A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
Even though the days are getting longer, I am still doing quite a lot of my running in the dark. I head out either at 5 AM or at 6 PM and I run in the dark and the quiet. My reflective vest and blinking lights and headlamp help to make sure that I am a visible target for cars to avoid and help to minimally illuminate my way. With my most common mileage being in the 5 mile range, I have quite a bit of time to look around my sleepy town. I know which houses wake up early to let out their dogs and I know who shovels their sidewalk in the evening and who does it in the morning. I’m beginning to recognize the comings and goings of vehicles, though I have no idea where they are coming and going from. There is something wonderfully eerie about being the only one out.
Oftentimes on the tail ends of my runs, I catch myself looking up. The full moon isn’t until much later this month, so I have a full sky to see. It’s in those moments that I’m happy I live in a small town in a huge state with a small population. Our skies are dark and I can pick out the Milky Way as I run. I like to try and find different constellations or I just let the silence of the early morning or the dark evening find that peacefulness within me as I look up and just enjoy the splendor of a brilliantly jeweled night sky. It’s marvelous and, while I’m looking forward to running in the light of day, I am enjoying the brilliance of the winter night sky and I will miss it as the days slip away to sunshine.
The night sky is one of the gifts my pursuit of 1000 miles by December 31st has given me, but so is the snowy run. Recently we had a lovely little snow storm settle down over us and give us maybe a foot or so of snow. When I went out to run my six miles after school, I was more than happy that we didn’t have after school activities and that I would be able to run it in the daylight. Snow and ice are hard enough by themselves, I didn’t want to risk life and limb in the dark. One of my favorite things about running in bad weather is the strange looks you accumulate. One of my students drove by and he seemed shocked to see me actually out and running. I raced a 4-wheeler that was plowing sidewalks. I even tried to take a mid-snowy run selfie which almost failed horribly when I slipped. Stationary selfies work best it seems. The snowy run on Monday was tremendous fun.
The snowy run on Tuesday was not. My mileage decreased from 6 to 3 and every step was hard. I was taking advantage of the snow day and running during the day, but sunlight does very little to help with snow blindness. I couldn’t see if I was properly running in the car tracks or not, since our side roads do not get plowed. I couldn’t see because snow was blowing in my face and my glasses were fogging up. I slipped and tripped and struggled through the snow every inch of the 3 miles. I may have even cursed in frustration. The only thing that made that run bearable was seeing all of the little kids out playing in the snow. I saw them building snow ramps and dragging each other around through their yards on their sleds. I saw snowball fights and snowmen. They were all having a wonderful time and all of them waved at me or said hello. They were my constant reminder to take joy in the snow.
While I reached my 100 miles for the month of January, I still have another 900 to go, but I’m excited for all the running adventures I have yet to experience and for discovering the little things that make each run worth getting out the door.
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Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
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New York City based photographer STEFAN FALKE visits artists who live and work on both sides of the 2000 miles long U.S.- Mexico border to document the vibrant culture of the region for his ongoing project. All photos and texts © Stefan Falke (No use without written permission by the author)