I lied…. it’s not the first one thousand klicks that are the hardest. It’s the five klicks following a freak November First snowstorm, before more than a third of the houses have mustered the energy to fight off the denial of an early winter and get off their chairs to shovel their side walks, before the crews have been out to finish ploughing the streets let alone sweep the side walks, and before the little crystals of frozen-rain ice have ceased falling from the evening sky. That’s the hardest.
It snowed something awesome yesterday. It snowed enough on the first day of November that Claire and I were able to pull out the brand new six-foot wooden toboggan that we bought last weekend in anticipation of the (then) distant winter. It snowed enough that there was adequate snowfall for a few dozen really good runs on the local hill, that there were other kids at that hill who thought our new toboggan was “so! cool!” and that we were able to get a solid forty-five minutes of sledding in before the lure of dinner and the failing daylight sent us home.
I had declared shortly after arriving home — having fought the freezing rain on my morning commute and the slush-laden, ice-covered streets on my evening commute — that there was no way I was “going running in this mess.”
I really should have more dedication to my sloth. It is a natural instinct designed to protect me from such experiences.
Things being as they were, y’know it being the day after Halloween and me having sneaked more than a couple fun-sized candy bars from the left-overs still sitting by the door, and I sitting there cuddled up on the couch with the dog and playing Minecraft, feeling rather settled for the evening… I got kinda guilty… itching to just try it.
Quarter to nine I’m decked out in my gear, headphones in, blinker on, head and fingers wrapped snuggly in my still-warm and freshly laundered winter gear. And I shout up the stairs to that I’ll be gone for about forty-five minutes, give or take, and depending on the pain-level I’m enduring.
I set out to do eight klicks. I did five and a bit.
I set out to do eight klicks. I did five and a bit. And even that almost did me in.
Very few people, it turned out, had shovelled yet. Fair enough… they have 48 hours and it had been about two since the snow had mostly stopped. It’s me that’s the crazy one.
Running in fresh snow is like running in sand. You take a step and your foot shifts in one of three ways: one, it shifts a little bit, almost imperceptibly to the left or right, wobbling you off balance just enough to throw your well-practised running muscles into a state of confusion. Or two, your foot shifts backwards, slipping a couple of centimetres due to the lack of grip in a particularly slippy spot, and you start thinking things like two-steps-forward-one-back with a physical manifestation of the metaphor suddenly making too much sense. Or three, you shift into a spot you would have otherwise avoided if it were not so covered in snow, such as stepping into the rut between the side walk and the grass, or straying just a millimetre too far off the edge of the side walk for physics to comply with the mix of body weight and impact, sending you stumbling for an awkward few steps off the curb and into a recovery hobble.
I ran five klicks in this mess. I ran five klicks in four or five centimetres of that thick, cornstarch snow that had been mussed about by previous walkers just enough to be uneven and annoying. It felt like eight klicks.
So, I lied. And I’m feeling it the next day.