Just Enough Time To Enjoy It - 03.01.99

During the beginning of this week, we had a huge snowstorm. Over the course of 12 hours, it snowed about 8 inches and with added wind, it helped pile things even higher than normal. Even though 4 days later it has all miraculously melted, the story that I'm going to tell took place during the last half of the aformentioned maelstrom.

When I went into work in the morning, it was on the border of being freezing, and other than being a little more cloudy than normal, I didn't really notice anything strange about it. About 3 hours after I had been there, I heard some background conversation going on about the weather and got up out of my office to see what the commotion was about.

Looking out the window, it was easy to see. Snow was flying almost parallel to the ground from the north and the flakes were the huge kind that clump to one another on their way to the earth. Our questions of whether the streets were becoming slick were confirmed when a truck with a snow plow on the front of it lost control and slammed into a car in front of it on the street in front of our building.

Instead of getting worried about the drive home later that day, I started feeling giddy like I did when I was a kid and it would snow. My car made it around just fine in the snow and although I wasn't looking forward to driving, I wasn't exactly dreading it like most. The thing that made me most interested in it, though, was the fact that it would probably be the last significant snowfall of the year. While we might be surprised in late March like we were last year, most likely things were going to taper off until the green grass started sprouting and leaves started to unfurl on the trees.

I sat at my computer for 6 more hours and decided that I had waited long enough after when I usually left for a portion of the traffic to have cleared off the streets. While driving home, I spun my tires a few times, but really didn't run into any problems other than getting snow in my socks when I stepped out of my car after arriving home. Nobody likes wet socks.

Seeing that there weren't very many people on the roads, I figured that it would be no problem for me to drive down to the Rec center and get a little physical activity in. I even figured that the place would be less crowded than usual given the blanketing snowfall and looked forward to the chance to exercise in peace.

After I had changed into some suitable clothes and gone outside, though, I had a change of heart. Here was probably the last snowfall of the year, and I was going to drive several miles to go to a place where I could workout inside away from it. I knew that it was going to warm up later in the week, and so I decided that I needed to enjoy it.

I went back inside and put on one more layer of clothes, then did a few stretches and was off. I jogged down the sidewalk of my block to a sidestreet and felt the cold air go into my lungs. The snow was still coming down at a heavy pace and when I turned the corner into the wind, I had to squint my eyes to shield them from the abundance of flakes.

After 3 blocks, I realized that there weren't even any cars on the streets, so I decided it would be smoothing running there. On a couple of the streets, I was the first pair of tracks in what must have been several hours, and the snow in most places was 6 inches deep or so. The plows and sand trucks were certainly more concerned with the main thoroughfares.

Even though I gave up jogging several summers back (because it was hard on my knees), I was once again having fun. The snow actually worked as sort of a padding and because I was losing a little with each step due to the slickness and wearing so many layers of clothes, I was actually getting quite a workout in only a short distance.

On one block I passed a couple kids out in front of their house building a ramp out of snow for their bikes. I remembered doing the same thing when I was small (even though it doesn't work very well) and watched them as I went by. They said "hello" to me and then sarcastically asked me if it was good weather for jogging. Showing unusual wit, I answered them quickly and said that it was about as good for jogging as it was for ramping bikes. They laughed a bit and kept packing snow as I turned the corner to the next block.

It was about then that I hit that "runner's high" that is spoken about when talking about exercise and I sort of spaced out. I could hear my heart beating loudly and the crunch of my shoes and they submersed in the snow. I could feel the large flakes still hitting my face and eyelashes and watched my breath billow out when I exhaled.

It's kind of hard to explain the feeling to someone who's never done it before, but I was really glad that I hadn't gone inside to the Rec center that night. I was a bit cold, but in a strange way, I felt like I was both cooperating with and fighting against nature to get my exercise. Although it was a horrific movie, I remembered the part in Rocky 4 where he's running through the snow and chopping wood to prepare for the fight while the other guy is using all the latest electronic equipment. It felt kind of primal and reminded me that I could have fun exercising with nothing more than a pair of shoes and some clothes (and a stocking cap and gloves in this case).

When I got home, there was a chunk of ice on my ski mask where I had been breathing through it and I had small icicles on each of my eyelashes. My undershirt was damp with sweat and my outer layer had a fine layer of wetness from the coating of snow that had been on it. Only the middle layer had stayed somewhat dry through it all.

As the temperature raised quickly during the week and the snow melted, the runoff caused a ton of messes. My car got coated with sand and dirt from driving it and the ground turned instantly soft and muddy where the snow had been only days earlier. It was upsetting and almost impossible not to track a mess wherever I walked.

By today, though, things were almost already back to normal, and a few puddles and some mud were all that remained. On my way into work, though, I spotted one final, lowly dirt-covered snowpile in the corner of our parking lot with a trail of water leaking out from it like lifeblood. I thought back to how I had ran through the snow only a few nights earlier and was glad.