Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Places I've Run: Vermont

I had such a beautiful winter run this morning! There was snow decorating the bare tree branches, but not too much on the sidewalks, and the sun was just peaking out above the clouds. I found myself wishing I had a camera (stowed away in my running shoes? Not likely!), but I had to settle for enjoying the beautiful early morning on my own.

This morning’s run reminded me of other (less lovely) snowy runs.

I was on the club ski team in college. Every weekend in January and February, we would load ourselves and all our gear into a couple 15-passenger vans and drive to middle-of-nowhere Vermont or New Hampshire to stay in the cheapest and most awful of sketchy motels. We got up at the absolute crack of dawn, to ski raced Saturday and Sunday, then drive back to Boston.

Good times were had by all.

The only glitch is that I am a skier and a runner. So after a long cold day on the hill, we schlepped ourselves back to the motel where everyone would roll into bed for a nap. Except for me (and sometimes one brave friend). The secret is, you cannot lie down. No resting. If you lose your momentum, then it’s over. And if you give yourself a choice (e.g. Maybe I’ll run after skiing today…), you might as well forget it.

The minute we returned to the motel, I switched out my skiing spandex for running spandex (all the best things in life are done in spandex, no?), and literally threw myself out the door (until I crashed hard on the icy steps…then “carefully walked” was more my style!).

And off I went for a very cold run on the highways of New England.  A Northeast January late afternoon is no joke. And in Vermont in the middle of the Green Mountain National Forest, you don’t have many options. A long lonely out-and-back where you start off cold and end colder? Done it. More than once.

But it wasn’t always bad. The snowy countryside uninterrupted by much of anything makes me feel like I’m in another time. Every little one-road town I ran through reminded me of a Tasha Tudor kid’s book.

The few SUVs and pick-ups that passed me on their way to or from Killington surely thought I was beyond crazy - a runner with a death wish and a penchant for punishment.  

Which I am. And I love it.