Unfortunately, I now have that David Bowie song in my head. And you probably do, too.

Sorry to break it to you like this but, "It's not you, it's me." No, I don't want to lose you, but I'm afraid some of you might feel this is a bit harsh and unwarranted. Trust me, it's not. It's nothing personal. I love each and every one of you. I want you to join with me in my fun adventures wherever I go. But I must move on...

To Wordpress, that is. It seems as though the Blogger world doesn't allow me to have as much freedom with my blog as I would like. I want multiple columns, I want menus, I want I want I want. And I got.

So, please- don't stop following me. Just change that blog feed under my name to the WP icon instead. - and I'm getting a domain, too [that will come before the end of the week]. Going big, not going home. Ok, just kidding... I'm already home. Going to bed.

UPDATE! My new website has launched!!

Making sugar cookies from scratch. Gluten free. without a recipe.

I should say, recipe for disaster.

Let me preface this post with "I am not Suzy Homemaker"- I'm not even her distant cousin. I love to bake, and I am usually decent at it, when I am marginally following a recipe.

Today, I decided to throw all caution into the wind and replicate the sugar cookies from a box that we had a few weeks ago. The cookies were goooood... but they were $6 a box for about a dozen and a half cookies, so I just couldn't bring myself to buy another box. I tried to remember the appropriate ratio of wet-to-dry ingredients, and may have sneaked a peak at the back of the box last time I was at Econo Foods.

So I started with a stick of Jilbert's butter (that's half a cup), a quarter-cup of Jilbert's skim milk, and two eggs. Beat this with my Kitchenaid and streamed in ~1c cane sugar. I then mixed the dry ingredients in a bowl- 1/2c Bob's brown rice flour, 1/2c tapioca flour, and 1/2c cornstarch, with ~1tbsp potato starch. I flaked off the insides of one vanilla bean, and added another 3/4c or so of cane sugar to the mix. Mixed the dry into the wet ingredients, and the soupy-mix was scooped into spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Baked at 375F.

Try #1- Cookie Smudged.
The cookies completely converged. The cookie sheet was just a smear of cookie mess. Tasted good though.

Try #2- added about a 1/2c rice flour to the mix. Re-scooped on the cookie sheet. The cookies still smeared a lot, but looked ok... until I tried to take them off the cookie sheet. That's the way the cookies crumbled.

Try #3- Chillin' the dough. I threw the dough in the fridge for a good half hour. Didn't change a damn thing.

So, anyone got any ideas? What did I do wrong?!
It's worth noting that I love cookie dough and cookie crumbs, so it wasn't a total waste!

Ahh, snow.

The weather this week was interesting. Apparently, the UP received the "storm of the century"- but I don't remember it being all THAT bad. Sure, there was snow. Lots of snow. And wind, can't forget that. It was cold, it was icy, and most importantly- it was snowy! I love snow.

It was nice to get dumped on. We went from having no snow, to having blankets of the white fluffy stuff. YAY! That to me means cross-country skiing, trail shoes, and snowshoeing.

It wasn't all smiles and laughs, though. Seriously, it snowed for six days straight. It really never stopped. If it did stop, you couldn't tell, because the wind was whirring up the snow that had fallen earier. It was definitely winter parka weather.

It was miserable walking home from campus, but it was better than having to scrape off seven inches of snow after being parked for a few hours.

It was totally worth getting out and doing stuff! Yesterday, I went for an early-morning jog around Houghotn, and it was nice to get the glow of street lights reflecting off the snow. Holiday decorations were out and people were up and at'em, shoveling and snowblowing their driveways. The coolest thing was probably the army of snowplows on Montezuma I saw as I headed up Bridge Street. One after the other charging through the snow, lining up piles of snow in the middle of the busiest street in the Keweenaw. So cool. I definitely had to head out prepared, though. I wore my headlamp and several layers! Get ready to get cold, girlfriend!

Today was absolutely beautiful. The Michigan Tech Huskies had their season opener for Nordic. Sure, it was a little squeaky and sticky for skate, but my kick today was awesome (I classical skied... ).

