I know I'm flirting with disaster (in the form of a legendary blizzard) by posting this, but what the hell. Life's more fun if you live dangerously, right? So, here goes: this might be the greatest winter EVER.
Of course "greatest winter ever" means different things to different people. For example, if you're a skier or snowmobiler, then you probably think that this winter blows the big one. I've never skied and I'm not a fan of snowmobiling, so I'm of a different opinion. I judge the winter by two main factors: 1) how many times I have to resort to running on the indoor track because it's too dangerously cold to run outside and 2) how accessible the trails are. This winter is scoring high in both categories. I've run on an indoor track exactly one time, and that was an afternoon 4 miler a few weeks ago that I very well could have run outside (it was like 4 degrees, I've run in much colder), but I had a brain fart that morning and failed to properly pack my running gear for the conditions. For the 2nd category, I don't have any stats to back this up, but I'm fairly certain I've gotten in many more trail miles in the first month plus of this year than I have in the previous couple of winters. And not just short 5 or 6 milers covering the entire extent of runable trail, but bonafide long runs.
This weekend was a perfect example of this winter's awesomeness. On Saturday, my son had a basketball game at 9 AM, so I slept in, coached the game and then geared up and ran the 16 miles from our house to Walmart in Spearfish, where I met the family for a ride home. By "gear up" I mean that I put on shorts and a t-shirt. It was in the mid 40s with just the slightest breeze. On Sunday morning, I drove down to Sturgis for a run on the Centennial trail. Although I had to bundle up a little bit for the start (it was 20 degrees when I struck out), it warmed up significantly and was in the upper 40s by the time I finished, just over 4 hours and 24 miles later. I did encounter some snow on the trail about 10 miles in, but it was fairly well settled and frozen, allowing me to run on top of it instead of punching through. For the most part, the trail was totally clear and dry. And I had the whole thing to myself...I encountered exactly one other human (and her dog) during my run, at about mile 22.5.
Of course, as I write this it's grey outside and there's a light dusting of snow, but the forecast is calling for highs of 42 and 46 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. That crazy damn groundhog in Pennsylvania says we've got 6 more weeks of winter coming. If that means 6 more weeks of the winter we've already had, then I say bring it on!