Earlier this week I told y’all my dear friend Noemi would be featured as a guest on Friday to show her take on marathon training. We are training for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon together and have been doing most of our long runs together. I hope you don’t mind, but she’s here a day early. 🙂
I will say, when she submitted her piece to me, I loved it. It’s really cool reading someone else’s perspective of the exact same events. And many things she points out, I completely forgot about!
I won’t spoil it anymore. Here’s Noemi:
At 6 am, the alarm went off. Just like the previous weekend, it snowed overnight and was very cold (my car said 18 degrees outside). I got myself dressed and ready as my 1 year old daughter was just waking up. I delivered her and her bottle to my sleepy husband, and rushed out the door to clear off my car and pick up Julie.
I was 10 minutes behind schedule, and arrived at Julie’s at 7 am, still ahead of all the snow plows. We continued on to Rachel’s house, where her nicely heated car awaited us. We drove about 30 minutes away on snowy roads to a beautiful (completely unplowed) 9 mile “multi-purpose” trail in a wooded park. I have run this trail before– once during this training season, and back when I was training for my 2013 half-marathon, and I have walked along many parts of it with my husband. My first post-baby 5k ran through this park, too. Many memories here, but none so long, cold, and snowy as this one.
|Jump if you’re pumped for 9 miles in the snow!|
We waited in the warm car for our last friend to arrive, and when he did, we were glad to see it had warmed up outside. 20 degrees! Yay! I had to do a quick portapotty run, and then we were off! The first mile is mostly uphill, and for at least the first 1.5 miles, I was having trouble finding my rhythm. I chalk that up to my breathing being impeded since I was trying to keep my face warm, by zipping my jacket all the way up to my nose and pulling my hat way down. Not only did this make it tougher to breathe, it also made it harder to see. I knew that everyone else had settled into a faster uphill pace, so as I was running up the hill, jacket hood pulled up, hat pulled down, I was startled by a sudden, “Good morning!” It was another pair of runners! Unlike last week’s long run, where we didn’t see another runner for the first 8 miles, here was evidence of running life within the first half mile. There were plenty of runners out that morning, despite the cold temps and continuous snowfall.
At the top of hill, the whole group was waiting for me. I ran with Rachel for a while, then Sara dropped back to run with us, till we reached mile 4. We stopped and fueled then, me with my Gu (strawberry banana flavor, technically expired… but still tasty).
After mile 4, it became a lot harder. At 4.5, we stopped, chatted, Julie did a snow angel, David made some awesome “That’s what she said” jokes, then we all turned around for the rest of our out and back. We tried running mostly on the roads on the way back since there was only about ½ an inch of snow on the roads compared with about 3 inches on the trail. Unfortunately, the snow and wind followed us, with the icy snow whipping our faces. We looked like a motley crew of abominable snow people—Rachel and Sara had “snow hats”, David’s beard was frosty, and the tiny bit of Julie’s face peeking out of her jacket was completely red. I can’t comment on my own appearance, but my face definitely felt icy, with snow lightly coating the top of my head to my knees.
This next section of the trail contained a long portion right next to a busy road. Since it was an out and back run, we had covered this ground maybe just 45 minutes earlier, but the snow had already covered our tracks. It was worse than running through sand—about 3-4 inches of slippery, fluffy snow. I hated that section. I complained hard until the last two miles, when I could finally taste the end of the run.
|Noemi and Rachel just after the “sand” run.|
Julie took off from there like a speed demon, and I didn’t think we would see her again. That is, until we came upon a car stuck in the snow on the side of one of park’s roads. The snow bank there came up to our knees at least, and the car must have skidded just enough to get stuck there. David, Julie, Sara and two random runners passing by stopped to help push the elderly driver out and get her back on the road. Rachel and I supervised nervously, hoping that nobody would slip under the tires. This was the most exciting bit of the run.
The last part after that went quickly. Still bitingly cold, but with the end in sight, my spirits lifted. We reached the top of the big downhill signaling the end of the trail, and I shuffled my way down through about 4 inches of snow covering the trail. Halfway down the hill, Julie had left us a message of hope—another snow angel! Perfect. I felt like I finished strong, the last half mile was triumphant.
The run was great, the run was awful, the run was done.
We all did a quick change in our cars before heading to breakfast. Last week, I only brought a change of sweater, but I learned from experience and brought some fresh, dry socks and boots this time around. Cold, snow soaked shoes and socks are no treat. Breakfast at our usual place was great—I had a delicious bacon, cheese, and egg breakfast sandwich and fried potatoes on the side. Mmmm.
I would say that the highlight of the run was a quick motivational chat Sara, David, Rachel and I (Julie had sped ahead) had about why exactly it is better to run with a group. (this occurred sometime just after we hit mile 8)
Running alone, you only have yourself to account for, and if you give up, or don’t keep up your goal pace, or you stop one too many times to walk, nobody knows. If the run sucks, you only have yourself to complain to, and you’re more likely to give yourself a break.
With a group, you all know it sucks, but it sucks together. You are not the only one running into the icy wind, you have your running friends by your side. They’ll keep you going when you want to stop. They will motivate you to pick up the pace when you wish you could just sit down. Though running can be a lonely sport if you want it to be, I love long runs with a group. Misery loves company! Also, as a mother of a young, adorable, but needy child, it is nice to only really be in your own headspace for a few hours. I look forward to my long runs as my “me time.” Just me, my legs, and my brain. And of course, my fellow crazy runners.