Adam and I tried out our new headgear that we bought from Sauce (formerly SOS headgear), which was started by a friend of mine and current professional skier, Shayla Swanson (Canada National Team). I met Shayla when I lived in Bozeman [she was roommies with my girl, Karin C.]. Both girls are kick-ass skiers. I love that Shayla sells these hats as a way to represent the ski community and support herself financially. Seriously, it's really hard to find a perfect hat for xc-skiing (or running, for that matter). Some are way too warm for aerobic activities, some are not wind resistant at all, and some just sorta inch their way off your melon as you move around. The Sauce hats (like the Swift Toque)  and headbands are sweet, because they are tight around the ears but not too tight, cover more surface area (ie. skin!) and they don't leave you exposed to the elements. Plus, they hats are supa-styling. Mocha polka pattern looks soooo sweet [that's the pattern I've got, pictured below]! I really like how easy these are to take care of, too. The tassel is removable, so I just pull a string and the top of the hat opens up and the tassel comes off. Way convenient for washing it, so I don't have to worry about the tassel getting all gnarly in the washnig machine at the laundromat. Extra bonus.

So today, Adam and I just skied around on the trails after watching the men's race finish. The trails were awesome, 24Km all packed and groomed.  I pulled something in my inner thigh while out on Portage loop, hopefully its nothing and I can get back out there tomorrow and get some more skiing in. I love to classic ski! Here's a video of me out on core loop:

After I pulled my adductor or whatever I did, I dinked around behind Adam a bit and did some videography. Sorry if its a little bumpy, but you gotta see how awesome the trails look :-D I loooove the UP.

That's all I got for now! Get outside, folks! It'll make you feel better :-D

Secondary arthritis: How does it start?

I've been posting a lot lately about all my athletic endeavors, and realized that I have been not incorporating updates about my academic life. Truth be told, the last month has left me feeling as if my research was just kind of hanging out on the back burner and my athleticism was taking over.

Luckily, I'm back in the lab, doing histology, acquiring samples, and even attempting to engineer some new drug delivery methods. Even though my research is in the field of engineering, it's definitely driven by biology and fundamental molecular pathways of inflammation. I won't get too far into that. What I will get into is the impact that my research will (hopefully) have on the general public. What am I referring to? Osteoarthritis, of course.

Recently, a fellow blogger friend of mine, a principle scientist at the University of Washington, posted this treat on his blog. I felt like he posted it just for me! Now, maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but holy cripes, was I excited. It just piles on the motivation for me to get my publications wrapped up and shipped out! And then I was slightly disappointed (why wasn't my collabo's work featured in NYTs!? Are our university marketing departments slacking?!), but I'm still excited.

The NYT's article is referring to a manuscript by Dr Chu's group that was just published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in December of this year. In the study, the authors look at chondrocyte death in cartilage after blunt impaction to the bovine articular cartilage explants. The translational research from in vitro cow studies to real-life human injuries still needs to be made, by my collaborators and I have published several papers related to impaction-induced arthritis in a closed-joint traumatic model in the last year and a half [1,2,3]. We've even identified potential treatments! That's exciting news.

So what's the story? Basically, impaction-induced arthritis is fairly common, and can develop after a car accident (where the knee hits the dashboard) or a sports injury. Although the incident of injury is a specific time point that can be linked to joint degradation, the exact mechanism by which arthritis accelerates is what stimulates curiosity. You see, secondary osteoarthritis (OA) develops much faster than primary (age related) OA. Along with trauma, it can also be caused by obesity, genetic disorders, or joint malalignment. Instead of taking a lifetime to develop, it can be seen radiologically (ie. x-ray) within the first few years, especially following traumatic injury such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. In fact, histological changes to the cartilage* have been found within a year following injury [4]. How does trauma accelerate cartilage degradation so much? What factors are involved, and how can we slow it down and prevent it? There are so many factors that are not well understood. Take for example ACL repair. If a soccer player tears their ACL, they will probably have it fixed because it is well understood that abnormal loading in the knee will lead to arthritic changes to the cartilage. Why, then, ten years later, does that soccer player still get OA? The answers are not yet known.

