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Winter Challenges We were s ...

Posted Dec 06 2009 4:49am
Winter Challenges

We were spoiled silly with good running weather in November. Bob, Debi and I would tackle our first sub 30 degree long run with a 14 mile jaunt starting at Pine Lane. We'd run to Boston and pick up Maria for a loop of Brandywine and then head back. Weather.com indicated 24 degrees rising to a high of only 34 degrees. I buckled down to the challenge of another winter of coping with my Raynaud's disease. I vacillated on whether to wear my running tights under my running slacks to avoid frozen ass slab, but figured I'd save the tights for colder weather. I dug out my trusty flip wool mittens that have seen much better days, considering that the thumbs are partially blown out, the inner fluff hemorrhaging, and the flip of the right mitten, dangling like a partially detached appendage. They look like a casualty from a plane crash, but I'm going to suck more life out of them yet. It's a little cheap game I like to play with my things...how much life can I wrestle out of the dead? It makes me happy to use things to their fullest, before replacing them with something new.

We all got to Pine Lane a little too early--still not light enough, we waited for the sun to brighten while we watched a small pack of black spandex clad trail wolves running up the brick road from Lock 29 disappearing into the forest. We chatted, and griped about the hype of the Buckeye 50K registration opening so early. Debi, actually, set her alarm for midnight so she could be assured a spot. Last year it sold out in three weeks and was anticipated to sell out much quicker this year. I was aghast, however, that registration was opening in December, right before Christmas. We haven't even buckled down to train for the winter event, and I need to think of coughing up the money for the summer event? The running ra-ra's--and you know who you are--understandably excited about this very popular event, posted frantic Facebook status updates and sent out e-mail blasts encouraging the running community to register quickly. The frenzy reeked too much like what retailers do on Black Friday to get you into the stores, creating an environment of scarcity, prompting lines at 5AM. I understand the race director needs time to plan the race--I just wish that it could have waited till after Christmas. Debi signed up immediately. I ran numbers in my head figuring out how I can make this work in my very squeezed budget. For a runner in Northeast Ohio, the Buckeye 50K is summer. To not participate in this race would be like summer without picnics.

Debi has had terrible karma the last two years pre-registering for races for the Summer 50K, considering she had two years of consecutive fractures right before the races related to her decreased bone density. Superstitious, I shot up a silent prayer that Debi would have better luck this year. I cherish so much every run I do with Debi and Bob. They have been my closest running partners for a long time now--our conversation and camaraderie make 20 miles like 10. She loves these trails and needs to keep running them. She's such a strong runner, but in her sweet Debi way, she drives me nuts, asking if she's too slow for us--mind you, while looking over her shoulder, at Bob and I running behind her. It makes me want to spank her sometimes.

The trails were perfect this morning, my favorite conditions: frozen, but clear of snow. I should have worn the running tights. My ass was frozen the whole run. We discussed this phenomenon for a bit--do men's asses freeze in a similar fashion? Bob claimed his butt to be relatively free of ice crystals, while Debi and I couldn't feel our butts at all. It must be that women, having a higher proportion of glorious butt fat, are susceptible to the frozen slab phenomenon. The first stream crossing is a little tricky. I'd say about half the time I can ford the rounded rocks without plunging my Holy Trail shoes in the water, kicking off a Raynaud's attack, that will last until I thaw them at home. My foot slipped on a rock and I plunged my right foot in the frigid water. My feet turned immediately into Frankenstein like blocks, but somehow, I just keep running and try to put it out of my mind. Bob and Debi were much luckier and crossed OK.

We wouldn't be picking up Maria, after all, her mouth was still bothering her after some dental work, and worked late, too, so she wouldn't be joining us. There weren't many runners out at all. A towpath runner at Boston was having trouble with his Gatorade freezing up in his Camelback tubing. Antifreeze? I made my own Gatorade for this run, which was basically lemonade. By the time we got to Boston, my lemonade was like a melted Italian lemon ice. It gave me a frozen brain.

Brandywine is not my favorite trail loop, for some reason. I love running by the falls and checking out the new bridge spanning the river, but most of the time, I simply endure through this section. Bob, Debi and I talked away. It's the best thing about trail running--while exercising your body, you're filling your spirit as well with the company of good friends.

Finally, we came to the Pine Lane stream crossing toward the end of our run. Debi lead the way across the rocks with me and Bob following right behind. This time, Debi's foot slipped on a rock and she fell into the water breaking her fall with her right hand. I hurried to where she was and helped her up. It was 28 degrees, at most, and she was soaked from the waist down. We could tell her wrist was hurting her. She could move it, but just a little. I was worried about hypothermia, but she said she didn't feel that cold. We walked the rest of the way with her to her car. Fortunately, she had blankets and towels in her car. She held up both her wrists for comparison and already, I could tell there was a little swelling, which was a little worrisome since you know the delayed onset swelling would be amplified. Like the crazy runners we are, we were glad it wasn't her legs, but of course, a sprained wrist or a broken wrist is going to be a real hassle with her work.

I asked her what Jerry would think if she drove home without her pants? I didn't think she should keep on her wet tights, but Jerry would definitely not let her come out and play with Bob and I if she came home pantsless. Gosh, we hoped everything would be OK. This really sucked--not a good end to a near perfect run. I told my soon to be ex later about our ordeal. He thinks we're nuts--a woman with severe Raynaud's and another with decreased bone density running the winter trails like a couple of little girls on Christmas break. He just doesn't understand--we have to keep trying, work with our obstacles the best we can, to keep running these trails. That's all there is to it. It took me a half hour sitting in warm water, three color changes and the pins and needle agony of getting circulation back to my feet, but then they were fine. I hoped Debi would be too.
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