Trapped in February

I won’t lie, this month’s column has been a struggle. I put it off to the last minute (sorry, Bruce) and have really only bribed myself into writing it by promising myself I could eat some cheese while I did it.

I’ve been a writer for a long time — professionally for about 13 years — and subscribe firmly to the idea that there is no writer’s block (there’s no firefighter’s block or doctor’s block — writers aren’t special).

This month, though, I am faced with the sheer lack of an idea. This is a challenge.

Usually, I draw inspiration from what’s happening in the local running scene, or what my own training and racing schedule looks like.

But, it’s been January. Like Quenton inscribed on his window in “Once A Runner” —

“Help! Trapped in February.” Need I say more? Even those of you in typically warm Southern climes have had a bit of a winter lately. In Kentucky, it’s been a rough month. Last night, snow fell as rapidly as the Seahawks scored points, leaving us with about five inches for this morning’s commute. Already, the school district in which I work has cancelled six times … and we’re supposed to get a half-inch of ice and more snow tomorrow night, so by the time you read this, who knows.

We’ve also had unusually cold temperatures, with multiple days of wind chills in the negative teens to -25.

Running Journal may have to kick Kentucky out of the “southeastern” region if our weather doesn’t shape up.

I don’t consider myself a fair-weather runner, but I do have my limits. Specifically, running on slick surfaces really aggravates my bum hamstring — okay, and I’m just plain sick of this weather.

At this point, my face is so chapped it’s peeling and my legs have developed both a deathly pallor and an added ashiness. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the treadmill, which means I’ve watched nearly every free TV episode available on iTunes, plus a few I paid for. (Suggestions welcome. I’m running out of material.)

I will say this added indoor time, both at the gym and at home because it’s too cold/icy to leave, has gotten me back into core and arm workouts. That might also be motivated by my wedding in August, but at least it’s getting done. Usually.

February should be better, and will hopefully include my first trail race of the season (fodder for next month’s issue!) You can also find my other two “big” races for the season online — the Lovin’ The Hills races hosted by the Western Kentucky Runner’s Club and Dances With Dirt in Gnaw Bone, Indiana.

That said, Louisville’s Triple Crown series will have kicked off by the time this comes out, so look for a column about that once it’s completed. The 5k course has been moved across town due to major bridge and interstate construction, but the 10k and 10 miler remain mainly unchanged. The Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and full marathon will also have a few changes, which organizers say should improve the quality of the full distance.

Meanwhile, I’m going to turn on the fireplace and stuff my perpetually-soaked shoes with newspaper. May all you be blessed with clear skies, warm sun and 45- to 65-degree weather!

Tracy Harris is a runner and writer in Louisville, Ky. She runs for the New Balance Louisville team and with national title-holding youth team, the Derby City Athletic Club. Find her on Twitter at @tracefh or online at tracyfgreen.wordpress.com.

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