A weekend full of nothing but Christmas preparations is more than enough to drive me to drink, so I did: three Yuenglings on Saturday, and one this evening, as we decorated the tree. (I’d have preferred Sierra Nevada Pale Ales, but I was desperate.) Wedged in between those beers was one perfect 8-mile run through a Winter Wonderland: my Sunday church, my seasonal celebration, my chance to sweat it all out.
I’ve been looking for new routes to run up here for a while, ones that are off the main roads but long enough so that I can log respectable distances on clear pavement. This summer, as I trained for NYC, I was able to run up here on the weekends until September, hitting 16 miles on Route 940 before I had to stay in the city for my last two months of long runs. Winter is my favorite season up here. I love nothing more than being cosseted snugly away under a fleece blanket on the couch in the loft, or in one of the armchairs in front of the fireplace, with snow outside and a mug of coffee (or a glass of wine) between my hands To put it plainly, it would suck if I had to skip weekend trips up here because I had no where to run 10 to 16 miles safely and at an effective pace.
Recently, I “met” (via email) a member of MapMyRun, when BG (or bikenrunner, as he’s known on the site) found one of my Route 940 runs, was from the Pocono Lake area, and was looking for more routes. I decided to “work my contacts,” as they say, and put the question to him: BG, where could I run this weekend where the roads will be clear and I can safely get in an 8-miler? He wasn’t stumped (lucky for me), but he did admit it was a tough question. Ultimately, he directed me to the central loop around Lake Naomi, which is the main artery in that resort community* (the wealthiest in the area, so no surprise that those roads are cleared first, well, and often). BG’s suggestion of this loop appealed to me because it was 5+ miles, and I’d have to start the run at a library. (I like libraries; I was a regular at the one in my town growing up.)
BG, I owe you a tin of cookies or a box of Gu’s (your choice). The Lake Naomi Loop is divine in the snow! The roads weren’t perfect, but they were definitely workable, and I ended up running faster than I’d expected. The sun was shining, the sky was a bright blue, temperatures were in the 20’s and the wind was negligible. But to me, the main value of this route is the gorgeous views every step of the way. I ran through a wooded development full of evergreens, their boughs laden with mounds of snow. If I looked to my right, chances were good I could catch glimpses of the frozen lake, a crystal expanse. The houses in this community are, for the most part, each unique and charming examples of mountain cabins (it was about the “dream-and-drool” factor). My mind was moving as fast as my feet, taking it all in, making associations and calling up memories of party weekends in Tahoe, a day trip to Breckenridge with Brother, even a ski weekend in New Hampshire ages ago, during which I did no skiing but made a choir of snow angels and threw an arsenal of snowballs.
I can’t say my frustrated mood broke free of its moorings altogether to transcend to the joy I felt during yesterday’s 5-miler back in the city, but I caught glimpses of peace, of a peace that hopefully awaits me after the holidays, once I’m full-on in my training for the Flora London Marathon. After all, what do all those Christmas cards wish me? “Peace, Love, Joy,” right? I’m working my way through the list.
*This is the sort of community where the owners name their residences. I ran past Liz’s Happy Place, Everything’s Just Ducky, and this one, which (despite the cheesiness) still made me smile as I tried to imagine my own Sunshine Daydream.