Thursday, January 15, 2009

The perils of winter running near water & Dubai

Compared to where I did most of my running growing up - I can't really complain about training in Baltimore in the winter. In the midwest it isn't just the cold that's miserable - it's the footing. The the constant concentration of where you are going to place your foot - is that bump of snow so frozen hard that you're going to turn your ankle? is that dusting of snow hiding a patch of ice? And then, despite this level of concentration, you inevitably fall.

After several months of surviving this kind of thing you tend to start tempting fate. In high school we used to go down to the Huron River, where large swaths of ice would form by the banks. The middle of the river was ice free - we would kick through the ice nearest to land - attempting to "free" the ice into the river. If the ice was especially thick - then one of us might go out onto the ice - trying to use our body weight to start a crack, without falling through. I fell through at least once that I remember. Once you've survived running home soaked to the waist, in sub-freezing temps, it seems like there isn't anything you can't do.

In college we ran a lot along Lake Michigan. In the winter the waves can get surprisingly high - on one such day we ran out on a kind of cement breaker that separated a marina from the lake. Just as we were out at the very end of the breaker a three foot wave came over it. Most of the other guys had their legs taken out from under them but stayed on the breaker - it must have been a little higher where I was - because I got taken into the water. So, that time I got to run home pretty much soaked from head-to-toe. I can't remember exactly how cold the air temp was - but, it was at least in the 20's.

Well, today I had a kind of deja vu. I was running through Loyola Maryland's campus towards the "magic path". To get to the magic path I had to cross a stream. There was actually a dusting of snow up there - so, I was being very careful going from rock to rock. Well, my last rock wasn't sturdy - it started moving and before I knew it I was in the stream. Luckily, only my left side along with my hands got wet - but, I landed hard on my hip & forearm on some rocks. There was that momentary "I want my momma" feeling - but, then I knew that the best thing would be to get moving to keep hypothermia at bay. The hip is a little sore - but, it didn't hurt while I was running. I even got to have a tough guy moment, when I had my wife feel how the outside of my left sleeve and left pant leg had frozen solid on the way home.

On a different note - the Dubai marathon is tonight (well, actually tomorrow, but tonight our time). It is the richest marathon in the world with a $250k first prize and a $1 million dollar bonus for a world record. Geb is in it - and he sounds confident that he can break his own record. Even if he doesn't there are a lot of talented guys - so, it should be interesting.

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