Santa, Interrupted

The snow finally came (and went, mostly). They say in Boston proper, we got about 3-4 inches. Do you know what I did as the snow pelted from the sky Saturday morning? That’s right. I drove 49 miles to Gloucester to run a 5-mile Santa suit road race because I wasn’t going to miss it. As I walked to pick up the Zipcar, I looked out onto the ocean. Usually I can see all the way to downtown Boston and the skyscrapers. I could barely see the water, let alone across it.

You know how when it snows, the air is quiet? There’s no wind. Especially on a Saturday morning when most people would look out the window and rationally go, “nope.” My running shoes, now soaking wet of course, crunched through the snow until I reached the car. As a Californian, driving in the snow seems ludicrous. What I also didn’t remember is that when cars are parked outside, they require brushing off because there’s a giant white mound of frozen water on top, and one cannot see out the windows if it’s there. I grabbed the brush from the trunk and proceeded to wipe the front windshield. My hand froze almost immediately as the brush slipped around, scattering the snow everywhere. It even got in my shirt. Finally I was ready to begin the treacherous drive to Gloucester for the most ridiculous race I have ever run.

Cars crawled along all the way up the 128. Trucks spewing salt passed me, then plows, then this sand-dirt business. Some vehicles pulled over to the side of the road when they skidded, perhaps deciding carrying on was not smart. In my Honda CR-V, I muscled along behind a pickup truck, then a Cadillac, then a Mercedes. I admit- my mind did question why a Mercedes was out on the freeway. Half-heartedly singing along to the faint 90s music playing on the radio, I shook my head at the ridiculousness of this decision to drive an hour and some to run a race. Not just any race- a 5 mile race. Dressed as Santa. In the sleet. I thought about the other cars on the road, and the effort it took merely to make the roads drivable. The EFFORT. Salt, plow, sand, chains, windshield wipers, brushes, defrosters, 4-wheel drive. We defy nature so well, as if we feel called by anxiety to prove that nature will never fully be greater than we, that it may inconvenience us, but never stop us. Even in the most dire blizzards, the airport reopens.

The race was as silly as you would expect. 250 people, aged 15-74, donned red felt pants, jackets, belts, and hats, and complete with elastic beards, rushed down the road as the ice hit our faces every second. We hung right onto a bridge, then hiked (yes) basically a mile until we turned around and hiked back on the sand/snow. I couldn’t even feel tired. The whole way, I laughed uncontrollably as my pants ripped, beard soggily clung to my chin, and the Santa jacket slipped off my shoulders so I was basically running with a shawl.

What disruption, I thought. It took me longer to get here than expected. The conditions were brutal. Yet, if I had succumbed to staying in bed and snuggling with a cup of coffee, I would have regretted not going much, much more. Disruption is usually the first sign that an opportunity is around the corner- are we willing to hike for it?

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