Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter

Although the calendar may claim otherwise, winter has arrived. In the past I've been pretty vocal about my lack of love for the things winter involves--copious snow, plummeting temperatures, treacherous ice, a disappearing sun--but for whatever reason I've really been enjoying it here in Boulder the past couple of weeks.

The end of the semester has completely swamped me with homework since a week or so before Thanksgiving, but today I finally finished everything...took my Hydrology final, dashed off a final paper or two. But, neither of these two things--winter, school--have impacted my running too drastically. In fact, as has seemed to be the case for me in previous years, winter seems to have almost inspired a new bout of hard training. Of course, my relative health is usually the arbiter of such things, but it seems as if sometimes I need some sort of resistance to push back against. If it's sunny and warm everyday I almost get a little complacent.

So, to accommodate my studies, I've been running to the top of Green Mt and back every day at 6am--summiting 17 times in the last 22 days. It is dark and cold at this hour. It's been really cold lately. Yesterday morning I awoke at quarter to six, and in my bleary-eyed delerium mistook the -10F on the computer screen for a +10F. This is when I learned that the mind can play some funky tricks. As I hit the streets headed towards Flagstaff Road, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, the beard is icing up even sooner than usual today. Interesting." Or, "Boy am I glad for this neckwarmer today." However, stuck in my mental reality of +10F I never was uncomfortable at all. Only upon returning two hours later and seeing that the temperature was still only -7F with a windchill of -32F did I realize just how cold it had been.

The snow makes things beautiful, though, and that's been my major motivation lately. I usually get to the base of Flagstaff Road just as the horizon is beginning to brighten. First white, then orange, and eventually a brilliant red. With the trees and mountains all covered in snow, the first alpenglow usually hits just as the sun crests the horizon after I've started heading east on Green's West Ridge Trail. And the mountains are showered in pink.

Every day I'm claiming fresh tracks up on the backside of Green, so the usually crowded summit is gloriously lonely. After hanging out for a few minutes just generally surveying life, the real fun begins. Descending 2500' of singetrack trail knee-deep in fresh powder is a delight. Floating down Ranger and then Gregory Canyon, I think I catch a glimpse of why so many people are so obsessive about downhill skiing. Even if I do fall, it's into a pile of pillowy fluff.

Back down in town, I tear through the streets relishing the extra cushion that the snow offers the usually bone-jarring pavement. Cruising through a corner of campus, I blow by sleepy students slipping and sliding their way to class. Many gawk at me with looks of poorly-hidden horror--who the hell is this crazy creature in tights with tangled hair flying and a big chunk of ice where his face is supposed to be?

When I step in the apartment Jocelyn dashes back into the bedroom lest I do something terrifying, like kiss her with my icicles. So instead, I go to the bathroom for a towel and a shower to defrost the beard and re-enter the "real" world. But really, I'll take sunny and 50F whenever whoever decides such things is ready to dish it out.

41 comments:

vis said...

Glad to see you back and blogging. I love the decompression following a tough semester. Has anyone wished you a Bon Hiver?

Tuck said...

Great story. You mean you haven't tried downhill skiing yet? Cross-country skiing is great too. Either would turn you into a fan of winter in a heartbeat.

Alpine touring is a wonderful combination, long, human-powered uphills, and floating through the powder on the downhills. I'd think that's tailor-made for you in Colorado in the winter.

Charlie said...

Snow is pretty slippery, can you run in shoes? Modified shoes? Snow shoes?

Love your blog. Hope you can get back to the racing in 2010.

angela lang photography said...

Curious, what do you wear to run long in -10F? It's been tough enough for me to hit the Oakland hills in 30F. :p

Doug Alcorn said...

Very inspirational! Stuck in the mid-west, just able to do a few miles at a time, I fantasize about being able to do runs like this. My daily climb is about 120 feet! So far, the temp hasn't gotten much below 30F though the wind chill has lately been below 0F. Keep up the writing. I love to read it!

ultrarunner (Brian Philpot) said...

