Monday, February 8, 2010

Surveying the 2010 Snownami Aftermath...on Foot

When I woke up yesterday morning, my wife and I went downstairs and immediately to the window.  "I can't really see my car," I said.  Our neighborhood had been blanketed, well, that word doesn't even seem to convey what I'm going for here, suffocated? smothered? avalanched? by what I heard was 32 inches of snow once the storm moved on late Saturday night.  I liken emerging from the house to the survival of some catastrophic event the likes of which most of us have only seen through Hollywood's eyes.  Think post-apocalyptic, post-bombing raid, post-tornado...pick your disaster.  We gingerly set foot outside and began to mar the perfect canvas that had taken 36 hours of non-stop snowing to produce.  That had twisted trees and knocked out power.  An eeriness hung in the air during the storm.  We took the dog for a walk Saturday afternoon and she could stand at the main intersection of our neighborhood and the road and not worry about cars coming.  The silence was total.

And then we spent the majority of Sunday shoveling.

As an OCD runner, my first thought on Thursday night, 16 hours before the storm was supposed start, was "When am I going to get my long run in?"  Sunday?  Not likely.  Saturday? No chance.  So when my work let us out at noon on Friday, I came immediately home, laced up and headed out in what was deemed the "non-accumulation" period of the storm, i.e., it's snowing like hell but not sticking to the street.  I chose a 6.5 mile loop that doubled back over the house just in case things got really bad and I had to come inside.  But instead, I sloshed through a 13 mile progression run, snow and sleet pelting my face, shoes soggy, legs crying for relief after a week of 37 miles (soon to be 50) and two hockey games the night before.  When I got home, there was a sense of relief and also a sense of "beating the storm."  Like when a rainstorm is baring down on you and you run into the house, turn, lock the door, and take a heavy sigh.  Then I promptly fell asleep on the couch for an hour, Runner's World in hand.

With no work today (remember we live in D.C. so this kind of snow is unheard of and no snow crew could hope to stay on top of it), I thought more about how to begin this week anew and get my run in.  I've had to be creative over the past couple weeks (note this was snowstorm 3 in just 7 days.  I did say D.C. and not Rochester).  So today was no different.  I had to cover a 45-60 minute easy run, which normally translates to about 8 miles.  I went out with pure fun on my mind, to just go do the run, enjoy the scenery and not get hit by a car or slip and fall.

Our neighborhood was in varying degrees of plowed.  The section my wife and I live in falls under the category of not plowed, or 4-wheel drive essential to pass.  Other parts ranged from asphalt to partially shoveled, to shoveled and treated.  Along the way, I ran through tunnels of snow, mazes along the sidewalk where there was a single path and snow nearly up to my waist on either side.  In other areas, it felt like I was running on sand, the snow packed down but melting slightly and mixed with gravel.  

I hadn't anticipated people having shoveled their sidewalks, though once I got used to running on them, I scorned the people who hadn't bothered, forcing me back out onto the street.  At times, I stepped aside and into a snowbank to avoid oncoming cars trying negotiate the slippery one-lane roads.  A few curses here and there as the snow crept under my pant leg.

In some instances I could read the lips of people passing slowly by.  They ranged from, "He's crazy" to "Look at this a-hole."  Nice.  I had an older man out shoveling yell, "You're dedicated" which made me smile and pick up the pace -- as much as I could.  I also got waves from cars and people.  The walkers waved, then turned and looked at me as though I went by with two heads.

I also trudged by road crews out plowing, shoveling, and treating the streets who didn't regard me one way or another.  And others digging out their cars and parking spaces in quiet agony.

By the time I finished and looped back to the house, I surprised myself by covering all 8 miles, in one piece no less.  There was the occasional bout of ice where I had to call on my years of hockey and the puddle of slush that looks more shallow than it is until you're up to your ankle in cold water.  But all-in-all, it proved a successful jaunt and, most notably, got me out of the house and helped my cabin fever (thank God for the Caps/Pens game and Super Bowl yesterday).  

Tomorrow, well, the weather is pretty grim.  We're supposed to get 10-20 inches beginning at noon and carrying through until Wednesday night.  Call it an aftershock if you will.  More creativity required!  And, hey, shoveling snow is x-training right?  *sigh*

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