So hey, I had a birthday. And stuff.

Hi! Welcome to your March update on my life, running and not – except probably I’ll have a race report after the half I’m running on St Patrick’s Day, so maybe (OMG) you will get two posts this month. I guess I’m just not interested in writing when I’m not actively training for a race: not to say that I’ve not been training for this half, just that I’ve not really been following a structured plan this time. My basic plan has been: Run more miles (30-35/week). Don’t get hurt. Rinse, repeat.

As I write this, a winter storm is making its way to my state, and we’re expected to get anywhere from 6-14 inches of snow depending on whom you ask. As far as I can tell from my library seat, nothing has started falling yet, but I confess that I’m somewhat giddily excited about the prospect of running 6 miles in a blizzard tomorrow morning. Am I insane? Yes, but this is not without precedent: on my birthday, I had one of the most awesome runs of my life.

My birthday was three days ago, on the 2nd. I went skiing (for the last time this season) with Saint and a bunch of folks from our outdoors club; we rented a slopeside condo, which meant opening the back door and stepping onto the lift. No joke – that was most of the reason I went on the trip. (Also, it was my birthday, and there was skiing. Come on, how could I not?) We drove up late on Friday night, and it was snowing at a good clip when we got into West Virginia, which was a pleasant surprise – they’d been getting snow in bits and pieces during the week, but I hadn’t expected it to continue. We went to bed not long after arrival, and I set my alarm for early early in order to get up and get a few miles in before hitting the slopes.

I should note at this point that I’d known earlier in the week that I was going to be skiing for the weekend, so I recalibrated my running schedule so that my long run for the week would fall on Friday. This resulted in a ridiculous amount of shuffling things around and generally losing sleep in order to get everything done, but I pulled it off: at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, I set off to run my own half-marathon around town, because (as I said last time) I knew I wanted to run at least a 13-miler in preparation for this upcoming half to prove to myself that I could get the distance without dying. So, I figured, why not just run the whole damn distance and call it a day, and then get in an easy 3-mile run on Saturday morning (actually, 3.3 because I was turning 33), and an even easier (because I will probably be hung over) 2-mile run on Sunday morning? (this was running at the top of a mountain, mind you, where it is not warm and not flat. Ahem.)

So, that’s what I did. It was cold, it was overcast, it was windy, and I got unbelievably lost because I have an incredible ability to miss turns onto trails when trying new things, and while I did eventually find my way back to a familiar place, I had to then re-route my entire run by stopping into a library to get on a computer to map my run to see a) how far I’d gone and b) how on earth I was going to get the rest of the distance in AND still manage to run the errand I’d planned to (literally) run on the way home. [I now call this run “the most roundabout way of picking up a prescription ever”.] I did all of these things with relative success, and by the last two miles was grinning like an ass because I was having such fun running, and I knew I could do it, and yeah, it hurt a little, but my body was responding when I was asking it for speed, which was encouraging as hell.

To make a long story short, I got all my stuff done, we went west, I went to sleep, I woke up Saturday morning, and then I looked out the window.

Powder.

Oh yes. It was the skier/snowboarder’s dream: Giant, fluffy, dry white flakes of magical happiness pouring down from the sky. Oh holy fuckballs, YES: I get a powder day for my birthday! I had to consciously stop myself from giggling because everyone else was still sleeping, so I did my warmup exercises and hit the road.

It’s funny: I am a total wimp about running in the rain, and if it’s even a bit precipitory (totally made that word up, hush) I will make a beeline for the treadmill, which I loathe, because being wet is just that uncomfortable for me. But, I didn’t even think twice about going outside to run in a heavy snowfall, which – again, we’re at the top of a mountain – is also likely to be very cold and very windy. Whatever! It’s powder! Snow doesn’t stick to my glasses! I don’t care! Let’s go, bitches!

So, off I went. It was probably the coldest run I’d had in my life to that point (Sunday came close), which was made apparent to me as soon as I started hocking loogies that were mostly made of blood because my nose was so dry. (TMI, sorry.) But the snow wasn’t sticking to any part of me, and while it was slippery, I went slow and just enjoyed the quiet of the air and the crunch-crunch of my feet. The wind I could have maybe done without, but what doesn’t kill you makes you have another beer later, right? Anyway, on I went, on and on and on and on, and… hmmm. Where was my turnaround point? I’d mis-mapped my run, and overshot it by over a mile, and so I ended up running nearly 5 miles instead of 3.3, but that was fine: I felt awesome. And like such a badass: who’s stupid enough to run in the snow like that? But, really, I hardly felt it after long enough, and if you asked me if I’d rather run in a blizzard than in the summer or even spring, I’d totally choose the blizzard.

Sunday’s run ended up being right around 2.5 miles, and it was no less blizzard-y, though I was a smiiiiidge hung over as I’d expected, so it was a bit slower and more painful than I might have liked. But, it helped clear the cobwebs away, and had me all perky and ready to hit the slopes right at 9am when they opened.

Oh yeah, so there was skiing, too, which was the chief reason I was a bit sore on Sunday. What happens when you, the East Coast skier who is starved for non-icy, non-groomed skiing, are confronted with a powder day? You ski the ever-loving shit out of every run you can, and out of every bit of trees in between those runs that you can. That’s exactly what Saint and I did, and it was a total blast. Throw in some lift beers or three, and the ability to participate in a modified slalom race that they have set up that anyone can do (and holy crap, was it fun, even if he beat me by 5 seconds which is a loooong time in a slalom race), and the most awesome conditions I’ve ever seen this side of the Alps or Vermont, and you have a most fantastic birthday indeed. Throw in on top of that a half-hour in the outdoor hot tub down the road (there was snow blowing all over us but I never felt cold!), and a surprise cake from Saint, and as much Bell’s Expedition Stout as I can handle after all of that, and you have THE most fantastic birthday. It was really, truly awesome; there’s nothing more I could have asked for, which makes me a very lucky girl indeed.

Sunday’s skiing was more of the same, but we only made it a half-day because we were both worn out from having skied so hard the day before. We did do mostly tree-skiing (which I should note is by and large not allowed at this mountain) until we got yelled at (rightfully) by ski patrol from the lift, so we went elsewhere and did some more, away from watchful eyes. Yes, I know it’s dangerous, and I know full well that if I hurt myself it’s my own damn fault for ignoring posted signs that say “DO NOT DO THIS YOU MORON”, but in my defense, I’m so much more careful in trees for that exact reason. Also, I can count the number of times I’ve been hurt tree-skiing on exactly 0 fingers; I’ve sustained the most terrifying crashes on the open slopes with other people, which makes me think that trees make better company for me and my two ski-clad feet.

Anyway, after playing in a winter wonderland for a few hours, we called it a day and headed back home (very much against our collective wills, because two powder days is a hard thing indeed to leave, but one must teach and work, alas), where there were showers, burgers, and relaxation. Monday (yesterday) it was back to work, and looking at that forecast I’m getting all wistful, but… but. I’ve had my season’s fill of snow, and it was a great birthday weekend, PLUS if I somehow tempt fate by going skiing one more time before the half, I know damn well I’m going to fall and actually break something this time, which is not what I want. So, I call it a season, and am satisfied with that.

Back to the running side of things, yes, I am stupid enough to go running in a blizzard tomorrow, though if it gets too bad I’ll bail and find a treadmill. This is my last 30-mile week before I taper down to 20 next week, which is good because I need to spend less time running and more time working next week anyway (spring break? What spring break? Ha!).

So… yeah. That’s it! I had a birthday, and stuff. See y’all again in about two weeks. 🙂

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