I was in search of 6 miles today, but I wanted to stay off the roads. The snowbanks are pretty huge right now, and many of the shoulders are non-existent. Additionally, it's been warmish (above freezing) the last couple days, and that's when the roads take a beating. The water gets in them, and huge pot holes open up. So I headed for the Town Commons. I figured it would be somewhat soft since it was about 38 when I left the house, but I wasn't too worried. My plan was to run the same loop that D and I hit the other day.
As I started out from the parking lot, I realized that is was going to be tough going. There was about a 2 inch layer of mush on top of a hard frozen surface. It had the exact consistency of a slurpee. I was really happy to be wearing my YakTraks. My traction was good, but with every step I was pushing a fair amount of energy right into the snow. Tough going. There is also a small stream you must cross at one point. I jumped over it and onto what looked like solid ground. Well, it was soft ice. I fell through, soaking my right foot and falling onto the other side of the bank. I'd only been out 9 minutes. UGH
I headed out in the section of trail that has long been my nemesis. Not because it's difficult, but because when I'm by myself I always get lost. I have a very good sense of direction, but for some reason the sides trails in the Commons baffle me. There are a couple turns that just don't make sense. Anyway, I hit the first two turns correctly, but our loop is a longer loop and definitely off the beaten path. In fact, only one set of footprints was to be found in this section. I was postholing to at least my ankle for most of this section. I came to the third intersection and couldn't remember which way to go. I headed right, which was wrong. I realized this after about 2 minutes when a house appeared that I didn't recognize. I turned around and postholed back. As I was pulling myself out of one hole a vicious, angry branch struck me in the head. (OK, really I just didn't see it, but I'm going for the dramatic.) So, there I was beaten down by seemingly endless postholing and dazed from running into a tree. I made it back to the third intersection and headed straight (or left if coming from my original direction). I knew this was not the correct way to go, but it was the best packed of the trail choices and I vaguely remembered that it was the most direct route back to the main trail. (As it turns out, I should have gone straight at intersection 3, but at this point I just wanted a firmer surface.) Now, this section of trail was better packed, but still slurpee-like. Thankfully, it did lead back to the main trail, and I was able to finish the rest of the loop as planned. Actually, this loop is really made up of two loops. The big loop is the one I got lost on, and the smaller loop is run twice—once in each direction. Anyway, this meant that I had a couple opportunities to bail when I passed the car or a shortcut to it. I stuck it out and ran the whole loop, so I'm happy about that, but it was a tough run. I ended up with 54:39, which I'm officially calling 5.5 miles.
I would like to dedicate this run to the woman who watched her dog poop smack in the middle of the trail and not pick it up. I almost punched her. Do dog owners not realize that the rest of the world does not find their pooch's feces attractive? It's not a gift. It's foul. And this goes for all the other Commons dog walkers who left other steamers along the way. And, yes, I'm going to bitch about this every time I run in the Commons.
After I finished, I was stretching in the parking lot, when a moderately sketchy looking dude pulled into the lot. But, he couldn't have been all that sketchy, since blaring from his car was this: