AM: 20 miles. 15degrees F, windchill of -1, 15-20mph winds. This was a fairly epic run. The endorphines have since worn off, but it still goes on my "good" list. Left from home and ran the 6ish miles to KVCC, and found it was closed. I went there to enter the Al Sabo Preserve from the back, and was suprised to find the campus deserted. I knew it had snowed, but didn't really see the need to close schools. Oh well. I went around the back of the school to hit the trail, and was met with knee-deep drifts immediately after stepping off the parking lot. It had already crusted over, so I had to high-step it and posthole my way into the woods. Nobody had borken trail since the snow, so I was the lucky running hobo that got to make the first tracks I resisted the urge to run all my favorite single tracks first and headed into the south side of the preserve. I needed windproof gear to get me to the trails, but was able to shed the coat and pants and hide them in some brush while under the cover of the trees. After getting rid of the clothes, I was able to move much more silently. (Edit: I wasnt naked.I wore tights and a long sleeve shirt/fleece vest under my wind gear) The windproof pants made a sound that reminded me of my 14 year old self in a new pair of "husky" sized corduroys. I was happy to be rid of them for a while, but was praying to the running gods that nobody snatched them. It would be a miserable trip home if they disappeared.
To get an even 20, I would need to run 8 miles or so of trails. They looked like a whole new world, despite my very frequent visits to the same area. The snow had fallen and stuck to not only the ground, but the entire landscape-the brush in the wetlands, the cat tails in the swamp, the limbs of all the trees, and all the pine branches. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly. I had to stop at some of the best vantage points to steal a glimpse. The run was filled with vivid images that couldn't be captured by a camera(I'd be willing to try- any companies out there want to give me one to review? Im such a prostitute).
My favorite part about runs like this that follow a good snowfall is that new routes emerge almost every time. The only large animals that have been moving since dawn are deer, and they don't always follow the beaten path. I kept an eye out for tracks, then darted into the woods after what seemed like nothing, but the faint trail gave a new place to explore. It was pretty slow going while ducking under branches and hopping down into gullies and back out the other side, but I found it pretty enjoyable. The 7 miles went by pretty quickly, but I only brought 2 GUs and had just taken the last one, so it was time to head for home.
The trip back may have been one of the worst runs ever, but there was something special about it. There was a headwind that nearly tipped me over, but the ankle deep snow/slush is what did me in. I was breathing quite hard and my legs were burning, but I was busting out some super solid 12 minute miles! I cut in on an eastbound road as quickly as possible to get out of the wind. Upon finding a gas pipeline, I decided to try that as a means to get me closer to home and stay out of the wind. The pipeline trail ended abruptly and I arrived at a fence with a cornfield on the other side. I thought, "This shouldn't be a big deal. I'll just cut through this feild and end up on Parkview." This feild had to have been 1 mile long. It was knee deep snow with hacked off cornstalks, rocks and a crust above the snow. I spent nearly 20 minutes wading in the cold with the wind in my face. I made it back out to the road and did a accelerations for 1 mile, then an easy cooldown for the last. Home free.
Also got conned into a 6 mile walk with Abbey, but that doesn't count. Real cold.
6 miles - About 1 hour's worth of running at Asylum Lake Nature Preserve with Evan and Alex. No watch or GPS, so Ill just guess on the low end and say 6 miles. nice run in the snow by the lake. Got a ride back with Evan and caught the early bus to campus. Studied and had some food before my Exercise Testing and Prescription final.
Got a nice 1.5 hour hike in in the afternoon(call it 5 miles). Tested out my spikes and explored some new trails
PM- 7 miles at Al Sabo. Felt really zippy for the first time in a while. I explored some new trails(probably tresspassing, but I saw no signs) and crammed in a run. I intended to get up early, but I slept through the entire morning. The run wasn't particularly enjoyable, partly becasue I felt rushed and my MT100s gave me a nice blood blister on my 4th toe. Still fun, but running fast just because Im in a rush is less than ideal.
PM2- 7 miles at Gazelle's Wednesday Night Live. Good run with Alex, Phil, Mark, and Shawn. Beers to follow. 40 so far. Im already behind on my mileage goals for the week, but whatever. That's what I get for being ambitious.
4 miles- I won't be winning the "Mr. Consistency" award any time soon. Woke up late to being pulled out of bed by Abbey, who would then drag me out for a 4 miler. Without her, Alex, and the rest of my partners in crime, I'd be one lazy son of a bitch. It was a fairly slippery run on the sidewalks on the Arboretum loop.
0 miles- I went to Allendale to see Sam and got caught up in the "Holiday Spirit" (Holiday Spirit- awful rushed feeling of holiday shopping) and couldn't sneak a run in. It was cold and my shoes were wet. That's all I have in the excuse department.
HUFF 50k- 4:28:xx- 33 miles(The course was long). This was a strange weekend. I had no intention of doing any winter races, but circumstances allowed for an impromtu trip with my crew of Joggas. The run served as a training run, and it served its purpose. I felt no anxiety whatsoever and ran the course with little gusto. Im slightly dissapointed in myslelf for allowing such a malaise to overtake my usual zeal for winter trail running. It was a good fitness test, as I held a slightly faster pace than my recent 50mile race at Woodstock with a pretty low effort. I met some cool folks and had some laughs on the course(most notable of which was my accidental showing of my privates after a peeing trailside- I forgot to put my junk back due to frozen fingers and trudged along for several minutes until noticing that my...icicle was hanging out).
0 miles- The rest of the day was spent travelling and catching up with family, so I had no time for a run. The strange part was that I felt amazing. My legs felt as if I hadn't run at all. Other than some frostbite on my foot, I covered the distance, placed 15th out of 310ish competitors, and came out completely unscathed. Makes me feel tremendously grateful for my health and my abilities to move freely.
I'll Just tack on the week of christmas to this post, as it was fairly sparse with running:
10 miles- Fairly speedy adventure with Jason at Hoffmaster. a few miles on the beach, followed by some hill repeats on a certain hill that needn't be mentioned, then a really technical run on frozen dunes, overlooking Lake Michigan on the way back. Got a chance to test out my New Balance NBx cold weather gear and enjoy the view of the lake. The inviting scene of Lake Michigan in the summer is substituted for a rather menacing and poweful sight of dark water and icy waves.
10 miles- An actual solo workout, possibly for the first time. A warm up mile on my ice-covered dirt road, a sub-8 mile to ease into it, then alternating easy/hard miles. Stayed sub-6 pace for 3 of them, then commenced cooldown. I was happy to see that the 50k hadn't stolen any leg speed, nor has my alternation between high and low volume weeks over the past month or so. Good off-season fitness test and it was fun to get the HR up for a change. Though I usually enjoy a workout for more with my speedy training partners Alex, Evan, and Joey, it was nice to see that I can do it alone. I might be slowly turning into a runner.
8 miles- Tempo-ish run with Mark, Tony, Rick(accompanied by his three dogs), RYAN, and Tom. I hadn't met Tom before, but he's the steeple coach at indiana, and an elite mid-distance runner. He showed me some of the lesser-used trails and gave me an unexpected effort that nearly reached "tempo" intensity. Socialized with the joggas a bit, then headed home for yet another Christmas party(7 parties total, which explains the sparse week of running).
So, to recap, I ran my goal for 1 week...in 2 weeks.