Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Winter Here to Stay...And Flexing its Muscles

I happened to notice in the news yesterday that according to that quirky annual tradition, groundhogs from Pennsylvania to Nova Scotia (I was checking hockey news), saw their shadows, meaning six more weeks of winter.  What does this really mean?  More snow and cold.  As if winter wanted to really make its point, the D.C. area is getting slammed by snow all week.  And that has called for some route creativity this week.

It started this past Saturday.  Weathermen across the area called for 4-6 inches of snow.  I woke to a smattering of flakes falling that didn't start falling full on until...I started my run.  My wife asked if I'd be running on the golf course, normally a safe bet; however, I wasn't feeling the three loop 15-miler.  Instead, I drove out to the Cross County Trail, parked, and headed off into the woods.  I had whimsical visions of springing through the woods like a buck, nimble and graceful.  The drive proved more treacherous than the actual run, but I'm sad to report that my form was less spring buck and more bumbling drunkard. 

I thought (famous last words) that perhaps the trail wouldn't be as snowy with flakes gathering on the branches...of course this is winter and the trees are bare so the snow essentially falls right through...onto the trail.  I got my 15 miles in but returned to the car with ice-crusted eyebrows, a red face, and two soggy feet -- not so much from the snowy trail, but because I didn't navigate the creek crossing on the back portion of my out and back and ended up submerging each foot (on separate occasions) in the frigid creek.  Those absent leaves that let the snow fall straight through to the trail meant that roots and rocks were hidden and I had to step extra careful.  One cool part though: the snow looked like a satin sheet pulled snug over the rocks making it both beautiful and easy to spot where not to step along the creek.

With the snow still relatively fresh, I set out for a fartlek run on Monday donning my wife's chartreuse vest and a headlamp, since to successfully navigate the neighborhood sidewalks, I'd have to run some in the street and wanted a fighting chance of being seen by the cars.  The surprise of this run was when I turned onto the golf course.  I actually turned off the headlamp because as I made my way past houses, the course had a soft glow.  A fresh batch of white clouds combined with the weekend's snow served as my lighting system or electricity necessary.  And, taking in this scene helped take my mind off of the fartlek intervals and provided a nice cool down back drop.

That cloud cover had other motives, however.  After a morning 4-miler, I headed out again Tuesday night and while experiencing the same illumination from the night before along, not just the golf course, but the road as well, those clouds spilled over with another storm.  Luckily, nothing was sticking to the road yet and my face has, I think, built up a resistance to the constant pelting of sleet and snow because last night, I wasn't phased.

Another four inches, another detour required.  Tonight I worked in a set of hill intervals on a nearby hill where, thankfully, the sidewalk had been miraculously shoveled off.  That's all well and good, but, this weekend's weather forecast?  SNOW.  And not just a dusting.  Snow starting Friday, continuing all day Saturday and dumping anywhere from 12-18 inches on the area a la the December storm we had.  Harumph! 

Now I'm going to have to get really creative with a 90 minute progression run staring me down this weekend.  Dare I say treadmill?  Nine minutes already feels like 90 to me on the hamster wheel.  Plus there's no telling how many people will be there.  A friend told me how terrible the gym has been with all the snow.  So now what?  I suppose running spawns creativity.  We'll see what I can come up with.

Stupid groundhog.

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