Friday, December 31, 2010

46 Miles for 46 Years

46! The years just go by more and more quickly. Amazing.

This year my birthday run was WET! I couldn't believe it when I woke to 38F yesterday morning with rain and a high of 42 forecast for the day. Crazy.

Topaz and I began at Lake Maria State Park for a snowshoe start to the day. There is only about 9 miles of hiking/snowshoe trail and I didn't want to repeat 5 times. I would be finishing my run on road. Wet road.

It was still dark so I couldn't see the trail conditions, but I sure felt them. Soft. Real soft. The rain hadn't yet begun, just a barely able to feel it drizzle, it might have only been wet fog. My snowshoes sunk only a bit in the beginning, I was able to run the 9 miles on top of the snow most of the time. The thick tree cover and heavy fog kept the trail in OK condition most of the time. Until the fog broke, the light came through and the rain POURED upon us. Running on snowshoe in the pouring rain, I think that is a new one.

I pulled my jacket back on and was surprised that the rain wasn't soaking me to the skin. I was warmer than I liked but I didn't want to get a cold soaking. After a few more hours my snowshoes were no longer necessary. I was sinking completely to the dirt trail. Amazing. I was so glad we went skiing the day before and not today!

Once the sun came up I noticed that Topaz was digging along the trail every once in a while. He would dig a deep narrow hole, looking for something and then when I would get back to him I'd see him eating something! This happened a few times. As he was again digging in the snow I interrupted him and dug in the hole with my finger, wondering what I was going to find and bit nervous about what was going to be at the bottom of the hole. Guess what it was? M&Ms! Someone had been out on the trail and was dropping M&Ms along the way! Topaz enjoyed them. Chocolate is not good for dogs but I had already had a major chocolate episode with our last dog and knew that Topaz had not consumed enough for me to have to worry.

I headed back to the car for a change of gloves, water, SCAPS and VESPA. I had a few gels in my pocket that I was using. I am finding that I really like this VESPA. I seem to recover more quickly since I've been using it. I find that I drink more water, using more salt when using VESPA. I wasn't using Hammer Heed yesterday so the SCAPS were a good idea.

After removing my snowshoes and changing gloves and jacket I was ready to head out again. I tried to get Topaz to drink but he refused. He ate lots of melty snow and rolled in the wet snow constantly to keep himself cool. I had 24 miles in so far and decided to run upon the state park roads for a while. It felt good to run with a longer stride and to have the snowshoes off. The road was gated in spots but I had read on the park website that the blocked off roads were only prohibited to motorized vehicles.

Topaz ran in the ditch most of the time, opting for the soft wet snow instead of the hard packed snow upon the road. Many times he chased after turkey, deer and squirrel and I wouldn't see him for a while. I stopped a few times, listening for him in the woods. He just doesn't run out of energy. I was running out of energy!

By the time 46 miles was done I was beat. I was thankful that I had run Tuscobia the week prior; it made for a great training run for my birthday run! Tomorrow's Polar Dash will be s l o w recovery run as today's 10 miler was.

A birthday celebration dinner at Pittsburgh Blue last night with my family topped off the birthday day. Fabulous!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tuscobia Winter Ultra Marathon

Well, I don't know what is up with blogger photos. I put them all in order in the text and look at them, all up above in a bunch. Boo.
There is Wayne and I on the bus to the start and Wayne, Vicky and Marcus ready to begin the run. There is one of Wayne and another runner climbing up a hill, the Christmas light display with me.

A few weeks ago I was looking for an ultra to run before the end of the year and
found the Tuscobia Winter Ultra Marathon. I hadn’t heard of the race before so
as I looked it up I learned that it takes place in Wisconsin on the Tuscobia
State Trail. This trail is a 74 mile abandoned railroad grade that is used as a
snowmobile trail during the winter months. The trail runs southwest from Park
Falls to Rice Lake, WI.

This race offers a run, bike or ski/skijour option. I would be running-although
I did think about the skijour option. Topaz and I have enjoyed it very much but
the cabin I rented didn’t allow dogs.

The race offers three distances: 50K, 75 Mile and 150 Mile. The gear
requirement for all three races includes headlamp, flashing red LED lights on
front and back, water carrier, 10” reflective material. For the 75M and 150M
64 oz water container, 3000 calories of food, -20F sleeping bag, insulated
sleeping pad, bivy sack or tent, 3.5 oz fuel, firestarter, stove to melt snow.

