I realize that for a lot of people who live along the coast and had flooding, or trees fall on their homes, or who still don't have power, this was a much bigger deal than for most of us who just have sore backs today from shoveling and I don't want to make light of that. But since this is a running blog (of sorts) I thought I'd chronicle how one hobbyjogger dealt with it.
The storm impact for me really started on Thursday evening. With no GLRR workout due to the Lexington field house closed for a school event, and the RMHS track having just enough snow on it to make it useless, I emailed my Thirsty Thursday crew to see if they wanted to meet near Lake Quannapowitt to do a warmup around the lake, then some hill repeats. The only taker I got was my buddy Chris and he wanted to get the workout done early so we agreed to try and meet at 6pm.
In normal rush hour traffic, my office in Burlington is at most 15 minutes from my house, so I figured I could leave at 5:30, swing by the house to change into running gear, and drive the 5 minutes to the lake by 6pm with no problem. Unfortunately people feel like they need to do SOMETHING in anticipation of an over-hyped snowstorm and that thing is GO GROCERY SHOPPING!!!. I've never understood that whole phenomenon and I could do a whole post just on that but not today. The bottom line is my 6-mile commute took me nearly an hour, and then it took almost 20 minutes to go 2 miles to the softball field by the lake. WHAT THE FUCK PEOPLE?? Anyway.
It was 6:45 by the time I got to the lake--Chris rolled in right after me. We did an easy 3+ mile loop of the lake with the grid-locked traffic all around us and then did 6 repeats of a nearby hill loop before Chris called "no mas." I had 5 miles in the books from the morning so with about 6.5 miles for the evening workout, I had a decent mileage day already and was ready to call it quits whenever he was. Chris had to get home so there were no post-workout beers like a normal Thirsty Thursday.
There was no doubt in my mind that I was working from home on Friday and since school had already been called off in my town the kids didn't need to be anywhere either. That meant I didn't need to get up and out on the road before dawn to get in an easy 8 miles in the calm before the storm. This was actually one of the best runs I have had in a while--it was daylight, not too cold and there was hardly any traffic on the roads since everyone was already hunkering down. It was snowing lightly and the wind had picked up a little, but it was nothing compared to what was to come--the center of the storm was still somewhere off the coast of New Jersey chugging steadily northward. I wound up doing a little inadvertent progression run as my first mile was about 8:15 (shaking out the hill workout from the night before) and my last was about 6:55.
On Friday night I just hung out with the family and played some board games. Once everyone went to bed I watched some college hoops with the dog. After the sun went down, the winds had really picked up and the snow was coming hard. By the time I went to bed it was raging pretty good outside.
|Right before I went to bed on Friday.|
On Saturday, we woke to a world transformed. There were a couple of feet of white stuff on the ground with crazy drifts and snow formations of all kinds. It was supposed to snow until about mid-day in our area but by about 9:30 I was pretty antsy to get outside and start the long process of clean-up. I wasn't looking forward to what I knew would be several hours of back-breaking work, but like anything else the anticipation is worse than the doing so I wanted to get started. I got my old, decrepit snow blower running and started trying make my way down the driveway but, as I had feared, the snow was too thick and wind packed for that thing and it kept choking on it. Eventually I got sick of struggling with the damn thing and just went to the good old shovel. My next door neighbor was struggling with his (much newer and better) snow blower and like any hyper-competitive runner, I took it as a challenge to clear my driveway faster with my shovel than he could with his machine. It was close, but I think he got me with a lean a the tape.
|Ole' Yella. My trusty steed.|
At about 4:30 I finally stripped off my warm clothes, put on some shorts and went down in the basement to see if the crappy old treadmill I keep for just such emergencies would still run. It did, and I got in about 6 very easy shakeout miles while watching Miami put the boots to North Carolina in hoops. Afterward I did some stretches and lunges and whatnot on the living room floor to try and work the kinks out of my back, hips and hamstrings that were all torqued up from a day of manual labor. It had been an exhausting day.
That night I traded some email with my Reading running crew on what to do for Sunday's long run. Patrick was looking to get in about 14 miles, which I figured in light of everything would be fine for me. Everyone had either family related or storm related scheduling issues--no word from Chris and Dan wasn't sure he could make it so in the end Patrick, Mark and I agreed to meet at 2pm at the high school. That would give the DPW some more time to improve the roads, let us finish our own snow work, and let it warm up a bit. Well it seemed like a good plan at the time.
When I got up on Sunday I still had a wall of snow hanging over my head and I really wanted to get it over with. I started with a gentle warm up by clearing a path to my deck, digging out the grill and the sliding door from the kitchen to the deck, which had been jammed shut by the snow. Then there was no more putting it off--I had to tackle the end of the driveway.
|My Sunday morning chore.|
|Inch by inch.|
|A lone runner makes her way up a snowy Ellis Ave.|
I finally met up with Mark and Patrick at the high school and we talked about where to go. Absolutely nothing looked all that passable so we decided to just try and avoid busy streets as much as we could and wind our way around town. There was every manner of bad footing--hardpack snow, slushy snow, deep snow, mashed potatoes snow, brown slush puddles, narrow roads and high snowbanks. We did a sloppy loop around the northern end of town, through the Wood End school and back toward the highschool for about 7 miles. Mark was getting over the flu so he was done at that point.
Patrick had been wearing yak tracks but they weren't helping much so he ditched them when we dropped Mark and we headed back out onto the shitty roads. This time we did a couple of half mile loops around a small block that had no traffic and just hard packed snow. We actually debated looping that block about 19 more times to get the miles in but it was slow going and boring as hell so we decided to head out and wind our way over to the west side looking for better traction. There was none, but at least by looping around through neighborhoods we passed the time faster. Eventually we were way over near my house and both of us about ready to be done but we still had to get back to the high school. There was no good way to get all the way back over there without using some semi busy streets, so we took our lives in our hands and battled the motorists a bit and did it. Afterward I mapped out the crazy winding route we had run on RunningAhead to find it was just about 13 miles--about the hardest I've had to work for 13 measly miles that I can remember.
The hot shower after that slog felt good, but my day wasn't done and there was no time to put my feet up...it turned out that another dad and I were driving and chaperoning Allie and a group of her friends to the Passion Pit concert at Agannis Arena! I like Passion Pit and it was a pretty good show and the fact that the roads in the city of Boston were nearly as bad as Reading made me feel a little bit better...but I really, really could have used a beer and a couch instead. Alas. It was midnight before I dropped off the last kid and made it home.
Ahhh, such is the life of a work-a-day hobbyjogger. I hope you found a way to get your miles in too, friends. Onward.