Oh winter in Alberta! We can always count on a very cold spell or two, thankfully followed by a nice warm up and usually pretty comfortable days with a beautiful blanket of snow to keep things frozen and clean. Hopefully the recent cold spell was the only one for this year.
I love to run and running outside is where it is at for me. Last week that meant preparing for -22 degrees C with a media reported wind chill approaching -38 degrees C. I was ready for it. Three layers of pants plus 2 more of underwear, 3 shirts, my jacket, and my new balaclava running touque. I am certainly becoming more and more aware of the media’s need to sensationalize and exaggerate everything including the weather. I am not sure why but it works to create an unhealthy fear (sometimes to the point of paranoia) in the minds of many. Well choosing a path not in the open meant closer to -22 than -38. It was comfortable and an awesome run.
Then the warmth came. The cold spell broke as it inevitably always does and the temperature climbed all the way to 10 degrees C on the plus side of things! Pretty much t-shirt weather. Was I looking forward to getting out to run in the warmth of the day? You bet! The run started along a good stretch of roadway all cleared of snow and pretty dry. I was soaking up the last rays of a sunny Alberta winter day and lovin’ it.
The one thing I had conveniently forgotten was that with a very cold spell with lots of snow followed by a very quick shift in temperature a sudden melt ensues. With a sudden melt comes lots puddles, sometimes beyond ankle deep. Combine that with many people who had not quite got around to shoveling their walks through the cold spell and that meant lake after lake to go around or through.
All of a sudden this became a brilliant experience in release of expectation, acceptance of the the current reality, and surrender to what was. Initially I was tip toeing around the lakes, trying hard to side step around them and not get my feet wet. Very focused, very stressed. Two things were happening. First, I was now running very tight (hips, legs, ankles), altering my gait, and setting myself up for undue wear and tear and potential injury. Second, I had completely lost my connection with the beautiful day and the initial running bliss I was experiencing. It was now WORK!
This went on for a while, until … SPLASH! I couldn’t avoid every little lake out there. I dropped right in up to my ankle. BOOTER! I immediately flashed back to the good old days of my youth when the first booter meant liberation, freedom. Now it didn’t matter anymore. I was soaked. Now the fun could begin, Back then it meant splashing all I wanted, getting as wet as I wanted and playing in any fashion I wanted.
My run shifted in that instant. I was now that kid again running so freely that I splashed in every lake I passed without a care in the world. I felt the warmth of the day again, I joked about feeling like a little kid, I was running relaxed and loose. I was having fun. This is living bliss!
The lesson I learned from this experience and the gift I will take forward to next time is to purposefully jump into the first puddle next time so I can get right to living and running bliss sooner.