I reserved a cabin at Northern Pines Resort on Butternut Lake. Vicky recommended
it as she stayed here last year. It really was a great choice! Steve and Troy
were coming along for a fun weekend; they would ice fish while I was running.

I had intended on snowshoeing the race. I was surprised when I stopped at the
packet pickup Friday evening and learned that the participants were not
snowshoeing, that they would be running in the loose snow. Hmmm…

I didn’t know if I should use my snowshoes. I wouldn’t have the weight of the
snowshoes and the straps wouldn’t be irritating the top of my foot as they
sometimes do after 4-5 hours of running. If there wasn’t enough snow I surely
didn’t want to use them. We didn’t arrive to Butternut Lake until 8 PM so I
wasn’t going to go check out the trail at that time. I didn’t know what to do.

We navigated our way to the cabin rental It was placed right on the lake-two
bedrooms, bathroom and a large kitchen with living room. All appliances, linens,
dishes; I was very impressed. We unpacked and heated up the dinner I had
prepared at home. A few games of Jenga and we all went to bed.

The race didn’t begin until 10 AM (!) so I had a ton of time in the morning. I
fixed breakfast for all of us, packed up my gear and went next door to introduce
myself to Marcus from Duluth and to say hi to Wayne and Vicky. Steve and I were
going to follow them to the finish where we would take a bus to the start. Steve
would then know where to pick me up after the race. I told him I would be
finished in 7.5 hours.

I decided to leave the snowshoes behind. Marcus was running in Vibrams-I figured
if he could run in those I could run in my Inov 8 Gortex trail shoes! I didn’t
have spikes or screws, although Vicky offered my some screws. I didn’t feel like
taking the time to screw my shoes and because we wouldn’t be running on ice, I
didn’t think they would offer much traction in the snow.

The start temperature was 6F, the high for the day would be 10F. There was a
wind but it would be at my back, score! I wasn’t worried about getting cold. I
have the clothing figured out for running in this type of weather. I don’t want
to be too warm, cold sweat will freeze, wet clothes are not a good thing!

A school bus was waiting for us at the finish line. We boarded and were on our
way! It was so cold on the bus! My feet were absolutely freezing and this
worried me. I was wearing a new cozy pair of smartwool socks under my shoes. I
couldn’t believe how frozen my feet felt. I took my shoes off and began to rub
my feet with my hands, trying to get warm. Marcus looked at what I was doing and
was relieved that his feet weren’t the only ones that were cold. He didn’t have
on any socks, just the Vibrams.

We arrived at the start line in Winter, WI. I stayed in the bus until start
time. As we piled out I counted 26 starters. 25 run and 1 ski. Nobody was
wearing snowshoes.

As soon as we began my feet warmed up. I never noticed any cold during the race.
I was very comfortable, temperature wise.

The trail was very wide-maybe 6 feet across, well covered with snow, some rocks
strewn about. I began too fast and warmed up very quickly and saw that my first
mile was less than 10 minutes. I knew that was too fast and didn’t like that I
had allowed myself to do this. I knew this race would be difficult, mentally,
for me and I was already experiencing that. My finish goal was 7:00-7:30. I
told Steve to be at the finish in 7:30 so I checked myself and slowed down.

The miles were going by pretty quickly; I was very comfortable, drinking hammer
heed and taking gels. I was having a good time.

I knew there was a checkpoint at the halfway mark with water and gels. I
conserved my now slushy hammer heed so that I wouldn’t be dry.

When we came to a road crossing I saw Jim Wilson. He asked if I needed water,
my own Trail Angel! Jim topped off my bottles and off I went, smiling down the

I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders once I had full
bottles. I drank greedily, knowing I could refill in a few miles. Whew!

The trail began to get quite a bit softer. It seemed that the snow was deeper
and that it was churned up by snowmobiles. I kept trying to find a hard packed
area where I could run without slipping. It seemed that the outer edge of the
trail was best. I would stay there until it became soft and then hunt along the
trail for a better piece.

I noticed that Marcus’ Vibram footprint crossed back and forth over the trail as
I did. He must have been looking for firm snow as well. His print didn’t seem to
‘dig in’ to the snow as the tread of the trail shoes did. I wondered if that
made it easier. I pictured him floating across the snow. He did finish a half
hour earlier than I did.

