If you missed last week, it was a lot like this week. A large group assembled early at Brueggers eagerly awaiting the start of the run.Â Despite living the furthest away Lois arrived the earliest, about a half hour early, which had more to do with Sunday Morning fuzzy math than eagerness. Behind her roughly 25 runners prepared themselves for another frigid run. Although a week had gone by the temperature was still frozen at 15 degrees for the start of our run and a stubborn wind once again brought the wind chill down to 0 degrees. That didn’t stop a few new runners from joining us (and since I don’t remember all their names I won’t name any of them, give me a few weeks) for what proved to be a challenging run.
The route, just like last week, started north on Main St, right towards one of the coldest spots in downtown Melrose: Ell Pond. the wind whipped across the pond and through our outer shells sending a shiver up each runner’s spine.Â Heading north would be cold. Luckily we quickly turned east on the LynnFells Parkway and the lack of wind and bright sunshine made the cold morning more manageable… for a little while. Turning onto Main St in Saugus and heading towards Farm St gusts of wind reminded us that it was really cold. Struggling to get muscles warmed, a slow shuffle through some hills brought us to Water Stop 1 where BarryP poured the beverages and served up Gu and mini candy bars to everyone. When I reached the stop Barry and Lauren stood out, their vacation tans seeming very out of place next to Wayne, Ginny, Molly, Rachelle and I whose paleness was shaded only with some red from the harsh wind. That group took off quickly from the stop, and Carol came and went before I got my act together and headed for Breakheart.
I had suggested back at Brueggers that runners go left in Breakheart so they could estimate the iceness of the flatter side of the reservation before tackling the hills. The hills of Breakheart are challenging enough without ice so I wanted each runner to decide for themselves if they wanted to be daring. Along the flat side I hit one patch of ice which seemed easy to run through. That and a report from Barry and Wayne, who hit the hills first, telling me the path wasn’t too bad the rest of the way convinced me to forge ahead. With my attention on the footing as well as the music from my headphones I just barely caught a glimpse of something flying towards me from right. I flinched and quickly turned to see what had come close to my head, a large hawk swooping past the path. Dressed in all black from head to toe, and a running posture that some have likened to a squirrel eating a nut, I may have actually been mistaken as a giant squirrel, and as the hawk approached he realized I was a little too big to carry off.Â I guess I’ll go back to my green jacket and start holding my hands lower. Having survived the hawk flyby, it was now time to test my luck on the hills. A long slow climb up hill number 1 seemed awkward and slow, not having run the loop in this direction in a long time the lay of the land seemed very unfamiliar. Hoping from clear track over ice to the next clear track I made my way though hill 2 and found Walt coming the other way. Walt, who missed the Brueggers announcements while off running his warm up miles, commented that I was going the wrong way. I was not the first he mentioned this to, but at some after me I’m sure he realized that it was he who was going the wrong way. With the cover of trees shielding the wind the section through hills 3 through 5 felt warm, working up a good sweat, a sweat I would regret heading into the wind back to the water stop.
Back at the water stop Molly and Ginny were off as I pulled in. BarryC and Lauren were soon off on their way to add on a side trip to Lake Quannapowitt to stretch their run to 18 miles. Carol started out right behind them and after Rachelle finished enjoying a gingerbread Gu she trotted off behind Carol. After I choked down a cold thick vanilla Gu I set off behind them with Walt on my tail. The coldest part of the run was upon us, Water St, heading into a strong wind from Wakefield Center that never stopped. I kept the pace up, with some uptempo music helping me fend off Walt’s approach, while keeping myself from burning out by making sure not to catch Carol and Rachelle. Perhaps I was mistaken and Walt wasn’t right behind me, or he was off improvising his own route which is not uncommon, but he never did catch me. I gained on Carol and Rachelle as the three of us made our way down Main St and back to Melrose. The cold wind was now pushing us from behind, strong enough to feel coldness against our backs. Through Greenwood I must have run past an orange spongy Calloway golf ball and a five dollar bill, two mementos Sue found from her last training run before the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler. I told her I would figure out some connection between her treasures and the race, and I have… I believe at one point in the race we will be running by a golf course that American Presidents have played while on vacation. Back to the run… resisting the temptation to catch them I tried to match their pace towards Franklin St. Rachelle crossed with the traffic light in her favor. Carol got stopped by the cross traffic and wandered along the sidewalk for the extra distance and the extra heat. I turned left on Green and hooked up with the MRC summer route for some extra miles.
I headed up Porter Street and down Upham St, back into the head wind from the West. Thinking that Rachelle and Carol were already back at Brueggers warming up, I turned up Lebanon and regained the assistance of the wind. It pushed me to Sylvan St, where it work against me again as I made my way to the blustery Pine Banks and fought my way through the cold gusts back to Brueggers.
And that was this morning’s cold, exhausting training run. Very similar to last week… except this is the last training run for the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler where many Sunday Runners will find themselves next week. Wish us luck!!!