*Before I get too far in, though, I should probably explain the anatomy of the knee a bit. The long bones of the leg are covered at the ends with something called cartilage (I'm sure most of you have heard of this, yeah?). The picture to the right is a pig's knee, the tibial plateau to be exact. Imagine looking at your shank from the top-down. That's what it would look like if your femur and ligaments (ACL, pcl, mcl, lcl) were no longer intact and your shank was removed from your body (and my hands, with the blue gloves, were holding it). Cartilage, outlined in the red hash line to the right, actually covers the entire tibial plateau, even under those yellow-outlined rubbery looking tissues (which are the menisci).  The meniscus attaches to the tibial plateau and is super important, because it helps protect the cartilage underneath, and distributes loads during walking, running and jumping. It's like a shock absorber for the knee.

Another key player in knee joint health is the ACL (the nub of which is outlined in blue). The ACL prevents the tibia from moving forward during walking, running and jumping. If it gets torn, then the knee joint stability goes all out of wack. Patients with torn ACLs can end up with meniscal tears, accelerated cartilage damage, and OA. That's why so many people have their ACLs repaired.

In impaction-induced ACL rupture, the cartilage receives a single, high-energy impact during compression. The cartilage isn't used to this type of behavior, because it typically doesn't see such high energy levels, thanks in part to the meniscus (and avoidance of these types of injuries). But when the cartilage does see the high, fast compression, it doesn't really know what to do. Because the cartilage is made up of a bunch of cells called chondrocytes (surrounded by matrix called collagen), the cells may go into something called apoptosis, or programmed cell death, or necrosis (premature death, or suicide). In necrosis, cells release a bunch of signals that say "HELP! DANGER" and then they die, and obviously can no longer perform their roles as chondrocytes. [There's another word, called chondroptosis, but that may be too far for this blog.] Anyway, necrotic triggers can be inflammatory markers, which can trigger a whole plethora of events, or macrophage recruiters, which eat up stuff (like dead cells!). In apoptosis, the cells just casually die, no signals, they just kinda fade into black, like a Metallica song.

So what does this mean? In impaction induced arthritis, it may mean that - regardless of whether or not the ACL rupture is fixed - the joint may be predisposed to OA no matter what. The cells initial signaling (if they are indeed going through necrosis) may open the whole can of worms. Not good news at all.  What can we do about it? We need to understand the whole system more. Maybe impaction isn't the end-all and be-all that is traumatic OA. If I am out riding my snowmobile and bash my knee, I don't want to be cursed with the impending OA [unfortunately, this story is something that happened to my boyfriend in 2008].

We need to understand the system better. We don't know yet how chondrocytes really die after traumatic impaction, and we don't know if they will be replaced by healthy, viable cells. So many questions are still out there. Does it really matter if the cells of the cartilage die? What's the "threshold" for cartilage impaction magnitudes, before which chondrocytes stay alive? Are other tissues influenced by chondrocyte cell death, or the event of impaction for that matter?

We're getting there, and researchers at Michigan State University have recently shown that certain molecules, called surfactants, can actually protect the chondrocytes before they are impacted and may even "cushion" them for the impending impact [1]. It's almost like the surfactant wraps the cells in plastic bubble wrap. But is this a suitable treatment? What implications does it have on the rest of the joint (or does it go systemic and cause problems elsewhere?). Although cartilage is the main indicator for OA development and progression, my doctoral research is focusing on other soft tissues of the knee, namely the meniscus, to see how impaction influences the viability and health of the other major players of knee joint health.

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, we really don't know why some people get secondary OA after traumatic impaction and some don't. Right now, there are just so many confounding variables. And its important to remember that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Will my boyfriend get OA by the time he's 35 because he did an Ironman a year out from tearing his PCL after hitting a tree? I don't know. I hope not, but it's possible. It's possible that the injury did him in, or that the surgery itself to fix the PCL did more damage. Or, the opposite is true; maybe he's better off because he started training for Ironman, because he ramped up his cycling training (cyclic shear-type loading on his knee), strengthened his quads, and worked on his stabilizing muscles. In truth, he's stronger now than before he was injured. Anecdotal? Of course. Interesting? You bet.

