Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to express my adoration for Winter. In all honesty, it’s a love I never imagined experiencing. Winter was always the cruelest of seasons, I thought. Endlessly long, yet filled with days which offered mere hours of daylight. Cold in a way that kept one indoors, in isolation. Yuck.
Our relationship was purely platonic at the start. It was a casual thing for many years, sort of a “friends with benefits situation.” If I had a little extra time, I could maybe work in an hour outdoors on my cross-country skis. Many people have a summer romance, but we had a winter fling. Winter certainly wasn’t something I was willing to build a life around. It was more a matter of convenience, a circumstance I’d be remiss to replicate in my romantic life, yet acceptable for a relationship physical in nature.
During the snowy years, we got a little more serious with each other and I found myself keeping my skis in my car “just in case.” I explored Capital Hills, familiarizing myself with the various trails, learning which spots tended to get icy and which direction to ski to witness the often stellar winter sunsets. I bought better cold weather gear and, repulsed by the false consistency of the treadmill, committed to running outdoors year round.
Winter challenged me and I responded with enthusiasm and devotion. Downhill skiing beckoned and I fell even deeper in love. The combination of adrenaline, fresh air and sunshine was intoxicating. Winter was no longer something to be survived, it became a season to savor. I realized recently that Winter has become my favorite season and I no longer wish it away as I may have in the past.
Sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places. Recognizing it, and embracing it with grace, makes our time here, and our hearts, feel remarkably full. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for those of us who like to exercise outdoors. I mean, 5 degrees on the plus side just doesn’t beckon to me, especially when the skies are grey and the wind is kicking up. After nearly a week without a run, I finally got out last Saturday during a break in the deep freeze. Of course, it was kind of snowing and rather messy, but damn it the thermometer was finally in the double digits and I needed to run.
Yaktrax in the snow
I’ve enjoyed winter runs and consider a layer of ice on the sidewalk to be an added challenge, along with a bit of a core workout. I like it. Layering up may be time consuming, but I have the right clothes and I love the time outdoors, traveling at my own pace. Saturday’s run required 4 layers and the addition of a new foul weather friend – Yaktrax.
I originally bought these “slip-on” grip enhancers last winter, but they languished in my running drawer until the other day. My hesitation to use them was based on fear – I was afraid that my feet would hurt or that I would feel awkward running on these springy-things. Fortunately, I was wrong. Once I figured out how to put them on they felt pretty light and were actually fairly unobtrusive for the first 3-4 miles. I had a great deal of traction and didn’t slip or slide at all while wearing them. I began to become more aware of them during mile five, feeling some new sensations in my lower legs, which may or may not have been from the Yaktrax. Either way, I’ll use them again and try to remember to pair them with an outer layer with pockets leaving myself the option of taking them off, if necessary.
Sunday morning, I got an email from Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, an awesome old school ski area on the other side of the Hudson. This place has some of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever skied on and I was thrilled to receive notice that they had 25 km of trail open. After consulting with my runner girls, we made a plan to get ourselves to Poestenkill for a couple of hours of outdoor fun.
Neither Karen or Chrissy had ever skied here before and I was so happy to share this beautiful place with them. Chrissy offered me the job of “Life Tour Guide,” a career I think I could really get down with if only it was a real option. Although it was only about 13 degrees, there wasn’t any wind and the sun was reasonably bright. There may have also been a sip or two of homemade limoncello that provided a nice warm glow to our afternoon. We had a fantastic time and I hope to get out there again next weekend. At less than $20 for a trail pass and only a slightly more than 30 minute drive from the DelSo, it’s a bargain indulgence. Get there!
This past weekend may have been close to perfect. One of my favorite girls arrived prior to the snow and we settled in to an afternoon of satisfying household tasks. There was cooking, roasting and baking. A tree was agreed upon and chopped down, by me. Later, it was beautifully decorated, not by me. I call that a win-win situation.
With our bellies full of delicious chili and layers of spandex and Lycra firmly in place, we ventured downtown to the starting line for Albany’s 2013 Last Run. Being smart and all, we stashed some clothes at the Wine Bar for a post-race nosh. We are not amateurs, my friend.
I’ve done this race three years in a row and I have to tell you – it is the most fun race I do each year. The fireworks, the costumes, the crowd, the lights – it is consistently a blast. This year, despite the weather conditions (pretty damn cold with face freezing precipitation) I had the most fun ever, probably a combination of the perfect running friends and an entire day devoted to holiday tasks and festivities. Joy to the world, for sure!
We followed our exertions with a fantastic dinner at the Wine Bar. You might think that I praise the food at the Wine Bar with such frequency because I work there, but you’d be wrong. The reality, though, is I work there because the food is so damn good. Truth. My meal, from the grilled Caesar salad to the phenomenal pork shoulder to the epic wedge of cheesecake from Cheesecake Machismo was flawless. Perfect.
There was another Lilly enjoying her weekend’s activities and menu, Cassidy Bono. She feasted on sirloin steak, ground beef, sardines and chicken breast, punctuated with plenty of biscuits. There were lots of cuddles, along with belly rubs, and what turned out to be our last weekend together will always be a time which I will treasure.
