This Weather

This winter’s weather has been the pits, and we have another month and a half left until it’s officially Spring. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready to move!

It's pretty, but I'm over it.
It’s pretty, but I’m over it.

I’ve lived in the Northeast my entire life – born in New York City, raised in New Jersey, attended college in the Poconos, and back to New Jersey. So I’m no stranger to snow, freezing cold temperatures, and minimal daylight. I remember snow days almost every year of school. I specifically remember two outrageous blizzards: one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (I was annoyed that we already had the day off), and another on Valentine’s Day one year (also annoyed because we missed our classroom party). And I can’t forget the snow days in college that turned into snow keg days. Aside from that, the snow and the cold has been manageable. It’s by no means pleasant or convenient, but I’ve been able to deal with it. However, the last few winters have been abnormal; I found myself running in far fewer layers than one would expect for December and January, there weren’t any snow days, and even though it was cold, it was never that cold. It’s pretty clear I’ve lost my cold and snow tolerance, because this entire winter has been pretty miserable.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so miserable this winter is because of running. I’ve only been a “serious” runner for the last 3 winters, and up until this year, they were mild. Trying to get out the door for a run can sometimes be a struggle for me on a good weather day. Throw in snow, ice, freezing cold temperatures, and a combination of it all, and I really don’t want to run. Sure I could drive to the gym and hop on the treadmill, but there are a few reasons why this is usually my last resort. First, the gym is about a 15-20 minute drive away. If the weather is bad, driving is probably the last thing I want to be doing. Second, when the weather is bad and people can’t workout outside, everyone goes to the gym. I belong to a cheap gym that I use solely for the treadmill, and so does everyone else. I went once when there was freezing rain outside, and there wasn’t even a spot to park in their lot. And third, I would much rather run outside if I can. I know, I know, I live in the Northeast and it’s winter. I should expect these conditions. And don’t get me wrong, I do. But it doesn’t mean I enjoy it!

Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.
Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.

So what has running been like in this weather? I think my run yesterday really captured it all. After 10+ inches of heavy, wet snow on Monday morning, we had more snow and freezing rain overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. So when I went out for my lunchtime run of 7 miles, I was faced with three surface options: knee-high snow, puddles up to my ankles, or 2-3 inches of slippery slush. I fluctuated between the three and found the slush to be the least offensive (barely). The entire month of January included either more snow, and/or wind chills that brought the “real feel” temperatures into the negatives. This kind of weather week in and week out has definitely been trying on me as a runner (as it has for all runners!) for more than one reason. Like I said, it’s hard to get out the door when it’s so gross outside, but it’s also sometimes hard to accept the paces that you’re running. Yesterday’s run, for example, was supposed to include 2 tempo miles (which I should be running at or below 7:30), and there was no way that was going to happen. I’ve accepted the fact that on days like yesterday, it’s more important that I was out there actually running, and not how fast or slow it was happening. I mean, there were points where I had to hop over snow piles nearly up to my hip!

I basically looked like this while "running" in the snow
I basically looked like this while “running” in the snow. Also, this picture was from last week, before it snowed another 10+ inches… and was “warm”

I’ve just been reminding myself that getting out there and doing something is better than nothing. I whine before the run, and during the run, but once it’s over I’m glad I got out there. I just keep telling myself that these are the runs that will help make me a stronger runner. I’ve also started to visualize running in warmer weather, and remembering the 100+ hot and humid days where I longed for cooler weather. Grass is always greener on the other side, eh? I really need to move somewhere that has a moderate climate – I’m tired of all of these extremes!

Tell me…
What do you do when the weather is crappy by you? Do you still get out there and run? Hit the gym? Home treadmill?

Sick Day Comforts

Late last week, I boasted to my fiancĂ© how it was so impressive I hadn’t yet gotten sick this winter. Throughout high school and college, I could count on a nasty cold, usually turning into a sinus infection and one of those never ending tickling coughs to rear it’s ugly head at least once a winter. It really put a cramp in my training for swimming, but I somehow always managed to work with it. I got sick last year after catching a cold from my fiancĂ©, but this year, I thought I was in the clear. Oh I was wrong.

This past weekend I headed to Scranton to attend the Alumni Swim Meet, where the seniors on the team are celebrated, and parents and alumni attend as well. It’s the last duel meet before their championship weekend, so it’s a nice close to the season. Of course, since it’s Scranton, there was snow falling the entire day, and it was quite chilly. Unlike in my college days, I made sure to dress appropriately for the weather, and headed out for a fun night to celebrate the graduating seniors, all of my alumni friends, and a recent engagement between two alumni swimmers! Unfortunately in Scranton, you are allowed to smoke in bars if you are under a certain percentage of revenue related to food. I woke up Sunday morning with a scratchy, sore throat which I attributed to screaming over the music, and a smoky bar.

Monday rolled around, and my throat still didn’t feel right, but it wasn’t too bad. I motored through the day, and when I woke up on Tuesday I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks. Super tired, lethargic, a raging headache, a tickle/scratch cough, and a sore throat. I knew it was game over – I had gotten sick this winter. I struggled through the work day, and resolved myself to the couch for the rest of Tuesday evening. I knew I’d be spending Wednesday at home, laying on the couch watching TV and catching up on homework.

What I'm resolved to when sick...

Even though my appetite isn’t itself, I knew I needed to eat something for breakfast. Enter the peanut butter and Nutella grilled sandwich! Until recently, I never thought of grilling some things between two slices of bread. Then I saw Shelby’s Grilled PB&J, and Caitlin’s Grilled Banana sandwich. I thought to myself that peanut butter and Nutella would work well together… and oh it does!

So whether you’re feeling under the weather or just want a treat, make this! It’s so quick and easy. I feel silly writing out the directions to make a grilled sandwich, and it’s so simple I actually had trouble writing it out. So forgive me!

Peanut Butter & Nutella Grilled Sandwich
– Serves 1 –

2 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
2 Tbsp Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
2 slices sandwich bread (any kind will do)
Cooking Spray
1 Tbsp butter

1. Spread peanut butter on one side of a piece of bread
2. Spread Nutella on one side of the other piece of bread
3. Put two pieces of bread together, peanut butter & Nutella facing one another
4. Butter one side of the bread, leave the other side un-buttered
5. Spray skillet, and heat to medium-high heat, place sandwich non-buttered side down first
6. Check every few minutes, and once one side is golden brown, flip, cooking other side until similarly golden brown