This morning I bravely braved the snowy outdoors for my six-mile run. We're getting a light brush from that bitch of a storm's skirt here in Michigan and when I went out there were a couple inches of new snow on the ground (but nothing like the devastation by ice taking place to the south, nor the eight inches my parents in northeast Ohio's Snow Belt have received). Never fear, YakTrax to the rescue! The quasi-plowed streets were perfect for YakTrax-ing. Traffic was light and I was enjoying myself.
Halfway through mile 4 I swung into one of the cookie-cutter subdivisions from hell that have cropped up on the outskirts of town like a noxious cluster of mushrooms. Despite my scorn for the development and what it represents (destruction of farmland, bland yuppie sameness; every house with a hunk of plastic play structure in the backyard and an SUV in the driveway, 2.5 kids and a Golden retriever), I enjoy running on its perimeter because the road is flat and lightly traveled. So lightly traveled, in fact, that this morning I was breaking virgin snow with my feet. Not a soul, neither man nor beast nor automobile, had passed before me. I entered the area of the sub closest to the city water treatment plant where all of the building lots are empty save one (imagine that!) and the development company never even bothered to erect street lights (actually I think that particular developer, the one who took over the "less desirable" lots near the sewage treatment plant, went bankrupt).
The predawn darkness closed in and as I stared at the snow in front of me I was overcome by the most peculiar feeling. The uniform blanket of white in every direction, unbroken by shadow or footprint, made it impossible to tell where the ground actually was. I felt as if I was running on air, suspended above a bottomless void. Only the impact of my feet striking the ground reminded me that I was in fact present on the earth and gravity was my friend. The sensation intensified if I looked directly at the snow. I had to look away, at something concrete and three-dimensional, because it was starting to make me dizzy. My gaze was drawn back to the ground, however, because as brain-scrambling as the view was, it was still cool. I watched my feet move, appearing to be suspended above nothingness, and yet finding solid ground in the formless void. This lasted until I arrived at a place where someone had backed out of a driveway, and the tire tracks gave the snow some topography and the illusion was broken.
I arrived home snow-covered, a slick, salty mustache of clear snot plastered to my upper lip region, peeled off my YakTrax and wet clothes, and once upstairs in the bathroom I saw myself in the mirror and seriously, people, I looked like death warmed over. Zombielike, if you will; I could have been an undead extra in any recent zombie-themed movie. My eyes were red-rimmed, grayish smudges underneath them, hair all straggly and wet, lips pale purple, face smeared with snot and sweat and snow, ghostly white except for a couple of pinkish spots on my cheeks. The effect was gruesome. I even said, "oh my god, I look terrible" to my reflection and then leapt into the shower as fast as I could.
When I rolled in from my 11-miler on Sunday, freezing cold, staggering, and bleary-eyed, with snot frozen in two little wads in my nostrils , John was in the kitchen. As soon as he saw me he said, "What a glamorous sport."
Nope. Not glamorous at all, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not a figure skater, I'm a distance runner.