After a week of wondering what the weather had in store for our run, Sunday Morning finally arrived with slick roads, a shallow crust of snow on the sidewalks, and fog in the air. Walt hit the forecast right on the buttonâ€¦ in fact as I type this weâ€™re getting the predicted afternoon snow thunderstorms. The only thing we couldnâ€™t predict was how many people would brave the questionable footing of Breakheart as part of the route. Surprisingly nineteen runners showed up at Brueggers to get their Sunday long run in, while Mike Quigley and Rick Collette showed up to say hello and get a morning cup of coffee in. Rick was one of a few MRCers heading north to run the Half at the Hamptons, among them Sunday long runners Paul Donahue, Andy Pate, and Brian Slater.
Heading out to the LynnFells each runner weighed the option of running on glazed sidewalks or out along the side of treated roads, both of which carry their own dangers. Most opted for the single file march along the roadside of the LynnFells. Ed Torres, who ran yesterday instead of today to avoid the weather (and sleep later?) missed out on his winter tradition of finding and keeping a wrench on the side of the road. On the LynnFells lies a nice pair of pliers, passed over by many of our runners since it looked heavy and we were 3 miles from the water stop. I’m sure Ed would have scooped that up with pride.
As we entered Saugus the route turned on to Main St, as did Kelley and Erin before remembering they were running a similarÂ but longer route that headed for the other entrance of Breakheart. Turning back to correct their misdirection induced a few â€œyouâ€™re going the wrong wayâ€ comments from the packs they had to pass on their way back. A few runners turned down Howard St to follow the 6.3 mile run while most slithered towards the water stop, weaving out in the street when the traffic was clear and bobbing back into the roadside slush as cars approached. Before hitting the water stop at Wakefield High School, Mike York and I successfully registered 7MPH on the school zone radar sign. Was it that we were going fast enough to register on radar or that together weâ€™re approaching the size of a small car? Iâ€™ll go with the former.
From the water stop the adventure began. Of the 19 that started out 13 dared to attempt to run the snow covered steep hills of Breakheart. From what I heard each one was glad they did. Starting off with the hilliest section, we trudged up the hills making sure to dig into the snowÂ to avoid slipping while keeping the strong stride necessary to scale the incline. Coming down the hills we had a choice, play it safe by running gingerly and slow or throw cautionÂ to the wind and charge down avoiding braking which would lead to slipping which could lead to breaking. Mike and I opted for charging down, enjoying the thrill of a little recklessness during our run. The loop of Breakheart was actually the best part of the run. The soft cushioning snow with very little ice to worry about was better footing than expected. The pure white snow on the trees and rocks was pleasing to the eye. The packed snow falling from trees above gave the impression of being in a 3 mile snowball fight with the woods. Even Ana, who hates the cold, was playfully throwing snow in the air and enjoying herself. Exiting Breakheart, we transitioned back into reality with hard, harsh pavement battering our footfalls again.
Jocelyn and Liz awaited us at the water stop, Jocelyn having finished her 6 mile run without partaking in Breakheart, which she now seems to regret, and Liz getting ready to run the last 4 miles of the route with the group. A quick sip and snackÂ and we were all off again, except for Walt who went for a second loop of Breakheart, to become much more deserving of the several bite sized Snickers he would eat at the water stop. (We told you Walt, Snickers Rule!) From Breakheart we went down Water St, the coldest part of the run with stiff winds in our faces. Turning on to Main St the sun came out and Spring burst forth for a few miles, warming things up so much Joanne Piper finished her run in a t-shirtâ€¦ amazing considering the snow squalls and bitter cold that will hit the region tonight.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in Melrose, Nick was improvising his own route through the city streets. After a fall early in this training periodÂ he wasnâ€™t up for the unknown in Breakheart and instead continued on the route detouring onto Greenwood, wandered over to Oak Grove,Â then headingÂ back to Brueggers. As the long run route took us 12.5 miles, Nick ran close to 12, Iâ€™m sure. Kelley and Erin did about 18, as did Walt. Brian tacked on a few extra too. Good runs by all on a day that could have caused many of us to shut off the alarm and curl back up with our pillows before the sun came up. We’re all one week closer to a good race.