The half way point came a bit early. My Garmin told me we were at 13 miles. I
was happy to know that the aid station was early otherwise I could have broken
down mentally, that 2.5 miles does made a difference. I asked the woman at the
station and she told me we were at 16 miles. I didn’t argue. I filled up my
bottles, grabbed a handful of gels (so thankful!), and carried on.

Each time I took a step my foot would slide a bit, only ¼” or so to the side.
Eventually this caused knee pain and pretty soon my pectinus /hip flexors weres
killing me. I don’t know that I have ever had such pain during a race before,
other than a 100 mile race.

When I caught up to Wayne I asked him if the course was short or if the aid
station was just early. He confirmed that the aid station was just early. OK,
now I knew that I wouldn’t expect the finish at 26 miles, it would be 50K. It
looked like I would be finishing within my goal time.

I came to an area where the snow was very deep, soft and churned up. I was
barely running, my form was so inefficient that I tried walking but that was
just too slow and depressing. I looked ahead and saw that Wayne was
walking…walking faster than I could run. Ugh. My knees and adductors were pain
filled. I looked at my watch and saw that the last mile took me 17 minutes.
Good grief.

I trudged along, trying to find a firm area on the trail where I could run
easily. It wasn’t happening. A bunch of snowmobiles flew past me.

Lisa and Lynette were at many of the road crossings. Lisa took many great photos
and I was able to get water from her as well. I told them how nice it was to
have them out there, checking in on us. Really they were there to check on
Wayne, I believe, but I wasn’t far behind Wayne so I was able to enjoy their
company too!

The surroundings were very pretty. Lots of pine covered with heavy snow, many
bridges over rivers. There was a section along the road but it wasn’t too long.
I really enjoyed the scenery. I didn’t see any deer but did see two timberwolf
on the lake earlier.

I ran solo most of the time, catching up with Wayne one in a while, then with a
skier for a bit, but mostly solo. At around mile 20 I turned on my iPod and
listened to music. I noticed that not only was this one of the few runs that I
felt pain, but it was also one that I wasn’t high on endorphins. Normally I’m
swinging my arms, laughing, smiling, yelling out Megadeth and cranking up the
trail. I think the slow pace put a limit on the endorphin rush!

I often though of Jason and Lynn who were competing the 75 mile race. This was
their first race of this type and I was very intrigued as to how it was going
for them.

I must say, this 50K has certainly sparked my interest in the 75 mile race next

As I was running down a hill I caught a branch. Boom! I slid outstretched a
good 10 feet and ended up sprawled upon the ground. Thankfully it was deep here
so I didn’t skin my face up on any rocks. My foot was sore, I really banged it
up . I began to walk, checking my limbs, making sure everything was OK. I was
fine, just shook up.

Eventually the sun became weak. I ran up to two men in front of me and asked one
of them if he would take my headlamp out of my pack. He obliged and handed it to
me. I turned on my lights and was ready to grind out the last few miles to the

Ah, the water tower! I remembered at the start someone mentioned that when we
saw the water tower we would be nearing the end. He warned us to look out for a
sharp right turn to the finish. I saw the sign and was really happy to finish
this up.

Looking at my watch I was at 6:45, a few more minutes to go. I came up to two
people standing around, Tim the RD and Wayne. Gee, I was at the finish! Ah,
Amen! I was told I was third woman. I was so happy to be finished.

Wayne and I stumbled into the warming tent. I removed my pack and took off my
lights. Oh man, it felt so good to stretch out. Hot coffee was offered, a warm
heater, it really was nice. I removed my wet mittens, hat and neck gaitor and
just sat.

It was fun to talk with others about the race. RD Tim did an excellent job on
the 50K race and I’m sure the 75 and 150 were just as awesome. Putting these
three races together has to be a huge endeavor and it came off without a hitch.

Steve came along and after introductions we were off to the cabin. We made a quick stop at a beautiful Christmas light display so I could get a photo. I hobbled out of the truck for the shot. He and Troy had a fun day ice fishing, we were all exhausted and into bed by 8 PM!

