Monday, January 4, 2010

Running In The New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday filled with fun, family, and lots of running! I had to work on New Year's Eve, which isn't really a big deal since we don't really do anything special on that evening - the real fun is reserved for the next day! I did, however, consider going out for a midnight run under the blue moon and tried to coerce some of my friends to join me. Easy for me . . . I would just be getting home from work so I would be wide awake and heading out for a run would be no biggie. Apparently those who don't work those hours and would normally be in bed weren't up for getting up and heading up to the ice and snow glacier that I call home. The idea of going out alone to ring in the New Year sounded less appealing the more that I thought about it and so I opted to just lay low, drink beer, and play video games.

New Year's Day brought the annual Cookie & Hat Run in Big Flats, put on by the Wineglass Running Club. This has traditionally been a 5K road race, but a few years back race director, Bob Kerns, decided to mix things up a bit and has since changed the distance and route on us several times! And this year was a real treat . . . the course was 6K that included a combination of roads and off-road sections on snow and ice! It was AWESOME! I recently bought a pair of the New Balance WT100s in the hopes that the snow would someday melt and I could try them on the trails. With the muck and slush and snow that I knew would be on the roads on January 1, I decided that trail shoes would be the best option no matter what the course, and had my inaugural run in these shoes! They were superb - excellent grip, light-weight, and good-looking! Skipping the midnight run and saving my energy for this run was an excellent choice as I was able to run 27:21 for 6K, barely squeaking out 2nd place in my age group and good for the award of some really excellent pumpkin cookies! It was an absolutely beautiful day with the temps in the 30s, sunny, and very little wind.

But then came January 2. And the polar opposite in weather conditions. During the night a beautiful layer of probably 4-6 inches of white fluff had fallen, temp fallen to around 8 degrees, the wind kicked-in, and there was very little sun to be found. So what did Joe and I do? Headed down to Binghamton to the Triple Cities Runners Club race #1 in their Freeze 10K series. Fortunately I keep my running bag filled with a few extra clothing choices because the wind down there was even worse than it was on our mountain! And the wind-chill was ridiculously cold. This race is run on a 2-mile loop course through a park on paved roads. Again, knowing that their would be snow-pack to run on, I opted for the New Balance WT100s again. And again it was the right choice. The only problem is that they have very little warmth to them and fortunately I had my warm rugby socks with me to keep the tootsies warm! This was a tough run due to the conditions and the fact that I had to run fast just the day before, but these brutal conditions really suit me - maybe I was a penguin in another life. Not knowing who was who (because everyone was hidden under hats, scarves, and face masks!) and who was where, I somehow managed to pass a woman with about 1.5 miles to go, not aware that she was the leader! I crossed the finish line first female in somewhere around 48 minutes (unsure of total accuracy of the time since my eyelashes were frozen making it difficult to read the clock!). And good for a pie! Now I really don't like having to run this fast, especially two days in a row, but when food awards are the result, I can't complain! But I have to say that my speed workouts for the YEAR are done!

Many thanks to the Wineglass Running Club and the Triple Cities Runners Club for their hospitality and ringing in the New Year with a bang!

(photo left - Joe finishing up at the Freeze 10K. photo right - me just after finishing the 10K, attempting to drink a cup of frozen water! photos courtesy of Triple Cities Runners Club.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010 - no need to take a break, I'm on a roll! Again, the temperature was 5-6 degrees, the wind was howling, and the snow was falling. Beginning to see a pattern here? No races today; time to break out the snowshoes and hit the snow with friends. Lorrie and Becky braved the crappy roads to come up to our house and while Joe worked, we headed out on some seasonal roads just a couple of miles from our house and enjoyed some really excellent snowshoeing . . . once we got our snowshoe feet back under us! Five miles of snowshoe running is a hell of a workout and it was great to spend this time talk with friends and enjoy the winter wonderland. And to afterward enjoy some really great cornmeal pancakes cooked-up by Becky and some orange buns courtesy of Joe. Some hot coffee and dry clothes and it was a perfect day and an excellent way to finish my New Year's weekend. Thank you to all of my friends at Triple Cities and Wineglass and to Becky, Lorrie, and Joe.

So what's up for 2010? Here's what the immediate plans are . . . I'll see how these plans go before I can commit to what I will do for the Summer and Fall . . .

Beast of Burden 24-Hour
St. Patrick's Day 4-Miler
Forks XV
Fly With Eagles 10K
HAT Run 50K
Massanutten Mountain Trails 100

So that's it for the start of the New Year. Happy trails to all of you out there - don't let the snow keep you inside!