An ode to winter running

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The winds whip through the trees
As my feet pound the snow-covered ground.
I run swiftly over hill and dale
Because I’m being chased by the snow plow.

Has this ever happened to you? It’s seriously one of the most frightening things to come across (except for maybe a bear or a dead body or something like that).

Running in the winter poses some unique challenges. This particular winter I am running less than usual because I’m growing another human, and falling on slippery roads isn’t an option. Then there’s my treadmill which somehow ceased all usefulness somewhere between Virginia and New York. The last two weeks have been especially challenging because the temperatures have dipped below the acceptable range for taking Emma out running in the stroller. But there have been some bright spots here and there with my running adventures.

Bright Spot #1: Before Christmas I ran a Holiday-something 5k, which turned out to be the single most hilly 5k I have ever run. I didn’t know what I was getting into, and originally planned to just take it easy. Once the race was underway I changed my game plan and decided to start off fast and get it over with. This didn’t end up being a good decision- I had grossly underestimated the quantity and quality of those hills- but it did make the race go by quickly. I crossed the line as the first female in 20:01, and at 13 weeks pregnant, I was happy to cross that finish line feeling strong.

I planned to run a race on New Years Day, but instead I caught the plague and was confined to bed for a few days. I was lucky to get over it as quickly as I did (because I know others who were sick for a week or more). I didn’t run for almost a week, and when I tried running it felt horrible. I decided to take the following week easy, which turned into another five days of rest (and coincided with a few sub-zero days). Bright Spot #2: This past Saturday I finally got outside for an easy 5-6 miles and had one of those zen running moments where everything feels fluid and easy. I guess I expected that I had reached the point in my pregnancy where I was going to just feel awkward and slow all of the time… but I was so thrilled to feel like myself that I decided to run a race that next day.

Bright Spot #3: My local running club (The Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club, or HMRRC) holds a free winter series of races with varying distances. On this particular day runners could choose from a 3 mile, 10k, or 25k distance. I will probably always choose the shortest option unless I happen to be in the middle of marathon training. It was very cold yesterday for the race, around 5 degrees, so I knew it would be smart to dress in layers and start off slowly. I was aiming to run under 7 minute miles and keep it at a tempo-like effort. Although there were no mile markers to get my splits, I feel like I ran pretty evenly. I remember in college that my coach always reminded us to keep a “conversation” pace for tempo runs and to make sure we didn’t feel lactic acid in our legs, so I kept that in mind (although I did kick it in when we made the last turn toward the finish). I crossed the line as first female again in 19:45, which was a 6:35 pace for 3 miles (not bad for being 16 weeks pregnant). There were some hills, but not anything close to that last 5k.

This pregnancy has been a lot different than last time. I felt sick and lethargic most of the first trimester when I was pregnant with Emma, and didn’t race at all. I ran a few times, but they were all at very easy paces. I remember being shocked when I managed a 7:45 pace at the Shamrock 8k when I was 16 weeks pregnant last time (and that didn’t necessarily feel “easy”). I hope I can continue to feel strong on my runs and continue to show up at some races here and there through the spring. I’ll talk a little about my future “race plans” in my next blog.

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2 thoughts on “An ode to winter running

    • They’re scary when you’re driving too. I’m pretty sure it’s always your own fault if you get hit by one (or your mailbox, car, etc. gets hit). Eh.

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