Dry Martini: Orson and I

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.

Sunrise from the indoor track. Yes, they are plowing the soccer field.

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.

Me and the women's lacrosse team at 6:30 a.m.

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.

The small park. There were quite a few cross-country skiers getting their workouts in.

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.

Mile seven.

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?)

17 responses to “Dry Martini: Orson and I

  1. I live in Boston, where one of the popular winter running spots is Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, aka Heartbreak Hill. Last Saturday morning I ran the hardest 11 miles of my life on that road, in screw shoes on some random combination of slush and bare pavement, as the road hadn’t been entirely plowed (maybe partly because it was so crowded with runners!). My shins were so sore the next day I thought I was injured. I’ve run twice since then, both times on an indoor track to give my legs a bit of a break, and tomorrow plan to head back to the streets and sidewalks.

    I’m registered for a Half in Massachusetts ten days from now, and ready to run it no matter what the weather. I was at Disney World for the January Half that was cancelled due to lightning, and I need my make-up race!

  2. Ugh! Last Sunday? I drove to Binghamton in that for kids sporting event. Cars off the road everywhere. You are truly committed! (or should be, LOL) At least tomorrow’s outlook is better. Go you.

  3. Chicago has been so freaking mild it’s kinda scary! And I may be up for a run while you are here! FB friend me! P.S. I knit too!

  4. So with you on this. The roads are icy or patchy ice which is almost worse because yak trax on the dry pavement are no-beuno as you say. All the trails are ice sheets for a few more weeks and I so miss trails. I ran on a road with no/super skinny shoulder yesterday and remembered why I don’t run on roads like that very often. Although dodging oncoming traffic does break up the monotony. I keep thinking I just have to hang in there a few more weeks and things will be muddy instead of icy. And mud is kinda fun. BTW Love your writing voice!!

  5. I wish we’d get snow. We’ve had a light dusting two days ago here in WI and that’s it for February. Almost all the snow is gone now so I am thinking we’ll get hit later in March. Last year was the first year I ran in winter and this year I’ve logged more miles outside than on the treadmill. I even went out in below zero temps. Don’t get me wrong, I like my treadmill but only when outside isn’t an option. I do audio books or movies to pass the time vary the speed. Also, Gu when cold or slightly frozen is delicious and almost like a sweet ice cream treat…on a run!

  6. Last winter I all about running outside. “All you need is the right gear”, I told myself. I basked and bragged about being so badass! This winter, I woke up one morning to 22 F and said, “No one is giving you a medal for running in this chill. Just use the treadmill!”
    I’ve been on the treadmill A LOT this winter. I watch the cars and people come and go as I overlook the parking lot at the gym. My mind is saved by wonderful audio books. I know that I would not sit down to read for even 15 minutes most days, especially on the weekend, so having someone read to me for a 5 mile run or an 8 mile long run on the treadmill is really luxurious. I surprise myself with how much I’ve “read” this winter! #highmileagelady

  7. Our weather here in Southwest Michigan has been amazing this year! Typically by now Rita have had several snowstorm and way too many inches of Lake affect snow, but this year is amazing! This week we’re having 30s and 40s and tomorrow it’s supposed to be in the 50s. That’s not to say there haven’t been some treacherous runs as there always are because they’re certainly have been, but this year has been much better than years past. Now I’m just hoping the trees don’t bud too early and ruin our apple crop, as that would be a major bummer

  8. I am training for a marathon right now, but I live in a desert so I thought I’d be fine. However, just like California we’re getting record amounts of snow this year! It’s because I signed up for a marathon. 😉 You’re welcome, California. 😉 On my “supposed to be 20 miler” my feet were soaked and frozen before I made it to the corner because the snow was so wet and EVERYWHERE! No escaping it. I cut that run short.

  9. Similar weather in CT, I have no trails or outdoor/indoor track, mostly
    I muddle through on the treadmill or snow shoe to get fresh air (and snow shoeing is no joke. 1 mile of snow shoeing equals 2 miles of running)!
    I have actually run 20 miles on the treadmill during marathon training in the winter. Watched a lot of NetFlix and didn’t think, just went (a la Dimity). That is why, though, I won’t do another spring marathon, not with our winters.

  10. Our weather in NNY has been similar. We put on our trail shoes and get it done. Fortunately, we have roads nearby that are (somewhat) plowed without a lot of traffic. And we can alternate between the public school parking lots and the college campus, which is well lit and plowed, and devoid of life forms in the early morning 😉

  11. Our weather here in New Brunswick (Canada) has been much the same. January was great, then February started getting cold and snowy. We just got 79cm of snow dumped on us Monday! Tried out a local indoor track for the first time in wednesday…and much to my surprise it wasn’t so bad! Wouldn’t want to do a long run (training for my 3rd marathon) but shorter runs may be ok. More snow for us today so it’ll be tricky funding a good long run route this weekend!

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