One Tough Run

The weekend came and went without me having done my long run.  This week was supposed to peak at 19.2km, and if I couldn’t get it done on the weekend, what chance would I have during the week?

While the Nemo blizzard had covered everything in snow, the weather forecast showed that Monday would be well above freezing (again) with rain even, but no rain forecast for Tuesday as well as staying above zero.  Tuesdays have been good days to get out early (thus Trifecta Tuesdays), so I thought I’d get out the door around 6:00AM, run for two hours or so, shower, then head to work, and I thought the conditions would work with me.

First problem: the kids did one of their patented sleepless nights, staggering their wake-ups so that either me or my wife was up every hour and a half on average.  We haven’t been hit with anything too serious during cold and flu season (plenty of friends have been either laid up for more than a week or had to have hospital interventions), but our kids are not 100% nor comfortable it seems.

I got up at 5:30 and though I think I was pretty quiet, my wife let me know she hadn’t been able to get back to sleep after the umpteenth wake-up and Shark Boy got out of bed too.  The next thing I know, everybody is up and Plan A means leaving my wife with two sick and cranky kids for at least an hour before my mother arrives to lend her help.

So... I didn’t get out the door till almost 7:00.  I had equipped myself with my Salomon hydration pack, clipped a Saucony blinker onto its back as well as wearing a Petzl headlamp that  would be trying for the first time.  The extra lighting probably wasn't necessary beyond the first 15 minutes... but hey, it was my first run in darkness.

I hadn’t gotten past more than a couple of houses when I started to slip - black ice on the sidewalk, in spite of the day before’s thaw.  I had packed my Yaktrax, but I wasn't wearing them yet, so I went back to my front porch to sit down and put them on.   I ran from my street to the park entrance to get on my usual trail, and there I did not have to deal with ice.... rather slush, sometimes as high as my ankles.  I guess people had tramped down the snow somewhat, and the temperature must have been slightly warmer on the trail.

From that point onward I had to confront either slippery black ice, wet slush or climb over snowbanks that were frozen close to solid. It was also quite windy.  I think I had gotten about 4 km when I started to think about quitting. For about another 4 km I had a thought process that went like this: "This sucks. I should call it a day and head home. I don't want to go back the way I came though. I'll just head over to [the next way-point that would present a route home] and see if this gets any better." I repeated that till I was 8 km in, and then formulated a plan.

I could take the way home after another two major intersections. The streets involved had their sidewalks done by the city as opposed to private citizen homeowners, and the use of salt had made them a little more navigable. When there was a traffic light, I took a right turn until I was probably less than 2 km from home.

I made a phone call home to make sure everything was OK there, then I headed back North so that I could make a 4 km loop that I had to repeat another 2 times to get 18 km total. It was boring running the same city streets over and over again, and I drew a lot of stares from people waiting for buses. On the plus side, I was able to use a gas station for a bathroom break when needed. The general rule was better than average sidewalk clearing, but there were some exceptions....
What happened to the sidewalk?
It was one of those runs where almost everything hurt at least a little, but my right glute was the loudest complainer. I think it and my right hip were starting to almost lock up by the time I was finished.

The good news was that this was going to be the longest run of the year, and I got it done. It's an extra feather in my cap that it was so challenging... I doubt race day can throw anything at me anymore that I won't be able to handle.

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