The best gift I received on Christmas was the weather: a tropical-feeling 6 degrees. Since returning to Canada, my training had relocated inside so six degrees felt like a formal invitation from Mother Nature to go outside and play. With newly unwrapped winter running gear already itching to be worn, I covered up, laced up and didn’t look back once at the treadmill.
Christmas where I’m from is usually on the backdrop of a winter wonderland. Frosted bare birtch trees, blankets of snow like a collective of fluffy clouds fallen from the sky, people playing hockey on the frozen lake, and the odd deer wandering across the morning lawn. It sounds idyllic but to a triathlete it either means switching sports or staying inside. With snow, freezing rain and temperatures well below zero, bottoming out at -30 with the windchill, I took to hibernation, watching the 8am sunrise from the indoor trainer or treadmill.
In the lead up to Christmas, however, a few days of wind and rain had meant there was no snow on the ground. Glancing at the thermometer post-cinnamon bun and mimosa on Christmas Day, I was shocked and excited to read it was only six degrees. In slight disbelief, the mild temperature immediately put one idea in my head… Thermal pants, wool sport socks, my new wind-resistant mittens and a fleece buff, all topped off with a hooded technical-winter long sleeve.
Okay, six degrees wasn’t exactly the Bahamas. The instant I stepped outside and a blast of wind in my face made me want to double check the thermometer. I took off running, thinking about 5 minutes down the road when my body temperature would (hopefully) increase. Except for the snuggled up lone dog-walker who gave me a “you’re crazy” look, no one was around. I claimed the middle of the road and let my feet do the steering.
Four kilometres down the road, I threw off my hood. Five kilometres down the road, I took off my mittens. Six kilometres down the road and the weather, winter, and training inside was the farthest thing from my mind. I ran through the whole village, out of town, over to the local beach, up the big hill (a few times) and down past the house we lived in when I was born, our house when I was in middle school, and then back to our house now.
An hour later I bounded back into the house, full of endorphins, and back into the warmth of Christmas on the hunt for a left over cinnamon bun. Santa really got me this year, I couldn’t have imagined a better gift.