Snow makes for beautiful running
I love the snow, and I love to run. Therefore my favorite runs are in the snow. Itís Monday morning, still early, and I am back home after a great 7 mile run on the country roads. Everybody wonít understand why I love it so much, but I will try to describe the magical feeling.
Nearly all of my runs come very early in the mornings, usually starting just after 5 a.m. I want to get my exercise done early, jumpstarting my brain and body to make the most of the day. Monday, I waited until just after 6 a.m. to hit the road.
Best snow running comes near the beginning of the precipitation. Cold roads and granular snow make the footing good, and any tracks made by vehicles make the traction even better. The pace of the run doesnít really matter, generally because there is so much beauty around. The world looks pure, especially with the snow sticking to the trees and just about everything else. My runs are on country roads that donít have a lot of traffic, but the cars and trucks that I did see were all driving safely.
Every single driver waved at me, and a few even blinked their lights. Once there was enough light to see them, I realized that every one of them was smiling. Was it because they thought, ěThis guy is a nut. He ought to be home in the warm.î I just think that the first day of a beautiful snow raises spirits all around.
Monday morning, I had planned to run about six miles, and loved it so much that I ran seven. As the morning light dawned, the beauty captivated me. Iíve run along the waterfront in Chicago and New York City. Iíve run multiple times in Boston, London and a couple of times in Montreal. Countryside snowfall rivals all those places.
My knowledge of snow is not limited to Rowan County. I first went to college at Western Carolina University in the southwestern mountains of North Carolina. It snowed often there, and didnít seem to cause many problems. Students at WCU mostly live on the campus, so classes generally went on as planned.
During the winter of 1995 and early 1996, I had the occasion to spend 10 weeks in Green Bay, Wis., on business. The extreme cold and snow were not unexpected, but I had no idea of the reality of it. Heavy snow is commonplace, but the snowplows run around the clock to keep the roads open. Schools seldom close.
Huge piles of salt and slag help keep the roads passable. Temperatures often dip below 0, and winds are seldom calm. Green Bay is located near the shore of Lake Michigan, and the winds and lake effect snows make it tough to be outside.
It didnít matter to me, I still had to run. Bad news was the fact that I had to often run in the roads. Every homeowner had a snowblower, and they were often out in the very early morning clearing their drives and sidewalks.
To avoid them, I just ran in the street. My motel was right outside of Lambeau Field, home of the Packers. There was a big digital thermometer, and a huge flag always blowing in the wind, so I always had a good idea of the conditions.
The cold can be handled by extra layers and full face protection. I used the flag to set my course, planning not to meet the brutal wind head-on for a long period of time.
My love for running in the snow was enhanced while experiencing such extreme conditions. My runs even then were planned for early mornings.
During a particular cold snap, the air temperature dipped past 20 below 0. Windchills during that early morning were -45. Yes, I still ran. Just to prove I could!
TV weather forecasters said that your skin could actually freeze, and advised against any outdoor exposure. I made five miles, just enough to be really cold by the time I returned to the motel door. Even those hearty folks found it amusing that anyone would run outside. Thatís OK, it was just part of the challenge.
The next few days here wonít be so nice. Once the melting and refreezing starts, the roads will have many slick spots. Snow and ice will get in my shoes and make them very cold. Drivers will be in more of a hurry. Iíll have to watch for them.
Thatís OK, I am betting a few of them will still be smiling at the guy with the ice on his eyebrows, mustache, toboggan, etc. Iíll still wave, and I bet they will too.