Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Living in ski country!

Okay, once again I'll admit that my little snow stories are just piffle compared to the everyday experiences of people who live in the midwest, the northeast, and other parts of the country that are regularly blanketed in snow and cold temperatures. But for those of us who haven't seen a full-sized snowman for years, this spate of wintry weather is like living at the North Pole. In a good way.

First of all, let me say that the office Christmas party came off successfully despite the onslaught of snowfall that set in Wednesday afternoon and continued into the evening. Only three of our staff (and their dinner companions) backed off due to the weather. We were, however, the only guests at the restaurant that night! I was a little amused at the way our group divided up both for pre-dinner socializing and dinner seating. At one end we had Ann and me and our boyfriends, all in our forties. At the other end were all the other attorneys and their dates, all of whom are in their twenties (except Mary and her husband, who are in their early thirties, and they sat adjacent to me, but gravitated toward the youngsters). I'm not sure if the real division was age, or perhaps "management" and "staff." Anyhow, we had a great time and everyone got home safely in the snow. (Although only Ann and I made it in to work the following morning!) (Because of the snow.)

So, once the party was done I was happy to let the snow come, even if it meant covering for people who couldn't make it in. After Wednesday night we didn't get any new snow, but it stayed cold all day Thursday and all the side roads and sidewalks remained covered in a thick layer of snow and ice.

On Thursday night I decided the time was right to try out the snowshoes again. I took out the regular snowshoes, not the running ones and headed north on my street. My jaunt was fantastically successful. I walked about a mile north and then decided to try to hurry back to get to Starbucks before closing at 7:30. I got to the door (and threw off the snowshoes) just at 7:30, and got my latte for the walk home. Since I was no longer in a hurry, I was able to take the "scenic" route home, meaning wandering around the streets some more. When I measured my route later I found that I had walked just under 3½ miles total.

With that success under my belt, my next expedition was early Friday morning, 6 a.m. in fact, in the running snowshoes. My idea was to run north for six blocks (about half a mile), then back, and repeat on parallel streets for as far as I wanted to go.

My ideas about how far I might want to run changed quickly when I learned how much work snowshoe running is. Much harder than ordinary running! By the time I finished the first mile, I was beginning to get the hang of it, but I had to stop at the house to shed a layer of fleece—I got a lot warmer than I had expected to in the rather frigid air—and, as it turned out, I desperately had to go to the bathroom. That meant taking off the snowshoes to go into the house, which slowed my trip immensely.

I did another mile loop (and as it turns out, each was a bit further than a mile), then continued on toward Starbucks, about half a mile. From there I walked home as I usually do. My total distance was 3½ miles. So much for my idea that I would go over 1,500 miles for the year last week (with a simple total of 15 miles in the week). I only managed to run 5½ miles on Monday, 4¼ on Wednesday, and 3½ on Friday. But do think that each day's route was more challenging, with snow and ice on the ground Wednesday, and then the snowshoes on Friday!

In fact, I have determined through some internet research that snowshoeing (both walking and running) burns substantially more calories than just walking and running on their own. This article has a nice chart that shows the calorie use at different levels of effort. It appears to me that snowshoeing uses about 150 calories per mile. That certainly makes me feel better about the 3½ miles. (I might even say that the extra work makes the 3½ miles more equivalent to 5 miles—but I won't.)

All though my running miles were low for the week, the snowshoe fun continued. Instead of driving to work on Friday, I walked on snowshoes. Not only was it fun and good exercise, it gave me a good excuse to wear snow clothes at work, and people were quite impressed by my adventurousness!

Keeping up the nordic adventure theme, instead of going to the Y on Saturday morning, I went out for a long snowshoe tramp around town, five miles total. After about four miles I was thinking that maybe I had gone a little too far... but I got home without too much exhaustion and in plenty of time to head back out (in the car) to get my hair done and do a little Christmas shopping downtown. I finished just before our next round of snow rolled in, snowing all evening and into the night and adding a few inches of fresh for Sunday morning.

No long run on Sunday, but instead Rod and I went out to a local park using both pairs of my snowshoes. I was happy that he enjoyed it, because—if FedEx ever comes through—he is getting his own snowshoes for Christmas! Some parts of the park were swarming with kids on sleds and other sliding devices, but we managed to have some trails to ourselves for a real winter wonderland experience.

Amazingly, snow fell again on Sunday night, and by Monday morning the untouched snow in front of my house was knee deep. I haven't been inside my car since Saturday. I've been snowshoeing to work, around the neighborhood for fun (seven miles on Monday with the work jaunts and an evening walk), and to and from the grocery store and Starbucks.

Today Luke, one of our other attorneys, brought his snowshoes in to work as well and we both snowshoed back and forth between the office and court! We are indeed the sporty law firm.

Today I was content to keep my hiking to trips to the office and court, and one jaunt to the grocery store and QFC this evening, before hanging up the snowshoes for the night. The top of one foot has been a little tender, I can only assume from the pressure of my shoe and the snowshoe straps. As it was, I logged about five miles total. I am just praying that the snowshoeing is making up a little for the lack of running and the constant nibbling that I seem to be doing.

I am just about a mile and a half under my 1500 miles for the year. Technically, I have a week to get it done. I am hoping not to wait too long, but rather get in a few miles on the running snowshoes tomorrow morning. I have the day off (except for a quick hearing at 1:00), so I don't need to be out at the crack of dawn. Still, I'd like to go rather early, as I'm planning on heading out to my parents' after court is done.

We still have more snow on the potential horizon—including the possibility of snowfall on Christmas morning—but by the weekend things are supposed to start to warm up. So, by next week I should be back on a regular running schedule, and winter sports will have to be confined to the ski slopes again.

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