Cleveland in January 2012 is a runner’s paradise. I had been beginning to question my sanity at settling on the late May Cleveland Marathon (although my original thought process was that in the summer I could then TOTALLY relax after teaching and training for 26.2 for months. Oh, and train for a triathlon. But that's a story for a different day.) I was starting to picture miles and miles on the treadmill with nothing to entertain me except the YMCA television set to the weather channel. Really, how much of the same revolving radar can one girl stand? But THIS kind of January is perfect for me.
Running outside is my thing. I am a nature girl to start with, having been the one to cut the grass and plant the gardens from a very tender age. I just love the fresh air and sunshine and even the bleak foreboding skies that signal storms. My very first run was on a dark and stormy night, in fact. I just always seem to hit my groove faster in the great outdoors.
No matter what time of year, though, it is not easy for me to train. As a teacher and mother I have offered up the time after school to the grading gods and since the fairies have yet to make it to my house, I am also in charge of dinner and homework and general mayhem control at home after school. Therefore, I covet the morning for training time.
I have a love/hate relationship with an alarm that rings at 4:30 in the morning. I can’t stand getting out of the warm cocoon but I am amazed by the power a quick morning run gives me. It sometimes ends up being the only thing I accomplish in a day, but it is a biggie.
And to run the last few early mornings outside is a rare January treat. I am saving the big guns for the Hal Higdon “18 Weeks to Glory” program I will begin next week. (Oh boy, I hope I counted right.) But there is something truly magical about running in the moonlit darkness, dodging the leaping deer and scuttling ground hogs and slow-moving paper man that I inevitably find in my morning run.
I am an optimist and thinking hard about how long I can milk this good weather. On a sunny day with temperatures almost near 50, even the 5 a.m. run feels pretty good. I could use a whole winter of this. Because when my days start off with some purposeful exercise, I have enough energy to grab my running shoes AFTER work too and race my sons around the cul-de-sac. The seven year old skunked me in the race, but the golden orange sky of the setting sun was an amazing prize.