Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Keeping Your Water Cozy

There are a few essential items you need if you're a runner, to keep you outside during the cold winter months.  Some good grips on your shoes so you don't slip on ice, appropriate running gear so you can stay as warm as possible, and a way to keep your hydration from freezing.  Oh yes, a real issue.

It dips below -10C and making sure you have hydration (& fuel!) for your longer runs becomes a real issue.  Tucking it inside your jacket, putting it inside your mitts (your gels and bars anyways), and even inside your bra (yes I've done this with my phone).

Last year to get around this, I sewed a cozy for my phone, and a cozy for my water bottle.  It was pre hydration pack days, and the days of my Iphone 5 battery that would die if it 0C.  I took some quilt batting, and some minky fabric left over from my sons baby quilt, and made little pockets.  Because my phone was so finicky, it was only taken out in dire conditions because as soon as it was exposed to the elements.  Zip it had no battery and turned itself off.  The comical part to this, is once it was warmed back up, turn it on, battery was back to where it had been.  Anyways, the water bottle cozy also worked well.  It fit into my waist pack, and between the cozy and flipping my bottle upside down, I was in business.

But I switched to a hydration vest last year, and the day before the Last Chance a couple weekends back, I called my brother in a mild panic.  How do you keep your hydration pack from freezing?  He wore it under his jacket.  I got off the phone and thought there HAD to be a better way.  So as a crafter and sewer, I set to work.

For the brief mockery I got, this hydration pack cozy was AMAZING.  My water folks was room temp until 16K, and it NEVER froze.  Nor did any of fuel.  I had the pack under my jacket, and my fuel inside the vest.  Not only did it keep my water warm, it also kept me warm!  The quilt batting on my back proved to be a nice source of warmth.

Here's how you too can make your own if you're crafty inclined:

You need to be able to have the cozy come off easily, so either a zipper needs to be put around, or in my case, I used a metal snap closure.

First, trace around the outside of your pack where your hydration pouch sits.  You need to cut this "pattern" out of both your quilt batting (twice), and once with a cover fabric (or twice if you also want to cover the back).  The back of mine is only the quilt batting.  For the purposes going forward I'll describe how I constructed it for my UltraSpire vest, as each pack will be slightly different.

First you need to attach your metal snap to both pieces of quilt batting.  Mine had prongs that flipped out, so I just needed to push the prongs through the batting, then push the prongs out sidways.  With that done, I sewed together my flannel with one of the quilt battings using a 1/4" seam, flipped inside out and pressed (piece A).  For tidiness purposes, I took the second piece of batting and sewed the edge in 1/4" (piece B).  I then sewed piece A to piece B, only along the BOTTOM until it hit the lower set of ties.  Hydration packs need to be washed, and I didn't want anything complicated to have to take apart on a weekly basis.

Side view so you can see that only the bottom of piece A and B are sewn together, leaving the side open.
So how does it actually stay on??  Along the top edge, both piece A, and piece B have a piece of velcro in the corner, sewed down on a diagonal to keep the velcro secure.

And voila!  One hydration pack cozy to keep you, and your water, nice and warm.  A fellow runner commented after the run that all of her gels were frozen as well as her water.  That was the point I was really glad I took the few (maybe half hour?) to sew this cozy together.

If you make one, I'd love to see how yours turns out.  Keep warm friends!

Monday, November 24, 2014

'Stache with Stash!

I recently did some stash busting, to create this adorable 'stache for my eldest daughter.

We had a week of incredible cold (temps in the negative teens), and she asked to wear her scarf to school.  A fleece scarf that came free with her snowsuit, when I think she was 2.  A knitting Mom can do better than that!  Plus she was using it as a balaclava and was always having to ask someone to tie it behind her head.

I turned to an online group of friends on Ravelry who suggested Incognito.  Seriously, how fun!

This knits up in no time flat, and there are about six possible 'staches to choose from.

I first knit poirot, which unfortunately was too wide and narrow and didn't look like a moustache at all when my daughter wore it.

This one is just perfect and was an alternate moustache a Ravelry user created.

Bonus is I didn't have to buy any yarn for this project.  All stash I had tucked away.  The pink and purple are Cascade 220 and from a ballet bag I knit for my daughter 4 years ago.  The 'stache is created from a hat I made for her I believe when she was 2!