Even though this race was only a 50K and I didn't have to pull anything it certainly served it's purpose for me. I wanted to really embrace winter this year. I have slowly changed mymind about winter and surprise myself by my reaction. I didn't hate my time spent running this race, didn't hate the cold, didn't wonder what
the hell I was doing. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was embracing winter, trying something new and learning so much about myself in
the process. I can run a race even if it isn't all about having fun, even when it is a lot of work and I am in pain. It's ok.

The next morning after we packed up and headed out we drove along the course, looking for John, Jason, Lynn, Daryl or John. We weren't able to locate them
along the route. It had been close to 24 hours so as it turns out some had already finished and some were out on the course, we just missed them.

I was so happy to hear that John S won the 75, Jason and Lynn finished their
firsts, John T and Daryl finished their 75. Get this: Chris Scotch ran and won
the 150 mile. 150 miles in 60 hours. Can you even fathom such a thing. It is an
amazing thing, what a body can do.

I must say, I am more intrigued than ever with the 75 mile option. I am really
thinking about it for next year. I think I could give it a try and maybe even finish it.

Thank you so much to RD Tim, to the volunteers and to the runners. You inspire me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

17th Annual Lake Harriet 50K Fat Ass CANCELLED

Boo! Mother Nature has nixed the 50K fun run I had scheduled for tomorrow at Lake Harriet. It is so much fun! Approximately 7 loops around Harriet-up through the neighborhood, check my name on the list in the porch and do it again. So much fun!

I totally understand that with over a foot of fresh snow and -30F wind chills it had to be canceled. I'll be going solo instead.

Tuscobia is one week from today :)

We are in the midst of a good old fashioned snow storm.

This morning by 5 AM there was about 6" of snow in the driveway. It was a slow snowy drive to Maria State Park. As I figured, there wasn't ANY traffic other than snow plows. Slow and easy.

Of course the lot was empty when Topaz and I piled out of the car. He ran away like a banshee-racing me to the trail head. I had to get my snowshoes on in the dark, fumbling with my headlamp so I could strap them on.

The wind was whipping and the snow was flying. We headed off into the darkness. It kind of felt rather spooky, knowing there wasn't anyone else in the park. There were not any car tracks going into the park so unless someone was in one of the remote cabins there was nobody here but us.

I couldn't see Topaz in front of me, the snow was so heavy. All I could see was a white out in front of my lamp. Weird. Eerie weird. Cool. Way cool.

As we ran along I could hear the maples above me bending in the wind..and snapping branches..and pretty soon a branch fell in between Topaz and I. Oooh.

Daylight had to arrive soon. It seemed like at least an hour had passed. Sure enough, it was 7 AM but not a bit of daylight was approaching. The thick clouds and heavy snow was not letting any light in.

Not until 722 did I finally see a bit of light from the sky. I turned off my headlamp and watched the sun try to brighten the cloud cover. Still rather dark, but I could now see without lights.

Topaz was a flurry of activity. Chasing deer, squirrels, turkey and fox; the now fresh 8" of snow on the ground wasn't slowing him down. I was trudging. I was tired. I was out of my mind happy. SO beautiful, so peaceful, so thrilled to be out in the woods enjoying myself. There wasn't anything else I'd rather have been doing.

As I ventured out along a trail that I hadn't yet broke the snow was up past my knees, up to my thighs. This is along an open area where I normally see many deer feeding. They weren't feeding out in the open today. As the wind howled around me I realized that this was one hell of a storm. Pretty soon I heard thunder. Ah, thunder snow! Typically 1" plus of snow falls per hour when one hears thunder along with it. Amazing.

When thoughts of driving home surfaced I pushed them away. No sense in thinking about it now. Enjoy the run..

4 hours and 15 SLOW miles later we came back to the lot. My car was buried under the snow. What a sight. I helped Topaz to de-ice his legs and started the car. While it warmed I took off my snowshoes and uncovered my car. Wow, still snowing like crazy.

After a slow drive home I made it safe and sound. Troy was heading out to slide. I told him I'd quick change into dry clothes and meet him out there.

More trudging around, sliding down, climbing up, laughing on my back as I fell into the snow! What a blast.

Troy is now drinking hot cocoa, Topaz is sleeping next to the fireplace and I was going to head over to Gold's. I just called to make sure they were open and guess what? They are closing at 3 due to snow. Really?

Enjoy the snow! Go on out there, play in it, laugh in it, lay down and make a snow angel!

