When winter returned to Eugene…

After suffering through a New York City Nor’easter a few weeks ago, I was pretty confident that I had seen the last of any “real winter”.  My return to Eugene coincided with great weather – I ran in shorts and a t-shirt on 3 different occasions and we were unseasonably dry.  The timing was perfect as I began my Boston Marathon training block.  But all that changed, in a big way, for us Pacific Northwesterners on Thursday.

First the snow.

First the snow.

Then the ice.

Then the ice.

As someone who runs twice a day and spends 2-3 hours outside exposed to whatever Mother Nature has in store, I can tell you the website where I spend most of my time is weather.com.  Although my weekly training schedule is pretty set, if I know there is some wet/cold/windy weather on the horizon, I’ll try to load up my miles on the nicer days.  So when all of the weather reports pointed towards a wet and soggy weekend at the start of the week, I made sure to front-load some of my mileage.

The original plan was to do hard workouts on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday this week, with a long run on Sunday.  By Wednesday the predicted forecast had changed from rain to snow, with accumulations of 3-6 inches on Thursday and Friday.  When I went to the track for my workout on Thursday morning, the snow was already starting to fall.  There was a thin layer already on the ground, and although the quality of my 400 workouts was compromised some, I only had to dial it back a couple seconds for each repeat.

The snow continued to fall throughout the day on Thursday and into Thursday night.  When the city of Eugene woke up on Friday morning, anywhere from 4-6 inches had fallen.  By that time, it was apparent that doing a hard workout outside on Saturday was out of the question, so I shuffled Sunday’s long run to Friday.  I left the house for Friday’s run thinking that most of the serious snow had already fallen.  Boy, was I wrong.  For 2 hours and 22 minutes it snowed…HARD.  With the help of running friend, Brad Chvatal, we were able to keep the pace around 7-minutes per mile.  Honestly, it was one of the toughest 20-milers I have ever done.  My legs were so tired during the last 30-minutes from all of the slipping and sliding.

When the snow finally stopped falling on Friday (10 inches in total), it gave way to freezing rain.  We now had an ice storm on our hands.  The conditions on Saturday morning were such that even an easy run outside was out of the question.  However, with most of Eugene shut down – I seriously consider Eugene to be on the same level (pathetic) as say, Houston, Texas when it comes to snow removal – finding a place to run indoors was going to be a challenge as well.  Thankfully, there was a gym a mile from where I live that was open. Running 15 miles on the treadmill isn’t fun, but it was the only option available.

Nice and warm, inside.  Not so much, outside.

Nice and warm, inside. Not so much, outside.

I woke up Sunday morning to the sound of chainsaws and generators.  The ice had brought down many trees in the area and several people were without power.  Things were not good in Eugene.  However, word came in that Cottage Grove, a small town about 20 miles south of Eugene and home to one of our staple long run loops, was warm and without snow and ice.  If you could make it out of Eugene, there could be a chance of finding some dry pavement.

Not only did we find dry pavement, but Brad and I found the sun and Spring-like temperatures.  When we left Eugene, it was 36 degrees, foggy, and the town was covered in snow and ice.  20 minutes south in Cottage Grove it was 55 degrees, sunny, and beautiful.   Brad and I were both dressed for winter, so it got a bit warm, but after two grueling runs on Friday and Saturday, it was so nice to be clipping along on good footing.

Sunday's long run! 2 lake loops.

Sunday’s long run! 2 lake loops.

There isn’t magic in being a good distance runner.  You have to work hard and weather some storms (see what I did there).  I hate training in this stuff – it’s why I moved from Ohio – and it would have been easy these past few days to find an excuse and run half of the miles that I did on Friday/Saturday/Sunday.  But you have to find a way to make it work – whether it means slugging out some miles in a snowstorm or braving the elements to drive somewhere better – and I know I’ll be better because of it.  As my college coach was known to say, it’s about making it happen.  If you love something enough, you’ll find a way to make it work.

Below is the week of training, by the numbers.  The plan was to have some more quality, but the weather caused a bit of improv.  I’m not too worried about a missed workout this far out from race day because it’s still a base-building phase.  Next week will undoubtedly be better, as I am heading to Austin, Texas to run a half marathon (press release).  I see 70-and-sunny in my future!  But first things first, I need to go for another run to close out my week…

AM PM Total
Monday 45 mins S&C; 11 miles 6 miles 17
Tuesday 4 mile warmup. 3 mile tempo. 16 x 15 sec. 100m with 15 sec. rest. 3 mile tempo. 4 mile cooldown. 14 miles. 6 miles 20
Wednesday 13 miles 6 miles 19
Thursday 45 mins S&C; 2.5 mile warmup. 8 x 400m. 6.5 mile cooldown. 11 miles. 6 miles 17
Friday 20 miles 20
Saturday 15 miles 15
Sunday 17 miles, last 20 min fartlek. 6 miles 23

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