In Which Jenn Has Forgotten How To Run In The Cold

Christmas Run

Hello and welcome to The Fairest Run Of All, 2021 edition! Shall we start out the new year with a little light complaining? Let’s!

Because boy howdy, kids, as a denizen of the warm and humid land of Puerto Rico for almost two years now, I have all but forgotten how to run in the cold. I ran a series of 5Ks over the last couple weeks while in Maryland’s wintry throes, and while I knew intellectually it was going to be chilly I was not prepared.

Literally. I wasn’t prepared. I almost was – I packed gloves for my runs, and long-sleeved shirts and pants, and even puffer vests. So far so good. 

I also own four pairs of crew socks, the kind that go halfway up your calf. They’re soft and thick and warm and perfect for running, and currently live in a drawer in Puerto Rico. Of course in Puerto Rico they’re useless, but I keep them there so that if I’m ever flying somewhere cold, I can pack them. In this case, I did not remember to pack them. My ankles were COLD.

Not the end of the world, of course, but you know what ELSE winter running throws at you on top of the cold? Wind! Frickin’ GUSTS of wind! What is that about? Is the cold not enough??? (After the 2017 Rock ‘n Roll Marathon DC, you think I’d learn, but I guess I blocked the memory from my brain.)

Oh, and the rain. Why not add some rain while we’re at it? That’ll make it extra fun. Nothing like a good rain juuuust above 32 degrees – all the cold and wet with none of the pretty snow elements.

And the ice! The day after it rained, it got down to below freezing overnight, and during my next run there was ice. I kept my eyes on the ground and didn’t fall, but I still thought that was impolite.

Although! It did flurry on Christmas. I liked that. And the cold makes me much faster – a good minute per mile, sometimes. And once you get started and warm up a little, if the wind can just chill tf out, it’s really not so bad. 

I guess I did formerly run outside all winter and survive. I could get used to it again. Except that I’m back in Puerto Rico now, and don’t have to. Let the cycle begin anew!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Does NOT Bless The Sands Down In Africa

A view of the mountains from my balcony. They’re there, okay? Just trust me.
Today I did not run because of the weather. Was it stormy? No. Aggressively windy? No. Hail? Hurricane? Flood? Extreme heat? All logical for Puerto Rico, but no.
It was sand. In the air. FROM THE SAHARA DESERT.
Look, The Washington Post even published an article on it yesterday. They’re saying it’s a record amount.
A record amount of sand, yes, but not an unusual phenomenon: we get Saharan sand over here every year in the summer in the form of the Saharan Air Layer. NOAA can explain it to you in more detail, but basically the SAL kicks up over the desert and then crosses the freakin’ Atlantic to hang out in the atmosphere over here. 
As I understand it, this phenomenon is useful in mitigating the intensity of potential hurricanes, so that’s good. But it’s not fabulous for air quality. When the SAL shows up, especially in the levels we’re currently seeing, it’s recommended you stay inside and not breathe too much of the sand air. Particularly if you have asthma or anything else that causes difficulty in breathing.
I myself have some exciting allergies to dust, and while I had planned to go for a run this morning Pat was VERY dubious about the wisdom of this choice; he asked me like eighteen times if I was sure I wanted to go for a run. So I did my arms/shoulders workout instead. BUT I DIDN’T LIKE IT. (Not that I ever really do, but that’s not the point.)
Pat assures me the levels are supposed to go down tomorrow, so I intend to knock those missed miles out then. Hear that, Sahara Desert? You ain’t ever gonna keep me down! (Ain’t never? I can’t remember how good Chumbawamba is about grammar.)
What’s the weirdest weather you couldn’t run in? Or heck, the weirdest weather you could?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has A Nifty New Running Trail

I’ve found a new running trail! It (mostly) hugs the beach all through Piñones, and features some pretty sweet views of the ocean and sometimes even the mountains. 

It has some hills, too, which obviously aren’t always a good time while you’re doing them but are great for training purposes. My times got significantly faster when I started running outdoor routes with hills. Between that and the heat and humidity, I expect to crush my next mainland race, of course. 😜

I’ve followed the trail as far as 5 miles, but I’ve seen more trail across the street from where I stopped so I know there’s more! Out-and-backs aren’t always the best, but they’re a helluva lot better than doing laps in a parking lot to fill out your mileage, I can tell you that much.

