Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Surviving the Cold

Last week, we had some very cold weather come through. The first photo here shows a screenshot (yes, that's a preview of the Windows 7 Beta running on my home computer) from last Friday morning before I headed into the lab. -17 degrees F with a wind chill of -31 F. I ran outside later that afternoon, although it had warmed up considerably. We started our run at 0 degrees and it warmed to 4 degrees by the end of our 7 mile run. The second picture shows the gear I wore for the run. We earned 5 points on this run.

5 points, you ask? How do you earn points on a run? My running group has a system wherein you earn points for runs on extremely hot or cold days. The formulas are as follows:

Winter points = Miles - Average Run Temperature in Fahrenheit
Summer points = Miles + Average Run Temperature in F - 100

Anything left that is positive earns you points. Since the average temperature on our run was 2 degrees F, the points we earned were 7 miles - 2 degrees = 5 points. Everyone diligently logs their points and then at the end of the year, we add them up and trade them in for absolutely nothing. My record for a single run is 12 points (18 miles in 6 degrees), which pales in comparison to some of the guys I run with. I could have racked up some serious points if I'd run when I got up on Friday morning! Some people say the run must be a minimum of 3 consecutive miles to earn points.

The last picture here shows my biking outfit for a cold winter commute in to work. I may complain a lot about how cold it is here, but it sure doesn't keep me inside!


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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Utah

My sister didn't have Christmas off this year, so the family headed out to her place in Salt Lake City once the airfare had dropped a week after the new year. We're just now finishing up our five day trip.

Our first full day here, we went skiing at Alta, which is where I have done the majority of my skiing in Utah. 12 inches had fallen in the 24 hours before we hit the slopes, but it was a very warm day (it hit 34 F at the Alta base) and the powder was really heavy. It was not the champagne powder Alta is known for and it made the skiing a lot of work. It was a gorgeous day, though, and still a lot of fun. The first picture here shows my dad trying to get up aided by my sister after taking an awesome face-first plant in the snow. I fell 3 times before lunch myself and the thick powder was lots of fun to tumble in. The second picture shows my brother and at I at the top of the Collins lift and the last picture is the mountains across the street from the Alta base in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
The next day was even warmer, so we skipped the skiing and went to one of the last days of the Body Worlds 3 exhibit in SLC, which was really cool. It was also helpful having Dr. Dad along to explain more than what the exhibits pointed out. I have no pictures to post since they don't allow photos, but it's definitely worth checking out if you get the chance. We spent two hours there and could have easily stayed longer. It was 54 degrees, so I was able to take a rare winter short-sleeve run back home after the museum.

The third day sent us to Solitude for skiing, where I'd never been. It was colder and we had 7 inches of fresh powder and the skiing was awesome. I really liked skiing there a lot and the crowds were very thin. It was a most excellent day of skiing.

Today I abandoned the skiing and went for a long run up City Creek Canyon, a run I discovered using the USATF Routes tool. It was a simply fabulous run. Unfortunately, I started 5 miles from the canyon. I'd only planned to run 12 miles, but once I got into the Canyon, I had to tack on some more because it was so incredible and I ended up doing a bit over 14 miles. It's a gradual climb up the Canyon, reasonable even for this Illinois flat-lander. The road was plowed, but is closed to traffic during the winter (and it's closed to traffic every other day in the warm seasons!). It was low-30's and sunny, which was perfect weather for the run and while the road was clear, there were banks of snow on the sides, with City Creek babbling a few feet away and snow-laden trees forming a canopy overhead. I really must find some mountains to live in when I finish my PhD.
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