Thursday, January 24, 2013

I have to at least try

We're only a few days — out of I don't know how many — into the cold snap, so I'm afraid that I'll jinx myself by saying this.

It's not been that bad for me ... running-wise. (I didn't particularly enjoy that frozen gas line that killed the heat for at least seven hours Monday.)

I nearly wimped out Sunday, walking from my car back into my apartment. The previous night had included a bizarre two-hour wakeful period, and my stomach was happily full of El Mariachi. A nap sounded far better than cold, snow and wind.

It was too early in the training schedule to cave, though. "You have to at least try," I told myself, and I ended up having a fabulous run. Getting the windy portion out of the way first helped, but I also just love the squeak of sneakers in the snow. Don't know why.

Hal Higdon said to rest Monday, and I did not argue (in fact, I don't think I saw a single runner out and about). Tuesday's weather reading didn't look much better — 6 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 2, at 9:30 a.m. — but Sunday's wintry triumph kept me on the straight and narrow. You at least have to try.

From the neck up, I looked like a bug exterminator:

And from the neck down, I looked normal ... but I wasn't. Yoga pants over the running tights; thermal socks over the Balegas; short-sleeved T-shirt over the thicker long-sleeved T-shirt, all topped by a windbreaker; and gloves tucked into the jacket cuffs.

The final measure of protection: Because I only needed to go three miles, I just picked a half-mile stretch along my apartment complex and did it six times, in case hypothermia set in.

So of course, everything went fine; I even pulled down the face mask a few times. My thighs never quite loosened up, and I found myself stopping for a breath and a nose-clearing every half-mile, but otherwise it was pleasant enough where I couldn't even brag about still going out despite the conditions.

At this point, I was bursting with love for winter runs. I shed a layer (the outer T-shirt) in celebration of Wednesday's 17 degrees ... but picked a route based on terrain, not wind direction, and suffered all the way home.

Still, though I couldn't wait to return to the warm, still air of my apartment, that failed tempo run was exactly what I needed. It feels refreshing and invigorating, despite the fatigue; cleansing, despite the sweat and car fumes; and disciplined, despite all the procrastination and escape plans I build in.

And I've found the phrase that will push me out the door: I have to at least try.

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