Let me just say that I have had enough.
It has been winter for at least a year and a day. Maybe a day more. I wouldn’t know because all I know is dark, cold, wind, snow, dark, cold, snow, ice. There has been about a billion feet of snow in my front yard for two months. The pile has melted, froze, melted, been snowed upon so many times that right now it is a treacherous mix of dog shit, ice and yellow snow. My dog won’t even go on it anymore. He has resorted to sidewalk near the shrubs.
Usually I am hard core. All about running outside in winter. This year – not so much. And that is SO hard for me to swallow because I have taken a big step this year. When I have to “give up” because of weather or extenuating circumstances or reasons beyond my control I feel like I’m making excuses. Because if I really wanted it BAD I’d be out there. But come on. Out where? It’s just not safe. There is nowhere to run. Where do you run when the sidewalks are covered in snow, the streets are covered in ice? And have you seen the potholes! Where do you run? WHERE!
There are times when I have wondered if running circles in my basement or just running in place would count. Because I can no longer tolerate running outdoors. It was 5 degrees today. FIVE. You don’t run when it’s 5. You can barely even start your car when it’s 5. You don’t go outside to get your mail. You don’t even mind if your dog poops in the house because 5 is SO DAMN COLD!
The other day I just had to laugh. It was the only appropriate response I could think of. Some of my pals were emailing from MUCH WARMER (and even if it’s 40 that is MUCH WARMER) climates to tell me they didn’t want to run outside because it was raining. Or because it was too cold (apparently there are places in this world where 40 is considered cold, I would consider that an unseasonably warm day right now). Or - just because.
*Right now, I would trade my dog for a day of 40 and rain. My husband for partly cloudy and 50. And coffee – I’d give it up for sunny and 70 degrees*
That is how desperate this situation has gotten. But still, I am tough. *right?* I had to prove it. I was going to run outdoors. It was Sunday after the monster swim. I had a 70 minute run. I was tired but I could handle that. I thought it was ok to run outside. Earlier in the day it had been 45 degrees but raining. But when you’ve been underwater already for 2 hours and 45 minutes that day, what’s another hour – ten? Somewhere between getting dressed and getting outside the temperature dropped about 30 degrees. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I made the turn on my out-and-back course. The wind whipped from the west at 30 mph sending piercing daggers of icy snow sleet rain into my face. My face and hands were so cold that at 50 minutes I said to myself…
I have had enough. This is not worth it. My heart rate is going nowhere. I am running slower than Ironman pace. I am running into a wind so tough that it is literally pushing me into the gutter. And not only that but when you are forced to run in the middle of the street because it is the safest place to run – well you realize that a heck of a lot of people are out driving on a Sunday at 3 pm.
When I got back inside I felt defeated and disappointed in myself. I had given up! I never give up in a workout. Better to slog it out slowly than to surrender in defeat. I wrote to my coach looking for a kick in the ass that said GET BACK OUTSIDE. While waiting for the kick to arrive I sat at the kitchen table with my head in my arms. Chris asked what was wrong. I told him I was cold. He kind of gave me that look like put your balaclava on and get your ass back outside. Finish the 20 minutes left in the run. I sat there sad with myself because I had lost my edge for the day.
But then Chris took the dog outside.
A few minutes later, he came up to me. “There is no way you can run in that Liz. I can’t even stand outside.”
And you know what? My coach never did send that kick. She said to put on pajamas and call it a day. Which made me think – ah, she must have run outside today too. …..she knows (because normally she would e-mail that kick right away).
Sometimes though I think she forgets. On my schedule for tomorrow is a brick. I see my coach has written that I should wear my race outfit. I believe she has lost her mind. Because if I run outside in my shorts and jog bra for sure I will be arrested for public intoxication. But dammit if my coach says to stand on my head I’ll do it so if you see a crazy woman running down the street very inappropriately dressed…that would be me.
But all joking aside, it is really cold. This winter has been hard. I think to myself – of all the winters to choose to turn pro – surprise! Look what I get. But I do believe in life things happen for a reason. I do believe if someone or something didn’t think I was tough enough to handle something this tough and cold they wouldn’t throw it at me. This winter is a character builder for sure. And if I can emerge after 3 hour basement rides, sweaty hot indoor to freezing cold outdoor bike to run bricks, treadmill runs, windy icy rain slog fests on top of snow…..well, if I can train through all of that then I do believe I can race through anything.
One of my athletes who actually lives in a state that right now is colder than Illinois (it does exist) was telling me that she did not want to run the other day. Or maybe it was swim. Whatever it was – she was tired of the weather, tired of being cold. She has big goals. And so I told her this: Anyone can train when they want to, champions train when they don’t want to. That quote is nothing new, it is not my own. But it says a lot about why we do this. And why we need to keep at it.
When I wrote that to her I felt like I was also writing it to myself. And I realized we are all in this together. And need to keep each other motivated. Those of us in cold weather states are getting hit hard this winter and we have questioned our decisions to set big goals or train for triathlons or try to keep up with warm weather competitors. We have no reason to doubt ourselves or worry that when we run on snow we are running too slow. Hard work is hard work. No matter where you are. Anyone can push themselves. But push yourself while running into a 30 mph icy headwind – now that takes something else. Keep it up, cold weather friends. Keep at it.