Urban Creek Run Club

Sunday Runday, and the weather improved by about thirty degrees Celsius over last weekend. I’m not afraid of the cold, but since I couldn’t run with friends I’m not running alone in brutally freezing temps.

This weekend we resumed our small band of cohort runners for the second real run club of the year, and located some urban trails closer to the downtown of the city where we could enjoy the zero degree weather.

The run included some scenic views of the downtown. (I used to work in one of those buildings! I guess I still do, I just haven’t been there in almost a year.)

We navigated our way through some of the asphalt paths, still crunchy with a layer of dirty snow, up and into one of the neighbourhoods, and then back into the creek valley via a staircase. My calves were not impressed. I guess I should go up and down my stairs at home a little more frequently than to just refill my coffee.

During the fall this is a lovely canopy of colours rich with that scent of gently decaying foliage. Today it was a well-trod winter path, wide enough to socially distance.

None of us were feeling particularly fast, but it’s been a long, cold off-season. Most of these folks should have been running marathons this year, but thanks to the pandemic it’s more likely to be virtual 10k races.

And yes, those are shorts… anything warmer than zero is shorts-weather around here.

And the creek, still frozen, beckoned us for a short stretch of our total distance. The water underfoot is frozen for about thirty or forty centimeters of ice thickness. If it happened to crack though, no worries: the creek itself is only about a meter deep.

Cold yes, but not too deep.

We concluded with some lawnchairs in the parking lot, drinking some coffees from a nearby local and independent cafe, bundled up in our blankets and trying to keep at least six feet apart while we recovered.

Hopefully the running season keeps at this pace, even though my personal pace could use a lot of improvement.

My Winter Runs Need to Get a Grip

Sunday Run Day and for the first time in two months I took part in a group run with a small cohort of friends.

Our locality has been on pandemic-related lockdown since late November, and all my runs have been solo. But COVID-related hospitalizations have been down. New case numbers have been declining. And the doctors say we can ease gently away from some of the stricter restrictions… like avoiding all non-essential personal contact. In other words, we can run together again.

Of course, it also happens to be that we are in the middle of winter. In the middle of a cold snap. In the middle of temperatures averaging minus twenty and offering up moderate quantities of snow.

Over a series of early morning text messages we pushed our usual eight-thirty meetup time by a couple hours to tempt the sun’s generosity. Also, given that it’s been months since we’ve seen each other in person, it was decided that a location more interesting than the regular high school parking lot was on the table for debate.

Luckily I never take my grips out of the backseat of my truck in the winter, and when we converged in a river valley parking lot to engage the single-track snow-bound trails therein I easily added some necessary traction to my street sneakers.

Some winters I splurge and buy myself winter trainers. They are extra grippy and have a bit more insulation. It makes it necessary to get out into the rough for longer, colder runs for a season or two … y’know, to justify the cost.

But in a pinch, a pair of, wrap-on traction grips will substitute.

We ran.

Into the trails.

Across a bridge.

Into a meadow.

Up and down, left and right.

Between towering poplar dusted with snow.

Eight kilometers later, twisting and turning through trail packed by a hundred other feets and a few dozen fat-bike tires, threaded between fresh knee-deep snow, we had logged the first group run of 2021.

I missed those.