After positively balmy conditions (40s, 50s, even a 60) the week before, Mother Nature reared her ugly head and nailed us with winter again early this week. From a high of 50 one day to a high in the upper single digits the next, the weather took a sharp turn for the worse.
Monday - 10 miles in the morning, another 5 in the afternoon. All 15 were done on the indoor track thanks to negative windchills.
Tuesday - 10 in the morning, another 5 in the afternoon. The morning run was inside again, but it finally warmed up enough to get back outside in the afternoon.
Wednesday - 8 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon. During the afternoon run I was running along the Spearfish Creek bike path and had to cross a street. As I hopped from the street over the curb and a berm of snow back onto the bike path I realized that the sidewalk was a glassy sheet of ice. I knew I was going to go down, but there wasn't anything I could do about it at that point. As soon as my left foot hid the ice, it slid out from under me and it hit the ground hard with my left leg and buttcheek taking the brunt of the blow. I popped right back up and noticed that my left calf, which had already had a knot in it, now had a really big, really tight knot. But, it didn't hurt enough for me to stop running (plus I was pissed off and needed to run off the adrenaline) so I finished the 4 miles and by the time I was done the calf actually felt a little bit better. But, after I had showered and eaten lunch, it was really sore...to the point where I was hobbling around the office. Not good.
Thursday - 8 miles. After a night of ice, ibuprofen and beating my calf into submission with The Stick, it felt a lot better when I woke up on Thursday. Still, I decided to take it easy.
Friday - 20 miles. So much for taking it easy. I had decided by this point that I was going to race a 4 miler on Sunday, which is regularly my long run day. So, I had to get my long run in sometime and didn't want to do it the day before the race so I ended up cranking it out before work on Friday. There's nothing quite like having run 20 miles by 7 AM. The calf was sore, but not really painful....just letting me know it's there.
Saturday - 10 miles in the morning, 5 in the afternoon. Maybe not the best way to rest up for a race, but I've still gotta get the mileage in. I split the afternoon 5 in two and took each of the dogs out. Our black lab, Vedder, hung with me for 3 without much problem. Our shorter, fatter yellow lab, Molly, was struggling after 2. Both of them need to learn how to pace themselves.
Sunday - 11 miles total, including the Freeze Your Fanny 4 miler (see below). I ran 2 miles warmup, the 4 mile (actually 3.8 mile) race and then tacked on another 5.2 after I got home (gotta get those miles in).
Total - 96 miles
Freeze Your Fanny is an almost annual (they skipped last year) 4 miler held on Super Bowl Sunday in Sundance, WY. I ran the race two years ago and was waffling on whether or not to do it again this year. I had fun last time, but knew that this time it was going to cause me to do some juggling of my schedule and I just couldn't decide how to do that. Hurting my calf on Wednesday actually helped me figure it out. Since I didn't really want to put my calf through the scheduled tempo workout on Thursday, I decided to use the race on Sunday as my tempo workout and bump my long run up a couple of days. A second motivator for running this race this year was that at least 6 of my co-workers were also running and I felt the need to live up to my office reputation as "the runner".
Sunday dawned with a fresh layer of snow. Yay. We barely got any in Belle, but Sundance got just under an inch and when we got there it was obvious that footing wasn't going to be all that great. The streets were almost totally snow covered and it had been packed down by traffic and it was just warm enough outside that the hardpack was just a little slick. It was in the low to mid 20s, but a pretty stiff breeze was blowing from the north, making it feel colder. After I paid my fee, I headed out for a warmup run and had just enough time to do two easy miles. As we lined up for the race start, I identified a couple of local runners who I'm usually pretty closely matched with, including a guy named Kip who I had yet to beat in a race, although I've finished several not too far behind him.
The gun (actually, the ambulance siren) sounded and we were off. As is typical, a bunch of people took off really fast and I found myself in the back of a pack of ten or so. Kip was right in front of me and as we started a gradual climb that would last most of the first two miles, he started moving forward so I tagged along. In previous races, I had almost always taken off ahead of him, only to have him pass me late in the race and put a gap on me that I couldn't make up. This time, I was determined to stick to him like stink on poo and then see how things worked out in the end. The first couple of miles included an out and back stretch, which was a good gauge of who the contenders were. By the time we this stretch, Kip and I were in 2nd and 3rd respectively, with a teenage punk way out in front of us. At the turnaround, Kip was maybe ten yards ahead of me.
After the turnaround, there was a slight downhill leading to the steepest uphill on the course. I used this downhill to close the gap a little and when we hit the base of the hill I was right behind Kip. As we powered up the hill I pulled alongside him and we ended up staying within an arm's length of each other for most of the rest of the race. After the short but steep rise, there was a long downhill stretch that lasted for most of the final two miles. I tried to stay in control here and it seemed pretty obvious that neither Kip nor I were going to make any moves anytime soon. At one point on the downhill, I heard someone not too far behind us, but as we reached the bottom of the hill and made a left turn straight into the north wind, that person dropped back a little. I pulled a step ahead of Kip on the turn and he promptly tucked in behind me. We were now facing about a half mile stretch straight into the wind and it took me about half of that distance to realize that Kip was just drafting off of me and didn't have any intention of passing me (yet). So, I eased off the pace just a touch, hoping to have some kick on the final stretch.
Finally, we got back to the main drag through town, where we would make a left turn toward the finish. I wasn't totally sure just how far away the finish was going to be after the turn, but as I made the turn I glanced up and saw the finish line just a couple of blocks away. I immediately pushed the pace and was walking a very fine line between sprinting and falling down on the ever so slightly slick snowpack. I had hoped that my sudden kick would catch Kip off guard, but of course I'm sure he was expecting it and after a block was still hot on my tail. I briefly wondered if I had started the kick too soon, but it was too late to do anything about that by that point so I just bore down and kept chugging. As we hit the final block, it seeemed like Kip had dropped back just a little, but I wasn't about to turn and look (and almost assuredly would have fallen on my face if I had). Then, I heard him cough and thought for sure he had dropped back a little. I kept surging as hard as possible without slipping and crossed the finish line in 26:02, 2nd overall and all of 4 seconds ahead of Kip. Upon talking to him afterwards, it turns out he had started dry heaving in that final block. The kid who won (by almost a minute over me) was in the 15-29 age group, giving me first in the 30-39 group. All in all, not bad for the first race of 2009.