Monday, January 21, 2013

Treadmills of the future...

...will do the running for you while you hibernate in stasis to preserve precious heartbeats.

Just when I was starting to dig winter running again, the temperature maple-dipped into my orange pekoe discomfort zone, and visions of treadmills began steeping in my dreams (I often dream of mechanical things, like mandroids, doesn't everyone?). I don't need warm weather for running, but I have my limits and those limits are shaking their old man fists in the air and barking orders at me right now. You'll keep us inside until the mercury rises like zombies at a brain party, a warm brain party, and not a minute before! Okay okay, take your hands off me and grab a kabob instead:

// Delicious array of Turkish delights (but not the actual Turkish Delight) //

Yesterday I ran on a treadmill for 18k, and although I was really motivated when I started, I felt increasingly alienated from my goal and my entire body because machines are weird, and why can't they be more like robots of the future that will understand exactly what you want and then give it to you immediately. The machines at my gym are programmed to stop after 35 minutes, and OBVIOUSLY I've only been running for 20 years and haven't quite mastered the 18k in 35 minutes miracle yet OBVIOUSLY. After slipping into a nice groove and maintaining coordinates, the speed would suddenly slow to a crawl and after the shock of re-entering society after being inside my head for a half-hour, I would be faced with punching in my specs yet again, of course while keeping my head down to avoid eye contact with any treadmill-desiring gym person looking to perform a hostile but ultimately fair & legal takeover of my machine, and going through the warm up phase for the umpteenth time. And I had to go through this insane process four times because my hand accidentally made contact with the emergency bar at one point, and the treadmill froze up, thinking I was suffering a stroke and needed immediate assistance. Sigh. Back to the beginning. "What kind of run do you want? How much to do you weigh? Would you like me to run for you while you shave your legs in the steam room?" That's the question I never get asked.

This treadmill experience even affected my appetite. Usually by 18k I would have consumed at least one gel but I didn't feel hungry until I headed home, and by then I could have dismantled and devoured a treadmill by myself, bolt by bolt. I don't think I'm as aware of myself on the treadmill, but on a positive note I definitely have an increased awareness of the awesomeness of avoiding hypothermia! See you soon, TM!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cold but asleep

The weather report sounded like an error: -7 degrees Celcius with a wind chill of -22! I chalked up the difference to Atlantic-strength gales, and swaddled my neck and head in woolly cloths before leaving the building (looking like a small sasquatch from the neck up). The swaddling turned out to be an awesome idea. The wind was fierce in areas. I was thankful to be asleep for most of the run (although I was quite awake by the end). Later on my walk to work I felt the cold more deeply and wished I could have the buffer of sleepiness back. 

People and trucks littered the canal. There were so many red and yellow flashing lights I thought something was genuinely happening there, but sadly, no. Just the signs of canal workers getting on with their daily decision of whether to let thousands of skaters slice up the ice. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Shifting weight

I always look forward to running on the frozen canal on sunny days in the middle of the winter. Staying on the shoulder usually keeps me out of harm's way (that is, out of the way of weak or fast skaters), and the smooth surface is more forgiving than asphalt if I slip and fall.

Running in January darkness on the bike path puts a different spin on the icy run adventure. The milder temperature loosened up the snow that wasn't scooped into trucks and carted off to Navan or wherever, and eventually the snow relaxed so much it regressed into puddles. Then it changed its collective state of mind and froze solid just to "feel different," I think. I don't mind running on ice when my shoe treads can find a bit of traction, but when I step onto a surface for the first time I can never be sure how it will greet me. Today the ice was frozen solid and not slippery, mostly. It had frozen and thawed a few times, a cycle which usually doesn't create silky-smooth canal-grade ice, but it wasn't slippery or slushy, and it was smooth enough to reflect the lamp light well so I could see where to place my foot for the next step. I had to shift my weight as I ran from ice to asphalt and back to ice, over and over, but this exercise made me anticipate, which is a great frame of mind for doing anything. It means you're in a groove. So I was grooving with my running partner, who just happened to be a mutable surface beneath me, and it was cool.

Only one section of the icy path had to be avoided, a long stretch of perhaps 20 metres. I approached from one end and started to run, but I heard warning creaks that seemed to come from the very core of the puddle and reminded me of the bruised hull of the Titanic about to give way. Beside the puddle I saw a raised shoulder of snow that had been padded down by previous feet, so I hopped up and ran there. Plenty of runners out this morning. My legs felt strong and my stride full. I had no troubles at all.