Tuesday, December 14, 2010


There are favourite runs you look back on years later, and in a way they define you as a runner.

Tonight didn't quite rank up there, but in mid-stride in my winter's first snowy jaunt, it made me remember why I run.

Years ago, before they started clearing the waterfront trails of snow, my winter runs were always a little adventurous. One running memory I conjured tonight -- while the snow lit the foreground while after-work commuting cars brightened my periphery -- took me back to a midafternoon about four years ago.

Back then, with no snowploughs to clear the running and biking trails, a six or 10 mile run on the waterfront on a snowy day meant you might as well put on some snowshoes.

While it made running hard with the lack of traction, I always imagined myself as a little pioneer, making tracks that I would use on the way back, footsteps that blowing snow would hide, but for an hour or so, it made the next runner's adventure a little easier. It was even more fun when I was forced to run with Yak-Trax, those clip-on cleats. It made running more like playing, and who would argue with that?

Tonight, I passed the snowplough that was to clear the way for the snow-covered trail ahead. It was stalled, loading up on salt. I silently cursed it but minutes later, I was loving making my own tracks. I soon followed the footsteps of another runner. Those footfalls were far apart, suggesting the stride of a taller runner. A few miles melted away while I looked down and played in the snow.

On my way back, the snowplough caught up to me, and I waved to the driver, getting back on the trail he just paved. I raced up the hill, beating the cars slowly inching their way toward downtown. A cyclist approached, avoiding the paved road, opting for snow. He was playing too.

I finished the run faster than I started it, my balance barely there, every step a challenge, on the verge of falling. Those tracks showing a runner at play are probably covered up by now, a route that no GPS entry can do justice.

Oh, and did I mention? Marathon training. It is on.


EndorphinBuzz said...

I've had two of these really inspiring run over the last 3 weeks. One of them I was running loops and seeing my tracks (and only my tracks) gave me a bit of a boost.

What's the next marathon for you?

Marlene said...

Yeah! Welcome back!

There's something so rewarding about leaving the first prints in freshly fallen snow.

I could do without the cold and wind, though. ;)

Anonymous said...

Do they turn on the lights on that Trail so you can see?

yumke said...

Hey, next marathon is Boston. Should be fun.

Anonymous, only parts of the path are lit. I use a headlight when there is no snow on the ground...