Although I didn't know what the conditions were going to be like for this Saturdays run I knew exactly the route that I wanted to run. Two winters ago I figured out a 14+ mile loop from Bradbury on the snowmobile trails, a loop that can only be run when the small rivers freeze so I look forward to it each winter. Last winter I referred to this as The Beautiful Loop and gave a pretty good description of it on this blog. While the conditions weren't beautiful today it was still a great run.
Today's group started out with Jeremy, Alan and Mindy, along with myself, Emma and out dog Kip. We each arrived with a different plan in mind but set off together on Bradbury's East Side trails. The pace was pretty slow, which was good considering this was going to be a long run for me. The group stuck together pretty well until 4 miles when Emma, Mindy and Kip turned back. 8 miles is a long run for Kip, he got through it just fine but we're careful not to build up his mileage too fast.
Trail conditions up to this point were pretty rough, much of the snow we've received this winter had melted last weekend, and then froze again. The trail surface, despite having received previous snowmobile traffic, was pretty rough with a mixture of hard packed snow, ice and bare ground. Alan, Jeremy and I continued another mile to the power lines, then headed west. I thought the trail conditions might improve once we were under the power lines but they didn't, just more ice.
At about 8 miles into the loop Alan peeled off onto Lawrence Road and planned to take a shorter, but somewhat unknown route back to the park. He needs to get his own Garmin so we can all see where he goes. Jeremy and I continued on the power lines for another 3 miles before heading back into the woods on some more pleasantly proportioned trails.
My weekly mileage hasn't been where I'd like it to be over the past month so this was feeling like a pretty long run for me. I think we did a pretty good job of maintaining a consistent pace, but it's so hard to tell on terrain like this when the conditions are constantly variable and there are good hills to contend with. Luckily I never felt like I was burning out and I finished the run feel like I could have kept going if I needed to, but also glad to finish while still feeling good.
I was wearing my Inov-8 Oroc 280's today, which I've been doing most of my winter running in so far this year. At some point I may get around to doing a real review of the shoe, but here are a few key things I've noticed: Same upper construction as the X-talon 212 (my favorite shoe). The combination of the sparsely lugged outsole and relatively thin midsole means you can actually feel some of the lugs when your foot hits the ground. This is not a good thing when the lug also has a steel stud embedded in it and is applying pressure directly to the part of your foot that hits the ground. The 9 embedded studs don't actually provide enough traction on ice so I have had to supplement the shoe with 7 sheet metal screws each. On soft surfaces I don't notice the lugs, but on hard surfaces like rock and ice I feel it. It surely doesn't help that I bruised my foot a few weeks ago.
distance: 14.2 miles
weather: cloudy, 32
conditions: sparse crusty snow coverage, lots of ice
gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280, Smartwool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve top, thin gloves, hat, Nathan HPL #020