Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowy Night Run

Yesterday was a snow day, 6"-8" on the ground with the storm winding down by 7:00 PM.  I worked from home all day, being productive but feeling some cabin fever as the day wore on.  Plus, with another storm forecast for the next day I was going to be without workout for two days straight.  This was on top of not doing a long run over the weekend because I was teaching backcountry skiing for the AMC in NH.  At 8:30 PM I headed out to do some shoveling, my housemates had already done a great first pass so I was just widening the sidewalk and clearing off my car.

Well, it wasn't that bad outside.  The snow had stopped, the temps were moderate, and the streets were in decent shape.  A strange thought occurred to me; Why not go for a run?  So I finished my shoveling and headed back inside to get dressed.  Bright orange jacket, reflective vest, flashing lights on my back and arms, headlamp, reflective patches on pants, jacket, and gloves, trail running shoes; I was ready.  I started out on the road but switched to the sidewalk once I made it over to Cambridge.  They were mostly cleared but I had to pick my way a bit carefully, especially at street crossings.

I ran my usual 4 mile loop, out to Harvard Square, to the river, on the bike path to JFK, cross the river at the River Street bridge, and back home.  Going through Harvard Square was eerie, only a few people out and giving me odd stares. I was watching for cars carefully as I don't think they were expecting me.  Crossing Memorial Drive was uneventful except for clearing the snowbank and I was on the bike path.  It was in adequate shape, but I was glad for the trail shoes.  At the first bridge I worked around the sidewalk plow and got some good pavement for a bit, but it was slippery going up the slope of the bridge.

On the Boston side of the river I was the only one around.  It's surprisingly bright when the city is covered with snow and all the lights are on. I had no problem with visibility, unlike some morning runs in the dark. I stepped aside for the sidewalk plow and then dropped into his wake, just like I've done on the highway during a bad storm.  I don't think he was amused having me behind him with my headlamp but he had other concerns.  I figured if this stretch was OK, the final stretch to River St would be fine; alas, it was still filled with 4" of slush and snow, making for a high stepping gait that wasn't very fast.

On the way back up the Cambridge side there were cross country ski tracks along side the path.  At one point they went over a bench that was buried in the snow.  I made a poor choice at the last bridge and stayed on the river side of Memorial Drive, which wasn't cleared of snow and had to run 1/4 of a mile in 6" of snow and spray from the snowplows.  I was cursing myself the whole way, hoping that I wouldn't twist an ankle or do something stupid.  And I couldn't cross the road without wading through 5' snowbanks.  Oh well. At the intersection I was back on real snow and headed for home.  There was one interesting scene where a car had parked on a street that was supposed to be clear for the plows and two very large plows where waiting for a woman to move.  The lead plow was only inches from her bumper encouraging her to get moving.  No one looked happy.

Back to Kirkland and nearly home.  I had to pass a group on a narrow sidewalk with a "On your left" but they seemed confused by this. Passing Beacon St and then turning towards my house.  A few neighbors were out late shoveling and gave me a friendly but wary wave as I climbed my stairs and headed back to the warmth.

It was a great run, if not fast or far.  I would never have gone for a run like this if I hadn't been training for the marathon, but I don't see why that should limit me.  Getting daily exercise is now part of my regular schedule, no matter how it happens.  Certainly in summer it'll be easier, but I like not being limited by weather or time.  It's really just a state of mind, the human body can do most anything with the right clothing and attitude.

Please consider helping out my marathon fund raising for G-Row by clicking on the link on the upper left of this page.  I'm 1/3 of the way to my goal and looking forward to being able to concentrate only on the training part.  Thank you to everyone who has donated so far.