Sunday, January 3, 2010


I couldn't face the treadmill today.


I put on the layers and head outside for my "long run". It's not really a long run, but the Sunday slot is the "long run" there ya go.

When I got outside, I immediately knew something was up when I heard the arguments start.

"It is WAY too cold out here"

"I'm all for doing 1 or 2 miles and finishing on the treadmill"

"No, let's stay out. Everyone will think we're totally hardcore running in this."

"No, let's turnaround and change clothes."

I'm not very good and turning around and changing clothes. If I turnaround, I'll put on shorts and run on the treadmill.

We're gonna keep going.

"But it's windy. AND cold. AND icy."

"It's not fit for man or beast out there."

Well, I'm neither man nor beast, so I guess I'm running.

I admit. It was really icy. So icy in fact that I decided to keep my garmin hidden, so I wouldn't worry about pace.

Just call me Safety Pup.

I certainly did underestimate the cold. However, in times like these my "lack of focus" really helps. Instead of focusing on the cold, I dissolved into each step. Each step had to be carefully anticipated and planted. Baby step baby step baby step, jump. slow.walk.step high.sink in. stop.take a breath.

Then I see her, a woman up ahead. I can follow her steps. Step for step we match each other's pace almost exactly. In another season, she could be my running partner. For a minute, I consider trying to catch up to her, strike up a conversation. No better let her have her peace.

Two more miles running 'together' and we come to a fork in the road. She veers to the right and I to the left.

I keep running. I have no idea what I was thinking of. I don't think it was anything except keeping my balance. As I start running up the last hill to my turnaround point, I feel ice crystals hitting my face. The wind is picking up, and my arms are cold. At the turnaround, a jeep pulls around, and I see the driver staring at me. I immediately think of Marc Parent's article in Runner's World: 15 degrees of separation. Maybe the driver of the jeep just thinks I'm nuts. But maybe he was a runner once. Maybe he's been thinking about running again. Maybe he wants to get in shape.

Maybe I just inspired him to run.

Maybe the cold isn't so bad afterall. I start running back and look down at the stream. Somehow I ended up on the wrong side. It's frozen over on top, but I can see the water running below. I keep running along side, trying to negotiate my crossing point. It's too wide for me to jump. It's too slippery to get to close to the edge. I see my opening. With my right foot, I push off. I jump too hard and hit the slope. I go sliding down the slope and stop with my left foot fully submerged in the icy water andmy right foot covered with mud and snow.

Dammit. Cold & wet is NOT how I wanted to finish this run.

I kept plugging along. For awhile, I heard the sloshing in my shoe then it disappeared.

With less than a mile until I got home, I realized how good I felt. I had taken a gu, drank my water without even being aware of what I was doing. While my mind was occupied with staying standing, my body was doing what it always does. Over the years, running has become second nature.

When I get home, I was physically tired but emotionally charged. I pulled out my garmin to see that I ran 45 seconds per mile faster than I was supposed to, truly unexpected. It's funny how cold conditions can change perception. I felt like I was working a little harder, but I assumed it was because I was slogging through the snow. It didn't occur to me that I was actually running faster.