Saturday, January 29, 2005

After The Snow

Last weeks light snowfall was followed by 12 inches last Saturday and another inch or so on Sunday. Nothing compared to some places, but enough to make a mess of roads. I decided against a trail run. Despite the cold temps all week I thought it likely that I would find myself slogging through the snow without much traction. Reluctantly, I just made my normal morning loop.

Today I did my other regular run by Merion Golf Course. Except for the scary bit when you have to negotiate busy Ardmore Avenue it was a pleasant run. Mid level clouds, altocumulus, hinted at tomorrow's possible snow. It amazing how quickly we acclimate. Today's 27F felt quick comfortable. In fact I was almost too warm.

probably not enough miles but a good Saturday run.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Snow Run

First snow has fallen. Not much. (It came Wednesday during rush hour causing huge delays.) The first big storm is scheduled for tomorrow. But for today there is a nice thin layer of white in woods. As I took to the trail it was 15F with a wind chill of -1. I felt comfortable in my layers and found the going easier then I expected.

On some of the trails I was the first human but tracks of others were common. Some entered and crossed or followed only a short distance. But some went straight ahead for some distance. Rabbit and deer tracks are fairly easy to pick out but others I’m not so sure of – some are probably predators mostly likely foxes. On one stretch there were myriad tiny tracks bunched closed together near the center of the track as if a tribe of creatures had gone on a pilgrimage for they all seem to go in one direction with no return trip. The only animals I saw today were deer. They seemed strangely bold, allowing me to get quite close and stopping to watch my progress before disappearing into the distance. Perhaps hooded and mittened, bent forward to be sure of my footing I don’t look quite human and they are puzzling out what this intruder could be. The woods themselves are all winter beauty, dark trees against white – everything at once soften yet clarified. I made a great loop around until finally entering the return leg where I followed my own tracks back out into the world.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Icicle Ten Miler

This race takes place in Wilmington, Delaware. Its ten miles covers much of the course of the more popular Caesar Rodney Half Marathon. Yesterday there were 400 runners - one of the best turnouts in recent years. For the past couple of years the weather has been poor (check the photos for 2004) for the run but for a change conditions were good. About 30F and dry roads.

The host of the race is the YMCA. One of the nice things about this run and Caesar Rodney is that you get to use the Y’s facilities and have a hot shower before you head home. I went out for a warm up run along the Brandywine:


The road used by the race is to the left. To the right is a flowway that parallels the Brandywine. The high bridge in the background is I95.

The race organizers got a bit of an interruption of the race sign in when the fire alarm sounded. They cleared the building and had the fire department check. Nothing more that a smoky microwave.


This is a race for hill lovers. I would estimate that 80% of the race is up or down. After a loop through downtown Wilmington you enter Brandywine Park. You then run on Kentmere Parkway designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead specifically to tie the two parks together. You pass the Delaware Art Museum (currently under renovation) and enter Rockford Park. You have a mile and half on Route 52 which includes the turnaround. The out is mostly uphill so you get downhills almost to the end – with one last hill to get to Delaware Avenue and the run to the finish at the Y.


Bottom of the Hill

Top of the Hill
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Looking down from the top of the hill

I ran much better than last year – but so did everyone. Finished in the middle of the pack and in the middle of my age group. Finish time was 1:25:53. Not bad on a hilly course early in the season. I had done a leisurely couple of miles before the race and repeated that afterwards and so was satisfied with my mileage count.

I like winter runs. By the way I wore mittens which I found much warmer than gloves - definitely better than gloves.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Natural Running

I realize that one of the side benefits of running is that I am much more aware of and in tune with the “natural” world. (I use quotes because I don’t think that urban living is unnatural – but “natural” has come to mean the things in the world less touched by and controlled by humans). For example, like most every runner, I am attuned to the weather, topography, the changing seasons, the changes of light and dark in ways that most are not.

I also notice the other creatures that share my neighborhood. Some are common like crows and squirrels. Others more rarely sighted like foxes. Sometimes it happens just outside my own door. A while back I wrote about coming home to find the house surrounded by mourning doves. And last week as I was leaving the house I noticed that the ornamental pear tree just in front of the house was filled with scores and scores of robins. I have seen congregations of robins before (I think I wrote before about such a congregation) but this was outside my own front door and in such numbers. I moved slowly not wishing to disturb them but even my slight movements spooked them into scattering. But that moment. . .

So Saturday I was out for a run. It had rain most of the morning and I put off my run to early afternoon hoping for a dry spell. I took the route that leads me past Merion Country Club. As I went up Golf View Road – Merion golf course to my right – there are large homes on a couple of acres (the McMansions of the 1920’s) to my left. I noticed a flock of deer standing stark still like lawn ornaments.

I expected them to run and indeed they did, but toward me. They covered the ground between us almost instantly and then we were running side by side separated by a small privet hedge. Then, suddenly, a buck jumped the hedge almost directly in front of me and raced for the golf course. The others found a small gap in the hedge and raced through. For a second I was tempted to race after them but instead I watched them disappear into the golf course.

I looked around hoping someone else had seen this magical moment but I was all alone. No traffic, no walkers, no one in sight. What prompted this behavior is a mystery. Why did they run toward me? Did the buck just want to show off?

It felt strangely satisfying as if the deer made me part of their running group.