I was looking forward to today’s run, for the usual reasons Monday morning miles are among my favorites (setting a good tone for the work week ahead, re-calibrating my body and mind after the weekend…). But though I knew I’d be happy once I got out there on the roads, a favorite podcast playing in my ears, the snow falling softly around me, I felt myself dragging a bit after getting my kids off to school. A long to-do list, emails to answer, deadlines to meet — these all dominated my thoughts and suddenly my motivation for doing anything, even running, seemed to fade. Grabbing a blanket and a good book and another cup of coffee sounded like a better option…maybe I’d run later. And work could wait a bit, right?
I came to my senses. I knew a run would set things straight. Just go. Don’t wait. You’ve got a day here, let’s get on with it.
Funny how our mind can mess with us if we let it.
I knew just where I wanted to go: through my neighborhood on a familiar stretch of loops and hills. It’s my favorite 5-miler because it allows ample opportunity to find my zone, thanks to a few long straightaways, and also challenges me with its mile-long steady incline toward the end of the route. There’s something about that final, long climb that gives me such a sense of accomplishment — as I’m powering up, cars whizzing past, and then at the top, where the roads flattens and I typically give myself a short walking break to catch my breath before a shorter steep climb greets me.
About a mile or so into the route, I decided to tack on an extra mile by taking a left where I normal turn right. It was a short out-and-back on a quiet, tree-lined road that intersects the Vasa Trail. On the return leg of this extra mile, I couldn’t help but stop to snap a photo of the towering pines blanketed with white, fluffy snow. But as soon as I took out my phone, it shut off — the 20-degree temps (“feels like 11”) was behind this, though at that point in the run I’d gotten warmed up enough to forget just how frigid it was outside. This also meant my in-progress podcast shut down as well. Then, because apparently I was supposed to be completely unplugged this morning, my low-battery Garmin died on me. I was irritated at first, but quickly decided to go with it — I needed the head-clearing anyway, and with no distractions whatsoever, I kept on moving, taking in the peaceful scenery around me.
Even with shoe traction, the roads were slick. And a dirt road around mile 3 proved especially slippery. Watching my footing only made the run better though — I took it nice and easy, feeling myself relax into the run without the pressure I often put on myself to go a little faster, push a little harder. Just keep moving, don’t worry about speed. Enjoy these moments outside.
Rounding the corner that leads to that last, long HILL, I let out a deep breath, mentally gearing myself up for the climb ahead. I had no idea my pace or the time. I was moving my legs and arms on feel alone. And I found myself feeling so good. One foot in front of the other, I ran up that hill, inhaling the cold air, my breath coming out in puffs of white as more soft flakes of snow fell. One of the best sensations, for me, is feeling just warm enough in cold weather. My fingers and toes, both chilled at the beginning of the run, were toasty and comfortable as I made my way back home.
By the time I’d reached my driveway, estimating I’d run just over 6 miles, I felt that familiar satisfaction of finishing a solid run. Knowing I had a little time before the sweat-chill set in, I grabbed a snow shovel and cleared the walkway leading to our porch. As I did this, a neighbor dad ran by while pushing a stroller. “Good morning!” he shouted out to me. I don’t know this particular neighbor, but I felt that instant runner kinship. “It’s a little slick out there, but it’s so beautiful,” I said back to him. “I’ve got some extra traction,” he said while smiling and nodding toward the jogging stroller.
The run, as always, buoyed my mood, proving yet again the power of getting out there. Just go.
How was your Monday run?