After a long day of travel and a sleepless night, I wake to a beautiful day in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It’s March and there is snow on the ground. A late winter storm across the east technically missed Wisconsin, but still trapped me in Chicago (my layover) for six hours and dropped a mass of cold air in the Midwest. It’s below 30 degrees.
My business travel routine is simple. Work, run and eat. It’s 4 PM; I’m done for the day and it’s time for the run. Without thinking, I squeeze into my winter running clothes with multiple layers. I came prepared after obsessively watching the weather reports.
In the first mile, the cool breeze rips through my layers bringing a chill to my bones. Crazy is the word that comes to mind. Who runs in 30 degrees? The treadmill isn’t sounding too bad right now.
Turning the corner away from the Mississippi River shelters me from the breeze. Now my layers are beginning to work, and I warm up. Beauty is the next word. The fresh snow and tree lined river tributaries display a wonder that I rarely see hailing from Southern California.
With so many views, I lose track of time and just keep running. Thankful is my next word. I am thankful for the opportunity to run, to see new places, and to feel alive. I allow my mind to wonder recalling my day, the challenges, and blessings. I am aware of God’s presence and listen.
It’s a form of prayer — like St. Ignatius’s Examen. But instead of the a forced disciple, it is free flowing and not contrived. It’s a simple response to where I am in this moment, in this time.
The end of the road jolts me from this moment. Where am I? How far did I go? Pulling my phone out, I check my distance — over 4 miles. When I’m done, it will be about 8.5 miles, more than I planned. I turn back, retracing my steps, and think about the time and cold. The late afternoon sun is getting close to the horizon and I don’t want to be out in the dark. After all, it’s 30 degrees and dropping.
Returning to the hotel, I’m tired and hungry. After a hot shower, I’m ready for dinner. Walleye is my last word. Whenever I travel to this part of the country, I search for this fish — I’ve never seen it served on the west coast and it’s my favorite. A couple blocks from my hotel is the Waterfront Restaurant. Walleye is on the menu.
It’s crazy that I have to travel so far for this fish. But’s it’s a beautiful fish and I’m thankful for it. I love walleye.