Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snow Day Running

Another cold, snowy week led to a lot of indoor running. When I run indoors I usually try to go three miles, hit the rowing machine for 5 min, do some sit ups and push ups and call it a day. After several straight days, it gets a bit old. But I still dutifully laced up, and descended the stairs to my basement for the grind each evening.

The KC Trail Nerds were having the Run Toto, Run event yesterday. I had thought about doing the 10 miler. My running buddy, Chris, and I had left the plans for it loose. I did a short outdoor run on Friday in preparation. When Saturday rolled around, however, Chris and I opted to try and do the full circuit of the river front trails instead of making the drive into the KC metro area. We waited until 10:30 so that the temperature would be climbing into the high 30s - low 40s.

When we arrived at the trail head, there was a lot of snow, some ice, some slush, and some mud. We figured we'd do what we could. So we set off on a trail that was mainly snow-packed. Every now and then there would be knee high drifts. It became quite a workout, but we pressed on. We pretty much had the trails to ourselves. Several times we weren't actually certain we were on the trails.

The riverfront trails are the ones that my running buddies and I are all most familiar with. However yesterday, large chunks of the run seemed fresh, as a coat of white had descended over the familiar green and brown hues that normally populate the run. We saw a magnificent owl and a whole lot of tracks, but no other animals or people (who, I guess technically are animals as well).

As we ran, I commented that my shoe could not possibly have more snow in it. Then I mentioned that, being the optimist, that I should probably describe it as being half-full. Chris corrected me by pointing out that in that instance the optimist would actually describe his shoe as being half empty.

So after several deep conversations like the preceding, we reached the turnaround point. The run had, to that point, been alternately wonderful and easy coupled with a study in brutal backwoods slogging. After running back a bit on the trails, we opted to make a break for the levee across a field that was a lot larger and more snowbound than it had looked from the trail.

After a foot drenching jaunt, we arrived at the summit of the levee. As it turned out, there was a pretty good wind that we hadn't noticed on the trails. I put my hat back on, and Chris donned his jacket. We had some miles in the wind atop the levee. I should say here that I love to run on the levee. I like the tight gravel surface. I like the feeling that I get by bouncing up and down as I run that puts me into the zone. Chris, however, hates the levee. He feels as if there is no progression, and that the objects off in the distance never seem to get closer.

Because of these two contrasting points of view, our speed increased - mine because I was on auto-pilot, and Chris' because he just wanted the damn thing to end. And end it did, with both of us clocking a pretty good pace as we knocked out the final few miles of the run.

It turned out to be exhilarating for both of us. I love training runs where you actually feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what you have undertaken. The only issue I had were cold toes and a tiny blister on the side of one of them.

Chris is looking at training to place again in the Kansas Half Marathon. He's such an irritatingly good runnier, that he probably will. I haven't committed to doing the race again this year. I'm still in the run for running's sake mode, and have no plans outside of some Trail Nerds races.

But running with Chris keeps me fast. I'm always honored when he asks me to do the long training runs. I'm not quite fast enough to win my age group (in most races), so I always bask in the reflected glory of Chris' wins. I'm both kidding and not kidding here. I really do love it when someone I run with wins....

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