Topaz is Nine!

(I wrote this on Thursday but didn't realize I didn't post it until now!)

For Topaz's 9th birthday (edited to add:) on Thursday a 9 mile snowshoe run was scheduled. The weather was perfect for a winter day. No wind, bright sunshine and a good amount of snow.

At 4:00 sharp we left the lot and as usual, nobody had been upon the trails since I broke them. I carried my headlamp and a few gels for the run. I knew it would be dark upon our finish. It becomes pretty dark in the woods just before 5:00, with a pre-dark at about 4:45 where I need to take out my lights. I have such horrible night vision, it is very difficult for me to see in the darkening woods.

It was pretty cool to begin our run in the bright beautiful sunshine, breaking more trail, feeling the warm sun upon my back. Pretty soon the sky began to turn a pink and purple color as the red ball began to set. The moon began to rise and before I knew it we were in darkness. I put on my headlamp and continued to break trail. Before I knew it we were in total darkness. I stopped to flick off my light, to look at the stars. They they were, obliterating the darkness of the sky. Beautiful.

2 hours later were were back at the car, ready to head home. A perfect birthday run for Topaz :)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Winter Running Tips

I've received a lot of questions about winter running. Most of you know that I live in Minnesota; land of cold winters! Most of you also know that I normally struggle with winter. I complain about being cold, I complain about the decreased daylight, I complain about the depression that sets in and the 5-10 pound weight gain that normally comes with winter for me.

Over the past few years I have working very hard at changing my view of winter. Instead of huddling indoors and complaining I began to snowshoe run, then snowboard and now ski. I didn't really enjoy these activities at first, but with repetition and a whole mind-shift process, mentally and physically, I can say that I no longer hate winter. First time ever. Baby steps finally brought me to that goal.

Not once this winter have I complained of the cold weather, the snow, the winter, shortness of daylight; none of that. I haven't needed to. I have changed my thought process. Thank god.

When I first began running, 13 years ago, I only ran on my treadmill. My children were small and I stayed at home. My treadmill was set up in front of the TV in the living room at the time and that is where I did all of my running.

Eventually I began to run outdoors-when the temperature permitted it. I didn't run outdoors in the winter at all.

I hated winter. I hated the snow, the cold, the 'Minnesota Hunch', everything. And I thought about it and dreaded it and lived the hate every single day. Man, how sad and exhausting.

As time passed and I learned to love to run (another goal I wanted to work toward and completed with baby steps-it doesn't just happen on it's own), I decided I wanted to run during the winter and I wanted to run every day. Hmmm..what would get me out the door every day,even in the winter? You got it, Topaz!

I researched dog breeds and learned that the Border Collie must be exercised every day, an hour minimum, in order to live in a peaceful fashion. I learned that they were the smartest of dog breeds, loyal to their master, loved agility, running and were a great family dog. Sold.

I decided to try snowshoe running that winter so that I could eventually take a dog running winter trail with me. Over the years, a passion was created.

We purchased Topaz at 6 months old and I couldn't be happier with him. I purchased him in April and when the snow began to fly 8 months later I was apprehensive. I had to get this dog out each and every day. It was the promise I had made to myself.

I did it. Rain, snow, sleet or hail, hot sun, it didn't matter. Topaz needed his hour exercise. During those first few winters it rather sucked. I dreaded it quite a bit as the day went on and I would soon be home from work. I would cringe as I drove home, watching the wind bend the trees, the snow flying, the bitter cold temps. I'd walk in the door and the boys would yell "Topaz is excited for you to run!" Ugh. I'd bundle up, head to the trail head, snowshoe run for an hour and realize it wasn't so bad as I headed back home.

Fast forward a few years. Topaz will be 9 next week. I finally love, yes, love, to snowshoe run in the winter.

I've learned a few things that work for me and I will share them with you. Most importantly:

1) You will NEVER feel worse after your winter run. NEVER. You will always feel better! You may be cold and wet on your drive home (if you drive to your running location), but after a change of clothing you will feel awesome. Endorphins are a great thing. Not only that, but mentally and physically, you did something that you were going to dread, and it was OK, and you stuck with your plan. That is huge, emotionally. Good going, you!

