On Winter and Running

By Holly Ryerson

Oooh, Winter…How do I train in winter? Hahaha! *Laughs maniacally*

How do I NOT train in winter? I just carried 8 loads of wood into the house, to make a fire, to keep my family warm. But before I could access the wood, I needed to shovel the walkway to it. But before I can shovel the walkway, I needed to shovel the steps. Well shit, I’m suited up, may as well hit the two decks. Okay now I’m cleaning off the car. Another load of wood before coming inside. Dang it, I took one too many logs. I dropped it, now I must go back down the stairs to get it. And if I go back down the stairs, I’ll need to get another load of wood. Is this, insanity?

Woman with firewood
I stack, then I stack some more.

I live in one of the snowiest (populated) places in the country, probably, earth. Look that up. Soda Springs, CA – Donner Summit. You ever had 17 feet of snowfall over the course of 5 days at your house? Come at me if I am wrong, bro! All year we prepare for winter because it dominates harder than a 52-year-old cougar.

I will admit I have become a bit of a mountain recluse. I didn’t start out that way. I moved to the mountains to snowboard, and I came into the scene HOT. I’d show up at the events, rail jams, premieres, I was a total Scener. Thank GOD that was mostly pre-social media.

Snow covered house
Winter is…here!

We had a strong posse and during those times, there weren’t that many chicks shredding that hard. I was invincible, I would huck my body off just about anything. I wanted to be better than the guys. Huge ego. I wanted to go pro, but Lordy-Lou, I made a lot of awful choices and it never happened. When you go hard, partying is included.

Despite my attempts at complete self-sabotage and annihilation, I started to mellow the fuck out. Meeting my husband changed my life for the better. And kids, that’ll make you snap-to real quick. Kids raise you up and that’s the damn truth. My family is grounding. Somewhere in that grounding process I found and became absolutely obsessed with Mountain Running.

Woman running in snow
Running in a Winter Wonderland

My time in the mountains is now my own. Sacred and quiet. I have found healing in my life on the mountain. You must work to be here. You must humbly exist at the mercy of the Gods. I hold great respect for the mountains, and I will never ever conquer one. How dare someone say that? It’s insulting. Sit down you little bitch, these mountains were here before you and will be here looooong after you’re gone…but I digress.

Dog and Cars in the Snow
Human or beast, we all love the snow

Winters come as they do, often fierce and formidable. Slowly the angle of the sun begins to change and you’re outside in a T-shirt when last week you couldn’t have imagined. You start to hear the chickadees coming through with their “cheeseburger” songs. Chipmunks are out and about. The blue jays are really the first to tell you that Spring is here. The jesters of the bird world, I actually loves those guys. Ahhh, Spring! Such a supple time. If a person could lust after nature, I think I have identified the possibility. I burn for the delicate trickle of the creeks in Spring. The quiet babbling under the warm sun makes me turn all glowy and golden. A Goddess you say? Why, thank you!

Now all I want to do is run trails. All day every day. Tan, shredded, and in super cute outfits. Flying down the trail with grace and ease. Entering God Mode as I so please. People wondering if that’s me or Killian on that traverse, and they can only tell the difference because I’m slightly faster. Just let me loose on some high-country ridgeline on the perfect summer afternoon. Shiiiit I’ll go jump in the lake after. Give me a questionable creek crossing that gets your ass wet. I want to feel the rough grip of the hot granite when I scramble up the last section at the top, slightly skinning my knee as I hoist myself to the peak. Crunchy crumbled granite on the way back down, sometimes it’s ball bearings but when you skate on one foot for a second it’s kinda fun. Trolli worms for every meal! Is it too much to ask of this fragile universe, dear reader? I do spend most of my time happily here on earth raising a family and directing a high-end spa. And that is also time well spent. But my little fantasy world does exist, I can go there, and I can take you there too…

Woman Running
Follow me to my Happy Place

For now I’m bound to winter; stoking the fire for when the time comes to run. Just out here, adding eye of newt and baby hair to my bubbling cauldron of trail running magic. I will think of the me now, on those big runs in the future. Poor thing all cooped up and emo….this run’s for you!

Winter is the best time to train because anything is possible. You get to dream about what is to come. Being held back, creates an insatiable hunger for whatever it is that you yearn to do. Winter is the time to build the foundation. Summer is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 Don’t let a little winter weather stop you in your diapers. Let the darkness of winter light your fire!

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