Now that we’re nearing the end of March, the end of this winter is finally in sight. As much as I have embraced running through snowstorms, icy sidewalks, and sub-zero temperatures, it’s around this time of year that I’m reminded how much I miss running outside without multiple layers of clothing and having to worry about my water freezing.
There’s a cruel back-and-forth that inevitably happens this time of year. One day, I’ll go for an afternoon run with the temperature in the high 30’s. The sun is shining, I’m wearing my sunglasses, and the snow is melting. I’ve got a big smile on my face, optimistic that spring is just around the corner. Then, like an angry splash of cold water to the face, I’ll wake up for an early morning run, and it is 5 degrees, or there are 3 inches of fresh snow on the ground.
This is one of the most difficult times to run outside in Alaska. It is a time of year affectionately referred to as “break up”, when the ice and snow are literally breaking up from the warming sun during the day, only to freeze back up as the temperature drops at night. This freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle leaves the roads a treacherous battleground of jagged ice and slushy puddles big enough to swallow a small car.
During these last few weeks, I’ve done more runs on the treadmill than I have in the past year – something that I typically avoid at nearly all costs, even on the chilliest of winter mornings.
Even with fresh snow being forecast for this weekend, I’m ever hopeful that spring really is just around the corner. I look forward to once again feeling the sun’s warm glow as I run, needing to wear nothing more than a t-shirt and shorts.