Never thought I'd find myself out running in a T-shirt and shorts on the first day of winter, but that's exactly what happened! No, I haven't gone nuts, but perhaps Mother Nature has. Yesterday (Thursday, Dec. 21), the temperature in our part of the world was in the low 50s, which is at least 20 degrees higher than what we usually see this time of year. Also, there's no snow on the ground, as we've had above normal temps pretty much constantly since a freak snowstorm dumped about two feet on us two months ago. (It quickly melted afterwards.)
And so, when by now I'd usually be spending time in the gym, I've actually continued to run outside pretty regularly, long after the point where it's impossible or dangerous. As a bonus, it's been mostly with the two youngest of our three dogs, who have a lot of energy to burn. We do a regular route that includes trail running and jumping into a brook (them, not me), so it's quite a good workout for everyone.
This has continued pretty regularly, with varying degrees of energy on my part. With the two dogs, however, it's impossible to push yourself in terms of stride or pacing. Often it's enough just to keep them in formation as you barrel along down the local roads. As a result, I don't pay attention to miles/times, and I'm content to do about an hour when we go out.
So it was quite a surprise yesterday when I took out the older dog (the younger two were in daycare) for a solo spin on the shortest day of the year, and from the start just felt infused with a great deal of energy that didn't seem to want to break or let up. She's older, but still very active, so off we went, on a long run that wound up being about 5 miles in the incredible time of 45 minutes!
I don't know if it was the temperature (cool but not cold), the two cups of coffee I had earlier in the afternoon, the different dog situation, the adrenaline of holiday preparations, the 10 hours of sleep I got two nights ago (a rarity for me) or the fact that I had an entire pint of black raspberry frozen yogurt the night before, but I haven't felt that strong running in a long time.
Or maybe, just maybe, it was the accumulated efficiency of regular running lo these many weeks, all through November and December, that finally paid off. Whatever it was, it was simply thrilling to run like that within weeks of my 48th birthday. So I don't care what happens at Christmas: I've already had the gift of a good run!
Looking ahead to 2012, right now races are scheduled in only a handful of New Hampshire places where I haven't run before. Things will fill in more as we get closer to spring, but even so it's getting to be about time when I have to start planning my own 5K runs in communities that aren't likely to hold a race anytime soon—for example, the north country town of Odell, population 0. Otherwise, I'll never finish this crazy quest.
In the meantime, I hope to keep running outside as long as the weather holds. If this keeps up into January, I might be heading into 2012 in the best running shape in years! On the other hand, I might sprain my ankle tomorrow, or fall into the brook with the dogs. Either way, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!