My Kingdom for a Treadmill


By James Moreland
Gaithersburg, MD
February 9, 2010
For the Washington Running Report

Already we have had two historic snow falls this season and Tuesday we are due to get more snow added than we had all of last winter. When the roads are described as passable, that is like when races are described as scenic. Just where does all that extra snow get pushed? The new sidewalk is the street.

We were told that it was the fourth largest snowfall in the District because Reagan got 18 inches. We all know that was the lightest spot in the region by as much as two feet. The snow crews are doing an incredible job but no one can match Mother Nature.

So how does one go for a run? It is a given that most runners are a little crazy. Thus, it is no surprise that some have decided to hits the roads. Fortunately there are few cars on the roads but the chances of disaster increase ten fold, even with drivers that have two hands on the wheels. Examining roads near my home I found that even the major roads (Route 355) was half as wide and not down to the surface. You can leap out of the way of an out of control driver on a sunny day. Now you would have to bound over an eight foot high snow bank. So stay off the roads!


You know about “if a tree falls in the woods” but how about in the parking lot.

Forget the track or the trails in the park. The trail at Needwood in Rockville was six inches on hard packed ice with a layer of crunchy snow more than a week after December’s storm. Today it is much worse. On Christmas Day I ran along Great Seneca where the sidewalk should have been. It was a foot of snow with an ice topping. If I could have run just a little faster I might have only sunk in a tiny bit and skimmed along the top. I could not and I did not. I broke through the top like Santa through a chimney and had to work like hell to pull my leg free. Normally you would expect me to stumble and fall on my face, which I did a least a dozen times. At least there was no one there to watch. Forget the sidewalks, wherever they may be!

I tried going cross country and made it to the trash dumpster fifty meters away. Then I tried to go on the street past the fallen fir trees. Each step went all the way up to the “you not what” that does not respond well to the cold. It was like running in water except you never knew how much it would hold you so you were stumbling off balance. After less than 100 meters, I was totally out of breath and I tiptoed from dry spots the best I could to return to my castle, hoping to find that I still had power.

My Running Path!

Without a treadmill my running streak is coming to an end, so I was forced to make a large batch of Chocolate Chip cookies. At least I kept that streak going.

Not surprisingly even the most optimistic races have been canceled or postponed. Some are already cancelled for the upcoming weekend such as the popular George Washington Birthday 10K and the Annapolis Strider’s Valentine’s Day 5K. ThePVTC lost their Christmas Caper Holiday Series race to the first storm. The By George 10K/5K may be doomed as well. If you are not sure at all please check first you can access all of the races by first going to our Race Calendar. Some sites try to wait until the last moment before deciding. Another big race for the region is the long standing 49th AnnualWashington’s Birthday Marathon and Relay in Greenbelt, which is hoping to find another date. There is a new 5K race in Arlington scheduled for Valentine’s Day called Love the Run You’re With, is postponed till February 28, 2010.


Many people read about the etiquette of not taking a spot cleared by someone else. Legal or not on a city street, people are probably going to grab it. In my parking lot, everybody knows everybody and so far nobody has “stolen” a spot. That may change the longer it takes for this to be over. The snow is the worst so far but later the cold and the ice will be worse.

I ventured out late last night to rescue my brother from BWI Airport. That is near Elkridge where they got 38 inches. The main roads were about a lane and a half. They looked clear but you could feel from the traction that there was intermittent black ice. Also in lots of places there were three inch high strips of ice. It was like hitting a curb. Many drivers were going at least the speed limit; I was slower.

When I returned home, the downhill slant of the parking lot had cooled enough to stop the melting snow from dripping away and the “skating rink” was nearly impossible. At 2MPH I was still sliding. Fortunately there were protective snow banks. I could not see my spot until I was inches away because of the eight foot snow banks. Praise be, my chair was still in place and the space was still mine… if I could only make the turn into it.

I tried but the capricious ice that would not let me stop, now would not let me go. Lucky man that I am, three of my neighbors were out then (11:15 PM) and they provided the manpower to free me and get me back into to the spot I will soon again be buried in. I thanked them profusely. They reminded me that earlier last fall I had helped them jump start their car. I went back into the house feeling good about the world.

Below are the three layers: Saturday morning, Saturday night, and Tuesday morning. I fear Wednesday morning will again look like Saturday morning.



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