Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Half Mile

I have been getting excited by the somewhat warmer temps and longer days. So Monday I decided to go running in the morning for the first time in what feels like forever. My hope was that there had been sufficient melting on the W&OD trail to make it runnable. It was already getting light when I headed out the door at 6:20 – a nice change from the depths of winter. A brief toddle across the ice at Mad Manor park got me to blissfully clear (for the most part) blacktop on the trail. I was thrilled! Unfortunately, my excitement was short-lived, for it turned out that only about ½ mile of the trail was passable. I guess the heat from the highway helped with melting, for the trail got completely snowy and icy starting at milepost 4 – just where it veers away from the road. Well, a half mile of trail is better than none at all, so I just ran that stretch again and again until I reached my desired distance. It was nice to be exercising outside for a change. I’m glad I took the opportunity when I did, since more snow is in the forecast for tomorrow: not enough to make the trail skiable, but probably enough to return even my little section to unrunnability.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Playing in the snow

It's easy to be seduced into staying indoors in the winter. On those cold, dark mornings, why not exercise in the warmth of the basement, TV and Hulu at hand to provide entertainment, nothing heavier than a T-shirt and shorts required? Being a cold wimp, I often give in to this logic, however I do remind myself from time to time that the outdoors offers rewards to offset frozen fingers and runny noses.

Yesterday we had another near-record snowfall here in DC. The official measure at National Airport was about 18", however I can easily measure over two feet at places around the house - particularly where there was still snow on the ground from Wednesday's snowfall (what is this, Michigan??). It's not often that Northern Virginia is this skiable and I've been taking advantage of it. Wednesday morning I went out cross-country skiing for about an hour before heading to work, and yesterday some friends and I did about 3 1/2 hours on the W&OD trail.

I have a couple of friends in the neighborhood who, like me, are XC skiers. I arranged to meet them down at the trail. In checking Facebook I discovered that my friends Gail & Chris, who live a few miles away, were also planning on skiing, so I extended the plans to meet up with them further along the trail at the Bluemont Park caboose (for those not familiar, the W&OD is a rails-to-trails trail along the old Washington & Old Dominion railroad right of way, and it's dotted here and there with railroad artifacts). Amazingly, our plans to meet up at various points along the trail worked and the five of us, kind of cajoling each other along, wound up skiing quite a distance. We were the first ones out on the trail. It was quite neat to enjoy the park in its pristine state, but cutting a trail through the deep snow was work - and I was often in front. There wasn't much wildlife out and about, though Jen did spot a pileated woodpecker. There weren't many people out and about either - it was still snowing and I think most people were just hunkered down at home. We did see a few other skiers, a pair of people on snow shoes, and a few brave souls out walking and taking photos.