Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Sleepy "Snowzilla" Blizzard of 2016

The Washington DC metro area was hit with a huge blizzard last weekend. Known as "Snowzilla," "Storm Jonas," and "The Blizzard of 2016," this system dropped about 28 inches of snow onto my neighborhood, and similar amounts around all of Northern Virginia and DC. The storm began at around 1:00pm on Friday, Jan. 22, and continued until about 10:00pm the following day. Regardless, I still managed to keep up with my training plan. Here's how.

Friday, 1/22: 16-mile Long Run
View from my window on Saturday
Instead of doing my regularly planned 60-minute easy run, I did Saturday's 16-mile long run, starting at sunrise. This was challenging because I had done a 5.5-mile tempo run the evening before, which meant I only had about 15 hours to recover from that before doing the long run. I was supposed to run the second half of the 16-miler 20 seconds per mile faster than the first half. Miraculously, I was able to do this, even on very tired legs. The trick was to keep the first 8 miles slow (9:16/mile) so that I could run the last 8 miles at an average pace of 8:56/mile.

Saturday, 1/23: Blizzard Peak
There was definitely no way to run on Saturday. The snow was coming down heavily with "whiteout" conditions. I spent the day inside with Greg, just relaxing and doing housework. We had stocked up on good food, so we had a really nice dinner with wine. It was nice having the long run behind me and not having to worry about it. Saturday night, I slept for 9 hours and 41 minutes, without waking up at all. It was truly amazing because I usually get about 7 hours and 30 minutes. I guess the blizzard totally relaxed and de-stressed me!

Sunday, 1/24: 41 minutes + 41 minutes
A plow came by our neighborhood relatively early in the day, so by about 10:30, my neighborhood road had a clear path of packed snow. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to try out my Yaktrax (which I had bought last winter but never wore) to run in the snow. They worked really well-- no slipping or falling! But because there was still quite a bit of snow, my gait was not normal, and I
In front of my house after run #2. Greg shoveled this snow.
found myself using extra stabilizer muscles. My original plan was to run the 60 minutes that had been scheduled for Friday, but I stopped after 41 because it just felt weird and I didn't want to strain myself running in the snow. However, later in the day, the sun came out and the road looked better, so I Yaktraxed my way out of my neighborhood, removed the Yaktrax and ran on the completely snow-free road. There were almost no cars out, although I did have to dodge the snow plows. I ran another 41 minutes, giving me 82 minutes total for the day (8.7 miles). This gave me 52.7 miles for the week.

Monday, 1/25: 6 x 800m, 3 x 200m
I woke up on Monday morning in amazement. According to my FitBit, I had slept for 10 hours and 16 minutes, uninterrupted. This was completely unheard of! I had no clue why I was sleeping so much. I didn't feel sick, but I guess my body needed it.

My office was closed, which meant I could run at whatever time of day I wanted. Given this flexibility, I figured it would be best to get Tuesday's speed work out of the way on Monday, in case I had to go into the office on Tuesday. Obviously the track was not an option so I programmed the workout into my Garmin and ran a half-mile stretch of the street just outside of my neighborhood. I could not run in my neighborhood without Yaktrax, so I simply walked on the snow until I reached the edge of my neighborhood before and after the run.

As for the workout itself, yes, I had to share the road with cars. And yes, this was a little dangerous. But this street was fully plowed and wider than the typical road, so there was enough room for me. My paces were slower than if I had been at the track, but I chalked it up to being an incline/decline instead of a smooth track. After warm-up and cool-down, I logged a total of 9.1 miles for the day.

Tuesday, 1/26: 60 minutes
And AGAIN I woke up after an insanely long and uninterrupted night of sleep! One theory is that there's a constant noise of construction or trucks near my house that goes on at all hours of the night, and I'm guessing it stopped with all this snow. So maybe I finally had the quiet I needed to sleep well. 9 hours, 19 minutes.

I did Monday's 60-minute easy run on Tuesday. My office was still closed, which gave me the flexibility to run in the middle of the day again, with a reduced number of cars. I still had to walk through my neighborhood instead of run, but once I got out of it, I was able to run on clear roads. Once again, this was a little bit dangerous because I was sharing the road with cars, but I saw other people walking/running as well. Further, the roads were wide, so if two cars had to pass each other, there would still be room for me!

Wednesday, 1/27: 30 minutes
By Wednesday, I was finally back on my normal schedule and my office was open. My neighborhood had been plowed thoroughly by this point, so I simply ran in circles around the 0.6-mile loop. Boring and hilly, but safer than venturing out onto the main road during the morning rush hour.

Thursday, 1/28: 6-mile tempo
Thursday was tricky because temperatures got down to 16 overnight, which meant a refreeze of all the water/snow on the ground. Therefore, I had to wait until after work to do my tempo. The good news is that it was a warm and sunny day, so by the time I started my tempo at 4:15pm, everything had melted. I got into work at 7:00am and left at 3:15, which gave me an hour to drive home, change, and drive to the tempo location. Thankfully, my tempo route was ice-free and mostly dry, so I could run without worrying about slipping. I averaged a pace of 7:08 for the six miles, which was very encouraging. Including warm-up and cool-down, I ran 9.5 miles for the day.

Friday, 1/29: 60 minutes
The road outside of my neighborhood was coated in ice in the morning, so I resorted to doing laps around my 0.6-mile neighborhood loop! Very boring (and hilly) but I got it done.

Saturday, 1/30: 17 miles
Because sidewalks were still not clear, Greg and I decided to run the entire long run on neighborhood roads. We drove to this neighborhood (which is also my tempo location) and parked our car at the Starbucks at the end of the neighborhood. We challenged ourselves to run on as many of the neighborhood streets as possible. The result looked like this:

I missed most of Pennerview and all of Midstone!
All in all, the storm did not affect my running too much. Thankfully, I was able to adjust my schedule. One of my neighbors had offered me her treadmill as a back-up plan, but thankfully I didn't need to use it. I much prefer to run outdoors whenever possible. I logged 54.7 miles this week, and managed to do all workouts as prescribed by my coach.

It's hard to believe I still have 11 weeks until Boston. I already feel like the training is pretty intense, and it's only going to get more challenging!


  1. It is so awesome that you managed to get all these runs in, outdoors, despite the weather! Even if you had to use the treadmill it would still be a rockstar move because most people would just stay inside when it's that cold and snowy. What are your upcoming race plans?

  2. Hi Amy! Sorry I haven't visited your blog in awhile, life has been crazy so I haven't been reading any blogs! Anyway, my next race is a 10K, followed by the Shamrock half, and then Boston!

  3. Great week of training despite the bad weather. Love the map of the neighbourhood long run!! That's awesome.

  4. That is awesome that you were able to get all of your runs despite the weather. Hopefully this is the last of bad/snow weather right? :-)