Sunday, December 6, 2009

Running on Frozen Blog

"Taking back the golf course," my wife called it.  When the alarm went off this morning (a brutal way to begin a weekend), I braced myself for the D.C. letdown, i.e. the prediction of snow one night, and the reality of rain or cloudy skies the next morning.  Accumulation: 0 inches.  Today was not one of those days. 

The rain woke me up around 4:30 a.m. but the flurries began around 9:00.  With a writers group meeting scheduled for 9:30, I harbored hopes for the sky to open, and the snow to come down in earnest while we met, paving the way for my much desired golfcourse run.  By 9:30, I had to hope no more.  The four inches predicted turned into six or seven.  And what's more, it snowed all day long.

So, when I returned to the house at 12:30, I bundled up, added an extra layer of socks,broke out the fleece lined tights, and stomped through the couple inches that had already settled on the golf course behind our house and set out for a 10-15 miler. 

I decided on my drive back home, slipping and sliding over the accumulating slush on the road, that today's run wasn't going to be about times or paces, it was just about enjoying the scenery.  In essences, I just wanted to get out and run for the sake of running. It was more liberating than I anticipated it being.  The golfcourse is a 5-mile loop if you follow the golf cart path (when you can see it), so I thought two loops for sure and a third if I felt up to it.

On the first go round, Mattie came with me, taking off in a bolt of white fur across the plain of snow.  She was only distinguishable by her one big black spot.  And I couldn't help but smile as she tore across the fairway, legs splaying behind her like they couldn't turn over fast enough to catch up to all of her excitement.  She gleefully face-planted a few times and others merely stopped to lay down, bury her nose in the snow and fling it up on top of her with her snout.  If my dog could be in ecstasy, today was it.

Without having to worry about pace and elapsed time, we simply took moments to stand around and watch the snow fall.  We slipped and slided.  And on the particularly steep hills, I tip-toed up and down, and eventually gave way to a full slide down the slopes.  I had officially become the childhood version of myself on a snow day.

At points, it was as if Mattie and I were running across a snow globe someone had just picked up and given a good shake.  In others, we communed with the wildlife.  First she chased the geese back into the water hazards.  Then, around mile 1.5, I had begun a rapid ascent and watched her disappear over the other side of the hill.  I, however, was the first to spot the deer appearing at the back of the hole on edge of the woods.  Any attempt to reign her in proved futile.  Mattie found the other 19 lurking behind this one and took off into the woods after them. 

I called her name, annoyed at first, then with more urgency as I watched her disappear after the deer through the woods.  I followed after her, waiting for her to get outrun and then looking to come back to me.  Well, I'm glad I went in because she ran right past me and didn't notice until I called to her.  And so she returned, tongue hanging out the side of her mouth, head between her shoulders, not because she was ashamed she ran away, but sorry she didn't return with a deer.  Ah, noble creature.

I returned Mattie to the house after my first loop and caught up with my wife in the kitchen.  She toiled away, locked in our office all day, writing a grad school paper.  I was able to coax her out for my third loop, which we tackled together.  It was a blessing to have her with me.  Despite the veritable Winter Wonderland, I still had covered 10-miles to that point, in the snow, on a rolling golf course, and had begun to feel it in my calves and quads.  But, we chatted the entire way, and it was her first trip both running the golf course and in the snow.

"Taking back the golf course" is what she called it.  "Put that in your blog," she said. 
"How are we taking back the golf course?" I asked.
"You need to write that the runners and children frolicking in the snow on this perfect Saturday took back the golf course with their sledding, and running, and snowball fights from the overweight, beer swilling golfers who have to use carts on this path."

We plunged through the snow, hand-in-hand to the back deck and pulled open the sliding glass door, red-faced, and soggy-shoed.  The golf course had become ours.  It was the perfect end to a beautiful run.

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