26 December 2010

Christmas Morning Run

Yesterday, after breakfast and exchanging gifts, I went out for my weekly long run. Fortunately, this week was only ten miles, as the holiday meant that I would be running on my own. I took off from home wearing a long-sleeved shirt and my fantastic new running gloves (the kind that convert to mittens, a gift from Steve) but just shorts, expecting to warm up as I got going. I didn't anticipate the wind, though, and while I did get warmer over the course of the hour and a half or so that I was out there, I never really got warm.

I've written about how I'm not really a runner, how I don't get a runner's high or find running the least bit meditative, but yesterday's run was closer to a spiritual experience than I usually achieve. There's just something about running on Christmas, when there are hardly any cars on the road and the air feels extra crisp. Not to get all political, but I generally belong to the "Happy Holidays" camp (I don't think it takes away from my holiday to acknowledge that others may celebrate differently); however, as the 25th approaches, I tend to transition into "Merry Christmas." There's a certain camaraderie among the people you see on a Christmas day run (walkers, other runners, a few cyclists), and saying "Merry Christmas" to all of them just felt right.

But my run was mostly made up of quiet moments -- at least when I wasn't singing. I use my iPod on most training runs, and yesterday I felt like singing along a lot. (In addition to it just being fun, it's an extra cardiovascular challenge.) My favorite running music is probably Billy Joel's Storm Front. I like running to We Didn't Start the Fire, of course, but a lot of the other songs are really great, too, and as I willingly put myself through ten miles of cold, hard exercise, sandwiched between a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with family and an equally satisfying Christmas dinner with friends, these lyrics to Leningrad stuck out:

I was born in '49
A cold war kid in McCarthy time
Stop 'em at the 38th parallel
Blast those yellow reds to hell
Cold war kids were hard to kill
Under their desks in an air raid drill
Haven't they heard we won the war
What do they keep on fighting for?

Despite the challenges the last decade has brought to this country and to the world, my (admittedly limited) perspective suggests that we're better off than we were during the Cold War. Being a child of the 80s, I've never known air raid drills, and as long as I have the freedom to subject myself to these long, uncomfortable runs and then to spend the rest of the day eating and doing whatever I want, I will be grateful to everyone who has had a part in ensuring that freedom.

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