Sunday, February 29, 2004

Weekend Running

This part of the Northeast is having a preview of spring and we are having the warmest days since late December. Friday’s trail run was quiet and uneventful. I enjoyed the winter woods which will green up in just a couple of weeks. Other then a couple of soggy spots the going was easy and the trails appear to have been freshly marked so I was more adventurous and took a couple of detours.

Saturday was just perfect. A daytime moon looked down as I started out just past noon. I had new shoes on. I seriously considered a different route because I knew if I took the nature trail thru Haverford I would encounter a lot of mud and didn’t like messing my new shoes. I think it has something to with a poor childhood and the only thing guarantee not to be a hand me down was new shoes which were to be kept perfect as long as possible. But what the hey they will get dirty why not today.

I ran to music (and yes I was careful and mostly on almost traffic less roads.) One of the local NPR stations carries From The Top a program that features young classical talent. If ever you have a rotten week and are convinced the world’s going to hell in a hand basket listen to From The Top. It always makes me feel better about life. Immediately following was the Met’s rendition of Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri. It’s bel canto opera – a form popular in the early 19th century where plot was minimal and the singers drove all. Rossini wrote it in three weeks when he was just 21. It sounds like a young man’s opera. Although I was over an hour into the run the overture got me doing an incredibly fast mile. I finished my run to the rousing finish of Act One where all seven principals are on stage singing as bells. Great fun.

Today’s run much more mundane but still satisfying because the warming temps are near perfect. This I could get use to.

Chad Brooks

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Winter Contradictions

Last Saturday was warm (40’s) and Sunday was cold. This time last year we had 43 inches of snow and this
year 13. A colder than average January but lots ofrain. So it has gone this winter.

Friday I went south on the Rocky Run trail. To my surprise the trails still had a lot of icy patches. Winter opens great vistas and perhaps that’s why I saw so many deer. But the weather has been tough on parts of the trail and my first fall of the day was a minor stumble as I tried to get over a small stream where the bridge had partially washed away. An hour into the run I had circled around and needed to cross a larger stream. I have crossed at this spot a half-dozen times without incident but debris forced me further upstream. Still there were plenty of rocks and though the water higher than usual it wasn't moving very hard. I got more then half way across when the only rocks left were under water. No problem if I stepped lightly and quick I would be ok. But it wasn’t to be - I slipped and my right arm and leg went into about 18 inches of very cold water – I must have been a sight as I tried to bounce up without getting my left side wet. I was only about twenty minutes out and it was about 40 so I thought I’d be ok. I decided I was better off without the wet glove so off it came but I did quicken my pace. Minutes later I saw a beautiful red fox in his gorgeous winter coat. But coming down a hill I had my third fall. This was a beaut. It started with me sliding on ice I thought I had avoided by going to the side of the trail. Now what follows sounds like I thought it out slowly and carefully but it happened in a second. I knew I was falling and I knew trying to break with my arms might cause a worst injury so I folded into a fetal position and bounce on my left arm – not bad but then I kept sliding head forward down the hill – what fun. I kind of slipped off the path and was able to get up none the worse forwear. I couldn't believe I had managed it without injury. It was tempting to get cocky but I knew I had been very lucky and it was time to be careful. Fortunately the rest of run was uneventful but a hot shower sure did feel good.

Today was a long run using Kelly, West River, and Forbidden Drives. Early in the run I ran by Nick. We chatted briefly as runners do. How about this wind? Nick says at least you have it at your back. I smiled – this is Kelly Drive the wind is never at your back, somehow it’s always in your face. I ran the new trail that parallels the Schuylkill and goes to Locust Street. It should be very nice when it’s finished. I did my fav run around the Art Museum then back down
to the loop and hit the strongest winds yet. There was so much debris in the wind it actually stung. This winter I feel like I’m in a Willa Cather novel and am one of the pioneers bedeviled by the plains winds. (Forecast for tomorrow: strong north west winds.) I did enjoy this run – yes I was tired and sore – but the winter landscape seems so stark and clear that you are often in the moment – you seemed to notice the bones of the land and somehow seem connected to it – and in the end it seemed much more effortless then an equivalent summer run.

P.S. It's better to wear out then rust.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Mid Winter Running

One week ago I did a trail run thru 3 or 4 inches of snow over ice. The snow had a sand like consistency that prove very difficult to run through. In fact on one steep hill I was reduced to walking when my running efforts took on the cartoony effect of my running and not moving ahead.

This Friday I knew running on trails was out of the question. A cold rain fell through the night but I thought I might get a run on the neighborhood roads. I went out with Max and encountered sidewalks and streets covered with ice. Even four footed Max was having a hard time. Worst the rain actually iced as it hit us. After a quarter mile Max who usually is indifferent to even to the worst weather pulled up and looked at me as if to say “Boss I’m game for most anything but this is not good idea.”

So we headed back home to thaw and dry out.

Saturday was much better. It got up to forty. While there was still a strong west wind it didn’t seem as chilled. The clouds raced across the sky and toward the end of the run it was more cloudy then sunny. The streams I crossed were high but mostly within their banks and great streams of water flowed down the sides of the road as the snow piles gave up their moisture. Today however was much chillier - about 27 when I went out and once again the wind was strong out of the northwest. The sky was bright blue. I actually enjoy this running much more than a hot summer run.

Having an ambitious March schedule with a 10K, half-marathon, marathon gets me out even when the weather is less then cooperative but there is a satisfaction running in difficult conditions and not letting weather stop me.