December 2009
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Month December 2009

real winter running

Sure, I know all about winter running in the south. but how do the folks up in the great white north do it? Well, I got a taste of it last week up in CT. I finally made it to Sleeping Giant State Park (about 20 min NW of New Haven). (Trail Map Here) I had checked out the trail map previously (tons of routes to choose from!) but this was my first visit to the park. We had about 10” of snow 2 days prior, so this southen girl was smiling ear to ear. I didn’t know what to expect as far as trail conditions, so my expectations were light – no matter what, I knew that I’d be having fun. I found the trailhead and set off on what looked like a frequently traveled snowshoe path. Looking at my map, I decided to follow the blue tail – the most scenic, but also the most difficult. :-) The shoe prints ahead dwindled until there was just one set – which definitely helped mark the path and pack down the snow a tad. The few times I stepped off trail, I sunk well above mid-calf. (At that rate, my toes would have been cold quick! The breathabe mesh of my Vasque Blu SL’s are geat for running in the south, but let too much of the dry fluffy snow in. maybe gaiters would help some? or gore-tex?)

The trail lived up to my dreams – A true Winter Wonderland! White snow, blue skies, and great views fom the giant’s knee & leg :-) I was able to get a light running pace going a few times, although it wasn’t easy – high stepping (to minimize the snow covered shoes) and keeping a balanced center of gravity (to offset potential slipping). Had one close call crossing a snow covered creek – one foot broke though some ice, but I didn’t get too wet. Although time was getting short (the sun sets so early!!), I was stubbon and kept going to the tower – a beautiful rock structure built in the 30s. Instead of taking the orange or yellow back as planned, I played it safe and took the red trail south to Mt. Carmel Road and ran back to my parking spot off Chestnut. I didn’t see a soul out there (maybe because it was midday on a Monday), but I imagine it is a popular spot with the locals year round. (On a sidenote, the Quinnipiac Trail is on my to-do list: 24 miles in its entirety!)

In general, I dressed well for the run – temps were close to 30, but the wind creeping up over the west ridge blasted me a few times. I was glad I had a backup jacket in my pack. This was my first run with the Ultimate Direction Wink pack – normally I stick with thei handheld or the tiny Nathan pack, but needed the extra room and hydration tube insulation – quite comfortale to run in as well!

(let me know you fav winter items, as this is still new to me!)

mountain hardwear gloves & fleece hat
icebreaker wool baselayer
TNF fleece and vest
patagonia nine trails jacket
smartwool socks
Vasque Blur SL shoes
Ultimate Hydration Wink pack… with banananuun (to make me think of tropical warmness!)

Gettin’ Dirty in GA

Last weekend I made the trek down to Macon for the finale of the Georgia Dirty Duathlon Series. Originally scheduled for mid-Nov at Dauset Trails, the race had to be rescheduled due to a pesky hurricane that had blown thru the week prior. This go around was at the Children’s Industrial Home trails. (Earlier series stops were at Blankets Creek and Fort Yargo). After staying with an old adventure racing teammate in Atlanta Friday night, I drove the rest of the way the next morning. Unfortunately the threat of rain and cold temps in the upper 30s greeted us – perhaps this kept some folks at home. While the crowd was small, we were all enthusiastic to be there and ready to get started!

The format was a run-bike-run (3-9-3 miles). A bit short for my 3.5hr trek south – I usually have a “I have to race as long as I drive” rule, and that would not be the case today….. but, it was the finale and I had set an early season goal of podiuming in the series. Plus, it was a fund raiser for SORBA-OMBA, to raise money for new trails at Arrowhead. (With the original race and mountain bike festival being cancelled, I know they’ll be hurting to meet their fund raising goals for the year.)

We had a mass start up a short hill, breaking things up a bit. I settled on the trail in 3rd place, keeping an eye on the gals ahead. About 2/3 of the way thru 1 more passed me, but with lots of time ahead, I wasn’t too concerned. (With winter clothing covering our bodies, we couldn’t have our divisions written on our legs so it was hard to tell if any girls ahead were racing as a relay). The run was nice, through hard-packed, twisting trails that had you guessing who was ahead and who was behind. After I was barely warmed up, it was time to transition to the bike. I haven’t been riding much lately (concentrating on running!), so I was happy for a course that wasn’t too technical or had a ton of climbing. It was (as previously mentioned) full of tight, twisty sections where you couldn’t let up your concentration. Some areas were bone dry, with slippery pine needles; other times we were riding through huge mud puddles, fighting to gain traction on slippery roots. Regardless, it was lots of fun. The final run leg was a bit harder than the first. With temps so cold, normally I’d wear shoe covers; but in a short duathlon with quick transitions being key, using these was not an option. Therefore, I was running on half frozen toes for the next mile – not an easy task. Finally they felt alive and I had a normal stride again.

I ended up finishing 2nd overall female and first in the 30-39 age group.
Overall for the series, I finished first in the solo women’s division.

Big thanks to the race directors for putting on a great event and persevering the many challenges it took to make it happen. They did a great job utilizing the available trails and recruiting top notch volunteers!