Trying to embrace winter

I do realize that I live in Minneapolis. I know that we experience that thing called winter. I knew what I was getting myself into when I moved back to Minnesota from North Carolina in 2000.

I shouldn’t complain about it. I know that. But I don’t love winter. I can live with the snow, but I loathe the cold. The past month has been filled with especially brutal weekends.

When I returned from Christmas in Phoenix, I vowed to myself that I was going to again break out my cross-country skis that I bought a few years ago. When I moved from being a sports reporter to being a metro reporter, my winter workload was decreased. I worked five days a week instead of six or seven and had almost every weekend off.

Early that winter, I bought a pair of Atomic cross-country skis. I skied a pretty good amount as a kid growing up in the Willmar metroplex. Starting as an elementary school kid, our family would go up and ski at Sibley State Park on a very regular basis. I don’t think we went every weekend, but it seemed like we would go at least a couple of times a month.

I remember the first pair of skis that I had. They had a weird cable contraption that would hold my regular snow boot on the ski. It wasn’t very long until I got real skis with real ski boots and my little sister got the other ones. I even skied some in high school, going up to Sibley after school (we didn’t have a nordic ski team at that point). I’m pretty sure that I skied some on some winter breaks in college, but then it stopped.

Until a couple of years ago, I don’t think I owned skis or went skiing for 15 years or so. Obviously places like Central Illinois, Cincinnati and Raleigh aren’t exactly nordic hot spots. When I did move back, I was pretty much wall-to-wall college hoops from mid-October until April 1. It actually might have been a good thing to consider as I can only imagine how pleasant an afternoon on nearly-empty trails would have been.

Even after buying skis, I wasn’t exactly an active skier. The first year I probably went out four or five times. The next year, I think I skied once or twice. I’m not sure I used the skis last year.

With this weekend’s weather looking improved, I knew I wanted to finally get out on the skis. I have been checking out trail reports on skinnyski.com and knew that things looked good.

So this morning, I put some glide wax on my waxless skis, busted out the warm weather gear I purchased a couple of years ago and loaded up the car.

My destination was French Regional Park, which is located in Plymouth and not that far from the house. I got there, paid my $4 for a day ski pass and hit the trails. I skied for about an hour. For those who have been there, I pretty much skied everything on the west side of the park and near Northwest Expressway.

It was good. I got more and more comfortable on the skis (I’m a classic guy, not a skate ski guy). I probably wore one layer too many as I was really sweaty. And I got a really good workout.

I have already taken two preemptive ibuprofen as I expect this nearly-40-year-old body to be less than pleased in the morning.

It was a good time. I was plenty warm (maybe even too warm) in 19 degree weather. It was good solitude, a feeling like when I go out on trails on my bike. I will be back on the trails soon. I’m looking forward to going on a nice night and experiencing some of the lighted trails around. It was certainly a workout that is more interesting that running on the treadmill. That is for certain.

Was it enough fun to like winter? I’m not sure I’d go that far. I’m now watching the end of the PGA Tour event and the idea of teeing it up sounds pretty good. But it was my first effort at trying to embrace what’s left of winter.

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