Winter is in full swing in Western PA after a snow storm left us with about six inches of new snow. Many local ultra folks are out on their snowshoes and cross-country skis, enjoying a different type of workout. This is the time of year when I typically take a break from racing and use the time to build or re-build an aerobic base. The weather is never a hinderance, just another obstacle to overcome. After training in winter, inclement weather in a race later in the year is not an issue because it is something that I am accustomed to.
Last week, a few of us ran the Laurel Trail between miles eleven and nineteen. While freezing rain was shutting down Pittsburgh for a few hours in the morning, we were happily making our way along a snow covered trail. There was an icy crust just beneath the top layer of snow, but the rain soon softened up the ice and the run became even more enjoyable. The streams were running at a normal level with ice around the edges. The Mountain Laurel and Rhododendrens added a little color. It was picture postcard perfect.
My training for the Arrowhead 135 is going well. Although with the holidays approaching I am sure to have a few days where eating will trump going for a run. I tested out my new, smaller, lighter sled and it worked well. I also made a new set of light weight bindings for the Dion Snowshoes. They will get the first test today as we go out and decide on the final course for the Recover From the Holidays 50k. Don't forget, we are hosting the fun run on Jan. 2, 2010. Here is a link to the page if anyone wants to join us. USC 50k.
I received an e-mail from the Park Manager about the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. As most of you know, there is a bridge that carries the trail over the PA Turnpike at about the 37 mile mark. On this Thursday past, the state closed the bridge due to structural deficiencies. Is it unclear at this time what exactly is going to happen. The park service will keep me posted as more information is gathered. The bridge is used year round and gets heavy use from the local snowmobilers, so I am sure they will be asking a lot of questions also. If anyone has access to additional information please let me know. This could have a real impact on the Laurel Highlands Ultra if the bridge stays closed for an extended period. As most of you know, this type of expense is usually at the bottom of the list when it comes to getting state funds for repair. We have already discussed having to change the 70.5 mile course (the 50k will not be impacted), one of them being an out-and-back. It would add a new element, running miles 1 through 8 in reverse, especially in the dark. Let me know your thoughts when I see you on the trails.
Time to go strap on the snowshoes and enjoy the season.