Out-thinking Winter

Of all the reasons I don't enjoy Winter (and truth be told, there are many), one of the trickiest is trying to plan key workouts around finicky weather. Take last weekend, for instance. Please.

The plan called for me to do the Squirrely Tail Twail Wun, a half marathon trail race on Sunday.

To prepare for this race, I'd foregone my regular Thursday tempo run. While not a big deal, it's also not easy decision. We're about 9 weeks from the Boston Marathon, which means there are approximately 25 key workouts left. A decision to skip one shouldn't be taken lightly, and I didn't.

And then Saturday turned out to be mini snow squall after mini snow squall, and there I was deciding whether or not I was going to do this race on Sunday.

On the plus side was the fact that Sunday's forecast was for 30mph wind gusts and morning temps around 15-20 degrees; in other words crappy for running a workout. Far better to be distracted by a race.

But there were two big minuses. The first was the fact that the race had some technical areas and if they were slick, there was a chance I could hurt myself. Usually, that wouldn't bother me, but this time around, it's Boston I'm training for and who knows when I'll get back there? I couldn't ignore this possibility.

But the bigger minus for me was my fear that the course would be so slippery that the race would turn into a half marathon walk, which would negate any positive workout effects. It's tough to convince myself to run 13 instead of 20 on the weekend... To hike it would've, quite frankly, felt like a waste.

And so after changing my mind about 7 times during the course of Saturday, at 8pm I decided I wasn't racing. And while the decision relieved me, there was still the matter of how to get in a quality workout on a cold and blustery Sunday. (And to be clear: the weather has to be near deadly for me to consider getting on my treadmill.)

I opted to go on the Conewago rail trail, running from Colebrook to Lebanon and back. This course has the advantage of being somewhat shielded from the wind.

I'd settled on the idea of running it easy and then trying to drop in 5-7 7:15 miles. But once I got on the course, I had to change plans for winter YET again. The blustery snow squalls of the previous day had made the course fairly runnable but also unpredictable. Some miles the trail was bare. Other miles had up to 2 inches of snow on it. Most of it was somewhere in between. So I ran fast when I could and slower when I couldn't.

In the end, I finished the 20 miler at a 7:41 pace. This included 2 at 7:18 pace and a ton of them around 7:30. All in all, it was my fastest run of more than 18 miles in 3 years, and the quality type of workout I want as we head toward Boston. So I was pleased, which wasn't where I thought I'd end up. You can see all of my splits here.

It wasn't perfect, though... I pushed enough into the anaerobic zone that my blood sugar was 300 near the end. I would've known this if it hadn't been so cold, but my meter froze. Nevertheless, as the speed creeps up on the long runs, I'll need to watch my blood sugars a bit more.

Even so, I'd rather out-think diabetes than winter any day. For me, the former is far more predictable.


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