March 8, 2010

Battling the Elements

This weekend I've definitely had two challenging runs mostly caused by the weather. Yesterday I wanted to get a 4 plus hour run in and it was a stellar sunny day. The skies were blue, it was calling for a high of plus 9 (!) and I even got my bike out for the first time since moving to Banff and ran my errands around town on my bike. So it was an awesome start to the day and the roads have been bare for quite a while now so I was lulled into a false sense of security for my run. I decided to do a pretty standard route - along Rundle riverside followed by a powerhike up Sulphur. I'd last been up Sulphur 2 days earlier and although slippery at the base it was do-able and fine after the lower section. Rundle riverside rolls gently up and down but yesterday it was a death trap!!! With the mild temps much of the snow had turned to ice and black ice at that so it was really hard to spot until the last minute when I then had to quickly find a spot of bare ground. A couple of stretches were beautifully clear dry trail but for the most part I welcomed when I hit real snow - trudging through that might not be easy but at least it was safe! The rest was not exactly the most relaxing running as I tried to hop and skip around the ice, with some interesting dance moves thrown in! I was pretty lucky to get off the trail with only one graze to my hand and one scrape to my elbow!

I was almost tempted to skip the Sulphur hike portion of my run but I wanted to get more time in plus I wanted to get some elevation in. My usual detour from running on the road to the base was slick with ice so I bailed off that and made do with running along the side of the reasonably busy road - not much fun. I was optimistic when I got to the trail head that it would be no worse than Friday but soon reaslised it was got waaaay icier and it was hard to spot the slippy sections as it was packed snow rather than real ice. I kept going but it was so slow and I'm not really sure it was much of a work out so I ended up turning around before I made it to the top as I was worried about losing daylight without my headlamp. The descent of course was even more interesting; I'm not sure that the Olympic luge run would have been any harder to attempt to run down. I pretty much ended up cautiously walking whilst clinging onto tree roots at the side of the trail! Or when it got really bad, I just sat and slid down on my but. Hmmm, not sure this can really be classed as run training!! So all in all, what would normally take me 4h20 or so took me 5h05 and it was definitely more of a hike than a run. Oh well...

So today I decided to embrace the season and get some skiing in. They'd forecast snow for tonight but I guess it came early and it was great to be up on the hill with the first fresh snow in a full five weeks. It was flurries all day up on the hill and was fun to get fresh tracks most of the day. But I still wanted to get a run in so headed down early and thought that if I hit the roads then I would be pretty ok. However just as I headed out the snow decided to get heavier and soon I was running head first into driving snow. Maybe I should have kept my ski goggles on because I sure couldn't see much! It was a pretty fun run but definitely a winter adventure. I headed out to the Banff Springs golf course where there is a closed road and at the turn around I could see that my tracks had got covered within about 10minutes. A really beautiful run though and definitely not just a boring 2 hours on tarmac.

So I guess it is wait and see for running over the next few days. More snow is forcast - my bike is back inside :( - and I'm thinking that it's back to the treadmill tomorrow...


  1. Hey Mr Cooper, well snow is one thing but sheet ice is one entirely different thing and I challenge you to find a single person who is good at running on ice! I mean the Canadians have invented a whole range of weird winter sports but I don't think ice running is one of them!!

  2. You must see a good old-fashioned game of broomball. I'll see if I can scrounge you up a pair of those shoes...