Snow Day on Repeat; More Snow, More Miles

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Last night, as I went to bed, I decided to let myself sleep in as long as my body would let me, regardless of the fact that Saturday is traditionally the group long run day.  Of course, I woke up promptly at 7am and decided at twenty after I would throw my clothes on and run out the door to meet my friends on foot at 8am… two miles away, for an eight mile run.  In the snow.

Fortunately, I made it on time, and I am so happy I got out of bed to meet them – It had snowed again overnight, there was hardly any traffic, and it was gorgeous.

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The Hawthorne.
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Hidden track of Duniway.
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Up the hill on Terwilliger.
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View from the hill.

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City view from the top deck of the Steel.
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On the Eastbank.

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Toward the end of our run, it really started snowing heavily.  I had a wonderful time walking home through all the white flakes of fluff.

We were lucky to have one more day of glorious snow; we are currently experiencing freezing rain, and it seems the conditions tomorrow will be best suited for staying indoors.

What are your favorite snow-day adventures?

Be safe and stay warm, everyone!

with joy,
~Alaina

A Snow Day Run

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Over the past few days it has snowed.  It snowed a little on Monday and again on Tuesday, and while it looked pretty floating in large white balls of fluff, the air was warm enough that it all melted away moments after it hit the ground.  Then, on Thursday, after a very cold, dry Wednesday, the weather reports were all over the board, as is usual when there is a potential for “winter weather” in Portland.

And then… at about ten in the morning… tiny, white flakes began falling from the sky.
The snow did not necessarily stick, but was blown around by incredible gusts of wind. 

When I decided to leave work at twelve thirty in the early afternoon, snow was piling up, the wind was crazy, and the temperature was around 20 degrees (with a ‘feels like’ six degrees!).  Needless to say, in a location where drivers are inexperienced with the white stuff falling from the sky, a half hour commute turned into nearly three hours, much of that spent waiting for a bus in ‘blizzard’ conditions.  I rewarded myself with a hot chocolate at one of my favorite coffee shops close to home, and on my walk after the fortifying hot beverage, snow-covered the ground.

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Snow was predicted for varying amounts of accumulation, and to my delight – there were measurable inches by the end of the day!  Which of course meant that today I was probably going to skip the commute to the office and work remotely.

And I did – delighted to sit at home at my desk, and gaze out my single-pane window at the snow-covered city.

After a few hours of sitting, staring, and finishing some work, my legs could not sit still any longer, and I had to get out and run!

I layered up (three wool shirts!), headed out the door and quickly learned that running on lightly compacted, powdery snow is very much like running on dry sand.  Challenging and so much fun; I found myself giggling every two minutes as I would slip or slide.  And of course, I took pictures!

It was a beautiful morning…

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During this morning’s run, there was no precipitation, in fact the sun starting peeking out from behind some clouds.  At noon, it was snowing again… and it has not stopped!  I am looking forward to walking out into a dreamy, white winter wonderland to get my morning cup o’joe, and plan which direction my feet will take me on the Saturday long run…

Where do you like to run when the weather is … compromising?
How do you stay warm?  I thought about a scarf today to cover my nose, but decided against it as it could have been uncomfortable.

Keep warm, and have fun getting outside!

with joy in running (and the unexpected),
~Alaina

Cold Days: Fingers Become Icicles and the Appearance of the Little Circle of Doom

The last couple weeks have been cold.
I mean Cold!

I have recently acquired my first OMNI-HEAT Down-jacket from Columbia Sportswear, and I am loving every second of wearing this blanket from heaven.
I can not believe it took me so many years to get one of these jackets.  It is a total game-changer!  See it here!

I have also learned the effects of the cold on my regular habit of picture-taking on my run… three-quarters of a mile in, one picture snapped, then – the screen goes black and the little circle of doom spirals, sputters, and disappears as my phone shuts itself off. 

Does anyone have a solution for this iPhone “it’s too cold out to function” shut-down prevention?  How do folks in Alaska and North Dakota use cell phones or smart phones if they just shut off when it is cold?

Needless to say, I haven’t been getting many scenic captures in the past few weeks.  Fortunately, the weather has warmed a little, my life is calming, I’m feeling the breathing room, and I’ll be able to get out and share the view very soon.

