To run or to ski, that is the question
By Marlene Farrell
My running shoes and cross-country ski boots are neighbors on the mudroom floor. They appear cordial enough, but who’s to guess what happens when the lights are off? Perhaps there’s pushing and shoving throughout the night, so that when I rush downstairs for some early morning exercise, I grab whichever one is in the more conspicuous spot on the floor.
I am lucky to have this “problem.” I live so close to a ski trail that I can decide in the last moment whether to ski or run. I have two pairs of ski boots, one for classic and one for skate, so you’d think they would win by numerical advantage. But don’t forget all the running shoes. There’s always the current beloved pair, but it’s got reinforcements — the ones retired to my walking pair, the screw shoes for icy roads and the racers that depend on the trainers to get me in shape enough to deserve them.
All of which reflects the split in my athletic personality in the winter. Don’t tell anyone, but the skier in me is a fair weather friend. She pounces on the days following beautiful snowfall, after the groomers have perfected the trails. Skate boots and skis will be selected, and we’ll squeeze in as many laps as possible, sometimes forgoing a shower in lieu of a few extra kilometers.
If it snowed all night long, the skier will hesitate but then sagely choose the classic skis and boots and slip or plow along the track depending on the density of the new snow. The kick-and-glide rhythm will settle my overactive thoughts like the ebb and flow of waves. I’ll enjoy working the overlooked muscles in my arms and back as I plunge and push with my poles.
But then the sky releases a torrent, and our ski trails disintegrate into soup for which the skier has no appetite. The boots edge closer to the mudroom fan to stay warm and dry, so I reach for my running shoes. They don’t complain. They are ready for anything. They are my faithful companions, like a pet that spoils me with boundless love.
The other day my running shoes, knowing we were confined to roads, helped me seek adventure by turning up Icicle Road to check out Icicle Creek, engorged with monstrous flow. We skirted puddles until water from every other direction had seeped into my socks. Then we charged through the belly of puddles, no longer caring to change course. The creek roared, stopping me in my tracks. Chocolate froth poured over rocks and around tree trunks, devouring bushy thickets.
I flew downhill, back to my house, trusting speed to keep me warm. With icy fingers I painstakingly unlaced my shoes. Shoving the ski boots aside, I gave my running shoes the center spot next to the fan. Off to the shower for me, with a smile for the audacity of yet another run, so lively and different than the cool collected swoosh of a long ski.
Marlene Farrell is a Leavenworth writer, long-distance runner and coach with the Peshastin-Dryden Striders kids running club.