Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ice, Ice, Baby

Elite Runners and Walkers, a local running store, has put together a group on Facebook to promote trail running in the Pittsburgh area. Being a budding trail runner, I joined the group. Unlike most Facebook groups, this group is active outside of Facebook! They send out event notices for local trail races--both supported and unsupported--and are planning on putting together a team of folks that promote the fun and excitement of trail running. Today we were going to meet to run a 4 mile loop of trail then hit another trail for a few more miles.

WELL.... I knew they were calling for rain this morning, but I didn't realize it was going to be freezing rain!

I got up at 6 AM, made coffee, took care of the dogs, ate breakfast, grabbed my gear and was out the door by 6:45. It seems like everything is 20 minutes or an hour from our house, today's run was going to be just a hair over the 60 minute mark. I was greeted with a cool winter drizzle when I walked out the door, I second guessed the shorts, and hit the road. About a mile and a half later, the rain started to freeze as it hit my windshield!

Now, I should have turned around and went home. But being a dedicated runner and looking forward to meeting new friends, I continued onward! The roads were slick within the next .75 miles. I got on the highway and hoped that PennDOT was out salting the roads. They weren't! It took me 30 minutes to go 10 miles on I70, and I got to watch a car spin completely around twice before coming to an abrupt stop against the Jersey barrier taking up all of the passing lane and a portion of the driving lane. I got off the next exit, pulled into a parking lot, and notified both my friends and my new friends that Mother Nature was keeping me from the run! They were turning back as well!

I sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes then decided to chance it to the local park a few miles away. I figured the trails were probably treacherous with the rain on top of frozen ground, so I decided to run my normal 5 mile road loop... maybe twice. Until I got out of the Jeep. The roads were very slick, or slippy as my Pittsburgh friends like to say. I drove to the other end of the park, sliding around every turn and skidding through at least one stop, to the other side of the horse trail I've been running.

I decided to wait a bit, so I took a little nap. At 10 I decided the rain wasn't letting up and it was now or never! I put the sleeves back on my jacket/vest combo, attached the hood, and headed up the trail!

It started out with a nice hill. A gain of around 232 feet in the first .6 miles (I love the elevation correction on SportTracks!) The trail was tricky along this portion, and others, because of the horse traffic leaving deep, frozen pock marks! I power walked most of this hill, but I did run a little.

At the top of the hill there is a large opening into a few farm fields. The county who runs this park bails the hay to help offset some of the costs. Here's a picture of the buildings that house the equipment.
Through the fog and into the pines! The pine trees provided a little shelter from the rain; running on the needles through this section was magical!
Some horse pocked trail filled with ice.
I missed the turn for the trail I wanted to run and continued along the horse trail for 3 miles. After I crossed a road and a frozen stream, I decided to head back. I knew where I was and contemplated running a cross trail to the other side of the park then back to my Jeep, but I had a meeting at 1. So I turned around and headed back.

The trail was tough today. Some of the down hills had to be walked or slowly jogged to prevent a nasty fall on the frozen mud and rocks. Some of the areas had to be lightly tread due to the horse traffic, unless a turned or broken ankle was wanted! But the trail was nice!

I sent my friend Jess, who really helped me get into running and I give her ALL the credit for my new found interest (and love) for trails, a text message after the run. It simply read, "Ice sucks. Injinji's are wonderful for wet feet. Deer are gorgeous. Cascadias rock. Pine trees are magical. You created an addict."

Stay safe, keep your feet to the ground, and keep moving forward!


  1. Now that's persistence. Way to stay out there and get the run in.