Here are a few pictures from a run when the temperature hit the teens; the sun was setting and I was able to get in a few pictures in the first 8 minutes of my run before the spiral appeared in blackness and my phone took a nap:

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I plan to find a solution so I can continue my favorite pastime of iPhoneography while running, and until then, you may find more words here than images.  I welcome any thoughts or advice you can offer!

I hope everyone is staying warm, and having fun tackling the elements, whatever they may be where you run!

with joy,
~Alaina

Wintery Days on the Run

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Out on the waterfront with my friends for our weekly run, I could not help but admire the stillness of the river.  Each bridge, the treeline on the water, and clouds reflected on the surface of the water a secret world hidden inside its flows.  The cool temperature and shapes of the high, light clouds reminded me that winter would soon be upon the city.

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The Holiday Steam Engine
The Holiday Steam Engine

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We caught a few sprinkles of rain, and beyond that the morning was perfect.  I got home in time to bake a cake for an evening celebration of Thanksgiving with friends.  I am so grateful for these wonderful people in my life.

Happy running, and wishing you all a happy holiday season!

Longest Run in 2013 & Bridge Moved!

Last Saturday, with a few girlfriends, I tackled 9.5 miles in below freezing temperatures.  The run was on a momentous day – the Sellwood Bridge in Portland was being moved to make way for construction of a new bridge.  We started our run at the park near the base of the bridge to get a glimpse of the beginning of the momentous move.

Ominous foggy morning...
Foggy morning…

We took a peek at the beginning of our run to check progress (very minimal at 8am – we don’t think they had started moving yet), and we were off!  I was a little nervous about doing this run; I have not run more than 8.5 miles in over three years, so in my mind, this was going to be a pretty serious physical challenge. Deciding to brave cold, and numb toes, I wore my Vibram Komodosport LS (now KMD Sport LS) because my experience with them on long runs has been fantastic.  I have felt no knee pain the entire time I have been wearing them, and the only discomfort has been the cold on my feet (which I found through experimentation, I experience the same numbness with a regular shoe if it is very cold out, as well).  My toes were only numb for the first mile this week!  The body sure does know how to adapt.

Along our route on Saturday, we saw some pretty spectacular nature scenes:

Frozen spider web!
Frozen spider web!
Beautiful parks...
Beautiful iced parks…

We entered into some farm country along the last leg of our path before turn around; we saw horses, heard some crows, and to our right we were blessed with a lot of foliage to gaze into (the left was a somewhat busy road).

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Out on the newly paved path to the 4.75mile mark!

At our turn around, we took a little carbohydrate in gel form.  We each had a different variety: Clif Shot, Gu, and Honey Stinger, which we followed with a sip of water and headed back.  The first half of the run felt like quite some distance, probably due to the frequent mild uphills on the “out” portion of our jaunt, which, incidentally made the return “back” much more speedy.

Once we returned to the park, site of the start of our run, and viewing area for the Sellwood Bridge move, the fog had cleared a bit, and there was quite a gathering of folks to watch the momentous move.  We figured they may have moved the bridge 6-12 inches since we left (it was hard to tell a difference at that point).  In the end it was a success!  (You can read about it here or here).

Watching and waiting to see the bridge move.
Watching and waiting to see the bridge move.
A beautiful, crisp morning!
A beautiful, crisp morning!

Post-run, I felt great, and hungry!  We went to The Hazel Room on Hawthorne for brunch.  Great atmosphere, good coffee, fantastic food.  Sunshine was pouring in the window of this little tea-house and it was the perfect place to celebrate a successful 9.5 mile run!

Delicious breakfast of chilli, fried egg, and cornbread at
Delicious breakfast of chilli, fried egg, and cornbread.  Yum!

I am unfortunately missing the long run today with my friends as I am out-of-town on vacation, and coincidentally, came down with a cold as soon as I arrived in (lately not so sunny) California. Sleep, rest, and recuperation are on the menu for me here, but I plan to jump back in the shoes and hit the pavement next weekend.