Good to see you back with a blog and still running, in the cold!

ultrastevep said...

Anton....I am going through the same thing here in NH. I really dislike winter (won't say hate) and have also started running first thing in the morning instead of my usual noontime runs. It is so much more peaceful and the air is cleaner and crisper.

Best of luck in the coming year,
Steve

Hart said...

There is something totally magical about running in the backcountry with a fresh blanket of snow. It's like running through Narnia.

GZ said...

To date, my fastest descent down Bear via Fern came with it covered in a perfect descent snow. Each stride was probably 2x longer than usual. JV was there and we were flying down Fern - a trail that I usually end up being a bit more careful about.

Rocky said...

Dude! And I usually jump on the treadmill when the temp is under 30.

David said...

What shoes are you wearing? I love the NB 100's but are you using something different for the winter snow and slop? Midwest runner here.

Pablo R said...

We need a picture of you coming back from this kind of run... I'm sure it's a great look : )

Billy Burger said...

This is why you're a champ Tony. nicely written.

Bret said...

You are the man! I totally love winter running, because of everything you said in your blog! Very inspirational!

Michelle said...

Wow your pretty awesome!

Anton said...

Angela,

When it's 10F or colder, I'm usually in a pair of heavier tights (NB extreme tight or something like that), socks, shoes, running shorts underneath the tights, singlet, two basic long-sleeves, two pairs of gloves, neck warmer and stocking cap. If there's wind, I'll add a light shell.

David,

Cross-country waffles work the best for me in the winter. New Balance's 506. The ground is already cushy from the snow so the super-low profile helps on uneven surfaces, and the lugs are pretty solid on those shoes. I'll put screws in a pair of 100s if there are warm days and cold nights and the trails have turned to ice luges. But, recently, it's been so freakin' cold all the time that it's just powder or packed snow which usually grips really well.

David said...

Thanks!

Brian Christianson said...

Without question, winter has become my favorite season to run in. The combination of crisp, cold air and increased padding underfoot, makes for some of the most existential running experiences. It is hard to imagine anything more heavenly than returning home to a fresh pot of coffee after a run through the crystalline tunnels formed by snow-laden boughs of firs and pines. We just had a bout of -12 to -20 days up here in Missoula, MT. Ahh. Refreshing. Any race plans yet for 2010?

Marco Peinado said...

sounds like you are having fun, as always!! I don't know how you are still running up Green mtn but its not surprising knowing you. Its not like I can run up mt Massive anymore. I don't enjoy winter as well. Now that I am back in Leadville its hard to find a place to go for a long run. Good to hear from you, keep those post coming.

PunkRockRunner said...

I almost feel bad about complaining about the chilly 30-degree temperatures at last weeks CIM - almost.

The dedication required to run as often as you do, with a busy schedule and some serious winter weather speaks volumes as to your love of the process. Of course, it sounds like the view is worth the ascent.

Happy holidays,

Ron

Frank said...

So Tony, where are the photos of the frozen beard?

Very funny blog. By the way I am weak and wait for the temp to get above 15 before i run..

enjoyed!

Mike said...

I agree with Frank. Where is the picture of the beard? You must be a sight when you cruise through the campus with that face.

Thanks for the great post.

GZ said...

buried in the post, but the best snotsicle pix I have seen all year are over at Nick's blog ... http://irunmountains.blogspot.com/2009/12/week-ending-dec-13.html

C.J. Hitz said...

Anton,

Just curious to know why you weren't able to race at NF50 December 5th? Just seems like a $10,000 prize would be a no-brainer for a "poor" college student (been there done that). Was it injury?

Anton said...

C.J.
Yeah, my right knee has been an issue off and on since April. It took me out for nearly two months in the spring (causing me to be unprepared for Western States), and I've never been able to really gain any training momentum since Leadville---I had to take a full month off after Leadville and then a week here and week there ever since. Right now it's flaring back up again...frustrating to say the least.