The weather has warmed up, but we are all ready for the cold when it hits again now :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Man Colds and Running

I've come down with a man cold.  I explained this to my husband last night who looked at me and questioned what exactly that is.  I chuckled to myself that a man doesn't know the term 'man cold'.

My head feels like it is in a bit of a vice, I'm cold, congested, having trouble sleeping, and generally would like to crawl into bed and stay there for a long time.  Amazingly Wednesday night I did go to bed at 7:30pm. I usually think I'm pretty good about having a cold, but this one, despite that I would consider it mild, is doing me in.

There are some positives with having a man cold.  We are hunkering down at home, I'm casting on some new knits (can't show you though, top secret for Christmas!), and drinking lots of tea.  The kiddos are probably happy too as they are getting a bit more run of the house ha ha.

The downside, other than all the symptoms listed above, is I'm not getting my runs in.  I was determined to try and run at least 3 or 4 times a week this month, and for various reasons am still only fitting in 2.  Shoot!

One switch is my youngest is no longer napping, which made fitting in a run tricky during the day, as her naptime used to be my treadmill time.  I've started running while she is awake.  I haven't attempted more than 5K.  That seems like a healthy amount of time for toddler freedom ha ha.

Here are some snapshots of her antics (which are actually really fantastically well behaved).  My hope is as I do this weekly, it will become part of hers (and mine) normal routine, and I won't need to worry about why it's so quiet when she leaves the front room where the treadmill is.  (Can I also say I think it's incredibly cute that 'treadmill' is part of her regular vocabulary?  Or that at class yesterday she recognized I was wearing 'running socks!').  Training them early ;)

I need to keep working at getting more running time per week, and making that a priority in my schedule.  Toddler Freedom treadmill runs are helping, but I need to fit in a couple more.  First I need to get over this cold (and get some more sleep!), then will work on getting my feet out there more often!

Now to go drink some more tea, and find those needles :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

#flatrunner (and Last Chance Half Race Review)

If you run (or even if you don't), and have an Instagram account, go check out the #flatrunner.  I stumbled across it one day and it gave me a chuckle.  It also serves as great inspiration for running costume possibilities!

Last Sunday I ran my last race of the year.  Saturday it was mid teens here, but with a warning Arctic air was coming and it would be our last day of Fall (er more like Summer really).  It was really hard going to bed Saturday night knowing we would wake up to Winter the next morning.  Even harder knowing I had a half marathon to run it in!

The race started at 10am, which

at first I thought would be great giving a chance to sleep in (har har with three kids), and have a bit of a relaxing morning without the usual crazy morning race prep.  I found 10:00 to be too late.  I was really ready to go by 9am.  I also  knew that the temp (with windchill) of -15C was going to continue to drop throughout the day.  Let's get this done!

All runners hunkered inside until we started shuffling out to the cold at 9:55.  As many races are going, this was a no headphone event.  Some still wear them, but as mentioned in my previous post, I'm trying to learn to do without.  Both my Nano and Ipod batteries were low, so it was an easy decision to leave them in the car.  I also left my phone behind (so no photos to share which is unfortunate as there were some great opportunities), but it was equally nice to disconnect.

I had moments where my elbows were freezing (around 7K), and then my hands (around 12K), and alot of time to think, partly about my running gear.  I have some FAVORITE pieces.  I've been running off and on now since 2002, and most of my pieces date back to those early days.  They have held up well, and some pieces I'm starting to replace, but trudging along on Sunday, I was sporting my favorites, and thought I'd share them.

Here's my flat runner, reconstructed after the race, with the help of my kids (leg position thanks to my son!).

My favorite pieces are:

Sugoi Speedster - really can't say enough about this top, and it's unfortunate to see it's impossible to purchase now.  It has mitts that fold down from the cuffs, and a hood you can flip up.  I can't count how many times during the race this past weekend that I flipped the hood up or down when I needed just that little bit more warmth.  And those mitts that flip out, BEST thing when my hands were frozen and needed one more layer.

Sugoi Midzero Bun Toaster - I'm pretty sure these are what mine are anyways.  They have wind protection which is awesome to keep my thighs and butt warm.  These are a must for me in the winter.

