Monday, February 7, 2011

A snowy long run

I had an awesome 20 mile run yesterday.  There was every excuse for it to be horrible, but I chose that it was going to be a good run.  The schedule called for a long run on Saturday, and Sunday was a scheduled rest day.  As the weather got worse on Saturday, and my other obligations kept putting the run later and later, I decided to postpone it to Sunday.  I figured if I got out early enough, I would be able to run down the middle of the snowy streets; they weren’t calling for that much snow, anyway. 
I  awoke at 6 am and the snow was hammering down.  There was a good six inches on the ground and it wasn’t showing any signs of letting up.  I decided that I was going to run for three hours or twenty miles, whichever came first.  As I headed out with Fletcher for 4.2 miles, it looked like I would be going for the three hours.  The roads were dicey with a few tire tracks but no signs of a plow.  When I got to the lake, which is usually one of the first places to have plowed paths, I discovered that I had beaten the plows.  A good 2 miles of those four miles were breaking a fresh track in 8 inches of powdery, Colorado snow.  I chugged along, at one point seeing that I was in the 11 minute mile range, but I didn’t care.
I decided that I was going to take what the day gave me and “run like a child.”  My kids love the snow, and I like running in it.  However, I have recently gotten too caught up in the numbers of a training plan; so I decided I was going to run joyfully and ignore the numbers.
I returned home with Fletcher and it seemed like the snow was letting up.  I leashed up Finn and headed off for a wandering tour of the residential streets in the area, because they had some tire tracks that I could run in, which provided the best surface to be had.  After wandering five miles, we hit the same lake where I had run with Fletcher.  I had played it right; they had just plowed the inner loop, which is 1.1 miles.  There was still hard crunchy stuff covered by a thin layer of fluffy snow, so the footing was good.  We settled in for about 9 laps, (with a mile to run home from the lake) and started hitting some descent splits.  The sun came out. A couple of the miles dipped below 8:00/M which is in the range that I am trying to run my long runs.  I snapped off a couple of good miles and then I started to fade.  The early 10 miles of working hard to run through the snow started to show.  I just ignored the pace and ran out the miles.
It was a great run for many reasons.  I headed out into questionable weather and got to experience the silent run of fresh snow and empty streets. It was beautiful and fun.  I worked hard, but ran happily, not stressing about pace or distance, taking all the joy I could from a beautiful winter day, running along, with my four-legged running partners.
It was interesting to see who was out on a wintery day.  Early on, when the snow was still falling, I saw mostly shovelers and snowblowerers.  There were very few tracks in the snow at the lake on the first visit; the few I saw were human and canine.  The dog walkers were getting it done, although I didn’t see them yet, just their tracks in the snow.  On the second round with Finn, I saw snowshoers, XC skiers, walkers, runners, photographers, and, of course, dog walkers.  It is great to live in a place where people love the outdoors.  As the park department got the paths plowed, more and more people were heading out to enjoy a 30 degree snow day.
I thought I was going to have to tough this run out.  It got a little hard near the end, but it was one of those runs that are so joyful that it will propel me through the next week of training.  I ran like a child.

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