Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cool Mornings bring Thoughts of Winter

This morning I woke to a crisp cool autumn morning. The wind was blowing and the leaves were rustling, some of them succumbing to the force thus tumbling about around me. I suspect this is a sign of good runs to come. I just love fall. Out come the mittens, hat, and fall running gear. Some folks say they like fall but aren't too anxious about what comes after. Not me. Fall is the prelude to cold - where I may not run my fastest but I run more consistently. At least that is my perception. My log might show a slight bit more consistency in the winter but the difference may not reach the level that I imagine. Nevertheless the fall winter routine has promise. It's a sabattical. Winter up here is long. The temperatures hover around freezing for six weeks before plummeting to 30 degrees below zero for another six weeks. Then it's back to freezing - right into April. I admit, by the end you are ready for sun, warmth, and a new beginning - but only because you've gone through the winter.

Each time Fall arrives I start to plan for winter. Winter is when you do the things you enjoy but never seem to have time for: reading, writing, learning, thinking, planning, and running (believe it or not). It's when the races stop and training begins. You disappear into the cold darkness and emerge at the Spring marathon where the tale of winter's training is open for all to see.

Last year was my first solid winter of steady training. I got injured twice and complained about it here on this blog. And while Boston was a disaster, I did manage a PR at Holyoke in May. After such a rough summer of on again - off again training I am in need of the soothing therapy of winter running. Bundled up against the cold and running in spite of the weather, I will be logging the miles that will be the foundation for the tempo and speed work during the first few weeks of Spring.

First you set the alarm clock for very early (4am) so there is plenty of time for the pre-run ritual. The winter pre-run ritual is a long process for me compared to the summer. Right now I just roll out of bed and onto the road. In the winter, I first splash cold water on my face to wake up. Then I tend the woodstove while the tea is boiling. I take a few sips of tea and a piece of toast as I apply layer upon layer of warm and protective clothing. A quick check on the internet for wind speed / direction and the temperature on at the local NOAA Cobscook Bay bouy (which I run past during all my training runs) and I am out the door. The shock of the cold is frightening at first as you can't imagine going very far, but with a shuffle, I begin yet another winter run. By mile one my hands are frozen but the pace has increased 30 secs per mile and my thoughts are introspective. (It's hard to think of anything external in a Northerly 30 knot wind). The sweat starts, a little discomfort, and that fades away as the soothing feel-good-this-is-why-we-run chemicals surge into the brain and I float into the zone. I can't run fast due to ice, wind, and darkness - but this is winter and there is no need. What I need most is time to do the slow long training of Lydiard. And this winter I will be there.


Blogger D said...

It's nice to hear of another runner who is looking forward to winter. I love running in the cold. Hints of fall weather have been showing up here - I love it.

9/25/2005 8:55 PM  
Blogger Running Chick said...

Great post! I'm also ready for a change of seasons and a shifting of the gears.

9/26/2005 12:11 PM  

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