29 Degees, A Breeze, Some Hills, 3″ of Snow =?

A surprisingly good time.

Bright sunshine beating down on my me while I sat in my office at home this morning was enough to lure me out for a run. I’ve been trying to get motivated for the last week or so, but I could never get into the mood.

So, I suited up with my normal winter gear: tights, a running shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, my trusty windbreaker, my old navy jimmy cap, and gloves. As I shut the door and headed over to my car, I had another one of those what the hell am I doing moments. I’m leaving a perfectly warm (well, warm enough anyway) house to go run outside. Something strange about clearing your car off to go running. Anyway, the feeling quickly passed and I was on my way over to Green Lakes. I’m happy to report my new commute to the Manlius Center Erie Canal Trail parking lot is about 7 minutes.

Not so surprising, there were only 2 other cars in the lot. I dumped out my pockets, retied my shoes, and got out of the car to stretch a little. Caught a bit of the breeze, and figured that was quite enough stretching and started off.

Everything started off good. Actually, really good, considering its only the second time that I’ve run in ’08. Rt. 290 is clear. I make the turn off the road at the trailhead onto 3″ inches of snow from the night before. I’m a little worried about the ascent. I’m very familiar with the ruts on the hill up to start of the loops. I soon find that if I keep my stride short, its not too slippery. About 3/4 of the way of up, I can feel my lungs starting to burn because of the cool headwind.

Soon enough, I’m at the top and plodding down the trails I love (and hate) so much. Sounds corny, but everything does look radically different in the winter and snow. Basically, everywhere normally waist high in brush is flat to the ground. I was worried it would be hard to stay on course, but there were about 10 sets of prints under the new snow and few sets from earlier today.

Geez, jumping right back into Green Lakes loops probably ain’t the smartest thing to do. My legs felt like lead after the second hill. I enjoyed skipping down the little hill into the first open field. Everything was going great. Until I caught that chilling wind in my face again.

Before, I knew it I was the hell hill (all the 1st Marathon folks know which one I’m talking about.)  I remember the first few times I ascended it way back in June last year, and feeling like someone jumping on my chest when I made it to the top. I took it pretty easy; about 3/4 of the way up, all those months off caught up with me. I trudged onward and upward, but I was panting pretty good at the top.

The big decision was to go straight ahead and stick to the short loop, or go for the full loop around the Serengeti. Go big, or go home, I thought as I rounded the turn to head out for more punishment. I was happy to be on the relative flat plains, but not so happy with the wind ripping across the wide open.

Not sure if its my imagination, but the snow seems to be getting deeper.  Taking a quick peek at my feet, I’m pretty surprised that they’re not really snowed over yet; and even more surprising is that my feet aren’t even cold.  I just passed the power lines and started down the hill to the Vista Trail. I was little nervous when I saw some of the foot prints from previous runners start to get elongated. Yep, there’s a bunch of ice under all that snow. Weeee!

I was a little too paranoid to enjoy the vistas of the Vista trail, trying to remember where all those craters were. A couple spots I remembered being slippery when wet were just as tough in the snow. I began the descent into the gorge that marks the middle of the trail. Wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. The ascent back up the other side was as tough as I remembered; maybe just a little more. A few more turns and I was ready to bomb down the hill to the start of the loop and down to the trailhead.

Oh the fond memories, of more than once meeting up with a very stubborn skunk on this part of the trail. He managed to park himself right in the middle of the trail and he was the gate keeper, no letting anyone past. No amount of screaming, arm flailing, or rock flinging seemed to encourage him to move on.

Flashing back to the present, I feel gravity starting to speed me up regardless of the relatively cautious pace that I’m trying to stick to. There seemed to be just about enough snow to even out those annoying ruts that bothered my knees so much the first runs out here. Wow, I can finally get a better view of that abandoned car I’m always meaning to check out.

I’m up to a pretty good clip now. Right as I duck back into the treed section, I see a big splat mark in the snow. Looks like someone found some ice. Thankfully, it wasn’t me.

Another fast right, and I was none-too-soon headed back down to the trailhead and paved road. Again, found memories of stumbling down this hill after spending hours and hours running around on the loops. Hard to believe that I’ve run the same hill when its over 90 degrees and now when its less that 30 degrees.

I clicked the stop on my watch as I returned to my car. 1:01:49, I think that’s pretty good considering how little I’ve run lately. I’m actually pretty impressed that I didn’t bag out somewhere in the middle. I think now that I’ve got a decent run under my belt, I may be a little more motivated try to get back into more regular running. Now, all I just have to hope that the weather will cooperate.

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