The Road to 26.2

Copy Editor Courtney Kueppers logs her triumphs and tribulations of marathon training in this bi-weekly running column

Story by Courtney Kueppers, Copy Editor

Having the gear is sometimes half the fun of being a runner. Certainly all runners know the joy of a new pair of shoes.

Lately it has been all about quantity of gear. It’s like I’m playing a game of how many layers can I put on before I can no longer put my arms down like Randy in A Christmas Story. Aside from two sweatshirts, three pairs of leggings, two pairs of wool socks, a hat, scarf and mittens there is one thing I consider crucial to surviving winter running: Yaktrax.

If you don’t know, Yaktrax are these handy dandy ice traction devices made of rubber and metal that you put on your running shoes in the winter. Their job is obvious: to prevent falls and to allow you to stride out with a little less fear of taking a tumble.

I’ve had a pair for years, and due to my extreme hatred of treadmills they allow me to keep going outside.

Last week when training partner Johnny and I headed out to tackle a 10-mile run, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

The first couple of miles slipped away quickly and our pace felt good. Although it was a cold day per usual, the sun was shining which made it easier, and once the run was complete the weekend was ours.

I chuckled to myself whenever Johnny complained about lack of traction. Thinking and often voicing, “You should get Yaktrax!” Seriously, I should be a spokesperson.

As we rounded the corner on Keith Street past Justin Vernon’s alma mater, Memorial High School, we had reached 5 miles when SPLAT! I went from vertical to lying on the sidewalk like a chalk outline at a crime scene in the matter of a second.

My Yaktrax had tripped me!

The metal coil from one shoe had worked its way loose, hooked onto the other shoe and brought me to the ground!

It took a few seconds for me to shake of my embarrassment before Johnny and I had a good laugh at the fact that these ice traction devices had brought me to the ground rather than the ice.

The laugh helped pass some time, and the run turned out to be another positive stride in marathon direction. With 12 miles on the calendar for this weekend, Johnny and I both geared up with a new pair of Yaktrax.

In preparation for an almost half-marathon distance, our longest yet training run, Johnny and I have a week of relatively shorter runs.

Last Saturday, after putting off a 6-mile run all day, we snuck it in as the sun was setting. It paid off though— literally, Johnny noticed a bundle of quarters on the sidewalk that turned out to be $10 with a note on it that said, “Blessed and be blessed.”

When our route led us down the Chippewa River State Trail to Half Moon Lake, we arrived in time to see a picturesque moment— you know the one with the setting sun over the frozen water surrounded by fresh snow on all the trees?

It occurred to me I never would have seen it if it weren’t for that run which is when I realized how much more I was getting from this training than potentially a finisher’s medal and bragging rights.