After a couple good night's sleeps in a row, I find myself awake at 2am. The night splint/boot that I wear at night for my Plantar Fasciitis is bugging me as usual. But even after I tear it off, I still can't get back to sleep. The PF seems a bit better these days, but this little bout of insomnia is no fun either.
At 3am I get up and realize that by default, I've made a decision. I will get to Hinckley at 4am. We're there every Sunday, and I'm one of the organizers / regulars. The runs traditionally begin at 7am and include a big loop around Hinckley Metropark. This means starting at the Spillway parking lot, going east on Bellus, turning onto Parker which becomes Harter, then turning onto Medina Line, Ledge, Kellogg and Hinckley Hills before the return onto Bellus and back into the parking lot. It's a beautiful 9.2 mile route that circumnavigates the park, getting away from it in a couple places. And, oh yes, it's quite hilly. The entire course is rolling, but there are two really notable hills: the one starting out onto Bellus Road, and the one about half-way through on Ledge that we affectionately refer to as "Effie". (When we were discussing possible names for her, Angie Kovaks said, "I just call it, 'F' This Hill.")
I arrive just a bit after 4am. It's cold and there's snow about. Yesterday's cold was really down there - -4F when we (Debbie, Michelle, Brad and I) began our run on the parkway - but today's +10 to 12F actually feels colder. The difference is the wind and the snow; they make it feel colder. The snow on the roads makes footing bad, and this also contributes to the overall difficulty.
Since a loop takes anywhere from 75 to 85 or more minutes, I must hurry. It's difficult, but I manage to arrive back within a minute or two of 5:30am. That's just in time to talk to Jack before he takes off on his 5:30 loop. There are often other 5:30 runners as well, but today there is only Jack. And me. I tell Jack that he can begin without me as I need to go to the car for refreshments.
It turns out that I never catch him until the very end of the loop; we each wind up running alone. There is even more snow on the road this second time around, and I run the loop about two minutes slower.
As Jack and I return to the Spillway lot, a small throng of runners has gathered for the 7am loop. This is usually when we have the most folks, and today is no different. I am surprised to be able to keep up with Connie, Bob and Dave during that initial climb on Bellus. It's after the hill when I find I can no longer hang with them.
I run the next mile or two with Michelle, but eventually find that I can't keep up with her either. I'm getting slower and slower as I arrive at the base of Effie to have some refreshments out of Jack's stash. I'm beginning to seriously doubt whether I'll be able to finish this loop at all. Jack arrives at our aid station just after I do, and after some gel and sports drink, we tackle Effie together.
The weather has actually gotten worse; the snow is still slippery, and the wind is at least as cold now as when I began.
Somehow, I manage to stay with Jack for the remainder of the loop. It isn't easy, and I suspect that he slowed down just to help me out. The gel probably helped as well. I shuffle back to the Spillway lot for the last time, say goodbye to Jack and the rest, get into my car and drive home.
Debbie is waiting; she had come home yesterday to visit for the week. We will spend the day visiting Mom and then going to a concert at BW put on by Bob Mayerovitch. We have dinner with Bob and Laura, and also Mike and Judy George.
Whew. What a day.
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