That's all I got for now!

--I should clarify that the work discussed in the NYT's article was all in vitro work. The researchers took explants (biopsy punches) from cow knees (the cows were already dead, don't worry) and then impacted them with a weight from different heights (which translated into different impaction energies). The impaction was directly applied to the surface of the explant. In the research I'm involved with (cited in this post), our impactions were applied to the closed-joint of the rabbit knee either immediately after the rabbit was killed or while it was anesthetized.. Other structures were influenced by impaction (muscle, bone, meniscus). It's important to know the difference, because in Chu's study, the impaction energy was much lower (1.07J) than the impaction energy we used (13J).

1. Isaac DI, Golenberg N, Haut RC. Acute repair of chondrocytes in the rabbit tibiofemoral joint following blunt impact using P188 surfactant and a preliminary investigation of its long-term efficacy. J Orth Res, 2009 Oct 29. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Killian ML, Isaac DI, Haut RC, Dejardin LM, Leetun D, Haut Donahue TL.Traumatic Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear and its Implications on Meniscal Degradation: A Preliminary Novel Lapine Osteoarthritis Model. J Surg Res, 2009 Apr 5. [Epub ahead of print]
3. Isaac DI, Meyer EG, Haut RC. Chondrocyte damage and contact pressures following impact on the rabbit tibiofemoral joint. J Biomech Eng, 2008 Aug;130(4):041018.
4. Nelson F, Billinghurst RC, Pidoux I, Reiner A, Langworthy M, McDermott M, Malogne T, Sitler DF, Kilambi NR, Lenczner E, Poole AR. Early post-traumatic osteoarthritis-like changes in human articular cartilage following rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament. OA &C. 2006 Feb;14(2):114-9. Epub 2005 Oct 20.

Mic check, one, two, THREE!

Checkin' the mic.

Next summer, Rev3 is hosting not one, not two, but THREE triathlons east of the Mississippi. That's pretty sweet. What's even more sweet is that I can get you $10 off your registration at any of these events (and more than one, as well, I might add).So, you could save $30. That's a new race top, or about 6 pairs of Yanx. Or like three pounds of good coffee!!! For me, it's gas money to get to a race (ok, not really. I currently reside in a pretty podunk location...).

What else? All Rev3 races are super family friendly. As a kid growing up, I'd go with my family every time a new ride came out at Cedar Point. We'd wait in line for hours to ride the Demon Drop, my feet trembling and my heart pumping because I was so scared. My high school had field trips to Cedar Point in the summer, and I even got to go with my high school physics class [seriously, Cedar Point is probably where my love for engineering began].

So now that I've convinced you that you should race a Rev3, get your $10 discount! You can use it on any or all of these triathlons. The code is trakkers118

Live near Knoxville? Never been to World's Fair Park? Do the Knoxville Rev3! There will be an Olympic and Half Rev on May 9th!
These pros will be there:
Matty Reed, Amanda and Michael Lovato*, Joanna Zieger, John Kelly, Florence Chretien, Dave Thompson [Midwest represent, wootwoot!], Rebecca Wasner, Leon Griffin, Kelly Williamson, Jordan Rapp(star), and Dede Griesbeier.

Middlebury, CT, will hold down the fort with the Quassy Rev3 in its second year. Trakkers-GPS will be there, offering real-time GPS tracking of athletes so family members can track them online (and watch them in on the big screen). There will be an Olympic and Half Rev on June 5th and 6th!
Look for these pros:
Mirinda Carfrae, Tim O'Donnell, Kirk Nelson, Leon Griffin, Tyler Lord, plus Reed, Lovatos, Zieger, Kelly, Chretien, Thompson, Wasner, Griffin, Williamson, and Rapp.