Plus, in retrospect, I've had so much schoolwork over the last three or four weeks that there was no way I could've taken that weekend off and jetted out to Marin and still gotten it all done.

C.J. Hitz said...

Bummer Anton. Certainly understand that. Hopefully, you'll be healthy for next year's NF50. I know you'll make a run for the $$ if you are.

Always a pleasure reading your blog

John O said...

Socks?!?

regenagweeks said...

hello~nice to meet u..............................

sarah said...

Tony,

Your running has inspired me since you ran the Pony Express in Woodland Park in 2006. (I was volunteering) It's not that you are a very talented, gifted runner; it's your attitude towards the whole concept of running and in particular, long distance trail running. From reading your excerpts from the Incline Club, your blog here as well as a few other posts, it seems as though you cannot wait to get back out for the next run, regardless of weather, time of day or other exterior influences. My thoughts exactly! You have a true love of running and truly appreciate being able to run in these perfect Colorado mountains.
Don't let anyone give you any grief about frozen beards on a -10F on a dark morning.....that is the best weather and the best time of day! I can think of no other better way to start the day.

Take care and keep running....and for these winter days, give snowshoeing a try....

Sarah

DEANNA STOPPLER said...

I appreciate your post. Winter running is an adventure in itself! Diversity of the seasons rules!

Julia Harpston said...

Hey Anton,

Been reading your blog for a good few months now, you’ve really an inspiration to people who wanna get into running like me! I’ve created my own blog about Compression tights and stuff about running and sportswear. Id be really appreciate if I could get a message back and also if you could link to my blog http://compressiontights.blogspot.com/ - the name of the blog is Compression tights
thanks,
your effort inspires me :-D

Uli Steidl said...

Hey Julia,

you wrote the EXACT same comment on my blog. And you obviously didn't follow my blog for "a good few months" as I only started it 2 weeks ago.
Your blog is some poorly written rambling about compression tights and shirts, which in my opinion are completely useless for the average runner.

Jay said...

Glad to see you writing and I hope I run into you again on Green Mtn in 2010. I will email you in hopes of doing a trail run together sometime soon. Take care.

Chris Roman said...

Really awesome Anton. You are an inspiration for sure:)

robert.blair said...

Anton,

I remember running in grey sweats covering flannnel underwear top and bottom, wearing a ski mask and some heavy duty, generic, ski gloves when it was 0-10 degrees in Boulder in 1991-1996 during the years I lived there.

Had no idea what the right clothing to wear was, nor would I have had the money to buy it.

But what a beautiful experience, and all was so quiet. No one else was out in that kind of weather. Quiet and beautiful.

Thanks for the post.

vis said...

Any heel rub on the 100s when you go sockless?

Aaron said...

I agree with you that 50F is much nicer, but the snowy trails around boulder have been kind of a cool experience for me lately too. I'm pretty sure I won't see you around on the trails though, because 6 am is WAY earlier than I have ever done at this time of year.

Michael said...

Anton,

Thanks for the post, all of them actually.

Injuries... Unfortunately for the past 6 weeks I've been unable to run due to a minor, but persistent knee injury. Well, finally I felt ready so I hit the trail yesterday. However, the results were disheartening. My knee held up pretty good, but my overall running abilities were noticeably hindered due to the time off. Any advice on staying positive during the 'less than spectacular' recovery?

Hope your running during semester break was enriching?

Michael

Matthew said...

you should blog more
considering the amount of your followers

Coolrunnings said...

I think if Anton blogged more, then he would have even more followers demanding even more blogs. My fav comment is the compression shorts/compression shirts posting on a site of a guy who doesnt like to wear much of anything. Oh the irony!

Yo mismo said...

Anton:
From Spain
I am following your runs from here. Gives Inspiration to an oldie like me, to keep running.
I am evolving from marathon to more ultra runner. After reading your winter post, I would like to know if you take food or drinks during those early morning run, or if you eat something before..
Madrid have been too cold for me in the mornings.
If you plan anything any run near Spain, let me know. I will me more than glad to support you here in whatever way you may need.