Saturday was the inaugural running of an organized "fun run", Windburn Six in the Stix. The winter counterpart of the Sunburn Six in the Stix, it was run on the same 2.28 mile limestone trail loop (with a shorter half-mile option) as the Sunburn fun run.
Since the run was self-supported I packed my drop bag with a few edible goodies, S-caps, additional "maybe I'll need it" winter running gear, and a bottle of Gatorade. Since I prefer to run with a Nathan fuel belt in winter rather than my hand-held bottle (I find holding anything in cold temps makes my fingers go numb, gloves or not), I also took that with.
It was cold. Very cold. It was windy enough to be annoying. And the snow...oh the snow. It was so deep, easily 12" in most places with drifts of up to 18" and over in other places. Since no one else--save a few snowshoers-- was insane enough to trod on these trails, us runners were the lucky ones to break the fresh powder.
I honestly wanted to quit after the first loop. Before the second I decided to put on my YakTrax to see if they would help. They did...somewhat. Nevertheless, halfway through the second loop I decided that I officially hate snow.
But I hung in there and persevered. Some of the more experienced ultrarunners lapped me again and again and it just astonished me; I watched their feet carefully but didn't see how they could be going faster.
Even with the YakTrax, with almost each step I was slipping and sliding all over the place. If running through the fresh powder wasn't hard enough, there was also several inches of icy, crusty old snow beneath the new snow, making the footing uneven at best and downright ankle-twisting on average.
By the end of the third loop, my quads and hips (hips?!?!) were burning like something wicked. I decided that if hell froze over, it would be something like this.
But again, I persevered. My hamstring was stone silent. My calf had let out a little peep at the start of the first loop but was quiet from then on. Other than a burning soreness and a "I hate snow" mantra running through my head, I was feeling pretty damn good.
Hell, I was having fun!
But I didn't think I could do more than five loops. No way, no how. On the start of the fifth loop, I even considered just doing the half-mile loop. But for some reason, at the fork in the trails, I found myself heading to the right, towards the longer loop.
Noooooo! I don't wanna! I thought to myself as my masochist legs unwillingly carried me towards the long loop.
Midway through that loop I stopped completely and looked around. For as far as I could see, there were no other runners. A thought came to me. Quick! Make a snow angel! Laughing to myself, I laid down and made a snow angel.
Rejuvenated by my own immaturity, I gleefully ran on.
And guess what? Thanks to that snow angel, I willingly--mind and body working in harmony this time--did a sixth loop just so I could see my snow angel again.
But after the sixth loop I had enough. I had done almost 14 miles in four hours. My body held together. I was proud of myself, and it was a great training run for Clinton Lake. I headed home happy and, after a good lunch, took a two-hour nap.
I no longer hate snow.