Monday, February 15, 2010

Trail Running in snowy downtown Baltimore City

In the past week, we have had 2 major snowstorms, dumping like 40-50 inches of snow on poor Baltimore.  I confess, I’ve been a wus about not running, because I saw how horrible the streets were (and still are) in my neighborhood.  What I have been doing is digging out my alley (twice), digging in front of the house, lots of walking with a shovel full of snow to find a place to put the snow, and walking around the neighborhood to obtain beer and victuals.

Today, I have off because of the Presidents Day holiday, so I figured I’d run down by the promenade.  There was a path of compacted snow that was easy to run on.  In fact, it felt like trail running in the heart of Baltimore!  I felt so good, instead of doing my goal of 30 min to loosen up after 2ish weeks of not running, I ran 1 hour 21 min around the Harbor from Canton, through Fells Point, through Innerharbor area, and around to Federal Hill, and then back again.  I actually remembered to bring my Garmin Forerunner, so I know I did 9.43 miles in 1:22, at 8:46 per mile, spending 1132 calories, at an average heart rate of 163bpm.  Yeah, I know that’s more than 3/4 of a minute slower per mile than the last time I did that run, but navigating the snow slowed me down quite a bit.  Plus, of course, I was a bit out of shape from not running.  But I did much better than I expected.

It was cool to see the rest of the city; I had been hibernating for a while.  It was interesting to see the area where the long line of dumptrucks filled with snow were waiting to dump their load in the harbor.  I’ve been hearing about this, but hadn’t seen it til this morning.  Some people are complaining because of all the environmental damage it is allegedly doing to the harbor because of salt and oil runoff.  Well, to those people, I ask them, if it was left on the street to melt, where do you think the storm drains take the water runoff?  Yep, you guessed it, they run right into the harbor.  Anyone who has done any amount of running on the promenade will have noticed all the garbage floating in the water at certain points.  That is where the storm drains go.  The only negative I see is that the huge mound of snow in the water could theoretically break off into a Baltimore Iceberg, causing small boats some trouble.  But I don’t think it will be a big deal.

I purchased a set of Vibram Five Fingers shoes a couple weeks ago.  I won’t get much into that here, as it is a subject big enough for a post or series of posts.  But one of the key skills in using them without hurting yourself, is forefoot or midfoot running.  (ie, not heel running that most running shoes are built for).  I didn’t wear them today, but I did about 90-95% of today’s run on the forefoot and midfoot.  It felt good, and my knees and ankles aren’t screaming.  I guess we’ll see tomorrow morning!

I signed up for the Ugly Mudder yesterday.  I’m psyched, because it is a really cool course in Reading, PA, and it ends at a German Beer Hall.  And I’m meeting my old roomie and her boyfriend, haven’t seen them in months.  There should be plenty of snow on course, plus two beer stops!  Serving Pennsylvania’s finest, Yuengling.  Also, it is put on by Pretzel City Sports, the finest race management organization in all of Reading, PA.

Step Counting.  My work has this new plan where if you wear a pedometer that counts your steps, you get bonuses that pay down the health insurance deductible.  My guess is that they did not gear this program towards ultrarunners.  On an average day that does not include any specific exercise, I’ve been doing about 7000 steps.  On the day I really attacked the snow mounds in my alley, I did 14,000.  I wore my pedometer today on my run, and I got about 14,000 steps just for the 9.5 mile run.  It is now reading 16,000 for the day.  I’m wondering what will happen when I do long runs of 20-30 miles? 30,000 to 45,000 steps in a few hours?  The examples on the website ( show that kind of activity as a MONTHLY goal.  HA!  They say you should upload every few days, because the device runs out of memory.  I’m expecting that it will give up the ghost in the middle of a run.  “Halp, I wasn’t designed for this!  Stop!”.  It also isn’t water proof.  What good is that?  What about water crossings?  They are often waist deep.  Maybe I can rig some kind of waterproof bag around it.

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