Whistler is a town that celebrates snow and winter. It is not uncommon to have a few people (or more) missing from your office on a morning when it is a “powder” day. Shortly after noon, employees slowly trickle in wearing their snowboard or ski gear to work and sporting a huge smile on their face. In the views of many Whistlerites, it is truly “living the dream.”
I arrived in Whistler just over 6 years ago in the middle of January. That first season was my one and only day skiing on the mountain in 6 years. It did not end in injury or getting lost. It was a beautiful day of spring skiing spent with my mom and husband. However, I really have not had much drive or motivation to go skiing again. This seems like a very strange statement for a person who lives in one of the best ski resorts in the world. The first few years here, I viewed winter as a time of year “to just get through” and I would keep busy by trudging to the gym and cursing damp socks, cold toes and frozen hands.
In the fall of 2011, upon the advice of my husband, I decided that I wanted to embrace winter (not dread it) and made a commitment to run outside through the winter. The winter of 2011-2012 turned out to be a beautiful time. Finally, I felt as if though I could share in the same excitement as others about this fluffy white stuff. Besides a few really icy days, it was not that big of a challenge to run in the winter. Armed with a thin fabric toque, a traction device for my runners and some water proof socks I “braved” the cold and ran.
This town is full of amazing sport enthusiasts who can be seen riding bikes with snowboards on the back. However, running in the snow still does garner the odd stare on more than one occasion. The nice part about winter running, is that come March – the beginning of the Whistler Half Marathon Training with Christine Suter – I am prepared, excited and optimistic that Spring is on its way.
In March of 2012, the first 6:15am interval training session also coincided with a very large dump of snow and the ploughs had yet to clear the valley trail or village. When my good friend Allison picked me up that morning, we looked at each other and wondered if we were going to be the only ones crazy enough to brave this weather. To our surprise, we ran through the village with 30 other eager people who were equally excited for the training to begin. Our first morning of intervals was spent in the underground parking garages of Whistler village. Despite the weather, we received a challenging workout and were excited for the next session.
This past winter saw a fairly “easy” start for winter running as the valley lacked much snow until February. That being said, the last 6 weeks of powder have been magical. I personally enjoy running most in the morning when the trails have yet to be plowed and fresh snow graces the tracks. It is truly like running on light fluffy clouds. As the clocks “spring” forward and the days get longer, it reminds us that a change of season is on its way.
At times this month, winter running may seem challenging or difficult. If you can enjoy it for all of its beauty and embrace everything outdoor running has to offer, I am confident you will share in the optimism, excitement and adventure.