Friday, January 23, 2004

Trail Run

I have said before that the magic of the trail run is the changing landscape. When I last did the trail much of the run was in the dark, on a wet trail. Today I had light almost from the beginning. The excuse machine was in overdrive. I had skipped last week’s run when I awoke to howling winds and sub zero temps. This morning wasn’t much better and when I walked Max around the block I seriously considered just nipping back to back for an hour. But I steeled myself and drove out to the trail. The jeep’s thermometer said 15 and I knew the northwest winds made the wind chill below zero. I felt the chill initially and seriously considered a shorten run but as the sky lightened and as I warmed with my effort I felt better and better about the run. The trail itself shown white with last Sunday’s snow now encrusted with ice that crunched underfoot. The trees were amazing in their texture and structure; the tallest seeming to hold up the blue vault of the sky. On some of the trail I saw only one other set of human prints (all of the trails appeared heavily use by four legged creatures) but other parts showed heavy traffic though why that should be I don’t know. Just past halfway I climbed up a steep hill. Running along the hill’s ridge, I looked across the valley and saw thru the trees on the far ridge the rising sun. Its rays lit the tops of the trees a gorgeous red golden color. I had to stop to take it all in the beauty it was that stunning. A little further on the sun seemed to suddenly jump up over the tree line a great red gold globe that bathed the tree tops in light. I was very glad I hadn’t wimped out for this turned out to be a favorite run. By trails end my only regret was that it was ending so soon.

On a side note: My wife gave me a hood for Christmas that has proven a godsend in this cold weather. I never feel the cold when wearing it (in fact it’s easy to feel too hot). However, if tightly closed you have no peripheral vision. I wondere how Muslim women who wear the abaya do it. I can’t imagine how it would be never to be outside without that constraint.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Icicle 10 Miler – Wilmington, Delaware

Back in December I ran the Reindeer Romp which I never blogged about. The ran began at 3PM on a Sunday. It was cold and very wet. I tried weakly to console a fellow runner that it wasn’t the worst weather I had ever run in. But it was in fact very close to the worst. However, about today’s run there is no ambivalence – the weather was really awful. It had snowed overnight but by daylight it was raining. Well the forecast last night said the rain would end by 9AM just in time for the race. HA!

This is a nice course – almost the same footprint as the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon – but very hilly. The first three miles thru city streets were slush covered. Once in Rockwood Park the road is even snowier (apparently these roads aren’t plowed). The three miles thru the park are all uphill and this was rough running. Did I mention the rain? It never did stop – a cold, steady rain.

Near mile six just as we came out the park the leader past us on his way back. Amazing given the conditions. Nobody, even close to him.

Once out onto Rt. 52 the running is a little easier. It’s up to the MBNA building but not around it as in the CR. Then back – a nice three mile downhill but hard to get traction in the snowy slush. In the park they had a water station – got to admire these volunteers – we’re crazy to run but what about the volunteers who man the intersections and water stops.

Out of the park is a steep uphill – very icy – slow but steady going up. One runner stops but another barrels ahead and quickly regrets it as he loses his footing. Fortunately no fall. Feels good to come out on the flat and sprint down to the finish. Slow race but satisfying. I hadn’t run ten miles since the Philly Marathon. In fact I haven’t been running much at all – partly by designed – partly by holiday pressure – and most recently by a persistent head cold (not to mention the fierce lows of last week that made if foolish to try to run with a cold). I wanted to do a trail run Friday but the howling winds convinced me to sleep in. Now I feel ready for a great spring.