Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 13 - The Slippery Rainbow

Any runner in the Midwest will recognize this street. Or at least one just like it.

It's an East/West side-street a good 6 days after the last real snowfall. Six sunny days and we still get this mess to deal with.

What we've got here is the entire spectrum of winter surfaces, neatly laid out left to right. Like a rainbow. A cold, slippery, miserable rainbow.

On the far left you've got your "virgin snow". Looks to be about ankle deep. It'll hit you just above your no-show socks, right at the bare skin . That'll wake you up! But, if you're ankles are properly geared-up, this stuff is actually great fun. Each stride sprays powder left, right and forward, and you can't help but get a little bit of that Shackleton vibe, trekking for the south pole.

Shackleton and The Nimrod Expedition* to the South Pole. I am not making this up.

Next we have the "snow plow slough". Great for building snow forts. Horrible for running, since it's deep and full of chunky sharp ice.

Next we get the "loose pack." This crap is littered with snow rocks and gives horrible traction. This is where we're forced to go when cars pass by too close. So if you're driving by one of us, give us a little room, eh?

Next we have "firm pack." This is characterized by its sickly gray color and dusting of snow. This is the best traction short of pavement. It's almost always present and where we spend most of our time, though we're always coveting a little pavement action.

Then we have a thin strip of the easy to miss "polished snow." Just like it sounds, this stuff looks like snow, but acts like glare ice. You usually don't notice it until that one step when you're transitioning from one surface to another, and by then it's too late.

Next we have "ice." We're all familiar with ice. In these conditions we get a little extra bonus. The ice is usually just a little wet. Water on ice. That my friends is "Nature's Wintery Lube." Wise feet don't tread here.

To the right of that death trap we have "slush." It's about as good as it sounds. Wet, cold, slippery. Nothing good to say about slush.

Hanging next to slush is "water." This is cold water. You know it's cold because when you try to avoid the slush and hit the water, it splashes up on your shoes and races down to your toes. And once it's in there, you get to take it with you.

Finally, we have the elusive "pavement." The name just screams traction. And dry toes. But it's a scarce little tease, usually only a few yards long. And to get to this promised land, you have to negotiate through the other various cold and dangerous states of water.

I really do enjoy winter running. Honestly. And once you get out there, you'll learn to love the different, and sometimes challenging conditions. Kinda like those cousins you see once a year.

Numbers: 4.2 miles at 8:11 pace.

*If there hasn't been a band called The Nimrod Expedition, well, there should be.