Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jef finds lawyers to be somewhat slippery

One of the big thrills of training is wondering how it will all come together on race day. You often surprise yourself.

One of the big thrills of training during the winter in Michigan, then, I guess is wondering how it will all come together on that magical day when you’re not running in total crap. You never know when that day’s going to be, nor how thorough.

Saturday, I went up to a park north of town and ran three 6-mile laps around Stony Creek Lake.

(For nerds like me who want details, the plan said to work down to a 7:50/mile pace, ideally in some hills. I ran my first mile at 8:35 and dropped it by 5 seconds each mile until I hit 7:50 and then just held it for the rest of the run. Stony Creek wasn’t as hilly as I’d hoped, but it rolled. The run felt easy. Maybe too easy, but then again, I wasn’t that crushed to see the car after that third lap.)

The weather reports said the wind chill was around -11, and lakes don’t block much wind. That sounds a lot like total crap, but it was my best run all week. The Detroit Metroparks do a great job of clearing their pathways, and when temperatures get bitter enough, what snow remains underfoot actually offers up a little bit of traction.

Earlier in the week, I was probably making some sort of cosmic deal: “I can give you some safe footing,” the cosmos may have said, “but it will cost you 25 degrees plus wind chill.” Deal. And Bargain.

Thursday was my tempo run day.

(Again, for us nerds: Warm up 2 miles, run 8 at 7:25-7:30 per mile, then cool down another two.)

I really don’t like running in little circles, but I should have sucked it up and done so. We had had some weather the previous few days. My town does a pretty good job with snow removal, but it’s surrounded by municipalities that might not have the same level of concern. And there’s the matter of crossing major thoroughfares. That’s no problem in the summer, when you just plan a long stretch where you run along the highway on the sidewalk with an eye on traffic for an opportunity to, well, jaywalk. Doesn’t work so well when there’s a lot of snow. And residents and businesses can be hit or miss with regard to sidewalk care.

So Thursday’s supposed steady tempo run was more like intervals on an obstacle course. The final mile was the worst. I was a little knackered by that point, and running along a busy road with bad sidewalks. Really bad sidewalks. One particular stretch, I found myself asking out loud, “What the hell kind of business cares so little about its customers’ and the general public’s safety that they leave their sidewalks in this kind of condition?”

Finding out was a simple matter of looking up, of course, and there was the sign on the building. No joke: It was a law firm specializing in personal-injury litigation.

If the experts are right about laughter and stress, I should have checked my heart-rate monitor. I bet the temperature wasn’t the only thing that plummeted.