It isn’t even winter, yet.

It is COLD outside and technically, it is autumn. I realize the weather isn’t unusual for this time of year in the Midwest. I just like to complain about the weather being extreme. I’m not a fan of bitter cold, dry skin, and slippery surfaces. Of course, I’m on a holiday running streak. No, not Christmas. That is one of the holidays in there, but it actually runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, so “holiday” is the correct term. 

I missed the local Turkey Trot, so I prepped our Thanksgiving meal and went for a run once the turkey was in the oven. The nurse practitioner I’d seen on Wednesday gave me a steroid for my shoulder pain. I spent most of Thursday with my heart rate 40 beats faster than normal while donning the tank top I had on under my button down flannel because I was too hot to wear more. Fortunately, that feeling went away and I had some Friday yoga with friends. That was the extent of my leaving the house on Black Friday.

I almost gave up the streak Saturday because I didn’t want to go. I headed out with my puppy on her harness for her first run and she did well. Like, surprisingly well. She once put her brakes on for a stick in the sidewalk and she wasn’t very friendly to passersby, but she kept the leash loose and didn’t trip me. She’s only about 7 months old. The mile is her maximum distance for running now, but I’m happy to get her comfortable with being my running partner in the future. 

Sunday, I got up and met friends to run. They were going 5 miles and I turned back after 2 miles. I ran faster with each mile even after setting off on my own. Later, my joints were all screaming about it. It amazes me that I ran a half marathon a few weeks ago, but 4 miles seemed challenging. 

Me, after 4 miles

There was nothing spectacular about Monday’s run except that we’d gotten some wintry weather overnight on Sunday. I was going to go to the gym to run. Then I decided that I didn’t want to drive a mile to run a mile indoors. I set aside the gym clothes I’d put on and got out my winter running gear. Once out the door, I was about 2 houses from my own when I realized it was too slick to run without traction. I went back in and put on “Yak Trax” over my shoes and went on my run. The slick parts were no longer the problem. The precipitation had melted into slushy spots and frozen again on the sidewalk. The bumps were like running on rocks and I was slowed by my footfalls needing to be carefully chosen. My knees were wobbly after that run.

Yak Trax

Tuesday, I headed to the gym for a run. I hopped on the treadmill and squeaked out a quick mile, then calibrated my Garmin to read what the treadmill said on the display. I started a new mile and increased the speed. I kept challenging myself to just to a little further at a faster speed. By the end of my run, I was under a 9 minute mile for the final 1/4 mile. It was rewarding to challenge myself and be able to follow through. I hopped off of the treadmill and went to the indoor track for a final mile. 

The track says that 9 laps is one mile, but I ran about 9.5 before my watch said 1 mile was complete. I did a few cool down stretches and had a seat near the gym lobby listening to my music on my headphones and scrolling through my phone. A man approached me, smiling, so I removed one earbud and returned the smile. He told me, “Your running form is perfect. You should run a 5k, you would do really well.” He went on to tell me how my gait and my foot falls made it clear I was a ‘natural’ at running. He again encouraged me to run a 5k and said he believed I could. I simply thanked him and screwed my earbud back in before taking a selfie to ponder how I felt about that conversation. 

I can’t say I was stunned or that I was displaying courtesy. It didn’t occur to me that anything I said had any bearing on that interaction. Of course I wanted to track him down on my way out and say, “I ran the Chicago Marathon last year. I just finished 2 half marathons this fall that were my 6th and 7th.” Honestly, it was nice to be encouraged. I know that my efforts likely will not result in me looking the way people, including me, expect an athlete to appear. I’m just happy to be able to do the things I get to do. It was a nice reminder that I can, in fact, run. I’m actually pretty good at it.

How do you think you would react to a similar situation? Do you ever just reiterate to yourself the things you’re able to do? Are you a holiday streaker? 

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