After an unseasonably mild summer, suprisingly frigid October, and wonderfully warm November, it's finally winter in beautiful Minneapolis. As the daylight has been leaving us earlier and earlier every day, I have been leaving work earlier and earlier every day to fit in a few miles when I can easily be seen by traffic.
Yesterday's run proved to be a challenge. I awoke to a fresh coat of powder on the sidewalk, and concluded it to be a perfect day to bake Christmas cookies rather than lace up and head out for a run. But after eating one too many "imperfect" cookies, I decided to finally pound the pavement mid-afternoon while the flakes were still falling -- if not to just get away from the delicious raw cookie dough I also kept nibbling at. I turned off the oven, tied up my grubby shoes (for running in rain and snow), and layered my face and hands in black reflective gear so I could be seen against the bright white. Much to my chagrin, not only did a look like a bandit, I picked potentially the worse sidewalk to traverse. The snowplows had pushed all the snow from the road onto the pedestrian path and I was basically running in a knee-high bank of slush and dirt. My feet and calves were soaked and filthy, I was lifting my legs so high I looked like I was maneuvering through an obstacle course, and I was barely moving faster than a brisk walk. If anyone thought I was a robber, I definitely was not making a quick -- or clean -- getaway.
My average splits for this 2.65mi route: 7:51, 8:09 (all uphill), 4:38
My splits yesterday: 8:54, 9:28, 6:26
But what a difference a day makes! Because I didn't want to run in rush-hour traffic -- and I certainly didn't want to run that unplowed loop again -- I headed out on the Midtown Greenway after work for a car-free run. I ran into three bikers and four walkers on this normally populated path. Although no one returned my greeting when I acknowledged them braving the elements, I still got a feeling of camaraderie when our eyes meet through our icicle-coated eyelashes.
My 3.16mi course splits: 8:14, 8:18, 8:19, 1:06
That consistency is more what I'm used to, even though I am trying to run cautiously as the Greenway is still snow-packed with very slick spots of hard-to-detect ice.
With the Winter Solstice, I welcome the few extra minutes to run in the daylight every day, but I also welcome a few more feet of future snow that I challenge myself to tread through. It's going to be a hard winter for serious outdoor running, but I'm determined that the extra precaution of slowing down to run on ice will bring me better form come spring.