It's been cold here. Not Fairbanks cold, although Fairbanks seems to have gotten warmer than it was when I lived there; I don't see the regular -40F temperatures that I suffered through being recorded regularly now. Here, it's been below zero and windy for quite some time.
The other day I looked glumly out the window. It wasn't snowing, but it was a few degrees below zero with a brisk wind. Apparently the wind chill made it feel like -15. Gym day, I thought. Then I caught myself.
What was this wimpiness? Retreating to the soulless treadmill when it got a little tough? Had I lost my edge? Gotten soft?
I started running during what was called a "running boom," decades ago. The sports bra (called the JogBra!) had just been invented. Spandex for running was a few years off; people trotted down the road in sweats, or shorts over long johns when it was cold. There were no yak trax or spikes; we ran on ice and sometimes we fell. I didn't know anyone who ran on a treadmill. We ran in howling winds, deep snow, and ice storms. We suffered, but we felt really good about it.
I'd like to think that I haven't changed that much. I don't want to be a person who used to charge hard at life but then gradually gave up and sought the easier path.
I put on expedition weight capilene, top and bottom, and attached my spikes to my running shoes. I put on gloves, pulled a balaclava over my head, and headed for the woods.
The wind cut through my layers. Although the dog walkers had made a valiant effort to pack down the trails, there is an area that always drifts over. People had postholed and made the trail a mess in places. The homemade mountain bike jumps were buried and had to be climbed over. My pace was slow. Nobody else was around. But I was out there.
I thought about the young girl I had been, running on ice and snow and during a tornado watch once (I don't recommend this). She didn't debate whether to go or not. She just went.
I think she would have looked at me and said, "It's really not that cold out," and run off, much faster than I do now, expecting her decades-older self to make the same decision. To just get out there. To just go.