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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Red Bandana: The Joy of Winter

Early morning. 6:00 am. It might as well be midnight. Who can tell? It is all dark. So quiet. No one's here. Just me.

Like a ghost town in the middle of the suburbs. Everything is bluish-gray. Streetlights and moonlight -- and not a lot of either.

Cold. Man, is it ever cold. It's gotta be minus zero degrees out here. Can it be that? It is.

Did I just say that? Zero? What I am I thinking? I shouldn't be out here.

Yeah, yeah, I got gear on. I'm wearing a t-shirt, turtleneck, sweatshirt, a running jacket and a scarf, plus running tights under my long johns under my wind pants. That, and thick socks and gloves. Sure, sure. So I'm covered? I'm still cold. I breathe in and I'm cold. My face is cold. I should have worn that Spiderman face-hat-thing.

The snow hit again, covering the footprints from last time. Great. Here's winter. Officially here. I'm miserable. It is going to soak through my shoes and I'm not even off my driveway.

Oh well, I gotta do this. Four miles and I'm home. I'll do the neighborhood loop, around that big park on Briarcliffe, and I'll be done. I can't be back until I go.

I ache. I'm too old for this. Why didn't I stretch? I really should have used the treadmill this morning. None of this nonsense out here.

Down the block. I guess I can run on the street. No cars here, and besides, it is a side street. At least it is plowed. I'm glad I have on my reflective jacket and pants, just in case.

Rats. I knew I forgot something. My iPod. I needed it today. Especially today.

Around the corner. Huh? The snow crunches. Interesting. Sounds like toast being buttered.

There we go. Half mile done.

Those trees -- the way the snow is sticking to the branches. They are delicate, sprinkled on the way bakers decorate brownies. How didn't I see this before? Amazing. Yesterday, they were bare, shorn of leaves. Now, they are extravagant.

One mile behind me. I'm feeling better. Warming up. Still, my legs feel tight, but at least it doesn't feel as cold.

Is that a rabbit by those bushes? I see the tracks. I must have scared him; he was next to the tree I just passed. He looks like he can handle the cold. He doesn't have to cover himself in running gear when he wants to go out for a hop. Poor guy. The snow must be covering his breakfast.

Two miles gone, two to go. Time to wind back home. My stride is coming around. It is not as slippery as I expected. My glasses are steaming up. Good thing I didn't wear that Spiderman mask.

I think I can pick up my pace. What's that? Birds? I thought they all left in the winter? Robins? Sparrows? I have no idea, but that's a beautiful morning sound.

One mile to go. I've got this. I'll drop my pace another five or ten seconds for this last mile. Looks like I'm not the only one out here. Is that the guy who works at Caribou Coffee? "Hey, how are you doing?" There is another runner way down the next street.

There's my house. What do I have left? A quarter mile. Oh yeah, baby, I've got this. Let's kick 'er in. A little bit farther.

Ah! My driveway! A great day for a run!

Don't Let Winter Stop You

Snow and winter are here. There will be days you will want to return to your cozy warm bed. In the morning, though, can be found a treasured time. Dress warm, start with a slower pace and discover the morning.

Running Playlist Song of the Week

The song this week is too big for any iPod. It is the sound of birds (robins or sparrows?), feet crunching through cold snow like buttering toast, and the breeze of a December morning so quiet that all you hear are your thoughts and the pulse of morning joy bringing runners from bleak apathy to exalted thankfulness.

Writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. I looks to running as I battles midlife and my mid-section. Find out more: or e-mail me: anthonytrendl at

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

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