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Saturday, December 2, 2006

Jingle Bell Run in Snowbound Janesville

Yesterday, Wisconsin was hit by a huge snowstorm like much of the country. Schools and businesses closed, the roads were a mess, and Mike was able to get his snowmobile out on the trails for the first time this year. So naturally with all that fluffy white powder, you think to yourself that running outside sounds like an awesome idea, right?
We reported to the Janesville Athletic Club this morning for the Jingle Bell Run benefiting the Arthritis Foundation. After all the snow Friday, there was snow everywhere, including all over the roads. Sidewalks were un-shoveled. Icy patches abounded. After much discussion, we decided that it would be best to stick together and run where we could but stay safe and walk if we had to. We were bundled up in all out technical gear - lots of base layers, thermal tights, , fleece jacket, and windbreaker. My Sub4 cap was a must as were my Nike running gloves with the insert for handwarmers and a technical fleece neck gaiter. As a last minute thought, we also activated handwarmer packets that we put in the toes of our shoes to keep the tootsies warm.
The horn sounded and we were off. I had never ran on snow before and it took a while to get a groove going. The soft packed snow covering the roads was mushy and slid around underfoot making each step slippery and a little dangerous. I widened up my stance laterally and shortened my stride, which made a world of difference in stability, then dug in and got 'er done. It's funny how much more work it is to run in the snow. You use different muscle groups and because I was scared of slipping (and subsequently falling down on the ice), my muscles felt rigid and tight, ever ready to make a counter move to stay upright.
Once we got going I got more comfortable with moving in the snow. I was warm. My handwarmers were keeping my finger toasty tucked inside my gloves, and my toes were staying warm despite the slush dampening my meshy Asics thanks to the warming packets in my shoes. About mile 2.5, I realized that with each step my toes were getting hotter and hotter. The warmers tucked into my kicks are activated to heat up with friction and shaking. As my feet moved around in my shoes, it created both friction and shaking. As a result the warmers got hotter and hotter. Since we were close to the end, I decided I could suck it up until we were done. I was about 1/2 a block from the finish line and was seriously contemplating sitting down in the snowbank and stripping off my shoes, but a dug in and kept going. We crossed the finish and we hustled inside the athletic club. As soon as I was inside the door I sat, stripped my shoes off and removed the little fireball from my toes. After we got home, I could see that I actually had red contact burns across the ends of my toes. So I guess the lesson is not to run with toe warmers!
I loved the race. The snow was fun and it was just a good time to do something different. Mike on the other hand hated it. I ran a 12:16 pace, which is only about 45 seconds slower than my best pace so really did alright timewise given the snow hazard. It was an untimed fun run so not official times are taken or posted, but my Garmin clocked me at 37:27 at 3.05 miles.

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