Matt and I returned home from Sedona to a snow-covered Pennsylvania. The snow was so deep on our driveway that we could barely walk up it (suitcases made that even more challenging). Piper resorted to bounding gazelle-style across the backyard, leaping up and over the snow with every bouncing stride. The snow was beautiful but definitely not easy to get around in.
With that in mind, the last thing a sane person would do is sign up for a trail race the following Saturday (yes, a TRAIL race, in the deep snow!) but apparently I must have still been on a vacation-induced high because on Wednesday I found myself typing in my credit card details on RunTheDay.com for a a last-minute registration to the Pickle Run. I think I was imagining that the trails at Ridley Creek State Park would have somehow been groomed or otherwise packed down by snowshoers or something like that, but oh boy, was I wrong!
I arrived at the park on Saturday morning feeling totally ready for a trail run. I was wearing my trusty Brooks Cascadia trail shoes with Yaktrax strapped over them for optimum traction on the snowy terrain. Like all Pickle Runs this was a prediction race so I conservatively guessed that I’d finish the “3.4ish” mile course in 36 minutes.
The first half mile of the race was on pavement and I click-clacked along in my Yaktrax, feeling like I was making great time. Then the trail picklers veered off from the road-runners into the woods. For several strides we were on a dirt path – easy enough – but then the course marker pointed us off the path, over a drift, and into the snowy wilderness. I took my first steps in the snow and felt my feet sinking and ankles bending every time I hit a foot hole made by runners ahead of me… this was going to be HARD!
The deep snow and random divots were soon joined by a single set of cross-country ski tracks. Initially I thought they would make the trail better, but it took about 2 seconds for me to realize that my feet are much wider than a ski and the tracks only served to create two continuous, foot-busting trenches straight down the middle of the path. Ouch ouch ouch.
During this first mile in the woods a few runners passed me. I was seriously impressed that they were able to move at any pace faster than a slow, careful crawl and happily told them all “good job!” as they trudged their way around me. I kept thinking that I should be able to find a set of footprints and run in them, but that just wasn’t happening… maybe the snow was too deep? Or my stride was too short? Whatever the case, I plugged along for over a mile through the deep snow, just focusing on putting one foot ahead of the other (and not putting that foot in an XC ski rut!).
The course finally turned onto a section of trail that had been travelled more heavily and was therefore easier to navigate. I remember calling out “THIS is more like it!!” and hearing the guy behind me say “This is what I though the whole thing would be like!” Me too, buddy, me too! By that time my feet were exhausted, my left ankle was tender (crunched it inwards on one of those dang divots), and for some reason I kept accidentally kicking my right ankle/calf with my left Yaktrax-ed shoe. Oww! As a result I didn’t really pick up my pace on the smoother trail, but at least I wasn’t dodging ski tracks anymore.
The course blissfully returned to pavement with 1/4 mile to go. I had been eagerly awaiting this moment and it felt amazing to finally have firm ground under my shoes. I picked up my pace and sailed into the finish, thinking that I was probably coming in at the 38-39 minute mark. Imagine my surprise when the clock said 50:22. Yes, it took me FIFTY MINUTES to run 3.8 miles!!! Holy smokes, no wonder it felt hard!
After crossing the finish I looked down at my feet. The deep snow had caused my Yaktrax to slide completely over the toes of my shoes until the metal coils came to rest near my insteps. No wonder I kept scraping my right leg with my left foot! Luckily I only had a few scratches; no harm done.
So about that 36 minute prediction… I was nowhere near my real time of 50:22. Most of that was obviously the snow, but I was also surprised when the course ended up being exactly the same as last year’s “3.8ish” course, not some different, shorter 3.4 mile loop as I had hope based on the race description. Oh well, at least it’s just a Pickle Run and all for fun anyway!
There are two more Pickle Runs this winter: one in February and one in March. I preregistered for all trail runs, but after January’s snowy experience I think I’m going to switch my February entry to the road. The good news is that if Piper and I keep doing short practice runs together my little GSP might be ready to join me for the road Pickle on February 20th… fingers crossed that that works out!
Miles since last post: 165.6
Days since last post: 33
2016 MILES: 175.4
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15: Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15: BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15: Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15: Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR], Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1) [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)