Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Winter is on its way...

After quickly checking the weather this morning, my original plan was to do my 7K tempo run in the morning and then do a 30-50km ride in the afternoon when the rain was supposed to stop. I was supposed to do an 80K ride yesterday, however as it rained for most of the day I had to give up on that plan and simply did two 11K walks instead. As such, I was hoping to make up for part of that today after I did the scheduled run. Regardless, I headed out about 10:00, and as soon as I got out there it was clear that the wind (which I didn't pay attention to in the weather reports) was going to be an issue.

My route this time around was basically a straight shot down a major road, which provides me with a relatively flat course (versus the hilly routes that I usually use). For tempo runs this is generally a better match, as it allows me to operate at the right level without having to worry about burning myself out on the hills. The downside to this route, however, is that it is much more exposed than the residential streets that I usually run on, so the effects of the wind were more pronounced than normal. Adding to the complexity was that this was my first attempt at doing a tempo run completely by feel (I did last week's on the treadmill), so there was going to be some difficulty in allowing myself to go at the correct speed (4:30/km) without loosing control.

Either way, I hit the 1K mark in 4:42, about 12 second slower than planned so I stepped things up a bit. I accelerated a bit too much, however, and did the second kilometer in 4:22 so I pulled back a little to correct for that. By the 3K mark, I managed to get myself to the right pace - finishing it in 4:29. This continued to the 3.5K mark, which I hit at 15:48 (about 3 seconds behind overall pace).

At this point, I turned around and started heading back the way that I came. Unfortunately the wind had continued to pick up, and I was now fighting a ~40km/h headwind. I managed to keep my pace up, hitting the 4K mark at exactly 18:00 (4:24/km). The cold wind was making it much more of a fight than usual, however, so I elected to pull off the route and take side streets to finish the distance.

Unfortunately, as I didn't have my watch, falling off the route onto roads that I usually don't run on meant that I had no way to gauge my mileage beyond this point. As such, I decided to switch to a timed run rather than a fixed distance, and would continue until I hit 31:30 (7km x 4:30/km). Pacing was naturally completely by feel at this point, as I would have no way to determine it until I could get home and chart out the remainder of the run. As such, I just locked into the feeling that worked earlier in the run and stayed at that level.

I wasn't 100% sure of the layout of the roads in this area, so a lot of my routing had to be made up on the fly. I stuck with smaller roads where the houses shielded the roads/sidewalks from the wind and eventually hit the time limit and broke back to a walk. After about 500 meters, I stopped and did some stretches, then continued for another ~3km back home.

Once I got back to my computer, I pulled up gmap-pedometer.com and charted out the remainder of my route to figure out exactly how far I had gone. Fortunately, things worked out extremely well with the second segment of the run taking up 3,012 meters. Added to the 4K portion that was run as planned, that worked out to a perfect 4:30 overall pace.

As for the cycling, it is looking like that won't be possible today either. There is an extremely gusty 50km/h wind out there right now, which would throw me around like a rag doll if I headed out on the bike. Add in the fact that there have been on and off snow flurries over the last couple of hours, and it's not very friendly weather to deal with at this juncture. As such, I'll likely end up doing another walk this afternoon and will have to try and get in a longer than usual ride tomorrow.

Fortunately, the weather reports seem to indicate things will be much better tomorrow through Friday so as long as they are right it might not be much of a setback. If things work out, I might try and give a metric century (100km) a try on Friday - both to make up for the lost mileage yesterday, and to see how my stamina holds up (it should take about 3.5-4 hours to complete that distance).

With all of that said, I managed to pick up a fluid trainer (Kurt Kinetic Road Machine) for a great price at a bike show on Saturday, and ultimately that will allow me to continue to use the bike when the weather makes it impossible to ride outside anymore. Unfortunately, indoor trainers are apparently very hard on tires, so it is generally best to take good tires off the bike (replacing them with purpose-built tires, or old tires that you don't mind burning through) before riding on a trainer. As such, it doesn't really help a lot with short spells of weather like this week. When the weather starts being impractical more often than not, however, I can switch things around and do my rides regardless of the weather.

The only question at this point, however, is whether riding inside for extended periods will be as boring as running on the treadmill. With that said, there will certainly be less of a choice on this front. While I can run in pretty much any weather, the same cannot be said for a road bike - especially with the nasty winters that we get up here. As such, if I want to keep the cycling up during the winter, the trainer is going to pretty much be my only choice.

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