Something All New England Runners Know…

… is that running the morning after a snow storm is the best.

Boston and the surrounding suburbs got several inches of the fluffy powdery stuff. It came down steadily for several hours during the day and well into the night. That, combined with the wind and cold, made straying far from the house inadvisable all of Saturday. So as much as I was itching to go for a run, I missed my window before the snow started, and as result, I was a little stir-crazy by toddler bath and bed time last night.

Attentive readers may recall that I was supposed to run a trail race in Topsfield, MA yesterday morning. I was really looking forward to it, but as last week wore on, I became less certain it was in the cards. For one thing, my back. I threw out my lower back on December 31st carrying my 2-yr-old around the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Being in good physical shape only gets this 5′ 4″ mama so far. My baby be gettin’ hefty! I think, also, I was careless about how I was taking her in and out of the car seat, which is a big lower back no-no.

The pain of these missteps hit me like a hammer on January 1. I toddled after my toddler and pre-schooler on New Year’s Day like a little old lady with one hand on my lower back. The more I moved, the better I felt, but I was far from run-ready. Returning to work on Tuesday, with all the sitting during my commute and at my desk, really compounded the strain. Just more evidence that lawyering is not good for one’s health, clearly!

The back pain made way for a little head cold on Tuesday, which decided to turn into a pretty heinous head cold by that evening. All I can say about that is “Ugh, pass the Kleenex.”

Here’s what happens when someone like me (actually me) has to unexpectedly take the week off from running, and it also happens to be the first week of the year:

  1. I worked alot at work. I discovered that I get a lot more done if I reverse engineer my to-do list. Instead of trying to check things off a static list, I only write down exactly how I spend my time, in real time, at work. After two days of this, I went over it and highlighted all of the productive tasks in one color,and the time I spent shopping on Amazon, scrolling through Facebook, or whatever, in another color. I learned that certain tasks I put off did not take me as long as I thought they would, once I forced myself to sit down and do them. I also learned that I get distracted and lose productivity after about 90 minutes, unless I am moving from task-to-task, and even then I max out at two hours. Figuring out the most efficient ways for me to take breaks throughout the day will be key. I have to get up and leave my desk. The internet, especially my blog and attendant social media platforms, is a vortex I risk never returning from during work hours. Not good.
  2. I decorated my office. One of my goals for 2017 is to create an inspiring and inviting work space for myself. I never placed any value on this, whatsoever. “Just sit down, do it, and get on with the next thing,” I thought. But that doesn’t work too well for me, to be honest with you. I would like to be that person, but it’s time to admit that “sitting down and just doing my job” is a real struggle for me. Instead of actually trying to figure out tricks and techniques to stay focused, up until now I’ve preferred to just beat myself up for a perceived inability to focus and stay on task. One of the traits of the depressive is to think in absolutes. Old me would say, “I am bored. I don’t like this work. I must hate my job. I should find a new job,” and the cycle would repeat, without it ever occurring to me that I wasn’t, for instance, bored all of the time. I didn’t considering the aspects of the work that I did like, but underappreciated; or that there may be little things I could do to change my habits and perception. Absolutes are no one’s friend.
  3. I helped out a colleague’s daughter. She’s a women’s studies major at George Washington University in DC, so I hooked her up with an old classmate of mine that is a politically active and prominent feminist. That felt good.
  4. I hired a painting contractor. He started work on Saturday painting the dining and living rooms. Never mind the fact he started the morning of our first snowstorm, and my husband was caught off guard when he rang the doorbell at 10am, while I was out selecting paint samples. I mean, he knew he was coming… we just didn’t know when. Whatever. It’s getting done. Finally!img_6585
  5. I met with Dr. Gebhardt, my orthopedic oncologist at BIDMC, about the cyst/fibrous dysplasia in my femur. We came up with a game plan that involves PT and consultation with another surgeon in his practice group, the one who puts in the nuts and bolts. So that’s happening.
  6. I  dropped off several boxes of clothing to my friend, a mother of 5. The last thing she has time for is shopping!
  7. I cooked up a storm, during the storm. I made big batches of chicken vegetable soup (a yearly tradition of mine since 2004), beef and bean chili, and brownies.

Despite all of this do-goodery and life-hacking, I was really bummed about not running. Honestly, I wouldn’t have accomplished nearly as much if I had made time for a couple of runs. So yeah, it’s great I was able to be productive in lieu of running, but I didn’t feel so great about it. By Saturday I was a bundle of nerves and feeling that old irritability creeping in. Come hell or high water I was going to get some fresh air and exercise on Sunday.

The fact that the ground was freshly covered with glistening white snow only enhanced the experience. For a moment, when I noted the temps were hovering at 15 degrees, I considered taking my workout in doors at the Y, but my runner’s intuition knew blue skies, sunshine, and blazing white snow fall would cure what ailed me. And It did. It was too fresh to be too slippery. It wasn’t crusty. I sunk right into it when I had to run through it.  I did 5.5 miles in the snow and slush, taking in the beautiful sightimg_6593s of my hometown under the first snow fall of the New Year. If only everyone could have such an experience. I feel great.

To top it all off, my husband vacuumed out my car for me later this afternoon. This item was high on the goals list, and the fact my husband performed this service for me does not at all take away from the value. I am overjoyed to have a clean car. It’s amazing. Any dads/husbands out there, take note: This act of kindness will go a long way in your wife’s eyes. For real.

Here are some other shots from my run today:

For my local readers, that’s Wyoming Cemetry (above left). Having lived across the street in the years before we bought our house, I can confrim that cemeteries make exceedingly good neighbors, unless you are trying to get somewhere when a funeral procession is going by… Otherwise, I recommend it. Very serene. That’s Main St. on the right. Love where you live!

What do you feel like when you can’t run? What do you do?

What is your longest recent break from running?



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