Rambling Roads: March 2022

By George A. Hancock

March 1 is a Tuesday this year. Meteorological spring begins on this day. Weather scientists and meteorologists seek a uniform time frame to record spring weather records. Thus, meteorological spring runs from March 1 through May 31, 2021.

Most individuals are rooted in traditional customs. These folks feel more comfortable acknowledging seasonal beginnings on the solstice or equinox date. So, spring for many begins on Sunday, March 20 which is the vernal equinox.

Either date is fine because March begins our spring season. 2021 ended on a warm note. December set warm-weather records across our country. It was nearly mid-January before wintry weather enveloped our nation. Unfortunately, Mother Nature ushered in our winter season with a vengeance.

Winter storms slammed regions not accustomed to heavy snow and ice storms. Even damaging tornadoes struck various locales. Nor’easters were forming and running amok. Running outside quickly became tricky. My area developed a deep snow pack. The first in many years. And, at this writing, still is prevalent. This snow pack is keeping daily temperatures from reaching their seasonal average.

I’ve been running in my ice and snow spikes for weeks. Although there are many snow-free roads, too many other roads have melting snowbanks that refreeze overnight creating slick ice flows.

This winter season I faced another road issue. It looks like this could be a growing issue during future winter seasons. Many local municipalities lack the resources and manpower to keep local streets adequately treated. My morning run frequently began on untreated local streets. Neighbors working early morning shifts also faced traveling difficulties.  

The larger municipalities and PennDOT have crews out 24/7. My borough has a part-time crew consisting of one worker. Road maintenance is given to the bus routes. Driving is tricky most wintry mornings. This runner is wearing ice and snow spikes. The run begins at a slow pace. Personal safety is always a key concern.

I’m five years removed from any road racing. My last race events were in 2017. I was experiencing some unknown, at that time, physical issue. So, I decided to run seven races to reach the 500 race career mark. I did and limped away from the starting line.

The physical issue was three herniated lumbar discs. I had one disc surgically addressed in 2018. The operation was a success. Recovery was slow but steady. Running every day was fine. I no longer needed road racing.

Then, COVID began its long run. COVID touched and changed our surroundings. Many younger runners were in a quandary. The virus wreaked havoc with their training plans. The weather, especially unsettled weather, added another tricky issue to this training-plan equation. These unknown factors were troublesome for many racing runners.

These training issues are understandable. Countless training hours and even financial resources are in jeopardy. Training for a particular race is difficult. Outside interference, especially in areas one can’t control, is never welcome.

Yet, there is life after road racing. I understand the need, the desire to race. Racing well after training hard for months is a great feeling. However, uncontrollable issues disrupting training plans and the target race are disconcerting.

These days I’m running outside every day in the ever-changing elements. I run fast. I run slow. I run at a steady pace. I run up and down hill. I’m running a steady 30 miles a week. I run with Mother Nature, respecting her powerful force. Nearly every run is great because there are no consequences associated with a slower run or a missed training plan.

Perhaps, I’m enjoying my daily runs more these days. There is no performance age-group peer pressure. I run every day because I can. I enjoy my morning run. I get to see and enjoy the roadside sights.

March 2022 is here. We’re beginning the spring season. Our outside world is steadily evolving towards a greener world. Songbirds and numerous woodland critters flit about as I trot by. And of course, we are gaining more daylight every day. The sun is higher casting warm rays upon us. The March sun feels great. Spring is a great time to rethink our running endeavors. What do you want from your running life? Give it some thought. Run well, run smart. Run on!

March moon (Photo courtesy of Karen Knuepfer)

Categories: Features

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