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Snow Day? No Way! AND….. a Lousy/Busy Week AND…. The Return of the CAT

It has been a moderately crappy/busy/uneventful week. Not in all aspects, by the way, mostly just in the running arena. On the whole, life is great and I am extremely work busy. That is a good thing. 

When I am busy, it usually means I’m traveling. If I’m not cross country traveling, it’s metro Denver traveling. Frankly, that’s the worst kind. Flying somewhere and scheduling runs on the road is, for the most part, easy. I book flights to accommodate my life/running, book hotels near running places, and schedule time to get it done! Around town, though, the 1+ hour drive to get to a class 45 minutes ahead of time, can make for some EARLY morning running. This week was that week (meaning that two of the runs were the 5 am type), the one where every drive was long and running was something done in the darkness. Nonetheless, 38 miles AND….. a self proclaimed recovery week (it was supposed to be next week, but whatever, right?).

BY the way, I’m not complaining, or if I am, TOO BAD, because my schedule is flat out crazy until the end of May. It is my hope, of course, that by the time May arrives, the schedule will be jam packed until December. That is the nature of trying to run a successful business: work happens. I will adjust, knowing that light will slowly come to the morning a little earlier, and my ailing knee will feel better so that I get in more miles per hour. 

All is good. Actually GREAT!

My 38 miles this week were moderately spread even. Four days of 5 miles, one 3, and a 7 and an 8. Nothing spectacular, just trying to stay in the habit and log some miles. I’m also venturing into what I lovingly call the Pit of Misery, the basement. It’s where the workout crap resides: that stuff that helps us work on strength, core, flexibility. And I need, D) all of the above.

So, today my run was highlighted by a so called winter storm warning: snow. In the park, or anywhere devoid of cars, winter running is what it was today: FUN! Snow, crispy cold, breaking the trail, plodding along…… FUN. I had an absolute blast today trudging along the trail and logging the miles when no one else was out there. I can’t imagine retreating to the dreadmill just because of some snow (unless, of course speedwork or a tempo of some kind were scheduled). Snow Day? No Way!

The fun, however, ends when needing to “share the road” with our vehicular friends. In fact, fun can lead to sad, scary, bad news, accident.

In the public interest, I submit and oldie, but a goodie RunSpittle post, the C.A.T. system. The C.A.T. is my little system for staying safe when I need to be out there with those crazy, lovable drivers during snowy conditions. Here you go:

The C.A.T. System.  I approach my winter run with two irrefutable rules: 1) Vehicle vs. Rich = Rich loses (the same goes for you), and 2) something I taught my sons at a young age, for your safety, you assume that if someone is behind the wheel of a vehicle, they are an asshole. In deference to those rules, I run the sidewalk whenever I can. Often times, especially when the storm is happening during the run, the street can be the safest place. It is that occurrence that activates the C.A.T. System.

C. Car.  I ALWAYS run FACING traffic. I joke that I do this because I want to see the look on the drivers face when he/she hits me. In reality I face traffic because, yes, I want to see them but mostly because I want them to see me seeing them. As a vehicle approaches, I try to identify something about it. Is it an SUV, a truck, a little compact car? Right off the bat, I equate the type of car with the driver’s potential ability to maneuver. Next I check speed and control. Is their speed appropriate for the conditions? Are they under control? If any of these checks create nervousness, I retreat to the sidewalk or anywhere well off the road.

A. Awareness. Once the car has been evaluated, I look at the driver to see their level of awareness. Are they on the phone? Do they appear to be seeing me? Do they look petrified? Often I will wave at them (a hello wave, not some other gesture) to capture some semblance of awareness. The other part of awareness of course is activating my own heightened awareness. I don’t wear headphones when I run, but if I did, I surely wouldn’t be doing it on the winter street run. By the way, just following the C.A.T. System will elevate your own awareness. Again, if their lack of awareness or my own nervousness about them sends me a red flag, I retreat.

T. Tires.  C and A have taken all of a couple of seconds. Most often the car has to be evaluated and awareness activated very quickly. In traffic (more than one vehicle coming), I multi-evaluate. Finally, as the vehicle gets closer, I lock in my sight and complete awareness to the TIRES. It’s mighty difficult for that vehicle to slide your way without the wheels locking, so my eyes become totally fixed on the tires. I’ve escaped a few incidents in my time because I saw it coming before even the driver knew it was happening. Any indication of locking wheels or a loss of control sends me retreating as well, and as you can imagine, QUICKLY. The biggie here is simple: PAY ATTENTION and assume they are not.

Mostly, remember our formula…. Vehicle vs. You = You Lose! 100%.

Run on (carefully).