I started my run yesterday, in the usual way I do all of my weekday runs. I began, thanking God that I had made it through another day with middle schoolers, and that I was securely enlaced in my Brooks Adrenalines. I was also thankful that I was on the road, by myself. This time of day is precious when it is just me, my iPod, and my thoughts. However, I have noticed something lately. It is very cold where I live. It is cold and it is snowy. Streets are slippery and the skies are gray. I have noticed that I am fully entrenched in the thick of WINTER. And winter, although it can feature beautiful snowy moonlit scenes, and add pomp and circumstance to the holidays, really starts to drain a person after awhile. Winter is officially draining me. In fact, I feel I can safely say that I have the winter blues.
I’m not sure if it’s the weather, my job, or a combination of both. But I am feeling the effects, baby. And the place I feel the effects most of all is on my runs, which is even more disturbing. Typically when I run, I am dreaming. I am strategizing. I am rocking and rolling, planning out a glorious future with lots of free time to run, frolic, and generally be blissful and happy. However, lately… this business of cold, ice, gray skies, and snow has entered my consciousness and has put a damper on the holly jolly dream time I enjoyed while running. A funny thing is happening and I’m not sure why. On my runs, there are many thoughts whirling through my mind, but they are neither holly nor jolly. Thoughts to the tune of “I will not fall. I will not fall. I will not fall.” In my mind I repeat this sentence over and over and over. Next track on my mental winter cd is “It is so blanking cold. It is so blanking cold. It is so blanking cold.” And let me tell you folks, ‘blanking’ is really not the word I’m using.
I’m also not enjoying the scenery like I usually do. Instead, my gaze is planted firmly and intently in front of each step, like a dog scanning a forest floor for rabbits. I am in search of patches of ice which are the proverbial death sentence for a winter runner. Bottom line, I do not deal with the cold well. I wonder to myself what lessons there are to be learned as I trudge through this arctic jungle I call home. Is this making me a stronger person? Teaching me that I can beat the odds and do what I love whatever the temperature? Am I becoming… a running WARRIOR? Even as I write this, I feel as if I am a prisoner. I am a character in a Batman movie where Gotham City remains gray EVERY SINGLE DAY. I notice the grayness more than ever on my runs. And again, I ask myself… when is this going to end? I talk about this with my running friends. We are like old ladies, ranting and raving about the weather and wondering out loud when it will change. We know it will change, this is true.
But at this point, the first week in February, it just doesn’t feel that way. Today I went out on a weekend run. It was freezing cold and I knew I was a bit crazy to be running. The streets were empty. I was pushing for a longer run, about 8 miles. I was cold cold cold the first five miles, and quite frankly I was a little crabby. Yet, I tried my best to break through the cloud of winter that was surrounding me. I played tropical island songs. I played rap songs. I played fast paced classical music that I normally hate, but thought I’d give it a shot because I hated the weather more thus maybe I’d begin to like Beethoven. Nothing worked. Nothing, until I ran into a group of fellow runners who were familiar from previous Saturdays. They were at the bottom of a hill when I said hello. For a minute I thought I might continue on and run with them. Then, the older guy- probably 60- said, “Well, we’re going to do hill repeats for awhile if you want to join us.” Hill repeats? Hills, when the wind chill was threatening to freeze my lungs, and the hill was as frozen as Mt. Everest? That idea just made me laugh at how ridiculous it was. I told him to have fun with that, we all laughed, and I said I was going to go home. The notion of how crazy we all were carried me home. We were pretty much insane. Yet we were all out there, because despite the cold, we were doing something we loved. Not many people can say that about something. It is still cold and will be tomorrow as I go out to run. Yet, tomorrow, I’m going to put on another layer. And as I add that extra layer, I’ll do so remembering that in life there will be things that taint even the things that are dearest to me. It’s up to me not let cold or stress or anything get in the way of what is important. Stay warm, friends.