Our Big Winter Run up Woodward

Runners in front of the Spirit of DetroitTime to put another check on the bucket list. On Saturday a group of us ran from the Detroit River to Royal Oak/Birmingham.

The day began with a 5 AM alarm, about a hour before my furnace setback ends. The house was cold. I quickly checked the Weather Underground. It was much colder outside: 20F with a north wind pushing the wind chill down to 14F. Fully dressed in running gear with a couple gels and a $1.50 in fare, I ran about a mile to the bus stop on Woodward.

I’ve looked at taking the bus in the past, but figuring out the SMART schedules wasn’t as convenient as getting Google driving directions. Now Google has a public transit option for Detroit. I was able to enter my starting and ending location then my desired arrival time. Google then told me where to get the bus and what time to be there.

John Sotir and I grabbed the bus and were joined by Jon Bennett just one stop away. The bus was just about full by 6:30 AM — on a Saturday no less. We were the only ones wearing lycra.

We got off at Jefferson and met up with the others that had taken an earlier bus or the Marielle Shuttle Service. There was 13 of us in total. Marielle snapped a group shot in front of the Spirit of Detroit before we started heading up the Avenue.

Group run up Woodward in DetroitFor many of us, the miles clicked by quickly. I think that was due in part to the density along Woodward. It’s really not that far from Jefferson to Campus Martius to Grand Circus to New Center and so on. It’s a contrast to running in lower-density places like Bloomfield Hills where the houses and streets are widely spaced.

We also seemed to get a good bit of encouragement from others along the route, including some guy walking out of a Highland Park party store with a cigarette in one hand and a fresh 40 in the other.

Fortunately for us, it seemed the north wind took a break at least until we crossed into Royal Oak. Still, there was enough breeze to push the heavy smell of Dutch Girl Donuts directly into our path.

We got our hill workout going up and over the Eight Mile bridge though most passed on running under I-696.

Due to the better conditions (less ice and snow) and lower vehicle traffic, we ran in the street. Unfortunately once into Royal Oak, we stuck to the often snowy and icy sidewalks.

While some ran to their cars at the bus stops, I ran directly home. The main group continued into Birmingham where we all regrouped for a well-earned breakfast and hot chocolates.

The best guess was the Birmingham guys got in 18.5 miles. I was closer to 16.

Big thanks to the Wehrm for pulling this together as well as the aid station at 11 Mile. And, thanks to Marielle for the cool photos.

I have a suspicion we’ll be doing this again.

Screw Shoes for Running on Ice

The conditions for running in Southeast Michigan are about the worst it can get: dry, powdery snow on top of a layer of ice. If you’re lucky, someone’s shoveled the sidewalk and you can see the ice directly.

My Screw shoesHowever, this is a great time to own some screw shoes.

I got the basic instructions on-line and bought 10 half-inch sheet metal screws from Frentz’s Hardware. I pre-drilled all the holes. Six screws in front and four in the back.

How did they work? Very good. They seem to work best when running directly on the ice. I did have slippage where compressed powdery snow was covering the ice. But, the slippage was pretty consistent so there aren’t many surprises. Nonetheless I did fall once, but no one saw me so that doesn’t really count, right?

I have run with these before in mixed conditions. They are not fun to use on dry pavement. In those cases I would probably take my chances with my regular shoes.

Oh yeah, these things are noisy when they’re hooking up. If people look at you funny, tell them you have bad knees.

Also, if I were doing this again, I would probably add a few more screws up front. I don’t see much of a penalty in doing so.

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