You've gotta' make hay when the sun's shining

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...er, or how about, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?" Nope, still not quite right... let's try, "A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water." (quote by Carl Reiner)

So what's with all of the cheesy sayings and quotes? Well, if you haven't yet heard, good 'ole Wisconsin got a semi-decent helping of the white stuff today. While the weather-guessers were calling for 8-12" in our area, I think we'll only end up with around 4-5" when it's all said and done. Areas north of here have reportedly gotten closer to the 10-12" amount.

Rather than fear and dread the snow, I decided to embrace it in a number of ways. I started by running in a 10K race called the Jingle Bell Run/Walk. The race was held this morning at the Vilas Park Zoo, and basically consisted of a lap around the Arboretum. The race went fairly well; I finished it in 49:26, which was good for 60th place out of 318 finishers. I was 11th in my age group (I think there were 57 people in my age group).

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The weather was actually quite nice for the race; if not a bit warm. There wasn't any wind to really speak of, and the temperatures were hovering in the mid-30s. It was so warm, in fact, that I had to partially disrobe at about the 4-mile mark... I took off my "outer" gloves (some wind/waterproof/insulated Pearl Izumis) and my fleece sweatshirt (a super lightweight but ridiculously warm "One More Mile" shirt). I also rolled-up my hat to let some heat escape from the 'ole bean.

After the race was done, I headed back to the apartment and cranked out a few hours on the trainer. I discovered a really cool training program called Turbo Crank, and it's actually helped take away some of the dread that I associate with the trainer. The developer of the program posted a link to it on a triathlon site, along with a discount code that dropped the price to around $10; I figured it was worth a shot. It actually makes the indoor sessions tolerable!

With my running and riding done for the day, I was looking forward (sort of) to helping a rescue group transport a German Shepherd by driving the dog from Madison to Black River Falls this afternoon. But apparently the dog was scared to death of men, so the rescue group called me at the last minute to say they didn't think it would be a good "fit" for me to transport her. Combine the man-fear with the bad weather, and it was unlikely that the transport would've been a fun experience.

So, with nothing on the radar for the rest of the day, I decided to go check out the new Johnny Depp movie, The Tourist. I was partially disappointed with it; it wasn't nearly as action-packed as I thought it would be, and it was incredibly predictable. If you're contemplating it, I'd probably save it for a rental.

The movie ended at around 6:00pm, and when I left the theater, I was greeted with a few inches worth of really dense, wet, and heavy snow covering the car (along with everything else). I had my doubts about how well the Prius would handle the snowy conditions, but it did shockingly well and was very stable; almost "confidence-inspiring."

After leaving the movie, I swung over to Fontana Sports where I scored some snow shoes. A few people from work had been talking quite regularly about snow shoeing and how fun it was, so when I heard we were due for a massive snow storm (earlier in the week), I did a some research about snowshoeing online and decided to give it a shot. Thanks to a very helpful (and patient) employee at Fontana, I wound-up with a set of Atlas 925 snow shoes:

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Pretty cool, eh? So much for the old "tennis-racket-style" snow shoes that I pictured whenever I heard people talk about them. I guess technology reaches even the most primitive of activities. :-)

I also bought a pair of "gaiters" and a pair of trekking poles. The gaiters are guards that go over your shoes/boots and run up to your knee to help prevent snow from filling your shoes/boots as you walk. The trekking poles are basically like ski poles, but not as robust (or lightweight) and aid with stability when you're covering uneven terrain. Here's a shot of the whole enchilada:

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I didn't dare put the actual snowshoes on while indoors because they have these pretty wicked "crampons" to aid with traction. The crampons are basically steel "teeth" that bite into the snow/surface as you walk so that you don't slip and slide. Here's a closer look at the bitey little things:

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With the snow falling at a steady pace, my new gear was just itching to go on a maiden voyage, so I headed out into the "blizzard" (the news stations were referring to the storm as a blizzard), eager to see how the new kicks would perform.

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And the survey says: "Fun. Cool. Interesting. Different. Effective." I walked in them for about an hour and a half and really enjoyed the experience. I can vouch for their effectiveness - they easily got me through some deep snow with minimal "sinking" and they provided an awesome amount of stability and sure-footedness. They're sort of like 4-wheel drive for your feet. They also provided a pretty stellar workout; despite it being just 20F outside and with a super strong wind, I worked-up a bit of a sweat during my hike. It didn't help that I was wearing two layers of wool shirts, an alpaca/fleece 1/4-zip pullover, an Arcteryx jacket, and a Northface shell... (I like to layer, if you didn't yet notice)

I enjoyed being out in the falling snow - it was both peaceful and beautiful, thanks to the extra wet nature of this particular snow fall. Trees were "frosted" with snow, and with a very heavy cloud cover, nearly everything appeared to be glowing. I walked through a neighborhood and saw this neat looking house, along with some holiday decorations:

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After the walk, I returned to the apartment, where I discovered my door lock had frozen solid. I couldn't insert the key more than 1/8-inch before it hit solid ice. UGH!!! So, I took off the snow shoes and walked over to a local bar to see if they had a book of matches. My plan was to heat the key with the matches and hope that it would melt the ice in the lock. I took off the snowshoes and walked the block to the bar; walking in the snow without the snowshoes was definitely a much slower prospect.

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I returned with a book of matches only to discover that my idea was virtually worthless. It was so windy that the matches burned-out instantly; all that resulted was a smokey/charred looking key and 20+ expired matches littering the area in front of my door. UGH #2.

I knew there was a small gas station not too far from the apartment, so I put on the snowshoes once again and trekked my way (another mile) to the PDQ. Thankfully it was open (it was around 12:00am), and just as thankfully they had lock de-icer. I bought a container of it along with a Bic wind-proof lighter (for back-up) and trekked back to the apartment.

I'm happy to report the de-icer worked perfectly, and after 3-shots of the stuff, I was able to get into the apartment. Win!

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Unfortunately, I'm wide awake, and it's about 1:45am... so, I decided to fire-up this blog entry. I'm also enjoying a glass of hot tea (decaf) and a water. I can hear the snow plows tearing around outside - my guess is those folks will be up all night and well into the morning... At least I've got company, eh?

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on December 12, 2010 1:01 AM.

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