I tried to take a video during my last long run during my favorite portion of the trail. I can’t say it turned out great, per se, in that it a bit herky-jerky and I didn’t always control the camera as well as I would’ve liked. In my defense I was also partially concentrating on not tripping and falling on my face.

All the same, this video will give you the gist, and Pat doctored it nicely and added some music (Nellie McKay’s “Caribbean Time,” since you asked). It doesn’t do the trail justice but it’ll have to tide you over until you can come visit.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Runs In San Juan

While we apartment-hunt for a permanent place, Pat and I are staying in a little place by the beach in Ocean Park, in the northern part of San Juan on the coast. It’s not a proper hotel and there’s no gym… but like any good addict, I’m not about to let my training just drop, y’know? Mama needs her mileage! … Ew. Why did I say that? I mean, it’s true, but why did I say it like that?

Anyway. So it’s hot here in Puerto Rico (WUT) and humid, and even in the middle of the night it’s 75 degrees. But I’m a warm weather person so that’s okay. The first week I did a series of 3 milers, and then a series of 4, and it’s working out fine.

The routes are a little weird, though. I mean, not weird, just not ideal. The neighborhood we’re in is compact so I do a lot of doubling up around blocks and stuff. A nice feature, though, is a park about a third of a mile away from our place. I mean, can’t hate on that view, can you?

San Juan running

And this sidewalk… embossing? Or whatever. It’s pretty cute.

San Juan running

San Juan running

There’s even a track in the park, although I’m not a huge track fan. I’ve used it once or twice but I prefer the neighborhood streets.

The sidewalks are rough, though, man. There are uneven curbs and potholes and random uneven bits. All throughout my ballet career my teacher has told me to stop looking at the floor, but in running this particular skill has served me well. You gotta keep your eyes on the ground or you’re going down. Hell, I almost broke my ankle this morning while walking. Thank God I have flexible joints.

I’m still hoping to snag an apartment with a treadmill when the time comes, but for now, this is working out fine. Now if I can only find a good race series…

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has A Boardwalk Running Suggestion

It’s officially summer, and that means beach trips are just around the corner. And beach runs, of course. 

Personally, I love running on Ocean City’s boardwalk. Probably just about any boardwalk, really. The sights! The energy! The ocean breeze! The flatness! The occasional water fountain!

But even I have had some tough-ish runs in this wonderful setting, and it’s not hard to figure out why: sometimes, during a summer vacation at the ocean, it’s hot.

I try to confine my summer outdoor runs to the morning, but once in awhile I’ve been forced by circumstance to knock it out in the late afternoon. This unfortunately means, among other things, dodging crowds and surviving in the hot sun. Makes those water fountains look extra good, right?

One solution here is to run intervals to conserve energy, but sometimes it’s so hard to start running again once you’ve stopped, amirite? Well, if you find yourself on Ocean City, Maryland’s boardwalk, I can help you out. Feast your eyes on the Candy Kitchen:

No, I’m not suggesting you duck in for some restorative fudge and a milkshake to go. (Although don’t let me stop you.) The secret here lies in the fact that there are, oh, I don’t know, 87 Candy Kitchens on the boardwalk alone. YES THAT’S THE ACTUAL NUMBER. (No, but seriously, there are at least four or five over the span of less than 2.5 miles.)

So, all you have to do is: run to the next Candy Kitchen. Then walk to it. Repeat. Or walk 30 seconds every time you get to a Candy Kitchen. Whatever. There’s no perfect formula but you’ll never run or walk tooooo crazy far and I promise you your run will get done. I can always promise you this. You can do it!

Or, like, just get some fudge and call it a day. It’s vacation!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Runs But Might As Well Be Swimming

As noted, the Wayfarer’s Half was cancelled for potential storms… and then no storms appeared whatsoever. That was Saturday. 

Sunday was another story entirely – great buckets dumped from the sky allllllll day, legit rain to which words like “shower” and “sprinkle” did not apply. And this was bad news for me because, having wound up running only a 10k, I wanted to get another run in.

I waffled about my options. 

