Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Winter Home Course

I have to admit that I'm a creature of habit. I wish I could say that I was constantly seeking out new places to run. Dean Karnazes, ultra marathoner and author, talks about leaving his house with a few dollars in his pocket and running wherever his feet happen to take him. I like to think about running in exotic places, but when it's time to put the shoes on, I just can't do it.

Maybe it's because I'm still relatively new to running. I started running about 5 years ago, but up until about 18 months ago I never went more that 6 miles. When I started marathon training, it forced me to find longer routes. This honestly brought me more stress than joy. Running to me is still a science, not an art. Running is difficult enough for me that I need to reduce the possibility that something could go wrong. I need to be able to have access to Gatorade, Gu, and preferably a bathroom.

When there isn't snow on the ground, there are several places that meet my running needs. But in the winter, it's a lot tougher. An amazing number of people run outside all winter long here in Minneapolis. My problem: all of the runners pack down the snow making running on those trails more like running on the beach. Have you ever run on the beach? Well, it stinks. After a few freeze and thaw cycles, the sidewalks become a sheet of ice. Again, stinky.

In this land of high taxes called Minnesota, I happen to live in a city that believes in sidewalk cleanliness. There is a sidewalk that goes past my house, around a city baseball field, through the local school complex, past the police station and past city hall. If anyone slips on any part of that 2 mile stretch of sidewalk, I'm guessing the city is worried about a law suit. The upside for me: the sidewalk is cleaner than my kitchen floor. Anytime it snows, my sidewalk is plowed and brushed clean before the local streets ever hear the plow coming. This 2 mile loop of sidewalk has become my home course in the wintertime.

While others might get bored running the same stretch over and over, I find it very comforting. I even have to run the same, counter-clockwise direction every time. I love knowing which parts will be cold because of the shady trees and where I will have the wind in my face. I love knowing exactly how long it takes to climb the one slow, long hill in front of the school. I love passing my house every two miles "just in case," and I love being able to get a drink out of my cooler every 20 minutes.

It was a balmy 18 degrees this morning when I headed outside to my loop. I put my Gatorade in a cooler to keep it from freezing and left it at the beginning. I finished my 5 laps (10 miles) without incident, exactly as planned... just how I like it.

1 comment:

USJogger said...

Well, I don't think that you need to apologize for not being Dean Karnazes!

I live in a tiny town in southwest Wisconsin. That means that I don't need to worry about getting lost. If I'm in town, I'm not more than three miles from home. The bad news is, they don't brush the sidewalks clean. Ever. Ice is a danger from October to April.

Thanks for signing up for the FFFK. Spread the word. We can use all the runners we can get.