After a January that felt more like late March in terms of weather, winter has come back with a vengeance in my corner of the country. I welcome it, frankly, because I’m one of those people with questionable taste who really enjoys sitting around watching it snow while watching trashy TV and knitting. What’s bringing me down, however, is trying to run in it.
Fortunately, I’m not training for a marathon now (or, like, ever again), which means that I don’t have to figure out how to get in 20 miles on a treadmill without losing my dang mind. So, you know, upside.
(An aside to the treadmill lovers: how do you do it? How do you make five minutes feel like anything less than five hours? You have my undying admiration.)
What I am trying to do is train for a fast 10K on April 9 while also trying to stay in some kind of shape for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon the following month. Coach Christine has worked out a plan. If you can create a life-situation where you can outsource the planning part of training to someone else who knows what they are doing so that you focus on the getting-out-the-door part, do it.
Because in February, the actual running part of training gets tricky enough. Thankfully, the local college’s indoor track is open at 6 a.m. and is perfect for shorter runs. My biggest problem with running on it used to be keeping count of laps -- but I’ve discovered Herr Garmin II can magically track pace and distance, even without a GPS signal. Mind=blown. New vistas opened. Angels sang.
Speed-work is an option now in a place it wasn’t before. Running fast indoors isn’t ideal, mind, but it isn’t a treadmill. For me, that makes all the difference. I can’t mentally handle long runs inside because I start to worry about how only making left turns must be bad for my knees so I've been at the mercy of the weather.
Two long runs ago, I ran an Eminen (8 miles, for those playing at home) in 17 degrees with blowing snow, which ought to count as a double Eminem. Last Sunday, I ground through 10 miles in a blizzard named Orson, which was equal parts incredibly badass and monumentally silly.
I almost bailed, truth be told, but knew I'd just feel guilty about it. I wasn’t sick, unlike the rest of the runners I know, or injured. It really wasn’t that cold. Plus, I thought I’d be done before the storm really got rolling. When I left the house, it was snowing, yes, but the pretty kind of light snow that you see in movies.
I ran up to our local junior/high school. In the more clement months, I use their track. That wasn’t my plan this time because the track is currently under a foot of snow and ice. When the weather is squirrel-y like this, I run around the building itself because that area is plowed. Plus, there is a small park with a few trails nearby that can add a touch of variety.
Running on the street or sidewalks right now is a non-starter -- especially when visibility is about to drop to nearly nothing. Getting run over by a driver who a) wouldn’t be able to see me no matter how reflective I make myself and b) wouldn’t have the traction to stop even if he did is no bueno. Nearly no one is driving around the high school on a snowy Sunday morning. And if someone is driving there and then, it's generally teenagers searching for a good spot to make-out and they don't want a middle-aged mom giving them the eyeball.
Typing that sentence made me realize that it might be one of my teenagers looking for a secluded spot in the near future and I just had a very small anxiety attack. Moving on.
I jammed my water bottle into a snow bank that I knew I’d pass every 3/4 mile on so and tucked two GU into my bra so that they wouldn’t freeze. I ran and ran some more. It wasn’t fast but it was perfectly fine. Until the last 45 minutes, which is when the weather picked up. It was like running in a snow globe that someone kept shaking. I spent the last two miles stopping every few feet to knock the accumulated snow out of the grippy bits of my Yaktrax because it was simply falling too fast and the plows weren’t out yet.
Still, I ran ten and basked in that for the rest of the day, once my fingers and ass-icle thawed. It’s good to know that you can do things like run long in a blizzard, even if you’d rather not make it a habit. I have 11 on the plan for Saturday. So far, no snow is in the forecast.
How are you handling the weather where you are?
(Confidential to BAMRs in Chicago: I’ll be in the Windy City for a work-work thing March 28-31. Not sure what my schedule will look like but would anyone be up for a gathering or run?)