Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on Cold Weather Running

Yesterday, I woke up to seeing our first snow had graced the ground. Normally, we do not get snow for another month, and normally the early morning October air is not below freezing. But yesterday, it was like it's nearly Thanksgiving instead of nearly Halloween, and the running group I have joined was meeting for a 9 a.m. endurance run.

Getting there was the challenge. I got bundled up in my best winter running clothes (which actually only work real well down to 20 degrees or so), and met the team at a local park. We were all anxious to get through the warm up, since when it is chilly all I want to do is to start moving. The sky was gray with wintery dawn and the wind was grazing our cheeks, yet many of the trees are still green, or barely yellow, only a few have transformed into the bright orange and red glory of fall. The trail was lightly dusted in white, which had frozen the leaves that had fallen. Rather than think about how cold I was, I tried to focus on the beauty of the moment, as soon this moment would be transformed into full fledged winter.

We planned to be out there for roughly an hour, and as we got moving, we all marveled on the glittery snow cascading off the trees and glistening in the sunlight and the sounds of the frozen leaves crunching under our feet. We wondered what it would be like to run with our eyes closed and how that might change the experience: the feeling of the air and the sounds of our feet would come alive in a brand new way. The whole experience was like being in a time-lapsed photography film clip. Time slowed down but in a good way: the hour flew by yet each step managed to last an eternity as I savored every breath.

By the end of the run, we were all commenting on how it is so much better to get out in the cold than in the high heat and humidity of summer. I'm not sure I agree 100%, but it was so invigorating that I look forward to our next fall/winter run and maybe getting out of bed the next time won't be so tough, even for a chilly Saturday morning.

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