The mist hung thickly in the air as the bright sunlight struggled to break through the clouds. My morning drowsiness hung about me much the same as I struggled with thoughts of snuggling back into bed.
“Get up and run,” a voice whispered in my ear.
Buzz off, I thought.
“Jill, that is the second snooze,” Dave said, in a voice just above a whisper, this time.
Groaning, I reached out to pull the covers in closer, just as they were gently yanked out from under my hands; Dave had just thrown his side of the covers back in order to get up and flick on the overhead light. The sudden gust of chilled air accompanied by the bright flash of light pulled me fully from my semi-sleep state.
One more deep sigh and I, too, threw back the covers and firmly set my feet on the floor, ready to face the day.
A quick kitty-hug-huddle, packing my lunch, and brush-my-teeth later, and we were heading out the door towards the commute to base. Recently the autostrada has a section knocked down to a single lane, compromising the morning rush-hour traffic. If we do not stick to our morning workout routine, we face thirty to sixty minute delays of traffic.
Thus, running spirit or no, I was anxious to get out the door after I dragged myself out of bed.
Once we passed through the security check point onto base, I faced the ultimate late winter decision: brave the elements or embrace the treadmill. After months of finding the treadmill a welcome companion, I had recently been running outside more and more often.
Weather conditions are always relative. Two weeks ago I would have called 41 degrees Fahrenheit a heat wave at 6:30am, yet yesterday I was wracking my brain to recall the winter running gear I had packed in my gym bag.
Fuzzy headband? Check! Stretchy gloves? Nope…but I have a sweatshirt long enough to tuck around my fists as I get going. Running tights? Nope, but after the first few minutes, I should warm up. Thermal shirt? Nope, but I have three layers; tank top, t-shirt, sweatshirt. Oh goodness, I guess I’ll run outside.
I’m not going to lie, the first half-mile, I was pretty frigid. However, this is the secret magic of the change-of-season run; your body works hard enough to warm you from the inside out.
As my blood started flowing, my heart and soul warmed and I settled into the rhythm of my feet springing up from the pavement. Bounce, bounce, breath, in, bounce, bounce, breath, out, bounce, bounce, big, lungs, bounce, bounce, push-it, out…
The crisp air whizzed in through my nose and slightly burned my throat as it warmed on its path to my lungs. Ahhh. Something special happens as my body responds to the work I am putting it through. Skiers, snowboarders, and other winter sports enthusiasts will understand how that hot-cold mix equals pure magic on certain mornings. Heck, it is the biggest reason we head out into that cold morning time and again.
About half-way through my run I glanced down, my legs were glowing a warm pink hue, and my hands were just starting to peek through the makeshift mittens of my sweatshirt cuffs. Unlike some mornings when I pull my fuzzy headband down to my neck, that morning I adjusted the headband to more fully cover my ears. This brisk air was staying firmly in lower 40s.
Yet, the beauty of the run had already won me over. A broad grin spread across my face as I looked out on the misty fields around me. Besides my own breath and footfall, I could hardly hear the morning birds chirping. On the fuzzy horizon, I saw sailors out for a morning PT jog, and surprisingly a plane was taking off overhead.
I knew a long day of typing, analyzing, time managing, and avoiding my deepest misgivings about my reality lay ahead of me. I knew that this moment of unadulterated bliss was just a glimpse of the joy. I knew that I could taste this flavor again the next morning only if I endured the day ahead of me.
I pitter-pattered on back to the gym and resumed my regular life. I let the joy show on my face as long as it burned in my heart, and even after the flames died down, I knew they were smoldering; waiting for the moment the next morning when I would take that first chilly step of my morning run.