A little over three months ago I stepped out of my apartment in running tights. I still shudder at the thought of being seen in public wearing such tight fitting and revealing pants. There was the skin tight long sleeve shirt, the t-shirt I wore over that, and the vest over that to keep me warm. And of course there was the blinking light and reflector strips that made me feel like a Christmas tree. I tried to reassure myself that no one would make fun of me because I was being so hardcore and running in the dead of winter. In reality, I'm sure everyone thought I was crazy during those awkward elevator moments.
The thought of running after work in January filled me with dread. It was dark, slushy, icy, and damn cold! The excuse "the weather is too bad to run" became invalid because that was the case every day. Instead, "it's way too dangerous to run" was the only acceptable excuse.
There were a few minutes during each run that I actaully enjoyed being out there. The cold felt invigorating and it was always incredibly peaceful and quiet. I felt like I was saying "fuck you, Winter. I'm still having outdoor fun". The majority of the time, however, I worried about slipping on ice and getting run over by a truck.
Why such madness? To train for the Salt Lake Marathon, of course! It became less cold and less dark over time, and the weather was generally kind for my weekend long runs. Jake introduced me to the Jordan River Trail which was a HUGE improvement over my traditional running route through the train tracks and warehouses by the airport. I felt like I was out enjoying Spring long before most people. It kept me from going stir-crazy waiting for Winter to be over.
The Salt Lake Marathon was this past weekend and all the winter running paid off. I ran the 26.2 miles in just under 4 hours, at 3:57, beating my wishful time goal and knocking 25 minutes off my Marine Corps Marathon time. Jake's family cheered us along from a few spots on the course (at the times when I needed the mental boost most) and Chad was waiting for us at the finish line. I suffered through the last few miles more than I expected, but overall it was a good day.
Thank you Jake for the wonderful idea of winter running and for showing me the Jordan River Trail. And thank you running tights for keeping me warm.