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Zero tolerance

It was time for another 90 minute run on whatever passable trails I could find in Wausau, WI. Based on the past several days of snow and rain and ice, most of my dirt trails are not accessible; I will state that the city of Wausau has done s nice job of clearing the green way paths, but in most cases they are spotted with ice and about an inch of mush.

I ran most of the traditional Wausau loop that my brother Richard and I laid out over 20 years ago. I have not yet asked his permission, but intend to see if he's OK with altering the official course. There are some new green way paths in Wausau and one section offers an out and back leg along the Wisconsin River that adds about 15 minutes. If he approves, I will now have a 9o minute route that takes me in and around some great parts of Wausau and culminates with rather hard climbs up Callon Street and then onto "steepie" up 12th Avenue.

Today was different. Temps have hovered around 20 each morning, but today was clear and sunny and 32 degrees below freezing...in case I need to make it clear, that's zero.

Zero is an interesting number. You overdress for the head and hands. For me, this entailed a balaclava with earphones underneath (I'm listening to "Born to Run" more on that soon) and then another polypro cap over the head cover.

For hands, I didn't bring the right gear, so I wore a heavy pair of my dad's "chopper mitts" that he uses for shoveling.

Once out the door, the cold stabbed at my legs and feet. The fabric over my mouth quickly absorbed a layer of congealed snot that froze to a pudding-like texture. And the true test of a sub-freezing run is the blurring of vision - the fluid in one's eyes begins to crystallize.

All good for master competitor. The going is slow and methodical, but not to care. I'm building back from a long period of bad eating and weight gain, so for now it's simple forward motion for 90 minutes.

That said, there's an interesting ember glowing deep inside. I am starting to feel the joy that I associate with running - in any conditions - but had lost. Things are looking exceptional for 2010. I want to see how much I can get out of this banged up 53 year old shell of a body.

But isn't that what all master competitors aspire to do?

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