This morning’s run finally felt better. The cold virus that has vexed my body for two weeks has relented a bit. That’s how it is with certain colds. They linger and force you to flirt with disaster if you miss some sleep or some other combination of stresses on your body.
So the hacking cough held up for days. Yesterday I finally ran five miles. But it felt heavy and hard. You know the feeling… when you drag your feet along and the road feels like it’s made of asphalt, because it is? That’s how it felt.
Picking it up
But today the enthusiasm was a bit higher. Plus I received a beautiful new Saucony running suit from Sue for Christmas. Talk about motivation! New gear like that is so great. Bonus benefit: the sleeves are bright yellow and the cars go out of their way to move over when you’re running on the shoulder against traffic. Spiff.
It was 24 degrees out this morning for my run, but the Weather Channel app said it felt like thirteen. With that assessment I had to agree. Yet a carefully chosen route can make the first miles feel not so cold. So I ran South and East with the West wind behind me. My body was well-warmed-up by the time I turned west and ran up a long incline with some zip in my step.
Turning north and east, the sun was at my side and low in the sky. My shadow was thus twenty yards long, nearly reaching a snow fence out in a cornfield next to the road. The soil in the field was now visible because we have had a warm spell followed by nights of driving rain.
So the snow fence looks useless right now. But the fact that someone got out into that field to install a snow fence is something we all likely take for granted. Because when the snow comes back around again, that snowfence is there to keep drifts from crossing the road. Otherwise traffic conditions can get bad in a hurry.
Someday in that same section of field, snow fences will no longer be needed. The field is zoned for commercial development and the landholder is likely anxious to get a return on investment from that property.
If it’s the farmer that originally owned the land, they’ve been watching and waiting for that day. Perhaps they’ll take their money and move out west where farmland is cheaper. Or perhaps they’ll just keep the cash and huddle up in their four-square farmhouse and live out their days with traffic whizzing past. That’s what plenty of their formerly farming neighbors are doing. One certainly can’t blame them. Working the fields for all those years is hard and often speculative work. Socking away some cash for land and having time to take a vacation when you want is the tradeoff for all those years of tending dirt for a living.
The snow that covered the fields for several weeks was fun to view. Its clean white blanket made everything look so wrapped up and nice. While out for runs at twilight the snow kept the night from coming on too fast. Snow tends to be good company that way, and so is the cold, which keeps you from overheating if you dress right and keep the seams covered. You can run a very long time with the right combination of clothing keeping you warm.
Thank God for modern gear, which is definitely better than it was forty years ago when I was doing the big miles. You just made the best of it, and learned which items of clothing might not betray you. By the early 1980s, technical fabrics were being invented that wicked off moisture and made for more comfortable running. Those early inventions in running and cycling gear truly have cast a long shadow. I recall the first Salazar NIKE PR running shirt I bought with sleeves that wrapped over your fingers. It lasted until the fabric turned to gravelly bits of plastic, for it was made from oil-based plastics.
I still own a New Balance blue mock turtle purchased in 1998. It has not aged a day in all those years. The matching shorts finally gave out around the waistline, but the shirt still works as well as the day I bought it. That’s a long, long time to own a garment when you think about it. Yet it’s still so comfortable, practical and presentable there is no reason to throw it out. It’s almost been like a snow fence in a field to me. There when I need it no matter what.
But that’s not quite the case when it comes to running shoes. When it comes to that kind of equipment, the long shadow is comprised of dozens of pairs worn out over the years. We wear them out and move on. It simply does not pay to wear them longer than their support and sole wear allow. At that point, the shock of the road starts coming through the shoes or the biomechanics of the shoe get thrown off. Then it’s time to resign those shoes to other purposes. Recycling perhaps, at your local shoe store.
Money spent at local running shops is a good thing. Yes, we’re all apt to order some things cheaper online at times. But a good relationship with a shoe store or three will stand you in good stead over time. Usually, there’s a way the store offers to earn a better price on shoes or get gear through loyalty programs. Most importantly, getting a good fit is always a good strategy on your running shoes. That’s something you simply can’t do online.
The local running shops in our area have proved to be fairly evergreen in the face of competition from online retailers and big box stores. That trust that builds up over time is a good thing to have. It’s a bit like we’re all pets in a big running and cycling household. Our local shops feed and outfit us, and give us a scratch on the back when we need it. Ego-wise, anyway.
AS for the remains of winter, that snowman out back that our houseful of twenty-somethings had built during that first night of moist snow was severely compromised by the warm weather. It spent its final days leaning, leaning, leaning until it finally fell over. Kind of gives new meaning to the words Just Do It. More like Get It Over With. His demise seemed timed to coincide with the Christmas holiday, when rain fell all night and made it hard to feel the spirit of the season any longer.
Poor guy looked like he’d had too much to drink, and was pudgy around the middle until his entire middle just fell to the earth. Flump. Frosty bit the dust. But not before the sun rose the next morning and used his low-lying shape to cast a long shadow across the lawn. It goes to show that no matter how humble your status or purposes, or where you past self might be anchored, there is hope in every new day. So let that one melt your heart, and get ready for the next fresh snowfall. Go running. Grab your skis. Take the fat tire bike out for a spin. And enjoy the long shadows of your own existence.