Winter Trail Running

20 Feb

This morning, for the first time in weeks, I went running with my running club (it’s not my club in the sense that I own it, it’s my club in the sense that I’m a member). I have been kept away since early January by a combination of illness, kids’ hospital visits, and temperatures that would make Hell freeze over. I had been looking forward to this morning all week. I’ve missed my running buddies, and the support and companionship that comes with running in a group.

I woke up and turned on the TV to check the weather. -10 Celsius (about 14 Fahrenheit). OK, that’s cold, but it’s certainly a temperature that the runner in me can live with. According to the TV, there was a hefty wind chill, so I put on my windbreaker running pants and took along gloves, hat and lightweight running jacket that doesn’t add to warmth but is superb at blocking out the wind. I grabbed my water bottle and my post-run coffee money, and headed to the community centre.

There were three of us running today. There was Alan, a veteran marathoner who hadn’t run since November due to a nasty knee injury. There was me, who has only run intermittently for the last three months and has definitely fallen a bit out of shape. And there was Penny, who has religiously shown up for the runs every week, no matter what the weather was doing, and gone for the runs even on days when she was the only one to show up.

Alan and I both needed to take it slow as a result of being out of practice. Penny suggested a route that went along the lake and through the Rouge Valley park. It was about 7km and included a long hill – something that both Penny and I need, since we are registered for a very hilly race in early April. Alan and I agreed to the route, and off we went.

We started off well enough. The weather was perfect for running: crisp and cold, but no wind to speak of. We had a big thaw at the end of last week, so the ice on the sidewalks was almost all gone. Running along the lake, I marvelled at the scenic beauty. Not for the first time, I lamented the fact that I did not have my BlackBerry with me – I would really love to take some pictures of what I get to look at when I’m running on that trail. It is so beautiful along there that it almost makes me believe in God again.

While we were running along the lake, Alan decided to cut his run short. It was his first run after hurting his knee, and he didn’t want to push it. He took the next cutoff to the road that would take him back to the community centre, and Penny and I continued on our way.

It was lovely. The wind stayed down and the path was completely clear of ice, although we did have to dodge a couple of large trees that had blown down across the path during this weekend’s wind storm. I was running better than I had expected to. I was maintaining about 6:17 minutes per kilometre and I was feeling good.

Somewhere around the 4km mark, we left the lakeshore trail and cut into the park. And that’s where the fun really started.

Clearly the big thaw that we had on Thursday and Friday did not extend to the park. We crossed from the nice clear ice-free waterfront trail onto an uneven surface of solid ice, at least two inches thick. We gamely continued running, albeit at a slower pace, crisscrossing from one side of the path to the other in an attempt to find some traction. At one point, we had to slow all the way to a walk just to avoid landing on our asses.

We were heartened to see a lone runner bravely passing us, going the other way. At least we weren’t the only ones crazy enough to be running on a sheet of solid ice.

Finally we made it to the long, icy hill leading back up to the road. We ran up the slippery hill, with Penny several paces ahead of me. Somehow I maintained a run all the way to the top, and then the two of us paused for a moment to catch our breath. From this point it was only about a kilometre back to the community centre.

That last kilometre was all on the sidewalk. It was heavenly. Running on a clear flat surface made us appreciate just how hard our legs had had to work in order to get through 2 km of ice.

Back at the community centre, we agreed that it had been a good run. Tough, but good.

We totally deserved that post-run cup of coffee.

Tomorrow my legs and my core muscles will tell me what they think of all this.

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2 Responses to “Winter Trail Running”

  1. I really admire anyone running in those temperatures. I was a runner many years ago, now just a walker and hiker. I don’t even like walking and hiking in cold weather.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Winter Trail Running « Running for Autism -- Topsy.com - February 20, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AZ Adventrue Running, Kirsten J. Kirsten J said: Winter Trail Running http://wp.me/pR8tr-6E […]

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