Winter Chill #3: Footwear

While running Winter Chill #2 last week, I watched two ice skaters glide on the perfectly smooth green ice of the inlet, turning deep cold into fun.

During Winter Chill #3 this week, there were no skaters on the inlet because a layer of snow, turned crunchy after several days, covered the ice. But while I warmed up, I spotted a lone cross country skier making his way along the snow-covered ice, heading for the lake.

Snow over ice. Skates switched out for skis.

The New Balance Minimus

The runners made some footwear switcheroos today, too. During my warm up, I discovered that the Cass Park path – cleared of snow — came to a sudden stop just beyond the Route 89 bridge. The Winter Chill course continued for another half mile over the worst kind of chopped up and re-frozen snow-ice.

I’d worn my new Saucony Endorphins, a post-baby get-back-to-running gift from Bill (he actually gave them to me at the hospital.) They feel like a gymnastics spring floor for your feet. Great for the clear path, but what about the ice? For that, my beat up, road salt-encrusted New Balance Minimus would be better.

But I kept my fancy new shoes on. With half the race on clear asphalt and half on ice, I started to chalk it up in my mind to another elements-ruined time. Pressure off!

But at the start line, the director announced a course change! Stay on the cleared path – we’ll just run to a different turn around point.

The Saucony Endorphin

One woman actually left the start line to grab different shoes from her car. “Someone’s got money on this race,” came the comment from the crowd while the woman crammed her heals into her racing shoes.

I’m not good at last minute changes, for some reason, this one didn’t phase me. In fact, the relaxed state I reached after figuring this race was a wash stayed with me, even after I knew it was on.

Off we went. I ran relaxed, didn’t get passed, and actually ran by a few people after the turn around. In the last mile, I saw the shoe-change woman ahead — and I was gaining on her.

From past races, I knew she’s fast. But taking one race at a time, I set an imaginary hook in her race number and started to reel in. This trick has never worked for me before; I’ve had a habit of going out too fast, then dying during the last mile, letting people reel me in.

Not today! I kept closing the space between us through the last half mile and almost caught up with her. Another 200 yards and I would have.

Last year’s Ons, with road salt

“What happened?” another runner said to her after the finish. Clearly, it hadn’t been her best race, despite the shoe change.

“What happened?” I said to myself, smiling. Because there it was: my time was a personal record. And I hadn’t even suffered. I’m going to remember how that felt.

One runner’s bad day is another’s PR. A last minute shoe change trips one person up; while sticking with the plan gets another ahead.

I discovered a few things about myself racing today.

  • My swimming mantra, slow down to speed up applies to running, too.
  • Last minute change can be okay – or even great.
  • I’m now that kind of runner. The kind shoe store owners love: the kind of runner who has shoes for every occasion.

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