Compression socks - the ones pictured are from Lunatik athletiks.  I'm new to wearing compression socks on my longer runs, but these were great as an extra layer of warmth on the weekend.

Sugoi Wind Jacket - I'm not sure what this jacket is even called, that's how old it is, but it's phenomenal.  Has underarm zips, a big zip pocket on the back, and it keeps the wind out.  A good wind protection is essential.  I briefly checked out getting a new one, but can't part with this one yet.

Flip mitts - I love that they can be gloves, or mitts.  Easy to flip the cover back to grab a gel or snack, then flip the top back over for wind protection.

Other random bits shown here are a long bra tank, a toque from Lululemon, my Rudy Project sunglasses,  and Buff.

I decided while running I needed to treat myself after the run to some new gear, and quickly decided it would be a new Speedster.  Since that isn't available now I'm on the search for a great thermal layer.  Do you have a MUST in your wardrobe you would recommend?

Overall, this race was fantastic and I will most likely run it again.  Amazing cheering volunteers (some even with cowbells!), that made the colder weather feel warmer with their enthusiasm.  Aid stations were well stocked (and I took amusement in the fact that the gatorade was a slushie by kilometer 15).  The medals were nothing to rave about, but warm french toast, scrambled eggs, and fruit salad, were delicious to warm up with.

The race ran short with a final distance of 20.7K.  If the distance had been accurate this would have been a personal best for me of 2:03:14.  Unfortunately, the perfectionist in me just can't rationalize with that, given calculators tell me my finish of the actual distance would be closer to 2:05.  Still, I'm really happy with the finish given the weather conditions.  In 2014 I ran 5 half marathons, and each time have slowly chipped back my time.  My first half of the season was 2:15:14, and I have managed to chip off 12 minutes off of  that!

I'm glad I raced it, glad I'm finished it, and happy to have a bit of a break until marathon training starts up again in January.  Until then, going to keep warm and enjoy the upcoming Holiday season.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Winter is a coming!

I have some usual runs I do, while trying to fit running into my life with three little kids.  Usually while my daughter is at her weekly activities and I'm solo without the other two, I will squeeze in a run.  But last week as I dropped her, the sun was already setting by 6:30.  My usual pathway was already dark, and I felt the constant need to check over my shoulder.  As a woman, I just don't feel safe running solo in the dark.  It's a pathway that isn't frequented by many people, and now especially as the light and temperatures dropped, I knew it was my last time on that path for awhile.

This past weekend, snow flurries hit, and once again, I said goodbye to a pathway I have loved.  When I started running again a year ago now, I stayed away from the usual paths travelled by runners, preferring to find community pathways that were a little less travelled.  And I have come to LOVE them.  They are beautiful, quiet, tree lined, and offer a wonderful sense of peace, that I so need in this season of my life.  Snow underfoot, I truly would have done better with snowshoes this past weekend.  And as I plodded along through the snow, I knew it was the last time I would run that path as well.  Less travelled means it isn't cleared by the city.  The time has come I will soon be trudging along with the other crazy winter runners out there, on the paths that are well cleared.

I haven't quite adjusted to the upcoming change in temperature, or the change in  light.  As mentioned above, I'm a scared night runner.  I do have a treadmill, but it's hard to squeeze in a run at home with three little people that are up and about (the littlest no longer naps).  Not to mention, despite the temperatures, running outside is alot more fun than in a living room.  I've been doing alot of thinking of ways that can help me feel more secure as this (sadly) long season of cold winter running approaches.

  • I run with a reflective jacket, but I recently purchased a reflective vest.
  • I don't run with music anymore.  If I'm out at night, it's just me and my thoughts.  I found this extremely difficult at first, but now it is kind of serene.  I feel more secure being able to hear what is around me.
  • I've always done this, but am more cautious now.  I stop at intersections and cross walks and make sure a car is at a complete stop before crossing.  In the past three weeks, I've almost been hit three times.  Cars just do not expect pedestrians out anymore.
  • A headlamp.  I'm thinking about picking one up.
If you are a winter runner, how are you adjusting to this change of season?  What are your tips for staying safe on the road?