Diary of a Winter Warrior

What follows are the chronicles of my adventures as a “Winter Warrior” when I accepted the Runner’s Alley challenge to run or walk outdoors every day in January.

January 1

Yay!  I started my Winter Warrior Challenge with the Hangover Classic 5K.  It was 50 degrees and sunny!  There were winds that gusted up to 50 mph and made forward motion challenging and threatened to rip my bib number off my body at times, but we persevered and had a terrific race.  It was a great way to start the year and the challenge!

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Requisite awkward selfie. Note the runners taking the plunge in the ocean behind us.

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January 2

I opted to walk in the woods today. It felt great to get back into the woods…once I got up after wiping out on an unexpectedly icy patch of “snow”.

January 3

I forgot how much I love running in the snow!  I strapped on my Yaktrax and had a tranquil snowy road run.

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January 4

Beautiful sunrise as I headed into the woods.

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And this little cutie was waiting for me when I returned.

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January 5

I eeked out a run just before the rain started.

January 6

Mike and I did the 5 mile loop run this morning.   Even though we’ve run this route scores of times I always seem to find a spot for a photo.

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January 7

For a change, I did a lunch time loop through the village.

January 8

Another snowy morning road run. Just a mere 23 days to go.  But who’s counting? (Picture a “girl with raised hand” emoji inserted here.)

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January 9

Such a gorgeous snowy morning in the woods!  I love that this challenge is getting me back into our woods.

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January 10

Well, that didn’t go so well.  A short 1 mile run ended in a colossal wipe out on a patch of ice.  I skated my way home.  But I’m impressed that I could get up and keep going.  Good job, body!

January 11

It was sooo cold this morning that I strapped on the face mask that Mike gave me for Christmas. It made a huge difference.  And it prompted this text.

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Ahhh!  Why didn’t I start using eye cream earlier?!

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January 12

Still freezing today!

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January 13

My eyelashes froze on this “feels like 4 degrees” 3 mile run.

January 14

I got out for a quick sunrise run early today.

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January 15

It really has been beautiful out here this month.

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January 16

With a “feels like 24 degree” temperature and this sunrise, today’s run felt fabulous.

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January 17

It was frigid again this morning.

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These guys are my new best friends!  Thanks family for gifting me exactly what I need to make it through this challenge.

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January 18

More gray skies and frozen waterfalls. How many more days are there in January?

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January 19

With a major snowstorm about to hit, I opted for a walk in the woods today and gathered some kindling. What a perfect way to start the day!

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January 20

The storm dropped only about 8″of snow.  But it was enough for Hannah and I to strap on our snowshoes and log a mile in the snowy fields and woods.

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January 21

Today was absolutely the most challenging day yet to get outside.  With a “feels like -19 degree” temperature and wind-driven snow my mile today was a walk around the fields a few times.

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This is the actual GPS tracking of my route…not a random scribble.

My text to the family:

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Annie’s witty reply made me LOL for real.

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January 22

I had an absolutely freezing but surprisingly great run.  I must be getting used to this weather.

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The moon was so bright and gorgeous this morning but none of my photos captured it well.

January 23

When  a “feels like 8 degrees” morning feels normal I know I’m getting tough.

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January 24

The roads were slippery this morning so I opted to walk.  It was beautiful, though.

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January 25

It started out as a run but it was so slippery I finished up in the field where it was also really slippery.  But it was lovely. Even though I am counting the days until the end of the month and I’m not always especially eager to get outside at the crack of dawn, my reward has been a chance to experience this wintery scenery in a way I most likely wouldn’t have otherwise.

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January 26

My 3 mile run felt wonderful this morning. No frigid temperatures, no icy wipe outs-just three quiet miles. Perfect!

January 27

Oh my gosh! What I thought would be a peaceful 1 mile walk in the woods turned into a slippery tree-clinging crawl.  Within a few yards of walking into the field I was on the ground in a Bambi-esque splayed leg sprawl. The rest of the “walk” involved me searching for spots to step that were not slick. I literally clung onto trees to keep my balance.  As I finally crawled my way back up to the house I hoped that no one was looking out the window at what I’m sure was a comical snail’s pace shuffle up the tiny last hill.  But Mike saw it and commented that he wondered if I was stuck since I didn’t appear to be moving.  Oh well, I covered the distance and it was pretty.

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The sound of the water running in the brooks was a treat.

January 28

Another beautiful day in the (frozen) neighborhood.

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January 29

How is it still January?  I got in a quick frozen mile.  Almost there!

January 30

I had no idea I could rack up a half a mile walking with a shovel in front of me in the driveway!

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I finished the rest of my mile in the woods. With the new snow there were tracks everywhere!

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These cool tracks were behind the barn.

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They went right up to and under the barn.  I guess our porcupine is still here.

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January 31

Woohoo!  I did it! If anyone had been watching me as I finished my last frozen road mile this morning they would have seen a contented little smile on my face-not unlike how I felt when I finished the Philly Marathon.  Of course, completing a marathon was a monumentally bigger deal. But the feeling of not wimping-out for 31 days, even on truly brutal days, is hugely satisfying.

A Few Reflections…

  • I’m so glad to have spotted the Runner’s Alley flier about the challenge! I just wish I had seen the fine print about doing a mile each day in order to participate in the formal challenge before I logged shorter mileage two days early in the month. Oh, well!
  • It’s amazing how my perception of “cold” changed during the challenge.  There have been times when temps in the teens would have deterred me from running outside.  Now they felt almost balmy.
  • Falling is such a jarring, unsettling, maddening experience.  But I am so grateful for my body for taking it and getting back up.
  • The feeling of setting a goal and accomplishing it, especially when it’s not easy, is absolutely worth the struggle.
  • Thank you to my family and friends for listening to me recount, ad nauseam, what I’m sure were way too many details of this endeavor.
  • And to any neighbors who may be reading this, perhaps this explains the behavior of your slightly crazy running neighbor.

Have you ever taken part in any type of challenge?

How do you feel about outdoor activities in the winter?

What is your favorite or least favorite part of winter?