To the Saturday’s Run group, I hope you all have a great run!  See you next weekend!

with Joy in running,
Alaina

Obligatory Pursuits

Understandably, there are times in life when we let our obligations take over.  We have responsibilities to uphold, people depending on us, deadlines to keep, standards for ourselves, and performance reviews for which we maintain our work ethic.  Through these times, we are liable to become bogged down; weighted by the world of responsibility waiting for us to attend and bring to conclusion all that busy-business that gives us our paycheck and keeps the roof over our heads.  We forget to schedule time for ourselves; to make dinner, go dancing, go for a walk, or take a bath.  Simple, every-day easy tasks that help us feel more whole that we brush away because we “don’t have time”.

I have been trapped in one of these debilitating, depressing cycles for the last month.  It has been incredibly exhausting.  I’m tired, worn-out, burned out, and want nothing more than to stay home, read my book, and sleep.

For a week.

But that is what my subconscious thinks I need.  The part of me that craves rest taking over my whole schedule with only rest.  I know if I sleep and read for a week and do not do those other things that call to me like running and the simple self-care things like taking time for a bath (and to do laundry), I will still feel tired, stressed, and unsatisfied.

Cabbage stew – surprisingly delicious!

Sunday evening, as I was cooking myself a cabbage stew, I reflected upon the amount of energy I have been allowing myself to put toward negative perspective and outlook.  I was leaving no room for anything positive to happen, and if it did, I’d be lucky if I was able to see the good in the outcome.  Fortunately, my conscious mind came back to the present this weekend after a series of events caused a change of perspective.  I had a slightly rough start to the weekend, and Saturday plans fell through with good friends for brunch.  Fortunately, this opened up space for me to contact an old friend, and we spent the entire day catching up.  We had a great time.  Sunday was spent helping family, and as rough as that was, my sister and I had a really wonderful, heart-felt time talking and connecting over lunch.  I am truly grateful for the time I was able to spend with her.

The Fish & Chip Shop – Luncheon Location

Over the past few months, as Summer has faded from her brilliant greens to the glowing yellows, burnt oranges, and bright reds of Fall, we now find ourselves on the way to what may be a doozy of a Winter, and I am finally beginning to feel that this life I lead is really mine.  I have reclaimed my power to make choices about with whom I spend my time, how I spend those moments, and how I present myself or react within each moment of the day – and I am finally learning how to be present.

This past summer, I set a goal to run every day, for 22 days.   And I wrote about that experience here.  I woke up early, ran, made it through my day of work, attended classes in the evenings, and made time to notate my miles or blog about the experience later that day.  I took photos while I ran for fun, and smiled at people I passed because I want to share that joy-full feeling with others.  Writing brought me to a new place of community; I have made connections with people I would have never met in my day-to-day life.  Noting all the positive influences these two activities have had on my life, it’s a wonder I ever stopped either of them!

In all honesty, it is much more difficult to motivate myself to get out in the torrential downpours we have recently become subject to, and I probably will not be taking my phone for pictures in this weather.  But this year, I made a promise to myself to keep running through the winter; come rain, snow, sleet, or hail, I am going to keep moving.  Thanks to my grandpa and my mom for leading by example through their inspirational journeys of running the 50 states (one just finished and one beginning), and for a dear friend who is quickly talking me into running my first marathon in San Francisco next year… It will be incredible to run over that bridge!

So here is my pledge: I will keep running, and I will keep writing.  Not to stay physically fit or to keep up with other bloggers, but because pursuing these activities helps me find my peace and my joy.

Make time for your favorite activities. Only you can choose what to pursue each day – and whether it is the activities that fulfill your obligations or those that fulfill your heart’s desires that gain the emphasis.

A Dream of White

Last night, sleep was broken by sudden awakenings – the kind a child experiences on the eve of a big event or holiday. My subconscious, hyper-aware of every sound that penetrated my single-pane windows, acted as an alarm system, jolting me to the sound of… Rain. So hopeful for the white fluff of winter, I would go to the window to check for any accumulation… Only to find none.

Nearly half way to work, it began to snow. And by the time I was almost there, the world was blanketed in white! Joy filled my inner child;I snapped as many photos as my frozen fingers would allow. Delayed gratification, and a happy – if chilly – start to this Tuesday morning.

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