I awoke on Saturday ready to run 8 miles only to find it cold and snowy. I almost bagged the whole idea in favor of hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies in front of the fire. I wish I would have. Instead I drove to a 1.4 mile loop that circumnavigates a small lake near my house, strapped on my Garmin and commenced operation crazy.
When I began the first lap at 10am mine were the only footprints to blemish the pristine snow that covered the loop. A fresh start. Here I was being a hardcore runner and there was no one around to witness it, nevertheless I was excited to be alone with my thoughts. Alone with the exception of my digital training partner, whom I’ve decided to name Gustavo. (Thanks to Doug for that suggestion.) I set Gustavo out at an 8:50 pace as I was hoping to complete the run in 1:10:00.
Roughly one tenth of a mile into the run I noticed that my right shoe had a fairly large rock jammed into the cavity in the heel. Just my dumb luck I chuckled to myself and stopped quickly to pry it out. What I discovered was not a rock, but a snowball. As I ran the snow would press up into the cavity in the heel (see Figure 1.1) until it was full, at which point the snow on the ground would stick to the snow packed into the cavity and cause a buildup. It was like trying to run in heels that were getting progressively taller with each step, or at least what I would imagine it’s like to run in heels. Despite the fact that I felt like a saucy minx for wearing “heels” I was convinced that this was not a healthy way to run 8 miles.
Strangely enough, this snowball effect was occurring mostly in my right shoe. I tried everything to stop it, I tried landing more on my forefoot, I tried stopping and scrapping it out with a stick, I tried to ignore it, I tried cursing like a sailor on leave which didn’t abate the problem but it sure made me feel better. In the end the only solution was to thump my heel down hard into the gravel path under the snow and then drag my heel. This seemed to work to clear it out, but I ended up having to do this every 50 yards. For 8 miles. I considered quitting many times, and even now while I write this I do not know why I didn’t. Trust me, it’s totally in my personality to just give up and quit when the going gets tough, but for some reason I hung in there on Saturday.
As I began my final lap, I noted that my footprints had been joined by a few others. One jogger, and a couple of walkers who had no doubt puzzled over the man with the epileptic twitch in his stride. The path which had once looked like a fresh white canvas was now forever ruined by the punch marks in its surface, the scars of a frustrated runner etched into it by my spastic heel-dragging routine.
My Garmin beeped signaled that I had completed the 8 miles. My final time was 1:13:11 for a pace of 9:09. Gustavo had long since finished. He was already at home in front of my fireplace, drinking my hot cocoa, eating my cookies.
Thanks to Nancy for putting this together, you can visit her blog to see everyone’s final times. It was fun. Honestly. Also, Mizuno running shoes suck!