This past week was a bit tense at work. Running was difficult due to the weather. The ice storm cameth (to paraphrase) and turned my seriously steep driveway into a death drop as I tried (unsuccessfully) to stop a 30+ mph backward slide from my garage to the street. After the tires miraculously found asphalt and brought my car to a halt, I remained frozen in the middle of the street, shaking as the adrenaline subsided. It was such a light amount of ice, but I've never (and I really do mean that) witnessed surfaces as slick as that little bit of moisture and freezing weather created on streets and sidewalks.
The ice melted off very quickly, and, after a couple of days killing myself getting 5Ks in on my Nordic Track, I ventured out for an easy 4 miler on Friday afternoon. About a quarter mile into the run I got a coppery taste in my mouth. That usually signals an asthma attack. But it wasn't very cold, and I hadn't had a bout in eighteen months or so. In fact, it had been so long since my last asthmatic incident, that I didn't even have an inhaler with me. So, thinking that it couldn't be asthma, I continued running. Well, a mile into the run, I realized that it was, for sure, an attack. I turned around, slowed to a trot, and tried to keep my wits about me until I could get home.
When I finally made it to my door a grueling 10-12 minutes later, I could barely take in enough air to make the inhaler function. I fell into bed and remained there for a couple of hours. Friday evening and night was spent coughing. By Saturday, I could feel the residuals of the attack, but I popped an inhalation of whatever is in my inhaler, and (with the inhaler in my pocket), took off on a slow 3.5 miler. It went nicely. No incident.
So on Sunday, Eric stopped by in the a.m. and we drove out to Clinton. The north shore trails were amazingly clear of debris. We normally take the white trail, but opted for the blue because it runs nearer to the lake. Clinton was shrouded in a beautiful haze. The weather was cool, and a stillness lay over the lake. It was a very pretty, relaxing run. We didn't see the usual deer, but instead saw flocks of robins that kept shooting out of the brush in front of us. It was a magical morning.
So, with Christmas around the corner, what do you get your running buddies that won't break the bank? Many runners seem to want the latest gadget that tells time, heart rate, location, speed, blood pressure, tire pressure, temperature on Venus, and projected rush-hour traffic delays in Nairobi. My advice is to finesse that type of purchase. Let your running friends' wives, husbands, boyfriends, parents... drop the requisite cash on those items. Because they'll invariably pick the wrong one, you'll save $ and a headache as your frined fumbles around learning how to work the stupid thing. Instead, get a bit creative. Here are some suggestions on the cheap:
Gloves - One of my running buddies noted that I always run in cheap gardening gloves (they're about $2 / pr). He and his spouse gave me a great little pair of wicking gloves that are very much appreciated. And they are something I wouldn't have bought for myself.
Hats - Same idea here. I have three hats that I use for cold weather running, from chilly to arctic. Two of the three are reflective and wicking. The third is for when it is simply too cold to go running, but you're going to do it anyway. Inexpensive, but something some runners don't seem to have. Target and running stores all have great hats specifically designed for running. Some are really cheap.
Books - I gave one running buddy a book by Dean Karnazes, and another a book about running and philosophy. Neither was expensive, but both are hours of inspirational fun for the avid runner.
Massage - A bit more expensive, but always appreciated. Gift certificates for a half hour or hour long sports massage are always a hit. I bought a certificate from my fav sports massage therapist and dropped it on a running buddy this past week. Since all runners have aches and pains, massage (and sometimes acupuncture) certificates are a relatively safe bet as good gifts.
Other ideas - Trail Runner Magazine, hand-held water bottles, belt water bottles, Bio-Freeze, Glide (anti-chafe) stick, a paid race entry, or, for free, a coupon book for with redeemable training runs. Be creative.
Finally, there is one of those houses that has lights that strobe and flash to music. You've all seen them on the net. If you're in Lawrence, head west on 6th Street to Folks Road. Turn south (left) and go for about a quarter mile until you see a road called 'Larisa' on your right. Take the right and follow it until it turns. Right on the corner is the house. Set your radio on 98.7, turn off your lights, and sit back and enjoy.
See you next week.