My "A" Race for 2010 will be in Sandusky, Ohio, for the full iron distance at Cedar Point Rev3. Only 90miles from where I grew up! Not going to ride the Magnum before I race, though (pictured at the right)... Cedar Point will have a Half and a Full Rev on Sept 12!
Registration includes: Admission to the race, two passes to the amusement park, race shirt, finisher shirt, finisher medal, embroidered visor, water bottle, towel and sponsor Product.
Pros scheduled to appear: Chretien, Thompson, Griffin, and Rapp.

I've got some ol' friends in Knoxville (my pseudo-grandparents that lived next door), and it will be so cool to see them for the first time in several years! Maybe I could even convince them to make me some fudge to fuel my race? Hmm... maybe that's not a good idea. Hopefully they'll join me for a day at World's Fair Park though! Quassy will be a hike for me, but I've never been to Connecticut. What better time than 2010? And, of course, my entire crew (that crew being my fam) can come hang out at their favorite park for a day! So, who's with me? :-D

[Bold denotes the major race -where the pros are racing- of the weekend, italicized is the minor race, green is the race I'm doin'!]

Ready for 2010?

Whether you are ready for it or not, Two-thousand-and-ten is just 25 days away. I don't really buy into the whole New-Year's-Resolution thing, but I do believe in setting goals and have already vowed to make a few changes in my training and racing strategies for next season.

Instead of thinking about the New Year as the time to "start over" though, I end up thinking about it as just another day. Perhaps I am on some different calendar. To me, the refresh button is hit when the season ends. That was on October 18th, the day after the Columbus Marathon. I took some time off from serious training, slept in for about a week straight (ok, maybe two), and just generally enjoyed the fact that I wasn't responsible for accomplishing any athletic feats for the next six months. My next race, the Salt Lake City Marathon, isn't until April, exactly half a year after Columbus. Oddly enough, I didn't even plan it like that!

Anyway, I digress. When Columbus was over, I hit reset, cleared out all the junk in my legs, reformatted my digital training log (seen to the right), and outlined my goals for 2010. I wrote them down. I decided that my plans for the 2010 race season(s) will include:
  • Keeping track of weekly swim/bike/run mileage
  • More racing
  • Less whining
Keeping track: I've always done a piss-poor job of keeping track of my mileage. I do a good job at first, but then I just stop adding up the hours/mileage and end up making guesses about a month in. For my next training block, I have my Excel file set up to automatically add the mileage for me. I just have to enter each workout. I should be doing that anyway, right? I even color-coded my training blocks and periodization, which makes for an easy-to-follow training plan. For example, lime green means "build" period, low intensity, long stuff.

Racing: I raced a lot last year, but they were mostly shorter running events. I also want to do more triathlons in 2010, because right now I only have three under my belt. With Triple T and Rev3 Cedar Point on deck, I will have a longer race season than 2009, so hopefully that opens up more opportunities.

Stop yer whining: I just gotta buck up and do it. No excuses.

For the next racing season, I'm also going to focus more on nutrition and general health. I have to pack my lunch more, and get enough of the right calories. Luckily, the MUB now has salads for people that are actually pretty delicious (and gluten free). I need to stay hydrated, get 8hrs of sleep a night. Not that I didn't already have a good grasp on my training and health in 2009. I was strict about my gluten free diet. But there were definitely times when, on Fridays, I'd come home from work starving, cranky, and unable to do anything until I ate something substantial. It took me a while to figure out how to fuel for Ironman training on a sans-gluten diet. But I never had any gastrointenstinal (GI) problems when triathlon racing. It was a magical race-day experience for me after my first triathlon when I didn't succumb to the rumors that I'd feel like absolute butt (forgive my French). I am a firm believer that this can be - at least partially - attributed to my gluten free diet.

So, I guess instead of saying I have a New Year's Resolution, I should clarify. I have a New Race Resolution. Every race I compete in is new compared to the last. It's not necessarily a second chance, it's just a new opportunity to see what I can do. It's a way to learn from mistakes, implement new ideas and strategies, get to the next level. What's your next Race Resolution?