2) Clothing: Learn to dress for the weather. This is so important. You don't have to be cold out there. Today the air temperature was 3F, windchill was -17F. I wasn't cold or wet. I felt the resistance of the wind, I heard the wind but I didn't feel the wind penetrate my clothing. I no longer become cold while running. You don't have to either. I actually became a bit warm snowshoe running. I unzipped my armpits on my outer jacket and zipped down my two tops.

3) Surfaces: Ice or snow require snowshoes if deep snow, trail shoes if ice. You can't be slipping and sliding, you may injure yourself. You need the correct shoe tread for the surface condition. Some people use screws or yak tracks. I never have.

When I first began to run outdoors I wrote the temperature and my clothing as well as how I felt every day into my MDRA log book. I still use MDRA log books, I think they are awesome, but I no longer need to monitor my clothing. I know what I need to wear.

Here is what I find works for me:

60F+ Singlet and shorts. I love the compression tanks for summer running but hate compression for winter running. For winter running compression makes me feel like a running sausage.

50-59F Short sleeve and shorts. Technical fabric all of the way. Don't wear cotton!

40-49F Longer sleeve, lightweight technical shirt, shorts.

30-39F Long sleeve, mid weight technical shirt, light tights or wind pants, I normally have to add light gloves at 30F with an ear band.

20-29F Long sleeve mid weight technical shirt, winter running jacket, heavier tights or pants, gloves, fleece hat, neck gator as the temp is closer to 20, gortex trail shoes as I am usually snowshoe running at this temp, snow shoe gator.

10-19F Long sleeve thick technical shirt, lightweight technical shirt, winter running jacket, heavier tights, winter 'over' pants (when closer to 10), gloves, wind mitten, fleece hat, neck gaiter, gortex trail shoes and shoe gaiters for snow shoe

0-9F Same as above but I add wool socks instead of microfiber which I wear otherwise and may have to add a full face mask dependent on wind.

Minus 15 to 1F Same as above and I add a vest for upper body warmth, vaseline on exposed face portions.

Minus 20 and below I'll add hand warmers to my gloves and socks and my snowboard goggles.

One of the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathons was held in the below 0 range and I was not at all cold. I stayed warm and dry because of these layering techniques. The only problem I had was that my goggles froze to the top of my fleece hat when I removed them from my face. They were iced to my hat and I had a hard time pulling them back to my face when necessary! Then I knew it was a cold day, buy hey, I won that Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon and kept my first place title alive another year.

I drive each day to the trailhead, about 25 minutes each way. On the way home my sweat gets cold, making me cold. I could change before I head home but I just don't take the time. I start the car, crank the heater, remove my neck gaiter, fleece hat, gloves and mittens. Sometimes I will call home and ask Troy to turn on the gas fireplace for me. As soon as I get home I change into warm fleece. I love Horny Toad Cashmoore fleece pants and tops. I wear them all of the time as well as Patagonia RI fleece. Yummy soft! A hot cup of tea and I'm all warmed up and comfortable.

My favorite running gear that I keep grabbing for the past few years is my Patagonia winter pants and jacket. Zipper pockets, polyester soft shell so there is no swoosh swoosh swoosh while running, soft interior fabric on collar, arm pit zippers, so warm and comfortable but real light. I wear this all of the time. As I wrote above, as it gets colder I add layers. 1/4 zipper shirts are the best! When I feel to warm I pull the zipper down, letting the cool air inside.

When the temps are cold enough for two layer of pants I like Hind Winter Ready tights. Heavy duty poly fabric with a bit of stretch. Perfect. When I first began to run in the winter I needed three bottom layers, but with these items two is fine.

I wear Inov-8 Gortex shoes from November to March, normally. The tread is good enough for trail or road without adding screws or yak-trax. I've never purchased the yak trax or any of those spikes you add to your shoe. I use the Inov-8s in my snowshoes as well.

One problem I do have is freezing water bottles. Because of this I normally run loop routes in the winter so that my car can house bottles of water out of the freezing temperatures. When very cold I wrap the bottles in warm towels from the dryer and place in a cooler into my car. This usually keeps them from freezing. It just isn't worth it to me, to carry a 24 oz water bottle at below 0 temps that is going to be an ice cube before I even need a drink.

You are all set for winter running! Really, give it a try, it doesn't have to be that horrible. If you really do hate winter, you can change that. Wouldn't it be awesome not to dread winter? It is, really! I feel so great by not hating winter. Really.