It's officially spring in New Hampshire.
Despite morning temps in the teens and the threat of snow showers on the evening news forecast, the calendar says spring. We have longer days, stronger sun and can walk comfortably from the parking lot to a building without being whipped by winter's wind.
This winter has been particularly long and cold. Our first snowfall on December 1st was a doozy, and it just got worse from there. We've endured snow piles higher than I can remember and have teetered on breaking the record for the all-time snowiest winter. In New Hampshire, that's quite a feat.
When we finally change the clocks to make for longer evenings, feel the slight warmth of the sun and even see a hint of grass under the melting snow, we know spring is upon us.
As I ran my long run on Sunday, I couldn't help but notice something new -- signs of life.
I saw children playing in their driveways, passed a few walkers and bicyclists, heard the sounds of water running in the once-frozen brook and saw a handful of robins hoping along in the yards. Rebel was even able to take a drink out of the melting lake that we pass about five miles into the run.
For the past few months, it seems, I've been the only one crazy enough to be out. I can't remember the last time I passed a bicyclist or someone walking their dog.
I've endured some pretty cold temperatures, snow and anything else winter could throw at me in order to keep up with my training.
As the rest of my neighborhood hibernated inside their cozy homes, I was out there putting one foot in front of the other. At times I could smell their fireplaces and pictured them sipping hot chocolate in front of the fire while they curled up on the couch on a Sunday morning.
Part of me wanted to be like them -- relaxing in my PJs in the warmth of my house, not having to worry about whether I was wearing enough layers.
Instead, I ran, the wind and cold hitting my face so hard at times that I ran with my gloved hands against my cheeks. I pictured them looking out their window thinking, "There goes that girl and her dog again."
Some might have thought I was extremely disciplined and dedicated, but most probably just thought I was crazy.
There were plenty of times I didn't feel like going out, but I knew I had to if I wanted to run the Disney Half Marathon. So I did. And then I kept going.
The funny thing is that I actually came to enjoy it. If I missed a few training runs, I didn't feel as good during the day, I probably ate more than I should and I even felt a bit guilty at times.
I figure if I made it through the winter training season, the warm weather might help me enjoy running even more. I won't be something I have to do, but something I want to do.
As satisfying as it is knowing that I toughed it out through the winter while everyone else was inside, it was nice to see signs of life along my running route this weekend. There's only more to come.
Wake up, New Hampshire. Spring is finally here.