Christmas traditions don’t always go as planned, and sometimes that works out just fine. As Christmas Day approached this year I was looking forward to continuing to establish my tradition of a Christmas morning run. It was to be my first in Omaha since making the transition from Saskatoon this past summer.
As the day drew closer, I was hoping for a fresh dumping of snow, or even a mere dusting so I could mark my way with running shoe footprints on Christmas morning. But unfortunately for me, the forecast had predicted that the usual prairie cold would be replaced by well above-zero temperatures and an early morning thunderstorm. I woke up to nature’s light display as the thunder cracked and lightening streaked across the sky bringing light in through the bedroom windows. My mind then quickly moved past the disappointment of no snow, and I started wondering if a Christmas morning run was even going to possible. I began pondering various potential routes that could keep me safe from the elements only to come to the realization that it was ridiculous to even be considering stepping out into this storm. I settled on waiting it out.
The minutes ticked by and turned into more than an hour while the storm continued to roll. I began to consider the idea of breaking tradition by turning my Christmas morning run into an afternoon run instead. The storm had somewhat settled, but I didn’t want to have rush to fit it in. My partner, Candace, and I were set to pick up her brother mid-morning to go visit her sister’s family to open gifts with our nephews and spend the day celebrating Christmas. Within a few minutes of debating whether or not to try to squeeze my run in, I had made the decision to let it go, slow down, and enjoy the morning for what it was before heading out. It’s pretty easy to throw my running gear into a bag and take off from anywhere at any time, and that’s exactly what I did.
At around 3:30 p.m., after we had opened presents, played a round of Trivia Pursuit and enjoyed plenty of food and drink, I set out on my Christmas afternoon run. The weather was still unstable, with winds blustering and fits of rain appearing on-and-off, but it was manageable.
I started down the street with a plan to venture into the surrounding neighborhood and use the house-lined streets to protect me from the unpredictable winds. When I rounded the first corner, I noticed it was remarkably warm. It felt like a West Coast run, not too dissimilar to my Christmas morning run last year in Pender Harbour.
It wasn’t long before I settled into the run reflecting on how fortunate I am to experience the joy of the Christmas spirit year round with a loving family and the ability, and opportunity, to run and write until my heart’s content. I continued the run capping off my weekly mileage on a two-mile loop around the neighbourhood when I noticed the sky had darkened.
Within seconds, the winds picked up to hurried pace. I knew instantly another storm was settling in. I turned another corner and then–whack! There it was: a sideswiping wall of rain. It slapped right across my face as the whipping winds tore through the neighborhood. I darted away away in an attempt to escape the stinging pop of raindrops against my body. As the puddles quickly grew into deep trenches flooding into the overwhelmed drains, I kept on going. I continued to chip away at the miles, my feet getting heavier and heavier with every step as my shoes became waterlogged and as my clothing quickly reaching maximum soaking capacity.
Drenching wet, I turned back onto my established loop. I struggled to see what was ahead with the rain and winds continuing to wreak havoc. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I heard a car honk. I looked up and registered that it was Candace and her sister. They had come looking for me. They urged me to get in the car, but there was no way I was stopping at that point– I only had two and a half miles left. They reluctantly drove off. When I arrived back at the house, I was immediately greeted by the two of them with a towel and instructions to go upstairs where the biggest, bestest, bubble bath awaited. With jets streaming and epsom salts soaking, I sunk in, closed my eyes, and reflected on what will go down as a Christmas Day run for the ages.