Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cold Weather Running

The talking heads like to call this area the I95 Corridor. In fact that highway does mirror a real topographical and hence weather pattern. We are often on the in between and it is notoriously difficult to get the weather forecast since a small fluctuation is the difference between rain and snow; a storm and a near miss.

The Valentine’s Day storm that trapped so many on I78 was one of those. Here in Delaware County we saw rain, snow, sleet. Mostly we escaped the worst but it left an icy remnant I was still getting rid today.

Since my oak has fallen I have often chosen to begin my trail run in the Park instead of the Arboretum. This means I can avoid crossing Rt 352 and a long swampy area before the woods…I start on the multiuse trail and have several choices of where to enter the woods. Friday I chose to enter almost immediately on the yellow trail. It is a slight uphill. The snow cover in crusted over but each step I break thru. There is a single set of human tracks where someone walked yesterday and of course lots of animal prints. Later I would see the bloody remaina of a hunter – hunted encounter.

The going is difficult but doable. At the top of the hill I enter the arboretum property. Here I am breaking trail for a while and then a stream crossing. It looks tricky but I see one safe stepping and make it across dry shod. On the other side I join up with one of the main trails and this has more human traffic and surprisingly snowmobile tracks but the advantage is that by following the tracks I have better purchase. When the tracks lead off in another direction I am breaking trail again but after a few hundreds another set of tracks. Skis – tough trail for and later I can see the marks are the skier made their way uphill. Then more fresh trail but mostly downhill so the going is easier. I need to make my way across the stream – this time I am not so luck or skillful and my left foot goes in. I am about a mile from my car and figure I will be fine if I keep moving. A short climb and I know at the top of the next hill I take a short cut to the multi use trail and figure I better use it and get to asphalt. A short run downhill and I’m done – man that foot is cold. Now I know why in the wilderness it is so dangerous to get wet.

Saturday I got my long run early and found the going pretty easy. Saturday afternoon I volunteered to help out with the Fila The Love 5K . It was held in the Coopertown section of Haverford Township. This is a brand new run invented by Bob Schwelm owner of the Bryn Mawr Running Company. This has to be one of the most challenging ideas for a brand new run I ever heard of. The idea was to run teams in five categories (blood related, lovers, mixed couple, same sex couple, and individual). Each team would start together but after 100 yards separate each running the course in a separate direction. Seeing each other in passing on the course.

I worked registration which was complicated because you had to capture all the usual information plus the team info. Some the of couples were comical – they hadn’t chosen whether they were lovers or just mixed couple. One couple went back and forth before finally settling on lover. I felt like a match maker.

Despite the complications of running two courses and the icy streets the race went very well. The timers did a great jump of getting the results quickly. I think a great tradition was started.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cold Weather Running

I wimped out on my Friday trail run. The weather forecast was for a cold rain. I just didn’t fancy a seven or eight mile slug in the wet. So I slept in and of course no rain = the storm had move far enough off coast we weren’t affected. Grrrrrrr.

So Saturday I was determined to get a good run in Saturday. It was cold but not Frank’s cold (although Monday and Tuesday are forecast to be the coldest days in 11 years which means it will be the coldest weather I have run in). I layered up and felt quite comfortable. I modified my course and it worked well – my finish was just short of 10 according to my garmin. The day was quite beautiful with bright blue skies and that crystal winter clarity. We have not had a real snowfall yet but we have had a series of snow showers that leave a coating that disappears during the day. It makes for pretty morning runs.

On my Ipod I had loaded Vince Gill’s new four album set These Days (What a great set as Gill ranges over a variety of styles – he really is a perfect choice of president of the Board of Trustees of the Country Music Hall of Fame as he obviously loves both the old and new) On a whim I had also placed the last moment of Beethoven's Ninth. I had already used the shuffle a couple of times without hearing the Ninth but as I began my last mile there was Beethoven. What a great way to finish.

Today was a couple of degrees colder and a little cloudier but still quite beautiful. I usually go uptown one day and downtown the next but today I thought the prettier run would to be go north again. The course included the nature trail at Haverford College. Parts of the trail were a snow cover that had melted and refroze making for some tricky footing. In fact throughout the course I had to be careful of black ice since the bright afternoon sun would thaw the ground despite the cold and later in the shade and night the wet refroze.

For me these cold runs are much more fun than slogging out those 80F / 80% humidity days in August. Let’s see if that feeling survives Tuesday night.