Forecast: Snow, Ice, Slush, Snow, Slush…

Six inches of snow, followed by several days of temperatures in the teens or 20s.

Rinse. Repeat.

That’s January in St. Louis so far. Or at least the last couple of weeks. And although the driving portions of the roads have been cleared nicely, the edges of the roads and the sidewalks have been covered by a layer of snow and slush. And mostly, in the prime early morning running hours, ice.

I’m getting old. I have to worry about things like falling down and breaking my hip.

All right, maybe not THAT old. But I do hate the uncertain footing, that feeling of never knowing how solid the next step is going to be. So it’s to the treadmill I go.

Now, before a couple of days ago, I hadn’t been on a treadmill for nearly a year, and I was of course dreading it. If you’re used to running outside on the streets (or better yet, trails) in beautiful weather, there’s not much to like about grinding out the miles on a treadmill.

It hasn’t been a very good January for me for running. I took the last three weeks of December off after the Pere Marquette Trail Run (What a crazy race! Check out these two videos!) — a planned break to give my legs some rest after a busy 2010 — but then it took longer to get back into the groove than I’d expected. That’s OK, though; it’s just January. Still, through the first three weeks of the year, I was behind even my meager mileage total from January 2010, a month that had me recovering from some nagging injuries from late 2009.

Fortunately, last weekend brought some good news in terms of motivation: entries opened for the Quivering Quads Half-Marathon, to be held March 20. I ran this race last year (and wrote about it here), and it was both a fun race and a great kickoff to what turned out to be a good racing year for me. I wasn’t in shape last year, so I’ve been looking forward to this year so I can hopefully destroy my time from 2010. I’m now officially entered, and counting down the weeks ’til the race.

Finally, some real motivation to get back into training!

But there’s still that treadmill business to deal with. Fortunately, ‘mill running does allow me to indulge in one thing that I normally shun: my iPod. I never run with an iPod on the streets, because I want to hear the cars coming up behind me. I have as much of an aversion to being run down by a car as I do to slipping on ice and breaking my hip.

But on the treadmill, if a car’s gonna hit me, it’s getting me whether I have the headphones on or not. So I’ve pulled out the trusty old iPod, and I can rock while I can roll. I can bump while I grind. I can … well, you get the picture. I honestly don’t have a whole lot of use for the iPod except for running, so it had been a while since I’d used it, and I’d forgotten what a joy it is to listen to music through the headphones. The first time I wore it, I listened to DMB’s Before These Crowded Streets straight through. The second time, a couple of Beatles Albums. Last night I had an exceptional run, with some vintage Rolling Stones blasting. (In what was supposed to be kind of a long run, I had to crank it up to basically 5K race pace during the guitar solos on the YaYa’s version of Sympathy for the Devil. Maybe not the smartest workout strategy, but you have to go where the music takes you.)

So anyway, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting back into shape. Even though last night’s 5.73 miles was my longest run since Pere Marquette in mid-December, I am confident I’ll get the mileage up to be able to do the half-marathon in March.

Longer-term, though, I’ve pretty much discarded the idea of running the New York City Marathon in 2011. I’m not saying I won’t do ANY marathon this fall, just that if I do crank it up for a second shot at 26.2, it will be in some less logistically challenging event closer to home. New York, Boston … they’re out there, but not for this year.

Meanwhile, I have a list of shorter races I’m aiming for this spring and summer, and with the iPod strapped on I’m ready to crank out the miles inside if necessary. Let it snow!

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