It’s Day 12 of the #RWRunStreak and it’s still alive! Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of shorties, but I’m also very carefully building my base back up. It makes for a lot of one-milers, but it’s also jump-starting me back into the mileage I’d like to hold off-season. I say this now, of course, two weeks BEFORE Christmas travel/mass hysteria begins, but let’s just wave our hands around and ignore that for the moment.
As the running gods and RW editors intended, Day 1 of the streak began with a Turkey Trot – we ran an absolutely freezing, snow-coated, slippery, totally insane five-miler in downtown Cleveland on Thanksgiving morning. In better conditions, the course had the makings of a very fast five-miler. Which would’ve been nice, since my five-mile PR is still on a course that is all downhill four for miles, than an excruciating .66 mile climb in the last mile that completely obliterates my overall pace. *sad trombone*
But the stars did not align for a fast day. We drove downtown early in the morning for packet pickup and it was FREEZING. We braced against the cold as we marched into Public Hall to get our bib and sit inside in the warmth. I stripped off a lot of my layers so they wouldn’t lose their effectiveness. About 15 minutes to start, we approached the doors, and with maybe 7 minutes to go, we followed the herd outside into the bracing cold.
This was also a much larger race than we had anticipated. All told I think there were about 8,000 runners (I think 10,000 signed up – shows you how brutal it was out there, wind chill in the teens, along the lake, and actively snowing) and we didn’t line up very far to the front. It was a slow start, but given the slick conditions, a layer of now dusting the road and still falling, it was probably for the best. I lost NF within a half mile, and a little later, I saw a guy completely wipe out crossing marble in front of a statue where a lot of folks were cutting a sidewalk. It was snow-covered and like a sheet of ice, so his feet went completely out from him and he landed straight on his back. I knew then this was not a day to race.
Except for the half-a-dozen huskies I saw on the course who looked like they were on cloud nine. This as THEIR race.
I managed to crank out decent paces, all things considered. The first mile was a sea of humanity, so I squeaked in just under 9:00, but I started picking it up.
The middle miles were fast and flat and not too slick, though it got dicey again at the end, and the last 200 feet were VERY slippery. No finishing kick for me! But it was a pretty good tempo-ish effort with extra resistance from the snow. And hey! I haven’t lost all my speed! Success!
The rest of Thanksgiving weekend, we kept it pretty short: two 1.5-milers the next two days, and a 3-miler Sunday morning on an old standby route of mine from summers I was home from college.
Last week it was back in business: cross-training, running longer, and sprinkling in short runs for the “off” days. Last Tuesday, we put our run off til the evening, having woken up feeling pretty awful. We ran 3.25ish after work in the low 50s. I overdressed in shorts and a long sleeve (Oiselle’s long sleeve flyte = best. thing. ever.) Is this really December?
That Thursday was an absurd 57* at 5 a.m. when I woke up to run with Danielle. I checked the temperature on my phone. Didn’t buy it. Checked weather.com. Nope, that’s ridiculous. Half-stepped onto the balcony. Well, yes, okay, it’s warm. I hopped into a singlet and my bum wrap and felt absurd. It was December. I was going to FREEZE. But a few minutes later I stood outside my building waiting for Danielle and knew I made the right choice. Last shorts/singlet run until at least April? Possibly, but who knows. Either way, we had a great run, heading through Oakland and Shadyside for 6.7ish miles and chatting about wedding planning adventures, our respective Thanksgivings, and work.
Then, the weather got gross. Like, the next day. My wonderful guy brought me hot chocolate when a packet of cocoa mix I found buried in the pantry was kind of blech. He made a special trip in the freezing rain to give me this treat (blah blah it was just a little bit of a walk from the bus stop blah blah, he’s still a prince)
Fortunately the freezing rain turned to snow and the roads were nicely cleared for Saturday morning, because I had a trip out to North Park that I’d been looking forward to all week! I met up with Kelly and Kim to hit the trails, and we made tracks following the red blazes, seeing a handful of deer, a couple hikers, one (maybe two?)other trail runner, and a couple of mountain bikers. It was quiet and perfect breaks in conversation punctuated only by our breathing, the crunch of the snow, and the swishing off all of our tech fibers as our limbs moved. Gorgeous.
I stopped by Starbucks on the way home to get some hot chocolate for NF and myself – and treated us btoh to some apple fritters. He joined the True Runner group for 9 miles on icy sidewalks, which I think calls for an extra treat.
Two more one-milers – outside on the hazardous sidewalks yesterday (including me saying “NOPE NOPE NOPE going in the street” at one point) and one on the ‘mill today before a legs workout) – and that brings us to today. I’ve got 7 miles planned with Danielle tomorrow, and am thinking of attempting a very short tempo run on Thursday if the sidewalks allow. We’re traveling down to Athens, GA, to see NF’s youngest sister graduate, but we’re hoping to get a long-ish run in and keep the streak going otherwise.
I know that, all things considered, it’s still early in the streak, but so far I feel good. Been stretching and foam rolling plenty, and the very short runs in between longer efforts seem to shake out soreness. I’m also loving running all the more. Yeah, sometimes I don’t want to be out there in inclement weather, but it’s “only a mile,” and quite a few of my short runs I’ve been doing on the treadmill as warm-ups for other workouts.
And of course, as my mileage builds, and with hopes to get a higher base than the lackadaisical 15-20 mpw I’ve been beginning my season with the last couple years, there’s still a big ol’ monkey on my shoulder: the marathon.
Here’s the thing: we don’t know where we’re going to be next fall. NF is slated to graduate next September, so we could stay in Pittsburgh … or we could end up on the other side of the country. Right now it’s way too soon to tell. So can we really commit to a fall marathon that’s maybe convenient for us here right now, but may not be when it actual rolls around?
I’m not ready to commit yet, but it’s very tempting to just say I’ll sign up or the Air Force Marathon rather than the half. We always register on January 1 when the rate is the absolute cheapest, which means we only have a couple of weeks to decide. NF doesn’t really want to run the full then – I don’t blame him. It’ll be a very, very stressful time for him. But do I? Can I train for it partly/mostly on my own? Do I want to marathon train during peak summer and possibly race in the heat (though we’ve lucked out with pretty good to great temps on race day at Air Force every year since 2011)? Or should we wait for later in the fall? There are so many options: Steamtown. Columbus. Grand Rapids. Atlanta. Towpath. Richmond. Philly (done it, probably would rather run something new). Toronto.
There’s a lot to consider. But mark my words. Come hell or high water, unless some stupid misstep and subsequent ankle injury hits me again, I’m getting my sub-4 marathon next year. I’m getting my revenge.