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful...

This is my first post in The Winter Training for Triathlon Series 

I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Da U.P. Where the north shoreline gets real buddy-buddy with Lake Superior, the largest frickin' lake in the world, or something like that*. Sometimes Superior freezes over enough that the snow stops falling in the winter, but this is a rare occasion (we're talking once every 25 years, at least). So, every year, we get 200-300inches of white, fluffy, crisp snow. Sometimes it pummels us, with nothing to see outside except a sheet of white from the massive amounts of frozen white precipitation that isn't so much falling from the sky but rather making opaque window blinds.

Sometimes, it floats nicely and carefree from the sky, drifting side to side until it finally makes contact with the ground. Watching it will put you into a trance. It calms the soul.

Then there's days like today, which offered a mix of both. The sideways snow always makes me laugh. I look out the window from the ninth floor of the UP's tallest building (I don't know if that's true, but I like to believe it), and the snow is making mini-tornadoes at the bottom of campus.

I can't help but smile on days when I walk into school, the gray clouds hovering over and the day feeling all dreary, and then looking outside before lunchtime to see the big white snowflakes falling from the heavens. Love it! I was especially excited on a day like today, because the snow was coming down hard, and I knew my evening run with Margot would include some white-frosted trees and some pretty cool sights.

We donned our reflective gear (well, at least Margot did... I ended up leaving mine in my locker by accident) and rolled out of West Houghton. The first site we saw was the ski hill. Mont Ripley was beautiful. The snow covered hill made me ansy for some skiing. And I haven't been ansy for skiing in a long time (hey, I can say it! I've thoroughly enjoyed this summer's triathlon training).

It wasn't long before I started to feel my feet sliding around on the ground. Ugh. I hate that feeling. Especially in the last year with my knees acting all funny, I was especially cautious, as was Margot. This was when I realized my beloved Trances were probably not the best shoe for winter road running.

Because it has been so warm, the roads were a bit wet this week, and the snow today meant that the temperatures (obviously) dipped below freezing. This meant that the roads were covered in a sheet of ice. Not too bad if you can run on the non-roadways (eg. snowmobile paths), but since we started at 430 and it gets dark by 5, well... you can imagine. We were slipping and sliding (to the tune of Little Richard) and were extra cautious on the downward slopes. There are a lot of downward slopes in Houghton. The snowmobile trail was a beacon, and the ground crunched under our feet. I guess its time to buy new trail running shoes...

We made it safely back to Margot's house after an hour and a half of crisp, wintery air. Finally, dear Winter, I welcome you with open arms.

