Winter Reprise Surprise Run

Sunday Runday, and yesterday morning I did some work in the yard, took the dog for a lovely spring walk, sat in the grass, cleaned up some flower beds, and generally enjoyed the spring.

This morning we met for a run on icy sidewalks and through ankle-deep snow.

These woodpecker winter days are nothing too surprising for anyone who has lived here very long. The gentle-jabbing joke that quickly circulates on text threads between local friends is “ok, who put their snow shovels away for the winter! It must be your fault!”

So, surprise… no.

But it is still very much a shock to the system when one is expecting something slightly warmer when planning a spring run.

I’d already cleaned up and packed away all my winter running gear. The mitts, hats, heavy jackets all tucked into the closets once again. The shoe spikes hidden away for next winter.

Maybe it was my fault the snow came back for a reprise.

We immediately made for the trees and escaped the icy city streets dropping into the river valley trails. The snow was deeper there but the ice was far less dangerous.

The snow storm had blown in quickly and aggressively, dropping a near-horizontal storm on the whole region. Somewhere between five and ten centimeters of fresh white powder covered the ground and then also the west side of everything. Wind. Horizontal snow. It sticks in unexpected places. The fluffy white kiss of winter’s last gasp clung to the trunks of trees and every branch of every tree creating a magical scene along the trails.

I spent almost as much time snapping photos as I did running.

As much as we’re used to a fresh snowfall here, it never ceases to be a breathtakingly beautiful opportunity to inhabit these familiar spaces as they are temporarily dressed in an all-encompassing snowy veil.

And temporary is the key word.

Even on the loop back I could see the melt begin.

Have you ever felt that sensation of momentary awe when you witness some bit of slow-motion nature happen in real time. Like, when you walk through the woods and a branch tumbles to the ground from high up in a tree. It has been growing there for years attached to the trunk of an even older tree, and then in that one moment as you pass by it happens to reach a critical tipping point between gravity and connection, and it falls down to the ground.

This morning was like that, except in high speed clumps of snow were loosing from their grip on the woods, tumbling through the lower branches and releasing a puff of snow as they crashed to the ground, here, there, here, over there, and there too.

Even the slippery city walks had mostly thawed as we returned to our vehicles and stopped our GPS watches for another successful Sunday run.

And by next Sunday, likely as not we will be back to treading through familiar spring trails and snowy paths will be just another week gone by.

Urban Creek Run Club

Sunday Runday, and the weather improved by about thirty degrees Celsius over last weekend. I’m not afraid of the cold, but since I couldn’t run with friends I’m not running alone in brutally freezing temps.

This weekend we resumed our small band of cohort runners for the second real run club of the year, and located some urban trails closer to the downtown of the city where we could enjoy the zero degree weather.

The run included some scenic views of the downtown. (I used to work in one of those buildings! I guess I still do, I just haven’t been there in almost a year.)

We navigated our way through some of the asphalt paths, still crunchy with a layer of dirty snow, up and into one of the neighbourhoods, and then back into the creek valley via a staircase. My calves were not impressed. I guess I should go up and down my stairs at home a little more frequently than to just refill my coffee.

During the fall this is a lovely canopy of colours rich with that scent of gently decaying foliage. Today it was a well-trod winter path, wide enough to socially distance.

None of us were feeling particularly fast, but it’s been a long, cold off-season. Most of these folks should have been running marathons this year, but thanks to the pandemic it’s more likely to be virtual 10k races.

And yes, those are shorts… anything warmer than zero is shorts-weather around here.

And the creek, still frozen, beckoned us for a short stretch of our total distance. The water underfoot is frozen for about thirty or forty centimeters of ice thickness. If it happened to crack though, no worries: the creek itself is only about a meter deep.

Cold yes, but not too deep.

We concluded with some lawnchairs in the parking lot, drinking some coffees from a nearby local and independent cafe, bundled up in our blankets and trying to keep at least six feet apart while we recovered.

Hopefully the running season keeps at this pace, even though my personal pace could use a lot of improvement.