)





And did I ever JFDI.

The low temperature and high wind made for some interesting runs this weekend.

That’s right, runs. Two run weekend.

Saturday was the Second Annual Beaver Tail Run. This was a social run organized by one of the runners from the Slater St. Running Room. Pretty simple premise: run 6 or 8K on the Rideau Canal, be back at the Rideau Locks end in time for the Beavertails huts to be open, have a beavertail.

Sounds simple enough. It was a fun little challenge. It was my first time actually running on the Canal. Yes, I wrote “on” the Canal. http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/148754922

Running on a sheet of ice is it’s own special challenge. I don’t have Yak Trax or anything like that for ice running. The shoes are also nearing the end of their life expectancy and the treads are pretty flat. Amazingly, I did the 6K route without falling on my arse, although there were a few close calls. We got back to the locks as the Beavertails hut was opening. I went for chocolate hazelnut and promptly made a mess of myself.

Nom, nom, nom.

Seriously, is there anyway to eat one of those damn things without looking like a total slob afterwards?

Not so delicious was the brown water they sold me as hot chocolate. I guess there are some drawbacks to being the first customer int he morning.

The next morning was the regular Sunday practice run, a 7K LSD run. http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/149090662

It was probably the first time I may have underdressed for a run. I used the Bank St. Sport 4’s Renovation Sale as the excuse to invest in some Suogi running gear. With 20% off the lowest marked price, meaning it was 20% off stuff already marked down for seasonal clearance, they had some really great deals. The weak link, however, is the outer shell. It’s a little thin for -24 and I could feel the cold penetrate it as I ran. Even though I could feel myself sweat under my gear, I never felt warmed up .

One lesson learned this weekend: bring a change of clothes to winter runs. Even if you don’t feel warmed up, your heart rate has accelerated, you have warmed up, you have sweat in your clothes. Once that heart rate gets back to its normal resting rate and your core body temperature drops, you will notice just how wet your inner layers are. With wet layers in severe cold, it will take forever for your body to properly regulate your core temperature back to normal.

I learned this lesson the hard way on Saturday. Between the winter coat and pants, headband, face guard, sunglasses and inner layers, I had dressed adequately for the run conditions.  I worked up a pretty good sweat and those inner layers got quite wet. I went for post-run coffee at Bridgehead and then walked home in the cold. Between the weather and wet inner layers, I was chilled to the bone by the time I got home. I stood in the shower for what seemed like forever on Saturday before I filled up the tub and allowed myself to soak. The pool at the building was closed for repairs, so soaking there and using the sauna was not an available option.

Apparently people who didn’t grow up near an ocean like their salt water swimming pools warm.


(Apparently there’s actually city rules at what temperature swimming pools in apartment buildings and hotels must be kept at. As if the city doesn’t have enough to do, like kicking smokers off patios and out of parks.)

Sunday, I packed a change of clothes. Pretty much shed every piece of gear for street clothes except my socks and sneakers. I even brought a spare jacket. I found the inside of  my winter running jacket gets quite damp and sometimes doesn’t fully dry the time I’m leaving for home. Not much point in dry inner layers if I’m going to toss on a wet shell. Just more clothes for the hamper when I get back to the apartment. Made for a much better post-run coffee and walk home.

Despite the frigid temperatures of the weekend, it was actually unseasonably warm this week.   A slight breeze on Tuesday meant it was a mere -3 for our clinic night run. http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/149674315

Wednesday, despite some morning flurries, it was +2 by the time we had our practice run. http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/149896518 It felt fantastic to run in warm weather again.

Yes, after last weekend, two degrees above zero is considered warm.

I actually saw a guy in shorts and a t-shirt walking down Bank St. That was a little much.

Maybe the Canadian groundhogs were right and spring is just around the corner?

Yeah, right.

The weekend forecast has some great mild temperatures in store for us here in Ottawa before going to back to seasonal temperatures. This week’s warmth will likely prove to be like the proverbial last dance at a strip club before last call. As soon as you let yourself think it can last, the song ends, the lights come on, you empty the last twenties from your wallet, and you’re thrown out into the night cold and alone.

Not that I know from experience. I only go to those places with friends.



One response

  1. […] although Wednesday was warm enough I shed my gloves mid-run, but it can be a problem for the long runs. Either way, the new habit of bringing a change of clothes to the Running Room comes in handy. As I […]

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