Darkness is descending on the Chicago suburbs as I make my way home along the snow-covered streets traversing the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Through the car windshield, I view the silvery sheen of the winter moon casting an iridescent glow off of the freshly fallen snow. I hardly notice the snarled traffic as it inches along drawing me ever closer to home and nearer to my anticipated evening run. The run will be my reward at the end of a long workday.
I arrive home to find my children already preoccupied with their own activities and my wife preparing supper. I quickly change into my winter gear and venture out into the frigid temperatures of late December. Once outside, I am greeted with the ambiance of a wintry evening; the twinkling Christmas lights are broadcasting through frosted picture windows, along the eaves of my neighbor’s homes, and peeking through shrubbery half buried beneath the winter’s dusting.
I am alone except for the occasional set of headlights from a passing car. The only sounds are my breathing and the crunching of snow beneath my feet. All else is silent―muted by the blanket of snow. Truth be told, I was never a fan of winter running. The heavy layers of clothing, the constriction of movement, dangers of hidden ice ― I could do without those things.
The glow from the moon lights my path. With each running step, I grow increasingly aware and attuned to my surroundings. I am the first to pass over the virgin snow; the series of steps I’m leaving behind me serve as proof of this. The cloud left hanging in the air with each breath and the gathering frost on my eyebrows and stocking cap provide assurance that I am likely the only runner who will pass by this way tonight. This brings me a sense of satisfaction. I am a trailblazer. My thoughts wander to those runners who are tucked safely inside their homes. From experience I know that most are either taking the day off, or leisurely jogging inside tethered to the monotony of their treadmills. Of course, this assumes they have one. Another winter’s run braving the elements―another chance to work on my competitive advantage. I know that the next few months promise to provide increasing training difficulties and additional advantages should I choose to use them as opportunities. My pace quickens at the thought. I think maybe winter running isn’t so bad after all.