Here in northeastern Pennsylvania, the sun hasn't appeared in the last nine days. Prior to that a surprise snowstorm dumped eight inches of snow in our backyard.
And it's not winter yet.
Although roads are currently dry, forecasters are talking about a winter storm on Christmas Day.
Training outdoors in northeast winter weather is a challenge, to say the least. And when winter weather rears its ugly head before Thanksgiving, as it did this year, we are looking at a full four months until pleasant conditions reappear.
I use the winter months to grind out the miles. Throughout my 38-year running career I have often logged more miles in January than in June.
I can accept my fate when it comes to miserable conditions in December and January, but by the time February rolls around, it's time to escape.
After the publication of my first book, "Running Shorts: A Collection of Stories and Advice for Anyone Who Has Ever Laced Up a Pair of Running Shoes," I traveled to race expos around the country to interact with runners and to sell my books.
In February 2012, I went to the Myrtle Beach Marathon Expo, and I ran the half marathon the next day.
There's nothing not to like about Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I have vacationed there for more than 20 years because of the southern hospitality, the beautiful climate, the terrific, affordable restaurants, and reasonable lodging.
The Myrtle Beach Marathon course is flat, fast, and scenic. Mid-February weather is usually marathon-perfect, with an average high temperature of 61 degrees, and hotel deals are phenomenal. What's more, the Myrtle Beach Marathon is not a mega-race. The start is not congested, and the field manageable.
Putting a race like the Myrtle Beach Marathon on your schedule gives you something to aim for on those bleak winter days when you'd rather not train.
My wife and I are going back to run the half marathon in February. And talk about a romantic runner's weekend? This year's race will be held on Valentine's Day.
Visit http://www.myrtlebeach.com/marathon/ for more information on the 18th Annual Myrtle Beach Marathon.
For more blogs, my latest book, "Personal Best," and other running stuff, visit my website: www.muldowneyrunning.com.