December was a miserable month in which I logged a miserly 61 miles. Three factors seemed to conspire to keep me from the roads and trails.
It was a month of frantic Christmas preparation trumping running. I was busy fretting about Christmas and while Bill was happily going to be taking a good fortnight away from the office over the holiday, he had to put in longer hours to get his work straightened out first.
It was a month of me concertedly putting on the running brakes as concern over my still tender and crunchy hip began to mount. Since the tumble at the Bartram 50k I had diligently rested and reduced my mileage but the ache was not subsiding. Although running wasn’t exactly painful something still wasn’t feeling quite right and I was loathe to push my body further until it did. Having looked forward to Bill being home and the possibility that I might be able to get to a trail one weekday I was severely disappointed when this injury forced me to curtail my plans for a long trail run.
It was also a dismal month of me struggling to find weather appropriate attire to wear on the run. With the weather growing bitter I found my running wardrobe to be lacking. Last year’s pair of Mizuno thermal breath tights were no longer feeling like a good fit and despite the winter chill were actually a touch too all constricting and hot once mid trot. I also only had one long sleeved top to wear. This led to bothersome runs picking at my tights on the go and with only one set of gear I was forced into skipping my runs every other day and alternating with the laundry load. Stoically I managed to steer clear of getting the credit card out, and I did a lot of whining and whinging hoping that it wouldn’t fall on deaf ears and that Santa would be kind to me.
Still, December wasn’t a total loss and did see me on some adventures.
While I wasn’t running the local marathon or half on December 11th I did decide to run up to NODA from my house to join in with the Charlotte Meetup Running Club cheering section. It was about ten miles which should have been a nice easy run but proved to be a bit trying for me so soon after the Bartram 50k. Seven miles felt great, but after that my hip began to nag and grumble. I had fun joining up with the runners as they came up along Queens though and I followed the race route up to Midtown before cutting through and rejoining the lead marathoners as they made their way to NODA. Here I found myself running between a proper barefoot runner and another man wearing VFF Bikilas, and a little later on I spotted another runner wearing VFF Sprints so shredded and worn that his feet were visible through the soles.
I would make a terrible bandit though as I felt very awkward to be running along even part of the course, even though I was really just running my own route up to cheer at mile 21 and trying to take the safest route to get there. I was certainly not actually running the course and taking advantage of the support for free, and I tried to run on the outskirts and take side streets when I could to avoid being mistaken for a competitor. Didn’t want anyone to ruin their race pace by getting disgruntled with a girl in a skirt and VFFs, and only ten miles on the odometer, passing them!
I managed to get to the cheering section just as the first of our club members came running past. Nice timing! Sam, Bea and Bill also joined me and we had a great morning making noise for the marathoners. I will apologise profusely for the little terrors running across the road and directly into the path of stampeding runners and move on quickly.
Fastest Running Christmas Tree in Town
The Charlotte Runners Meetup Group held their annual tacky sweater run and as last year’s reigning female winner I was determined not to be defeated. Bea and I hit up Goodwill and I turned up for the 4+ mile run in a decoration, tinsel and fairy light adorned green dress. My little Christmas tree was snow capped in the form of a delightful white shawl with perching birds in the boughs, and like every good Christmas tree I had a shiny star atop. I even found a pair of toed Christmas socks to wear with my VFFs! It was tough going but I made it around four and a half miles in 35:26, a 7:57 pace, and I walked away with the prize for another year. Not too shabby for a Christmas tree.
Christmas Lights Run
The night of December 19th saw me meeting with the Charlotte Running Club for their Christmas Lights Run. I was very glad to see Sideshow Jesus in attendance there too. Pace groups were going to be 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30, so after a quick conference we decided to go out with the 7:30 group. It was fun. I was one of two girls heading out with the fast guys, and the other one was being pushed in a stroller! Didn’t do too badly keeping up with the gang until the final mile when the blokes pulled away down the other side of the hill I was plodding up. As my Garmin was recording a 6:30 pace as they lengthened their lead I didn’t feel too badly and decided against giving chase. As long as I kept them in sight on this new to me course I’d be fine. I was the last one home, but with a pace of 7:38 I’d say I was solid. Really enjoyed the run, though the promised pretty lights were few and far between. I think the neighbourhood we ran through was too classy to exhibit the required level of tackiness for a Christmas lights run.
Christmas Eve at Crowders
A new trail Meetup running group was formed this month and one of the first group runs scheduled was the Christmas Eve at Crowders run. Feeling festive I had challenged everyone to wear something Christmassy for the run and turned up wearing some nice Christmas reindeer antlers. I was outdone by Ashley and Laura who were also decked out in extensive yuletime wear, but all the boys were very bad and did not enter into the Christmas spirit at all. Sad. I hope Santa put coals in their stockings.
We ran up to Kings Pinnacle via the Lake trail, enjoyed the views up there, then pegged it back down the mountain and back to the cars using the Crowders trail. It was a little tricky keeping the antlers on the whole time but very much worth it to wish all the hikers a very merry Christmas as I came barreling down the trail at them with a big grin on my face. Just a little 5.2 mile jaunt with some good company to start Christmas off well. An excellent afternoon. I’d been hoping to go longer and do at least double that mileage while there but was really not trusting my hip’s grumbling on this one.
My final run of December, and thus of 2010 saw me heading out into the snowfall on Christmas Day. That evening we took the children on a tour around Charlotte looking for houses with the best tacky lights. As we drove it started sleeting, then to our joy it started to snow properly. Back at the house with two happy children tucked away in bed I couldn’t resist putting on my VFF Sport Treks and going out for a run in that. Sadly Santa hadn’t granted my wishes for any new running garb, but I donned my running skirt and sucked up the chilly air against my legs. It was brilliant. Snow landed on my nose and was inhaled as I ran, and my toes loved the barefoot feel of cold slushy snow underfoot. A fantastic end to a lovely Christmas in Charlotte, and a run that brought my final running tally of 2010 to a grand total of 1291 miles.