  1. I could skip the run, of course. I did just run a race, even if it was a much shorter one than I had expected.
  2. I could pack up all my stuff, drive to the gym, use the treadmill, and drive back.
  3. I could suck it up and let the rain have at me.

At Pat’s encouragement, I decided to take a shot on a rainy run. I slapped on a ball cap to keep the droplets out of my eyes, stuck my phone in a sandwich bag, walked outside… and promptly came back inside for my weather resistant jacket, because in addition to being rainy it was chilly to boot.

Enjoy this photo shot through a plastic bag and distorted by a water droplet!

Okay. I was finally ready to brave the elements. I walked toward the usual corner where I start my runs AND IMMEDIATELY GOT 100% DRENCHED BY A PASSING CAR.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect shot if the driver had done it on purpose: the gutter was overflowing, and due to the narrowness of the lane the wheel got all up in there. The resulting spray hit me in the face and chest and completely soaked my tights. I may as well have jumped right into the pool.

I doubt anyone would’ve blamed me if I’d turned on my heel and marched right back into my apartment for a 45 minute hot shower. But you know, it’s funny – after the initial shock and annoyance, my ill-fated hosing put me in just the right mindset for my wet, froggy run. After all, there’s nothing beyond drenched. As Tom Stoppard says, things have gone about as far as they can go when things have gotten about as bad as they can reasonably get. And short of fording an actual river, I wasn’t going to get any wetter.

And so I ran five miles in a downpour, sloshing my way through enormous puddles cheerfully because my socks and sneakers were already waterlogged, so what difference did it make? My rainy run had secretly been an aquatic adventure all along!

But I still followed the whole thing up with a long hot shower. Even brave girls have needs.

What’s the worst weather you’ll run in? Has an errant vehicle ever tried to take you down?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Creates A Running Allegory Or Whatever

Sometimes training runs are easy. And sometimes they’re hard. Some days you love running and some days you hate it. Sometimes you start off fine and then, suddenly, you run into an obstacle.

Sometimes you can see it way far ahead in the distance and it makes you nervous and tense. How can you possibly handle this issue?

And then you get closer and you’re like, yeah, that’s a problem.

But luckily, nine times out of ten, if you look around a little you’ll find a new path, and you can go on your merry way.

I hope this metaphor was helpful to you. Mostly what I’m trying to say here is LOOK AT THE GINORMOUS TREE THAT LANDED ON MY RUNNING TRAIL.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Notices New Running Paths

One phenomenon I have noticed increasingly over the years as a runner is that I have become hyper aware of running paths. Anytime I’m driving along and I see a trail, I immediately begin to parse out its running potential. 
This is a great way to suss out new places to train, except that the tragedy is that often I never seem to get there!
Oh, not always. I’ve run on Assateague Island now (and it was awesome!). And I’ve run a portion of the trail by Pat’s brother’s house. But a lot of paths are still on my bucket list.
It can be my fault, of course. I first found my current running trail, the Bethesda Trolley Trail, while wandering around the neighborhood, but there are portions of the trail when driving toward work that I’ve never set foot on. They’re not part of my marked route, you see. What’s stopping me from stepping off the beaten path? Only myself and my penchant for routine!

Yet sometimes it seems it’s just not in the cards, at least so far. There’s this amazing fishing bridge we pass every time we drive to/from Ocean City, and I am dying to run on it. It’s a wooden bridge across a river with porta potties and little covered picnic tables and it looks picturesque and adorable! But it’s two hours from home and one from OC itself, so it’s never really convenient…
I saw a big one a couple weeks ago. I had a meeting at Mount Vernon, and while driving out of the facility I noticed a lovely running and biking path. It looked delightful and I idly thought it might be fun to run around the Mount Vernon area someday.
Well. Forget just running around Mount Vernon – as I drove around the outskirts of DC, this thing followed me for MILES. I don’t think I lost it until I saw signs for Dulles. You could fit massive long runs on that path!
I don’t know if I’ll ever knock out all my bucket list running trails, but it’s always nice to add to my collection. 
Do you keep an eye out for running paths while you drive?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Finds A Whole New Running World

Last weekend I was very brave. I did my longest pre-marathon run of 17 miles… OUTSIDE.


