Today was my last long run before the Disney Marathon.  Although I have 4 weeks before race day, Jeff Galloway scheduled my longest long run today.  The next several weekends will be in the 6-10 mile range.  During my mid-week runs I will continue to work on speed work in preparation for my April half marathon.

My alarm went off around 3:45am and I was greeted by 25F temperatures outside and impending snow.  I was out the door by 4:15am dressed in many, many layers in an effort to stay warm.  Jeff Galloway wanted me to walk the first 10-13 miles of my run since my longest run in this cycle was 20 miles.  I was a little worried about being cold during the walking portion so I chose to run 10 sec and walk 50 sec for the first 8 miles and then did a run 15 sec/walk 45 sec for the next 8 miles.  My final miles were at run 20 sec/walk 40 sec.  

The snow started sometime around 5:45am and started to really pick up around 7am.  By 8am the sidewalks had a decent layer of snow on them and were starting to get slippery.  The road had a thin layer, too.  I was regretting the fact that a new pair of yaktrax are wrapped and under the tree rather than on my shoes. I decided after 14.1 miles that it was better to finish on a treadmill than to finish by slipping and falling and getting injured.

I fully admit to being a wimp.  Having a decent treadmill in my basement makes it very easy for me to move my runs indoors on cold or inclement days.  I realized during the outdoor portion of my run this morning that I have never run in 20F temperatures before.  I’ve definitely run in 30F but 10 degrees makes a big difference.  As I was philosophizing and running, I came up with some lessons that I learned today.

1.  Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but if that girl has to run in 20F temperatures, a pair of $1 hand warmers are probably more useful.  Having hand warmers in my pockets made a HUGE difference this morning as I am prone to Reynaud’s (where your fingers turn white in the cold).  I have decent running gloves but I still needed the hand warmers.

2. Remember in high school chemistry class where we learned that the freezing point of H2O is 32F? Apparently that holds true for water in a water bottle while you running…. There have been many 80F days where I’d have been thrilled to have ice spontaneously appear in my water bottle.  In 20F that is much less appreciated.  The next time I run in 20F, I may add Nuun or electrolytes just to lower the freezing point! 

3. 10 days before Christmas Eve at 4am in 20F temperatures, there are almost no runners out.  Except me.  At 8am in the snow there were several other runners out.  I saw one woman wearing capri running tights and one man wearing shorts with zensah calf sleeves.  Which leads me to wonder…. Am I crazier than they are or are they crazier than I am? You don’t have to answer. It’s rhetorical.

4. Snow is much less wet than rain.  At least when you’re outside in the cold.  Once you move indoors the snow melts and becomes wet.  I was surprised that the snow didn’t really make my clothes feels wet while I was running outside. 

5. A thin layer of snow on the sidewalk is very slippery.  If I had stuck it out and waiting for the snow to accumulate, it would likely have become much less slippery.  I didn’t stick around to figure this one out.

6. Consistently the coldest parts of my body when running in cold weather are my butt and thighs. I had 2 layers on and was still very cold in this area.  Thank goodness my daughter is buying me toasty buns shorts from Athleta to wear over my tights for my next cold weather run! 

7. The problem with the butt/thigh cold thing comes when you need to go to the bathroom.  Cold hands trying to remove multiple layers from cold butt/thighs is challenging at best and disastrous if you really, really have to pee.  Just like when you were a kid playing in the snow with snow pants and then it took forever to get undressed and use the bathroom…

8. Early, cold, miserable long runs are best done with company, even if it’s virtual company.  I had a running buddy (Nate Wagner – yay!) texting me while he ran 20 miles and another running buddy tweeting me (Thanks Kurt Bower!).  Then several friends checked in with me via Facebook.  It definitely kept my spirits up and entertained me.

9. It’s not the last 6.2 miles that are really, really hard for me.  It’s those darn middle miles – say 14-20 – that destroy me.  Not sure why. Today I struggled from about 16-20 and then it got easier.  Or closer to the end.  Either way.  During NYC Marathon it was the same.  I really struggled starting around mile 14-ish and then seemed better after mile 20.  If anyone has brilliant insight, please share!

10. There’s a reason the half marathon is more popular than the full marathon.  Running 14 miles in training is do-able.  Almost reasonable.  Running 27 miles in training is just crazy.