i always feel like such a rookie on days like today. trying to play a visual guessing game with mother nature. halfway through it you realize you've either overdone it or your picking up the pace because you've underdone it. talking through a mouth pulled tight by the cold. untying shoelaces with fingers whose dexterity has been shocked away. these are the days when sunshine can play tricks on you. shade can be a game changer. sunset can mean 25 degree swings between the start and end of a run.
the baselayer or outerwear changes from capilene to soft merino wool. jackets are dug out of the back of the closet and assigned their rightful seasonal place at the front of the closet. the spare drying rack is broken out and readied. the tall socks, the knickers. knit caps replace visors. the short sleeve shirts from past events are darkened by a closing trunk.
we start seeing our exhalations and finding frost on the bands of our hats and backs of our gloves. not all of those first few snot rockets will be perfect. they, too, will come back to you. we start selecting our places to stretch based on where the sun is highlighting a spot. the pace gets more conversational and the days are shorter. new batteries for the headlamps.
there is balance in the change of fibers. if you've been doing this long enough, you have two quivers of clothing that you've accumulated over the miles. summer and winters. certainly, this season will require a few more drawers to hold it all, but it keeps us outside and getting to know the summer trails we know so well, anew. paths covered with the leaves that shaded us, revealing just how close we get to those we share the forest with, sometimes. snow showing us whether anyone has been "through here, yet" and trying to play the game of matching up the tread of the shoe with your familiarity with the runner who wears it. breaking fresh tracks and feeling smug about it.
there is ceremony in this time and the learning curve acknowledged. you will overdress. you will under dress. you will learn to trust certain pieces of gear and you'll look to them to protect and support you as you separate yourself from the seasonal trail treader.
so it begins.