Happy New Year! The winter weather has made an IMPOSING presence to start off the 2015 year. There has not been a single day in which the temperatures have reached above freezing since Christmas Eve. Despite the frigid temperatures, my marathon training was solid without missing a single training run.
It was the day after returning from the Oregon Coast in a seven-plus hour drive. My intention was to do an early 5:30 am Crossfit workout, but my body did not agree with the 4:45 am wake-up call. Since I’m an expert procrastinator, I went back to bed and pushed the workout to the afternoon 5:30 pm class. At approximately 4:30 pm, I still had NOT completed my five-mile run, so I asked my patient husband if I could do my run before my Crossfit workout. Knowing full well I had a small window to run, shower, and drive to the box, I put forth my best effort to run comfortably but strong. With the help of iTunes, I completed my run in under 45 minutes; just enough time to jump into the shower, get dressed and drive to my Crossfit session.
Seven miles were on the agenda, but I really wanted to run on the last day of the year, so I postponed my run until Wednesday. Recognizing I had put into writing somewhere in my blog I wouldn’t “skip” a run while training, I gave myself some grace because I wasn’t really “skipping” a run; rather, I was re-arranging my runs and still logging the scheduled miles. I was pretty disappointed when I went into the box on Monday after my five-mile run and there were no squats on the agenda. Fortunately, heavy back squats were on the Crossfit menu Tuesday afternoon.
The most melancholy days of the year for me are December 26, December 31, January 11 (the day my beautiful grandma passed away), March 15 (my grandma’s birthday), and just recently, March 31 (my birthday). To beat the blues, I did my Tuesday-scheduled seven miles on New Year’s Eve. Even though it’s been 16 years since I left my home state of Florida, – where ALL of my family members still live – I find myself missing them terribly during the Holidays. Most of all though, I miss my grandma the most. My grandma and I spoke on the phone weekly, and one of the hardest things for me is accepting no matter how many times I dial her number, she’ll never again answer the phone. The simple ritual of phone holiday greetings was something I took for granted, and now, I find myself yearning for the opportunity to say “Feliz Navidad Abuelita” to my grandma.
The seven miles were good for my soul, and once again, my average pace was under nine miles. This is the first time in my 16 years of running where my “comfortable” average pace is under nine minutes.for a run longer than three miles. I used to run sub-9 average pace miles comfortably while in the Marine Corps, but we rarely ran over three consecutive miles so I never savored higher mileage my four years in. The strength training from my Crossfit workouts have surely made a tremendous amount of difference in my running. To say “I’m happy” is not descriptive enough to genuinely express my joy.
With only five hours of sleep in my system (we stayed up late to ring in the New Year and watched the second Star Wars movie), I mustered enough energy to get dressed to run the New Years resolution run with a friend. The three degree weather may have been intimidating had I been running by myself, but since there were a group of people who were also going to brave the weather, the single digit temperature didn’t even phase me! Just as awesome was the fact the run was five miles, the exact mileage on my training calendar. The run was so cold, it took a good twenty minutes to have sensation on my toes and fingertips. On the positive side, it was sunny and there was no wind, two factors that would have made the run dreadful. The first two miles of the course had a gradual ascent, and there were patches of ice on the road that caused us to zigzag between the middle of the road and the edge of the pavement. To stay warm, I wore thick socks, fleece-lined tights with loose-fitting running pants, a long sleeve tech shirt, a running hoodie, and a running jacket. My hands were protected with gloves, and my head with a red beanie. A pair of shades completed my outfit and I did not bother to pull my hair back because I figured it would add an extra layer of warmth around my neck. I failed to take my camera with me during the run, but there were plenty of mountains and farm animals to ring in the New Year with us! The New Year’s Resolution run was filled with five cold but empowering miles to start off 2015.
The only kind of exercise I did on Friday was the kind in which you use your hands to bring food to your mouth. My neighbor and I made tamales from scratch, and given this was the first time for the both of us, we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. We are both determined to master the art of tamales-making this year.
Saturday was definitely a day of growth and awareness. The temperature was 21 degrees with a mixture of snow and ice on the ground. There was never a second in my mind which I questioned whether I should run outside or on the treadmill. In fact, as if it were a perfect sunny and 75 degree weather day, I began layering clothes as if running on snow was something I had naturally done all my life. Since I wore three top layers and two bottom layers during the three degree run, I only went with two top and one bottom layer this time around. In hindsight, I should have worn shades because the snow was pretty bright, but I chose not to given the cloudy skies. Gloves and a hat were still a must.
Since I didn’t know how much snow was exactly on the ground, the first mile of my run was very slow due to snowy-filled sidewalks. After the first mile, I moved to a paved road that saw very little traffic, had no sidewalks, and a mixture of snow and ice. Because I was wearing straps around my shoes to help with traction while running, I remained on the snow-covered areas for most of my run.
It must have been somewhere between miles 2.5 and 4.5 that it occurred to me just how far running had taken me. It had taken me to different geographical places, and it had taken me outside of my physical and mental comfort zones. And this time, it had taken me out of a place I had been stuck for years. This stubborn “I love Summer” Florida girl who refused to embrace the changing seasons was running in the middle of winter, out in the country with below-freezing temperatures and snow on the ground, and was actually ENJOYING it. And I wasn’t just enjoying myself simply because I mustered courage to run outside. This run was an actual “I’m really enjoying winter running.” Since leaving Florida, I’ve dreaded every day of Fall, Winter, and Spring in Oregon. In fact, up until this past year, I have experienced extreme anxiety when the end of Summer came. This Winter though, I’ve not allowed myself to be consumed by the fear of winter and the plunging temperatures I’ve always described as painful. With my move to Eastern Oregon, I’ve not only pushed myself outside my comfort zone of physical endurance, I’ve also literally pushed myself outside the door to enjoy a phenomenon that occurs during a specified amount of time in a short amount of period: snow.
Immediately after my run, our family went sledding, and it was fun thanks to the snow. How is the New Year treating you so far? What is your idea of winter fun? Where has running taken you?