The thing about spring marathons is that the majority of the training for them takes place in the winter months… and, in Scotland, the winter weather can sometimes be particularly unfriendly for runners.
On Tuesday last week I woke to a slight covering of snow but, being short on opportunities to do training runs, I went out in it anyway and slipped around on the half slush puppy/ half powder snow mixture, taking a few photos as I went of the midwinter landscape. At this point I thought the snow looked lovely and quite enjoyed looking at it as I skated along.
On Wednesday more snow had fallen and partially melted before freezing again and forming a bumpy, unpredictable ice rink all over the roads and pavements. I realised a few seconds into my Wednesday night run that I could not even walk on the pavements, let alone run on them… but, having battled for half an hour to get into my sports bra, I was not willing to abandon my run. Instead I took to the grass verges and followed them towards my local pub. Here I resisted the temptation to go inside and enjoy their fine food and drink and, instead, ran around and around on a patch of grass outside the pub until I had reached 3 miles (while onlookers inside the cosy pub watched this complete muppet doing laps in the snow with slightly puzzled expressions as they tucked into their scampi and chips). I then trotted home back along the grass verges feeling smug about remaining upright. The snow started to lose some of its appeal at this point.
Thursday and Friday passed… more snow and ice (especially on Friday when I got stuck several times in the car on the nursery run and the schools were all closed from lunchtime). I was in the process of cursing my lack of access to a treadmill when the local leisure centre and gym also closed due to the ongoing blizzard.
Saturday – another very slow run emulating a Z-list celebrity attempting to figure skate on prime time TV. With all dignity left far behind me, I staggered and tiptoed my way through 5 miles in -4 degrees and found my mood much improved through a bit of fresh air and exercise after several days cooped up with one hyperactive child and another poorly and grumpy child.
Sunday’s forecast was for yet more snow so I managed to squeeze in one more training run before the dark clouds swept in once again. This time the snow and ice had softened (it was a toasty -1 by this point) and it felt like I was running on powdery snow sand and hard pebbles of ice… my calves were burning from working so hard to prevent me from falling but I made it home in one piece moments before the huge, flumpy flakes fell once more.
Monday saw Storm Georgina finally melt the snow with torrential rain and the roads, finally clear of ice, disappeared under flood water.
Yesterday I finally returned to the training plan. Running on snow and flood-free pavements again felt great and, even with planned walking breaks between each interval of running, I scored a new 10k personal best time! This was particularly special as it was actually a few seconds faster than the only pre-kids 10k I did in 2009! I was very happy with that and will make the most of being able to run on actual pavements, rather than inches of ice… until the next blizzard arrives.
If you would like to kick my rear end towards the finish line of my first marathon, please help me by donating to Care of Police Survivors! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/erica-gilchrist1