For the longest time I was strictly a treadmill girl. But time and circumstances pushed me outside more and more. Then last June I lost my nice, walking distance gym, and vowed to perform as many of my runs as possible outside so as to avoid the trek and packing that involved driving to my new one. There is certain weather I still drawn the line at, but I’ve gone down to 22 degree temperatures and endured some rains and winds. 

And I gotta say, I think my running game has improved enormously because of it. That very same terrain and weather and bloody freaking HILLS, even when I hate them, make me stronger. My races have been increasingly speedy (which makes sense, since they are also, y’know, outside). At my last marathon, I broke my previous time record by over 10 minutes. It was the WDW Marathon, too, so that includes character stops!

So I’ve been surprisingly jazzed to run outside and keep that upward trajectory. But my really long runs? Those were still on the treadmill. I mean, you’ve got your bathroom right there, and your water fountain for refills, little nooks to stash snacks, and a TV for entertainment. Anyway, I just plain run faster when I can control my speed and push myself through, so it’s over faster. 

But in the back of my mind, I wondered… could I handle those double digits outside? I’d never done more than 11 miles in an outdoor run – that is to say, the purely training outdoor runs – and I kinda wanted to. I wanted the running XP.

At first I thought I’d tackle my 14 miler this way, so as to not stray too far outside my comfort zone. But when the appointed day came it was rainy and miserable, and I was driven inside to the safety of the treadmill.

When it came time for my 17 miler, well… that seemed like a stretch. But I was looking at a nice, sunny day with highs around 50, great for running. I told myself if I needed to I could run back to my apartment at any time for a bathroom break, more water, etc. Off I went.

I stepped onto my usual running trail and began my run in reasonable spirits. To add mileage, I ducked onto a few side streets and other sidewalks I usually passed by. As I crossed the street from my usual running trail’s end, I saw a man out of the corner of my eye… WALKING DOWN A RUNNING PATH I HAD NEVER NOTICED BEFORE.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I noticed it all the time, because it was a continuation of my usual trail. But I’d never known there was more of it! I ran up over this new bridge and into a magic world.

The next 5 miles or so were spent in delighted wonderment – not that the scenery was as exciting as all that, but because it was new and new is always more interesting and what an incredible boon that I would find this interesting new thing on the day I needed it most! 

I credit this humble discovery to the ultimate success of my outdoor run, in that it kept things fresh and interesting and minimized the amount of rehashing I had to do. I finished feeling strong and capable and totally ready to marathon.

That helped along with the Happily Ever After fireworks soundtrack, of course. You didn’t expect me to NOT mention Disney, did you?

How do you slog through your long runs? Are you a treadmill loyalist or an outdoor enthusiast?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 1/03

Double-wide workout log since I skipped last week. Let’s dive right in!

Sunday, December 17 | ran 11.08 miles outside in 1:50
I know I’ve said exactly this before, but: either I’m getting faster or my GPS watch is broken. The fact that it’s freezing outside probably helps…

Monday, December 18 | walked 2.46 miles outside in 40 minutes; 60 minute ballet class
Of course, the cold makes walks exponentially worse. 

Tuesday, December 19 | ran 5.28 miles outside in 55 minutes

Wednesday, December 20 | ran 5.29 miles outside in 55 minutes

Thursday, December 21 | walked 2.09 miles outside in 35 minutes

Friday, December 22 | ran 5.31 miles outside in 55 minutes

Saturday, December 23 | rest

Sunday, December 24 | rest
I had tentatively planned to go for a short run but it was cold and my parents were coming over for Christmas Eve and mostly it was cold. I miss my old walking-distance gym. :/ 

Monday, December 25 | rest

Tuesday, December 26 | ran 3.03 miles outside in 30 minutes
My birrrrrrthdaaaaaaaaaay

Wednesday, December 27 | ran 3.08 miles outside in 30 minutes
The second in The Four Days of 5ks streak I invented for myself.

Thursday, December 28 | ran 3.13 miles outside in 30 minutes
And each day was colder than the last.

Friday, December 29 | ran 3.11 miles outside in 30 minutes
But I did it! Bam!

Saturday, December 30 | rest

And there you have it. Ahead: more of the same, in that it is VERY VERY COLD and I hate it. 🙁 Except not so much more the same, because I’m in the middle of taper town for the WDW Marathon this weekend! YAY!!!!

Let’s roundup:

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!