With my running prowess deteriorating rapidly, I can take pride in one aspect of my running career – but wait, isn’t pride one of the seven (7) deadly sins? So I looked them up and yup, there’s pride and it is listed as #1! Now I have been married to Ruth for going on 33 years and that’s because I am afraid of her – she scares me – so since I am husband and a father of 2 girls I am always wrong and I have zero pride on the home front. And looking at some of the other deadly sins, well, I have the sloth down really well and as for gluttony, well, have you seen my physique lately? As a matter of fact, at the Jingle 5K at Blandy as we were lined up Armi Legge took off his shirt and I turned to Tim Hudson and said, “If I do that I will scare people.”
But I digress…
The one aspect of my mediocre running career is that I have never missed a day of training due to weather. Nope, not one. Oh I may have had to change the workout or shortened the run, but I always get out. Now I have two (2) things going in my favor. First, I teach in Frederick County where they close as soon as they see the first snowflake fall. Second, I live on a country road so there are few cars out especially when the roads are bad. Now I have gone days without seeing a plow but the farmer’s are out getting hay to their cattle and they pack the snow down pretty good and at least give me deep ruts to run in.
And I have to say that I enjoy running in the elements. I love the heat, the wind, the rain, the cold, the sleet, the snow, etc. Of course, I would not want to run in any one of these elements for long periods of time but there is something very satisfying in getting out and not letting the elements beat me. Or maybe I just needed to get away from all those women in the house who thought I wasn’t very bright….
Which brings me to the point of this article (I can hear Ruth now – “Is there a point to this?”)
Last winter, we had a few back to back snow storms and I woke up on another weekday morning to hear we had a snow day (almost as good to hear that as hearing Ruth tell me “You might be right.”). The radio also said that due to the blizzard conditions of drifting snow and gusty winds, Apple Pie Ridge Road was closed. Now that’s a challenge I could not resist. I have a great 7-mile loop that takes me on the Ridge from mile 2.5 to mile 5 and I was eager to see why the road was closed. Chris Northrup, who drives in any kind of weather, came over and at 8 AM we set out to run this course. I told Chris the Ridge was closed but we sloughed it off as only tough guys can do and off we went.
Now there’s a flat stretch before we climb the short steep hill to get on the Ridge that has a bank on the right side topped with a fence to keep the cows in and the top of the fence posts are over my head. We hit this stretch and all we could see was packed snow but as our feet hit the snow, there was running gushing over the road under the snow. We were now running with cold rushing water over our ankles with a thin layer of packed snow over it. Chris went left with no bank and soldered splish splashing his way through this mess. Being the weenie that I am, I opted to climb the bank on the right and jog/walk along the top of it reaching DOWN to grab the top of the posts barely sticking out of the snow to steady myself.
We go along in this manner for maybe 200 yards just cussing like sailors and running right into the teeth of the wind. The water goes away as we begin the climb up the short steep hill to make a left onto the Ridge. We get to the top in an open area and the wind is just howling and the snow is blowing all over and as we gaze at where we have to run on the Ridge there is no road. No road! The snow has blown from the fields on the right to left and you can see for about ¾ of a mile as the road goes up with a steady incline and the drifts are piled as high as can be. There isn’t a tire track to be found so we stop and stand in awe of this scene. I am eager to get going as I want to tackle this and my ankles are freezing, as I am just about to start to run on the Ridge, Chris weenies out!
“We have to go back,” he says. No way I tell him and now, for the next 1-2 minutes, we are having a discussion about the best way to go while the wind is whipping and the snow is blowing. Forward into the drifts that appear to be at least 6 feet high in places or back through that freezing water. I am itching to go forward but Chris, who does have responsibilities to his wife and 4 boys, talks me into going back. So with tears in my eyes, I follow his lead, we slosh through the mess and return to the house. And what’s makes it more ironic, is Chris HATES out and back training runs.