In this multi-leg road trip, Scot first drove from his old home in the Outer Banks up to his new home with me in Arlington VA. The next day we drove to Columbus OH and stayed with my stepmom Kim. Then we drove our final leg to stay with friend and fellow Double Agent Janice outside Kalamazoo MI. We hit some bad weather upon our entry into Ohio on Thursday, and more in Michigan on Friday. With a huge swath of lake-effect snow headed to the race site in Grand Rapids, we knew we were in for an adventure.
|Pre-race weather. Lovely day, no?|
|Scot and I before the start. Those snow covered cars had JUST parked there. (Photo credit to Michael Hoyt.)|
The Groundhog Day Marathon course consisted of six 4.4 mile loops through a beautiful park. Normally, we'd have run on a paved trail, but we were shuffling through inches of soft, fluffy snow. More snow was falling during the first couple hours of the race, and the temps were in the twenties. So, that sets the stage.
|Scot's photo of the course shows both its beauty and its danger; we had to run in those ruts.|
The course was not cleared of snow, but someone had driven the route, therby creating two tire ruts in the snow. Runners would run in the ruts. Many of us had a hard time maintaining an even footing because the snow was packed at different angles based upon the footfalls of those ahead of us. I kept up a pretty decent pace of running and walking with my friend Ruth for the first lap, but fell behind afterward. I always admire Ruth, because she has a way of finding a burst of energy when I least expect it. I was happy for her to go on ahead, and I fell into pace with a runner named Jill who was doing her very first half marathon. Imagine...your FIRST half marathon is in twenty degree weather and several inches of snow. I thought she was awesome for coming out. Jill and I did two laps together, mostly walking, but running on the downhills and whenever the urge struck us. Jill completed her half marathon after her third lap, but I still had three more laps to go. At this point, I was becoming mentally weary. Because of the snow and my slow pace, I did my slowest half marathon ever, and I knew I'd be out there for a few more hours before I finished my full marathon.
|With Abbi and Ruth after loop 1, and still feeling good. (Photo credit to Doug Dahlberg.)|
|Feeling good before the halfway point with half marathoner Jill. This gives you an idea just how bundled up and layered I was. (Photo credit to Groundhog Day Marathon.)|
But fate had something else in mind for me. The friction of the other runners' footfalls, and the little bit of sun we got caused some of the snow to melt a bit and then freeze over into ice. There was a spot at approximately Mile 18 in my 5th loop that was a bit icy. I saw the ice, and as I'm sometimes clumsy on ice under normal conditions (read: while not running a marathon), I slowed my pace and very carefully placed each foot as I walked across that area. But it didn't matter. I must have hit that ice just right, because my feet flew out from under me and I landed on my butt. The snow softened the landing of my posterior, so that wasn't so bad. My right leg landed straight out in front of me, so that was fine too. But my left leg...oh, my left leg! It was bent backward at the knee, sort of "frog leg style" with my left foot behind me. OUCH! The position itself is a nice yoga stretch when you ease into it, but not when you land that way with the full weight of your body on the legs. I had twisted my calf and my knee and was down for the count.
|Not an actual sign on the Groundhog course, but this is probably how I looked. "Nice Jazz Hands" said my friend Nikki. Gee...thanks!|
|Here is Scot all bundled up: before, during of after I dropped out? We'll never know.|
|Scot with his painfully earned Groundhog Day Marathon medal. My medal is smaller and reads "Half Marathon."|
It's been more than a week since my "slipping on ice" injury. I will not call it a running injury because it could have happened on any ice, anywhere. And I wasn't even running...I was very, very carefully negotiating my way through the icy patch...I just didn't negotiate quite right. Well, I had to skip a 50K (would have been my first) this past weekend. How many more races will I need to skip while I'm continuing to heal? I'm registered for another double this month: Myrtle Beach Marathon and Mercedes Marathon in Alabama. I think I'll need to make a game-day decision on these, as I'm a little better, but still not great.
So, those are the risks of wintertime running. Or really, just being out and about in the snow and ice for any reason. Be careful, everyone! Oh...and did that Groundhog see his shadow or not? I never heard...I just want spring to come NOW!