[This was written after my run on Saturday, March 7.]
I just got back from my first run outside of 2015. Like, I'm still in my running gear and err'thing. I feel compelled to write this post while the experience I just endured is still fresh in my mind.
Near our place. From bare sidewalk to a foot-tall snow mound in a single bound!
It was a balmy 28 degrees Fahrenheit with little breeze, so I decided to see if my lungs could take the cold outdoors. I started out fine; it took a little adjusting, since I'd spent the last five months at the gym on a treadmill, but by a half mile I was comfortable with my pace. Around our apartment, there is just no question that the sidewalks are impassable. The ice runs about three to four inches thick, and the snowbanks are anywhere from waist height to the same size as me (read: five feet or more). So it's not easy navigating around all that. I was running down a one-way street in the opposite direction of traffic, like my parents taught me way back when, and all was well. . . . Then Delaware Avenue happened.
Holy crap. This is too busy of a thoroughfare to be in the actual street, so I was relegated to the ice sheet formerly known as the sidewalk. Some areas were actually cleared, which was the only thing keeping me on this avenue. I would see a patch of clear sidewalk and think, "If I can just get to that, I'll be fine." Then I would hit another stretch of ice and would look beyond it to the patch of clear sidewalk, convincing myself to stick with it, and so on and so forth in this vicious cycle.
I feel ya, cat.
Whenever I had to hop down from the ice and into the street to cross an intersection, my feet would fly backward like a cat jumping from a slippery car rooftop. I finally gave up and headed down a side street—in the actual street, I might add. At this point, I was about a mile and a third into my run (unfortunately my watch died sometime after I checked it at 0.85 miles). I hit Elmwood Avenue in the hopes that the number of shops and cafes meant that the sidewalks would be clearer. For the most part, I was right. It was when I got to residential areas of the street that conditions tanked. In fact, I was getting so frustrated that I stopped dead in my tracks to snap a photo specifically for this blog post. (ANGRY BLOG POST FUELED MY RUN!) The image below on the left is reality: slushy, icy, slippery reality. The image on the right is what it felt like: leapfrogging like a madwoman on national television. I only wish I were as successful as Kacy Catanzaro was in the American Ninja Warrior competition here . . . and as fit as she is. Damn, Gina! (No, seriously, if you have not seen this beast-woman compete, watch the video. And this one. #myidol)
So after slipping, sliding, and virtually ice skating down Elmwood Avenue, I turned down another side street and ran in the streets until I got home. By the time I got back, my ankle was amply sore from all the weaving and jumping I did just to stay upright. I think I must have twisted it slightly with each jump. Overall, I ended up finishing 3.5 miles in about forty-five minutes. Judging by my recent treadmill runs, which have been three miles in a little over thirty minutes, the sidewalk conditions definitely had an effect on my pace today.
Gotta keep that Genny cool, amirite? (Found in a snowbank on our street. Was not there when I left for my run.)
The take-home message for this post is to be safe when running outside in winter. I don't want to discourage anyone from trying winter running. I actually love it! The cooler air is much more tolerable for my lungs than the humidity in spring and summer. But, if you have to run in the street to avoid the crappy sidewalks, please run in the opposite direction of traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles. Be extra visible, too; I wore my neon-yellow jacket not only for added warmth but also because I knew everybody would see that thing. My other take-home message is PLEASE OH PLEASE, if you have public sidewalk outside your place of residence, shovel and salt it all the way down to the cement, if possible! It's probably better than getting fined by your city for not doing so, right? At least after all that shoveling and/or snow blowing, you can use those really tall snowbanks for keeping your beer chilled.