It has all become so mind-numbingly perfunctory.
The drive home from work was slow as usual. Roads were getting sloppier as we went and the mix of confident and timid drivers attempting to negotiate them at rush hour meant traffic would pretty much just crawl along.
I was tired when we walked into the house. I knew I would go out for a few laps around the neighborhood loop, but I wasn't exactly looking forward to it.
One more run. In the cold. In the dark. Round and round the little cluster of houses I live in.
I got ready on auto-pilot. Up the stairs... peel off the work clothes... pull on the Smartwool long-johns and the running pants. Do I need socks? Nah. Last night's pair are downstairs with the shoes and still good for a short one. I head down... grab the Garmin... strap it on my wrist. Grab the socks and the shoes... sit down on the bottom step.
One more time through the 'shoeing ritual.' Wipe foot to remove any stuck-on grit... pull on sock... make sure it makes a good seal with the long-johns... pick up shoe... check inside for debris... pull on shoe... lace... repeat with other foot.
Pull on jacket... grab gloves. Hat and running vest are in the garage entryway. Put on running vest... put on hat. Turn on GPS, say goodbye to Karen, and head out through the garage, pulling on gloves as I go.
I pause in the middle of the driveway, carefully working the seal of the gloves with the long-john sleeves while I give the GPS time to find satellites. As usual it takes a minute, and while I wait I do what I usually do: I look up at the sky - as though I expect to see satellites, but really just because I'm outside and I can't help but look up and see what sort of sky I will run under. It is just getting dark. Thick swarms of decent-sized snowflakes are drifting down. I can feel them hit my cheeks. I breathe in deeply, and I sigh.
And a smile breaks across my face.