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I recently met an American woman who is involved in the International Women’s Association of Vilnius.  She told me that a group of women are going to train to run in the Riga Road Race in May.  I ran my first 5k race last October so I decided to challenge myself to run the 10K in Riga.  Two other women are planning to run the 10k and one is training for the half marathon.

Today we met for our first run.  We joined up with a group of regular runners because one of their members, a man from Scotland named Gordon, agreed to give us some coaching on training for the race.  I was a bit suspicious that the trails in Vingis Park, a big city park with paved and unpaved trails, would be passable, but I was assured that they were. I was also told that running on snow isn’t so difficult.

Well, those little snowplows apparently don’t clear the park trails and Gordon is the type of runner who has spiked running shoes for winter running!  This meant that there was quite a bit of snow on the trails and my idea of difficult conditions definitely are not same as Gordon’s.  Unfortunately, we had above freezing temperatures yesterday which melted the snow and freezing temperatures overnight that refroze it so many of the trails were covered with ice.   I have no idea how far we ran, but it was quite the workout.  We ran on the snow-covered ground along the edge of the trails (sometimes through bushes), slipped and slid our way across ice patches, and fortunately found a few spots of clear pavement to run on.   Amazingly no one fell, although there were a couple of close calls.  And, I have to say, we had fun!

Hopefully our future runs will be in better conditions.  Running is enough of a challenge for me without turning it into an extreme sport!

I’m feeling a bit like the boy who cried “Wolf!”  I made a big deal about moving to Lithuania where it is REALLY COLD.  But it hasn’t actually been as cold as I expected (and as I hyped it up to be).  Instead of below zero temperatures, it’s been in the mid-20s Fahrenheit since I arrived.  Today the high temperature was actually a balmy 34 degrees Fahrenheit.  Much of the northern United States has been much colder over the last week.

I will add that, according to, it usually “feels like” 10 degrees colder,  so when it’s 24 degrees outside it feels like it’s 14 degrees.  That’s plenty cold for me.  I am definitely wearing my long underwear, 2 pair of wool socks, wool sweaters, heavy coat, gloves, wool scarf and wool hat every day.  And there is snow on the ground and at least snow showers most days.  So I am not saying that it isn’t cold; just that I have to confess that it’s not 20 below!

After experiencing the practical shut down of Seattle as a result of a series of snow storms at the end of December, I have been paying attention to how the city of Vilnius and its residents deal with snow — which is a normal part of winter here.  My apartment is located on a main street that is plowed and sanded on a regular basis.  I’m usually not a morning person but with the time difference I’ve been up at 5:30 am these past few days.  Yesterday I was amazed to see a mini snowplow plowing and laying down sand on the sidewalk in the early hours of the morning.  It was out again this morning — a little red snowplow clearing the sidewalk!  Unfortunately it’s too dark at 5:30 am to take a photo.

Several people have asked if I am affected by the European natural gas crisis involving Russia and Ukraine.  Fortunately Lithuania doesn’t receive its natural gas shipments via the Ukrainian pipeline so it is not one of the countries that has lost fuel supplies.  However, Lithuania does receive the majority of its fuel supplies from Russia so hopefully the tensions over fuel exports won’t spread further.  For now the fuel supplies are flowing and the heat is on in my apartment.

Okay, I expected to be writing about snow and ice and below freezing temperatures once I arrived in Lithuania — but I didn’t expect to be doing so before I left Seattle!  We typically have fairly mild winters here.  It might snow in the city once or twice during the winter — and even then I rarely get snow in my neighborhood because we are close to the water.

But in the past week in Seattle we’ve had three snow storms and high temperatures below freezing.  We had 8″ in my neighborhood between Saturday night and Monday morning.  Now, for those of you from places with real winters, this might not seem like much, but in Seattle it means everything is shut down.  I dug the car out of the snow but figured it’s better to stay safely inside than to brave the roads.  Instead I’ll get to work on that list of things I need to do to get ready to leave — after all it’s still three pages long.

Bob the cat checks out the snow-covered front yard.  He decided he'd rather stay inside too!

Bob the cat checks out the snow-covered front yard.

Testing out my winter gear in Seattle.

Testing out my winter gear in Seattle.

I am busy preparing to leave for Lithuania on January 5 — and apparently Seattle has decided to help me get ready by giving me a preview of real winter weather.  We had snow last Saturday night and are expecting more on Wednesday.  The high temperatures are supposed to stay below freezing throughout the week.  Actually, this week’s weather forecast in Seattle is almost identical to the forecast for Vilnius, Lithuania!  Brrrrrr! Yesterday and today I was able to practice walking on icy sidewalks in my new winter boots.   I may have to break out the long underwear that is sitting in my suitcase.