We both had a good run.
Filed under aging, Albany, Christmas, Cooking, Dinner, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Lark Street, Local, running, snow, winter
aka – thoughts from a run
- The sidewalks were slick tonight with ice and nuisance snow. Not quite enough to shovel, but too much to ignore.
- Life can be a slippery path at times, but like the ice, it was just a caution – not a discouragement. Forge ahead. It’s the right direction.
- I love my body! It is fit and strong and healthy. It indulges me when I sandwich a 60 minute hot barre yoga class between two days and a combined 11+ miles of running.
- I don’t always want to run, but I am always glad that I did.
- I can’t be the only one who pushes those I love away at times, right? I think it’s only to feel the sensation of having them reach for you again.
- You love who you love.
- If I didn’t run, I would never have time to think.
Filed under Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, love, musings, Observations, Random, running, snow, winter
There’s something about a hot shower after a run on a fall night…Stripping off the layers of second skin UnderArmour and stepping into a steamy shower is one of my favorite parts of an evening run. There is really only one thing that beats it, though, a hot bath!
Seriously, nothing compels me to get out the Ajax and scrub the tub more than my desire for a good soak. As I prep the bathtub, my anticipation for 20 minutes of pure relaxation is almost as tangible as the ring around the tub from my last bath. A few minutes of cleaning and the way is paved for me to immerse myself up to my chin in bubbles – bliss.
Speaking of bubbles – do you have a favorite bath salt or brand of bubbles you like to use? I haven’t really found one to settle on and instead tend to try new ones all the time. My most recent purchase, Kneipp’s eucalyptus herbal bath, has proven to be a worthy contender for best smelling bubbles ever. It only takes the smallest of capfuls (which is good because this stuff isn’t cheap) and the bathroom fills with a scent guaranteed to alleviate any sniffles or tightness in your chest. Amazing!
I’m in the market for an equally satisfying body scrub. Any recommendations to share? I’d even be open to making my own if someone could point me in the direction of a “recipe” that isn’t overly complicated. I love fragrances like eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender, if that helps. Thanks!
After my previous post, in which I confessed to holding a grudge against some squirrels, you might be surprised to learn that I spent some time last weekend running a trail race called the Squirrelly Six. All I can say is this: I mentally made it a grey squirrel rather than the despised red squirrel which caused poor Miss Suzy so much anguish. Enough about my childhood issues – let me tell you about a great race!
The Squirrelly Six is one of two races run concurrently each fall up at Thacher Park. The race I ran, as you might guess, is 6 miles of beautiful, challenging trail running. The other race, perhaps one day in my future, is a ½ marathon known as the Hairy Gorilla. The races begin together and then split near the finish for the S6 and I hear that the hardest part of the race comes in the first half. Since I didn’t run the entire course I can’t confirm that, but I can say that there were a couple of intense hills that were kind of ass-kicking. Or, on a more positive note, ass-firming.
Before and after the race, I shot photos for the TU and it was one of the easiest gigs ever. The morning began sunny and the crowd was spirited and fun. The race is extremely well organized and there was a pervasive mood of fun and humor. It seemed to me that this particular group of runners truly knows how to have a good time and I didn’t feel the intense competition that I sometimes find intimidating.
Since my very first time running trails, I have been smitten with the experience. The soft earth underfoot, the smells of leaves and dirt, the lighting…it is very much an activity which captures almost all the senses. Speaking of senses, the aromas from the spread of food in the nearby pavilion were tantalizing! Next year, I think I’ll attempt the Gorilla and reward my efforts with something from the plentiful buffet.
See you again in 2014, S6/HG!
Full Hunter’s Moon by Raven Wu
October’s Hunter’s Full Moon run with the Lunar Bitches had a lot going on. It had been an entire month since we had all been together and life moves fast. We all have children and full time jobs (+) and relationships to maintain and we are definitely busy.
Our runs are generally an easy combination of conversation and silence, along with a few “watch outs” thrown in as we tread through less than clear paths. Kind of like life, it seems.
I realized on Sunday night that we have some strong common threads, in addition to the running, which serve to connect us. We each have children who have challenges with which they struggle. Our struggle as moms often is to find the “right” balance between helping our kids by helping them and helping them by not helping them. There isn’t a cool app we can use to measure our success as we do our runs. It isn’t easy, but we’re trying to teach our children independence and personal responsibility.
All three of have in the last year or so have had a change in our careers, be it be in our hours, employers or the populations with which we work. There was a limited amount of complaining by each of us when the new positions were initially meted out by the universe, but it seems now that we have unanimously been able to transition to a positive place professionally. We’ve landed on our feet.
During our runs, through fields and on rock strewn dirt roads, there’s always some stumbling. We’ve come to learn and, more importantly, appreciate the obstacles which threaten to trip us up occasionally. How we recover from that which threatens our balance has become an opportunity to exercise our strength.
I’m already looking forward to November’s Frost Moon and run.