Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Wrath of Snow

I ran an easy 8.5 on Monday morning through Garrett Park before driving north to Massachusetts. The drive, as always, was long...and this time I only stopped once - the Joyce Kilmer rest stop in NJ. I was making great time until I hit the Cross Bronx and that's when things slowed some. By the time I hit Massachusetts, the snow began to fall. At first it was light, but the pace intensified. Within a half hour I had trouble seeing and by the time I got to Cape Cod it was total white out. My Acura swerved and fishtailed down the highway. I glanced unfortunately at those whose cars were sidelined with hazard lights flashing or worse yet, the truck on its side in the median. It was chaos. Ambulances and fire trucks creaked past. Power lines and limbs hung low. At times I cranked the Christmas music and embraced the madness. Other times I gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles as my car did whatever it liked. Eventually I did make it home.

I awoke on Tuesday for a run in the snow. We had about 8" on the ground and a light snow still fell. A damp cold wind whipped off the Atlantic and it chilled me to the bone. The main road was too dangerous to run on sans sidewalks so I ran back and forth on my street. Eventually I braved the road and raced down the side of the street before I could enter another, quiet, neighborhood road with shoulder and without traffic. I didn't want to risk the main road much more so I went back to my street and decided to enter the trails. The snow was fluffy and runnable. Along the edge of the fields the snowdrifts were knee deep. No matter. I took my time and methodically moved forward. The heart went into overdrive and the blood began to pump. I warmed. Eventually I found my way down to the beach. The wind blew me backwards and I was pelted with sea snow and salt from the ocean. This was the definition of cold. I ran a few more mundane loops around my house and called it a day after 45 minutes, or 6 miles.

While Christmas shopping on Wednesday I found myself in Hanlons Shoes in Hyannis. Kevin Petrovek has been the proprietor of this establishment for as long as I could remember. An old school runner, Kevin was a 2:28 guy back in the early '80s who logged upwards of 120 mpw. He tried to go after 2:20 and qualify for the 1980 OT. He gave running his all and walked away from it knowing he had done just that. He still runs everyday, sometimes twice a day, and still has a very impressive Boston streak. Kevin mentioned there would be a run from the store that night. Not wanting to run the same mile-long road as I did the day before I told him I'd be back at the store at 6pm. Thirty runners gathered as a wet snow fell. I soon found old friend and running buddy Sean Doherty mingling in the crowd. I had emailed Sean and told him to come and he said he was going to go easy since he had already run that morning. Easy is fine with me I said. I first met Sean back in 1995. I was 15 and it was the middle of winter. I didn't have indoor track and opted to run a local grand prix running series on Cape Cod. Sean, a taught, built, rosey-cheeked Irishman who still spoke with an accent, was a fierce competitor and always ran his runs HARD. We left Hanlons and I shivered at the thought of running towards the beach on this cold, dark, wet night...but we did just that. Not two minutes into the run Sean took off and I was struggling to keep up. No warm-up. We immediately went from standing still to low 6:00s (or faster?). I said "I thought we were taking it easy?". "This IS easy", he replied. Sean is now 46 years old. We chatted about olden times and newen times while storming towards Hyannisport (photo). We looped around the Kennedy Compound, Squaw Island and ran up to the golf course all the while being pelted with light snow. We ran unapologetically down the middle of the street and invited the cars to take their best shots. This took me back 15 years when I use to run all my runs race-like with gusto. It's rare nowadays that I run hard on "normal" runs, but it felt good to do just that. We raced past the quiet coastal neighborhoods and then raced past the ferries and fishing trawlers. I found my stride and raced it in. I bid adieu to Sean and we wished each other Merry Christmas. I got in 9 or so...maybe more.

And it never stopped snowing...

1 comment:

joe navas said...

This made me think of runs I've had with Sean. Something about that man that makes so may things just make sense. And damn, can he run.