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Tuesday 22 January 2013

Week 5, Day 7: 16 miles in Heavy Snow, Dodging Snowballs & Wading

Week 5, Day 7

Goal: 16 miles at 8:30 – 9 min/mile pace. Amended to 2 hour run due to heavy snow.
Actual: 16.17 miles at 9:50 min/mile pace (2 hrs 38 mins)..

This run was supposed to be a long Sunday run of 16 miles at 8:30 – 9 min/mile but because of the heavy snow Steve Marathon Coach agreed I could change the session to a 2 hours snow run instead.

It wasn’t terribly cold, but I decided on a warm base layer and compression tights with normal tights over the top and my pink jacket. Plus a buff and a big hairband doubling as a hat. This doesn’t sound much but for me who prefers to run in a vest and capris it’s a lot. Plus I decided to go with my ancient 2160s with Yak Trax. These trainers have done plenty of miles (read: far too many) so if they got soaked and shrank to a size only a child could wear, it wouldn’t be a huge disaster. 

Also stuck a couple of gels in my pocket. Thought it might be time to start re-practising with these. Hydration shouldn’t be a problem with all the snow so long as I stayed away from the yellow stuff. Apparently it isn’t lemon flavour…

I decided to stay off road as much as possible so started with a short distance on the canal path and into a shortcut running alongside a reservoir. It all looked picture perfect and the snow covered up the graffiti so it looked unexpectedly picturesque. You can no longer see that ‘Brownsover Gang 4Ever’ consider the wall on the left to be their private getting-drunk-on cider-spot.

Had about half a mile on pavements but the snow was so thick the Yak Trax didn’t even make a noise. Under the railway bridge and past the takeaway and up to the towerblocks… where there was the mother of all snowball fights going on. Rival gangs were only distinguishable by the bobble hat colours and there were several small children beating each other with sledges as all of the sticks in the vicinity had been used to make arms for snowmen …

Managed to sneak through the snowball fight without taking a snowball to the head. Either they were all terrible shots or they were too engaged in snow gang wars.

I ran onto the disused railway line cutting through the centre of Rugby. It sounds dreadful, but this is one of my favourite places to run. The trail goes through the middle of the town, but it’s always very peaceful and scenic. The snow was very deep here. It had been walked on and compressed on the pavements, but it was deep and beautiful here.

I passed another runner who had dressed for the weather by wearing a hat, thick jacket and minuscule shorts. And had blue legs. He waved madly when he saw me and said "Another crazy runner!" He had mad eyes and a happy, happy grin! I probably looked exactly the same. Except for the hotpants and blue legs of course.

The trail finished and I carried on down the small, quiet lane. Strangely, there were a lot of tyre tracks marking the white on the ground despite the deep snow and the continuing heavy drifts … and I could hear shrieks and loud voices. The view opened up and I realised that I had found THE sledging ground in Rugby. There must have been 50 people, adults and children sliding down the hillside on brightly coloured sledges, rubber rings and things that looked like (but surely couldn’t be? Well this IS Rugby …) bedpans.

I passed by the sledging hill and soon the tyre tracks were fading. I realised that the only marks on the snow were my own footprints and they were quickly filling up with snow too. It was a good day to run. How often do I get to run in snow? Also there were no pace guidelines, no limits. I had 2 hours to run, explore and make my own footprints in the snow.

I spotted a hill in the distance, gleaming white against the grey sky. I’d had my eye on this hill for a couple of months. I’d always meant to run up it but had always been stopped because the track leading up to it has always been too deep in mud. Mud wasn't a problem today.

I started up the track optimistically… but soon the snow was too deep for running … then too deep for jogging … then too deep for walking ... so I waded. The bloody mindedness that drives boyfriend, family and friends mad, kicked in and I waded up to the top where I triumphantly stood in my knee deep snow and wrote my initials. SF. Sarah 1, hill 0. Waded back down again and got on with some running.

A car passed very occasionally and whenever I heard one approaching I hopped up onto the verge. Better a slow run than a flat runner. Most of the cars were fantastic and gave me plenty of room if there wasn't a bank to hop onto but a few weren't as courteous. I didn't mind the shoddy driving but hoped they realised I wouldn't be helping push their car out of the hedge when their crap driving span them across the road and into the ditch. 

Crossed onto the Oxford canal path to pick up the road I was on earlier. The snow was deeper and less packed here and it was harder to run. But at least I wouldn’t be able to get confused by the snow and take the wrong turning. I ran along the path for about a mile and picked up the lane again.

There's an acceptable level of looking strange when you're running. Wearing lycra is acceptable. Going for a run dressed head to toe in neon pink and other eye-burning colours - acceptable. But today I wished for a new level of acceptable … Swimming goggles. It was a gorgeous day to run, but it had been snowing non-stop since I started running and the snow blowing into my eyes had really started to become quite painful. I tried pulling my buff up over my eyes, but visibility was so limited it wasn’t a viable option. Snow might be painful but running into trees was probably even more so.

Took this picture but didn’t realise until I got home that I had been wearing ice as an accessory in my hair …
Back on the lane and any sign of my earlier footprints had completely disappeared and the road was flat plain white again. Past the sledging hill again … now almost deserted.

I cut onto the footpath and the footprints had vanished. Only the hard packed snow of the footpath suggested that it had been trodden by many feet earlier. It was quite surreal. Everything was white and blank.

Why does the second half of a run always seem to take a lot less time? I got to the 2 hour point which was the time Steve Marathon Coach and I had decided on as an alternative goal. However … I was on 13 miles. It seemed a shame not to complete the original 16 mile goal. Especially as I knew such a nice 3 mile loop nearby …

Was accompanied part of the route by a loopy Springer Spaniel who was thoroughly over-excited by the chance to run in the snow although ‘thoroughly over-excited’ is a standard emotion for most Springers. How can anyone not like dogs who love running THAT much?!

Managed ‘Killer Hill’ without a stop despite the deep snow and ran back down again managing most of the nice long downhill on the road as there were hardly any cars. I realised why a few minutes later …

Running down the last part of the hill, a few people were pushing a madly wheel-spinning truck back onto the road. The chap wound down the window and shouted at me "You're completely mad!"  I shouted back "…But it's fun!" Got a grin and a thumbs up in return. He was followed shortly after by a MX5 with its 4-ways flashing wildly slewing from side to side in an attempt to make it up the hill with a Springer Spaniel cheerfully looking out of the passenger window enjoying the ride.

Another brief run on the Oxford Canal path, passing barges with yellow lights shining brightly against the darkness and snow. Having half a mile to make up, I did a lap of a housing estate and passed a man with either too much time on his hands or a miserable home life … shovelling snow off of his drive. In a snow storm.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds a great run Sarah :) I wore sunglasses for mine, lost my swimming goggles lol