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(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

What a treat today has been—nothing like enjoying 71 degrees at the end of January, especially, if like me, you get to get outside and go to the beloved spot that is Washington Park. We had similar weather yesterday so I knew to bring warm weather clothes for my post-errand run. I also knew to expect pretty much everyone and his/her dog to come play in the park—which they did. My poor dogs, home jumping around in our snow-melt mud puddles, have no idea what else they missed. For one thing, they missed seeing a Bald Eagle sitting majestically at the top of a tree, located just perfectly in front of a view of snow-covered mountaintops.

That’s the beauty of going the pace I go these days—I have a chance to smell the roses or—in today’s case—to look up and see the eagle. Didn’t take me too long to see the people craning their heads toward a tree while holding out their cell phones. I debated stopping, but decided just experiencing my glimpse of the eagle was enough. Of course, that didn’t stop me from ending my run over by that tree and trying for another look. No such luck, but once was enough.

My husband Sherman and I have spent the last few Thursday evenings running in the same location since it’s one place with good lighting and surfaces where most of the snow and ice melt quickly. Those recent nighttime experiences could not be more different from running out there today with all of Denver. Instead, the park is really quiet. The more adventurous souls are running on the dirt path (or more often, it’s a path hard packed in snow) using their headlamps—or nothing—to spot out the more treacherous surfaces. Our ability to run at all—slow as it is—is too hard-fought for us to take further risks with our bodies—which is why we stay on the better lighted roads that wind around the park.

We also do bring our dogs when we run together. For them, it’s no different if the thermometer reads 70 degrees or 10, or if the ground’s icy, dry, muddy, or all of the above—as long as they get to go.

Just looking around the dogs at the park—either ours in the quiet evenings or the ones I see out and about in the daytime—reminds me that it’s really about the “get to” not the “got to”—and, more than that, it’s about being in the moment. Dogs aren’t at the park thinking about taking a nap or hanging out on the couch nor are they worrying about when dinner will be—or even if they’re going to pay for going a little too far. They’re just running or walking. For some it’s all about the “go” and for others there’s the go and the geese and the people and the other dogs and the smells—oh my.

Oh my indeed. Love it in the cold and dark, but there’s no treat like getting out in the warmth and sunshine right smack dab in the middle of the winter. Whenever my steps feel hard-earned, may I remember that if I get to go, I’m doing OK. Just ask any dog—it really is all about the go.

How future trails traveled might look--and that's OK.

How future trails traveled might look–and that’s OK.

Still waiting for the thermometer to climb above zero, although the sun has been up for almost four hours by now. With these seventy degree drops in temperatures (from Sunday), most of us around here are a bit grumbly, despite having received great enjoyment from our previous exceptional fall weather. And yet, we’re not unused to cold weather—just not so soon after such unusual warmth.

My husband Sherman was home yesterday which meant we had plans to get out into the great outdoors—plans that we definitely adjusted in order to move in the warmest way possible. No casual hiking or walking—only running would do. Even if our running looks more like hiking or walking these days, what we call running does warm us up more than anything where one foot at a time stays on the ground.

Keep in mind that yesterday we were only dealing with a sixty degree temperature swing—almost balmy compared to today, right? So out we went in the middle of the day—with all our extra layers—to a quiet dirt path where our footing would remain sure, even with the light dusting of snow covering that path.

Well, at first I wasn’t certain my hands could survive—thanks to having two doggy-related potty stops right at the beginning where I had to remove gloves—but as is usually the case, the more we moved, the more our bodies and my hands begin to warm up. Pretty soon I was so glad we had not stayed in. There is something so peaceful about running in conditions that cause others to stay away. Just us and one other woman running (her=fast and us=slow) and another man and his Husky walking and nothing else moving except for hundreds of geese disturbed from their rest on a nearby lake.

I don’t understand it, but my body’s asthma is happier on a frigid day than on a hot one. On a cold day I feel younger and more able to move. The heat is less of a friend than the deep freeze we are experiencing. Now, keep in mind, I know better than to push myself—circulation and breathing as well as sore muscles, tendons, and ligaments—on such a day. Yet, I also don’t feel as if I am pushing myself in any other way than trying to get my hands warmed up enough to stay outside.

No, the biggest battle about going out for a run on a cold day—especially a surprisingly suddenly cold day—is getting out there. Well, that and getting yourself back inside before you start to sweat once you finish.

I have to say I almost loved it as much as I loved that day last week when I got to run at my sweet-spot temperature of fifty-degrees. In many ways yesterday was better because I got to do the run with my husband and dogs—and then after we finished, we got to go back inside to a warm space, so much the more appreciated for our having gone out into a cold that hadn’t been nearly as bad as we had thought.

Season’s plummet—the re-run—turned out pretty well after all.

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