The hardest days running outdoors are the days that I often find the most peace. In the case of this weekend, the temperatures were FRIGID! When I tell people I’m a runner, one of the questions I get asked is what season is my favorite for running. Fall is my favorite season because to me, it’s race season. One race I run every year is the Detroit Free Press Marathon. I base my entire year around this race. My training for Detroit normally begins in June.
A close, very close, second to fall is winter. On days like yesterday when the high was 19 degrees, I find solitude outdoors. You don’t see many people outside (except the other crazy runners you pass and extend a friendly smile or wave) so it’s very peaceful. I take my time on winter runs and my pace is usually around an 11 minute mile. I pick up the pace when I find clearing on sidewalks and streets, and I run slowly or walk over ice and sidewalks that haven’t been cleared. I try to use my arms to balance.
Peace to me means paying attention to my surroundings. I love to hear the crunch of the snow underneath my feet. I love to watch the snow when it falls in front of me. I love to see my breath in the air in front of my face. And today, I loved seeing a beautiful message in the snow.
If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that this has been a challenging year for me. Running has been my saving grace; but weekdays make it hard to get a run in every day when I’m working around the clock and keeping up with my family. When I saw this heart in the snow around mile 5, I almost ran past it. I saw it, continued to run for a few seconds, and had to turn back around to take a closer look.
I love it when the universe gives me signs. I see them a lot when I run. Two summers ago, I was having a particularly hard time getting through a four mile run. I was on 13 mile road, a place where I would never expect to see wildlife, and a deer ran out in front of me. I once read that to see a deer is a message from the universe to stop what you’re doing and to become contemplative, thankful, and to just simply be in the moment. Taking that time to stop helped me to pick back up and finish my run. Yesterday, seeing this perfect heart in the snow was a reminder that to love myself is to care for myself, and I do this through running. These messages are powerful and could be easily missed if you’re running too fast through life. Sometimes, that means taking a moment to just “be,” or to turn around and take another look.
And yes, another reminder of why I love winter running. I loved it so much that I completed ten miles; double gloved, ice-capped eyelashes, post-run itchy legs, and all.