This morning, November 7, my Mom and I went on the coldest run I’ve ever experienced. Granted, I am from the (semi-to-some, absolute-to-others) South, hailing from central Virginia, but we still experience winter with about five average snows per year. However, I don’t normally venture outside during these cold temperatures, snow or not, and certainly not for extended, pavement-pounding periods of time. But, this morning, that’s exactly what Elizabeth-Latta (a double name, just like me!) and I did. Mom is here to visit and see me in a show, and one of the activities she was most excited about was seeing the Gap Trail, so I had had this run planned for several days. At 8 AM, we walked across the Lowry Center to the trail’s entrance, and headed…I don’t know which direction, but to the bridge. It was 27 degrees, and the air was biting. Mom, the more serious runner between the two of us, was prepared with gloves, but my fingers surely froze for the first 15 minutes, clutched around my cell phone, turning red and brittle. We clipped along at a slow pace, Mom enjoying the flatness of the trail and me enjoying her company on it. The earth was smothered in frost, but the trees were triumphant, with those still leafed gleaming against the brilliant blue of the cold sky. Things were quiet, except for my borderline-embarrassing running playlist singing into my ears. Our shadows stayed in front of us, and the cold seeped in.
Eventually, however, we thawed, to the point where I had to take my fleece off! I don’t know of a more satisfying feeling than that of your fingers coming un-numb–circulation within the body is a miracle. This was at about the 1.5-mile mark, and at this point we’d turned around, facing straight into the unrelenting, insistent morning light. While blinding, the sun was invigorating, almost as much as the old Taylor Swift I was listening to (there is no better song to run to than “Holy Ground!”). We crossed the bridge on our way back, and the bare tree branches were precisely reflected onto the still water, unmoved by my huffing and puffing. It seemed I could feel every muscle in my legs, even my pulse, as we just kept going. Like always, though, we had to stop at some point. I felt the cold (although now it felt warmer) air racking through my chest as I lifted my arms above my head in what I’ve been taught is the proper cool-down position. I walked Mom beyond the trail to the intramural fields to show her where I play frisbee, and I got both our feet wet in the process, for by now parts of the frost had melted into a very heavy dew–she has since forgiven me, thankfully. The endorphins came quickly, rushing through and providing even further energy, and we both felt altogether wonderful, especially with knowing how close we were to a Wiggins latte.
The mornings here are now cold, and the cold is uncomfortable. But the cold doesn’t last. I encourage you to enjoy these mornings outside with whatever activity you prefer, especially if that time can be shared with someone you love.