Sometimes you just need to run alone. So instead of joining the group for my 11-mile run Saturday morning, I decided to go out alone. I had wanted to sleep in a bit, but mostly I just didn't want to feel like I needed to keep pace with the group. After two weeks of crappy long runs, I didn't want to be beholden to anyone.
Baby H. had different plans about me sleeping in...at least I had some coffee and a bit of a lazy morning before heading out, a nice change of pace. Even with the coffee, I seemed to be in a bit of a mood. Probably because I have come to depend on these Saturday morning runs. So after updating my playlist on my iPod, I set out determined to not let the distance or the pace dictate my run. I was just going to run.
Running on sidewalks covered in snow and ice and puddles the size of kiddie pools isn't really running. It's more like trail running or an urban version of the Tough Mudder. If only there were logs to carry and live wires to run through. As we've had a bit of a warm up, the path was pretty clear except for several puddles. Some you just run through because whatever, some you'd need a life vest to navigate safely. I heard from others that several people went down due to the patches of ice in places. I opted to "skate" my way over them and slowed way down for anything that looked to dangerous. Nothing like an injury to really piss you off two weeks before a race.
Even with the parkour feel of the path at times, I happily made my way to the mid-way point (North Ave. bridge) and then, foolishly, took the gravel path back thinking maybe it would be less lake like. I was mistaken as I found out when I ran through ankle deep slush and water masquerading as a snow bank. Wearing smart wool socks saved my soaked feet from freezing off. If you don't have a pair, you really should.
In the end I did slightly less than the 11 miles, but only because I took a different street back home thinking the sidewalks might be a little less icy. And even though I went out there "alone," you're never really alone running in Chicago. I had a couple of exchanges with other runners about conditions (something along the lines of "well there's no good way to get through here" and "doesn't matter anymore anyway, my feet are soaked"). And my pace held up pretty well given the conditions - I allowed myself to just slow down and not worry about it.
I've enjoyed training with the running group. It's helped me push myself. But it was also nice to go out and not worry about pace, but to just run.