Here are some rules I live by when going out for a winter run:
  • Dress warm. but not too warm. I'm out there to get a my sweat on, so if I am too warm at the start, I will do nothing but sweat more, get cold, and then be miserable. If the temps are between 20-30degrees Fahrenheit, I usually don a lightweight hat (Icebreaker Pocket 200 is awesome), wool socks (back to the Icebreakers... you really can't get any better when it comes to socks, toasty and perfect for winter running), lightweight gloves (ya know those cheap'o nylon ones that cost 99cents? yeah, those), tights, and two lightweight dry-wicking shirts (Craft poly over my Brooks HVAC long sleeve is what I chose today. When it's colder than that, I like to wear some thicker gloves, another shirt or a vest, and some heavier-duty pants (Swix Nordic ski pants or Mountain Hardwear Transition pants are great on WINDY U.P. days).
  • Dress in layers. Wearing the two shirts gave me the option to remove one if I got too warm. When in doubt about the temps outside, I typically bring along a lightweight jacket or cycling jersey, and if I get too warm I take it off. No harm in that! If it's between rainy and snowy, wear something water resistant so you don't get soggy and wet.
  • Wear shoes with traction! Trail shoes seem to be perfect for winter running. Last year, I bought a pair of La Sportiva Imogenes from Downwind Sports in Houghton. They are comfy and have a great, grippy sole made out of "sticky rubber" that they call Frixion. The tread is deeper than normal trainers, so it can grab onto the snow. In 2003, I bought a pair of Montrail Hardrocks, and although they had mega-tread, they didn't quite fit my foot right. I'm going to give the newest rendition of the shoe a shot this year, though. I'm not a superfan of YakTraks up here, mainly because my runs take me on a varying terrain of snow, ice, rocks, pavement, and cobblestone. The YT Pros are not recommended for anything but snow-cover and ice, and they get pretty slick on concrete and it sounds like I'm tap-dancing. Regardless, they probably work better than my summer trainers alone; those Brooks Trances just didn't do it for me last night.
    • Some other good trail-running shoe options include:
      • Brooks Adrenaline ASR- These shoes have a medial posting, which helps direct the foot for people with pronation issues. The ASR stands for All-Season Running, and the shoe upper is weather resistant. Not soggy shoes at the end of the run with these!
      • Saucony ProGrid Xodus- These shoes look sweet. Plus they have a Vibram sole, which means that the rubber is a little more stiff and tractiony (is that a word?). I have a pair of Keens with a Vibram sole and its amazing how sticky they can be on slick, leave-covered rocks out in the woods.
      • Salomon XA PRO 3D Ultra GTW- That's a mouthful. These shoes have Contragrip and are pretty cool lookin' too, plus they have a really awesome lacing system that won't lead to sloppy, slappy laces that are wet and soggy at the end of the run. Great traction, too!
  • Keep it covered. "It" being your skin. On some sunny days, Running Chick uses sunscreen to keep her skin moist and prevent sun burn. Another trick is to use Vasoline on exposed skin and/or wear a balaclava. The last thing you want is a frost-bit nose (sadly, it happens more often than you think). Don't forget the shades; if its sunny, they're good for obvious reasons, but sunglasses can also keep your eyes protected by sideways snowfall (and keep your contacts from getting irritated on windy days).
  • Bring water. Just because it's cold, doesn't mean you aren't sweating. You're wearing more clothes, and your working harder to keep your body temperature up. Plus, breathing in cold weather is an easy way to lose fluids (that steam you see is water leaving your body!). I love my Nathan Quickdraw Elite, and luckily my camera fits perfectly in the zip-up pocket! I suppose if I ran with my cell phone, this would also be a good spot to put it.
  • Wear bright, reflective stuff! It's not always bright and sunny out there. It's not always clear, either. It might be when you start running, but that doesn't mean it'll stay that way by the time your done (especially if you live in da yoop). If it's snowing, cars will have a hard time seeing you. And, if you live in an area like me, being aware of hunters is important to consider. Even if its daytime, being visible is incredibly important. Plus, how many people actually have time to run before work when its light out? The sun doesn't come up until 8am here, and its gone by 5:30pm. Wearing a headlamp will make those dark roads easier to traverse, too. LL Bean sells a high visibility vest made by Brooks Running Company for $10! Serious. Team Mega Tough swears by these vests, too...
  • When in doubt, get low! If you aren't sure if the road ahead (or underneath you) is icy, bend your knees more and anticipate a slip or a slide. Lowering your center of mass can help reduce your chances of falling, too. Plus, taking shorter steps, finding drier or more rough surfaces, and keeping your weight centered can help prevent a fall.
  • Don't try and stop yourself from falling ... with your hands. Sometimes falling is inevitable. But falling on ice and bracing yourself with your hands could lead to some serious wrist injuries. Your butt has way more cushion. That isn't to say that you won't get bruised, beaten up, or brought on some other painful problems, but there's more surface area on your rump than on your wrists (more surface area = lower stress, because everyone knows that stress = force/area, right? hehe...). It's hard to focus on where you are putting your hands when you fall, but if you can- try to remember to put them behind (or in front) of your head. If you fall backwards, having your hands behind your noggin' might protect your head moreso than hitting your head on the icy road below. The key to falling is to stay limber. Let the fall happen. Don't try to stop it. Get loose and relaxed and let more of your body absorb the impact.
What other tips do you have for winter running?

*Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world when measured by surface area.