Just got back yesterday from spending a week in Montana for Christmas. It was a good time, as trips to Montana always are, but my running suffered a little, mostly due to the weather. Our trip got off to a later than originally planned start, thanks to the Grizzlies playing in the national championship game on Friday night. Rather than miss the game, we of course had to wait until it was over before leaving, which turned out to be not very worth it as the Griz got handed a 24-7 defeat by Richmond. So, we weren't out the door until 9:00 on Friday night.
The first leg of our journey took us to Billings. We arrived at the hotel at 2 AM. Let me tell ya, there's nothing quite as exciting as driving across northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana in the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, a snowstorm that rolled through that afternoon dumped much less snow than predicted and the roads were good the whole way. After visiting some friends who live in Billings on Saturday morning (after 5 hours sleep), we hit the road again and headed for my mom and stepdad's place in Lincoln.
Lincoln is your quintessential mountain town. It's basically wedged into the forest in a way that you really can't get a sense that people actually live there unless you drive the streets and see for yourself. If you just pass through on the highway, all you see are bars and motels and trees. It was damn cold there too. I gave up on running on Saturday, as I was still wiped out from the late night and we didn't roll into town until right at dark, with the last 60 or so miles of our trip being on snowpacked roads as we climbed over the Rocky Mountain front and crossed the Continental Divide. Sunday was my long run day, so I set out to explore the sub-zero winter wonderland. Actually, it was exactly 0 degrees when I started, but there was a little breeze, so it felt sub-zero. My plan said to go 20, but given the cold and snowpacked streets, I had no qualms whatsoever when I stopped after 16. We spent three full days in Lincoln and I ran all three. The highest temperature I ran in was 7 degrees. Fun.
On Christmas Eve, we reloaded the Durango and drove 120 miles further west to my father in law's house in Hamilton. It was warmer there, but the streets weren't really in much better shape, at least not on the first day we were there. I decided to do my speed workout the afternoon that we arrived. Trying to run fast intervals on snowpacked and icy streets is quite an adventure. The "speed" workout didn't really end up being that speedy, but I felt lucky just to finish it without falling down. I ran a total of four times in Hamilton, including another long run, which was my first "real" Daniels long run. I started off with 2 miles easy, then 3 miles tempo, then 1 hour easy, 3 more miles tempo and 2 easy to finish off. By that time, the major streets and highways around town were fairly cleared off, but the weather was starting to go to hell. It wasn't too cold (in the 30s) but the wind was blowing like a bastard, so running to the south was much more of a chore than it needed to be. Plus, I had to trade running on cleared streets with dealing with traffic, which often forced me onto the not clear shoulder. Trying to maintain tempo pace while weaving back and forth across the highway and sometimes running through soft snow on the shoulder is NOT fun. The second 3 tempo miles were definitely slower than the first 3 and the last mile was actually slower than my marathon pace in Missoula, so it technically wasn't even close to tempo pace, but it was the most I could muster at the time.
Yesterday, we loaded up and made the return journey to South Dakota in one big shot. We hit some snow and crappy roads for about 50 miles outside of Missoula and then some hellacious winds and blowing snow around Bozeman and Livingston, but other than that, the roads were clear most of the way. Eleven hours and just shy of 700 miles later, we were finally home. No run, as we left at 6 AM and didn't get home until after 5 PM, at which point I was pretty much wiped out.
As much fun as Montana was, I've got to say that, running-wise, it feels good to be home. I just couldn't motivate myself to get up early and run in Montana and even later in the day I had to force myself out the door. Here, it's just automatic that I get up before the sun and get some miles in. Time to settle into this Daniels thing and get ready for that Boston race...