You shouldn’t let interesting weather go unexperienced, and in western Texas that includes those rare cold, harsh days. We have too few of them to miss, so when my Yahoo Weather App said 27*F and sleet, I knew I had to drive home for a quick 3-mile noontime run. Who wouldn’t? It was only my second run since I hurt myself again a few weeks ago (because I tried to come back from injury too quickly (according to Cyndi)). I’m trying to learn from previous mistakes and slip slowly back into my old routines, so I’ve been taking it very easy.
I’ve been cycling some, but when the temperature gets below about 45, and especially if it is windy, well, I just don’t own enough clothing to stay warm … not even warm, I don’t own enough to not be miserable.
But running works in the cold. Just pile on enough layers and you can be warm as toast.
So I ran the dirt roads near my house on the theory that the rough surface would be less likely to ice-over. And I was right. The ground was dusted with snow, but traction wasn’t a problem.
So on the return leg of my out-and-back route, as I passed the pasture with polo horses, they started moving toward the fence to get closer to me. They had insulating blankets strapped to their backs, a bit like me in my long pants and jacket with gloves and ear muffs. All of us had a little bit of ice hanging from our gear.
So I stopped for a short bit while they came right up to the fence where I was standing. I’ve run past this pasture many times, and probably run past these same horses many times, but this was the first time they acknowledged my presence, much less walked to the fence to check on me.
Maybe it was a statement of solidarity on their part; as in, all running beasts outside on a cold windy day should stick together. I hope that’s what it was. I appreciated their attention.
I took a few minutes to stand against the fence, took off my glove and held out my hand so they could smell me. I’m sure they would’ve been even friendlier if I’d brought horse snacks, but I didn’t. It’s hard to remember everything.
Still, it felt like a brief moment of bonding. It felt like I was One Of Us. I was outside running in the cold, just like they were, and it felt like they were saying “well done.”
OK, I know I am making too much of this, but it was a cool moment and I need all the encouragement I can fabricate when it comes to running. I had my phone with me to log my distance, so I took a photo of my new friends.
As I ran on back toward home I remembered a similar experience one cold winter afternoon while running on the county road north of the Tramperous Ranch in northeast New Mexico, where we were visiting Cyndi’s grandparents for the holidays. The late winter afternoons were always my favorite time to run there because the low-angled light from the setting sun enlivened the gold and yellow in the winter grass and it was beautiful.
On that particular day, as I ran along down the road racing sundown, a chestnut mare trotted over to the fence to watch. Just as I pulled alongside her she took off, running down the fence line, parallel to the path I would be running if I could’ve run that fast. When she reached the corner of the pasture she turned to watch me catch up.
It was one of my best running moments. It felt like she was waiting for me to join her. Once again, I felt like One Of Us, a fellow running beast.
I’ll be the first to admit I know very little about horses. I especially want to point that out before all of Cyndi’s cousins read this and jump on my personifications of such cool animals. But anytime I discover I am One of Us, I can’t help but smile, and relish my position. I suppose I don’t want to be alone as much as I let on.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32