Yesterday morning as I trudged in a semi-conscious state to Starbucks, it hit me. Ugh winter is coming. It literally hit me in the form of a blast of cold air from the Canal. Earlier this week I talked about how I love fall. What a pretty season!
We are now in that part of the season when I change my mind and say “Screw it, I prefer spring – it gets warmer not colder as the season progresses.” I am grudgingly packing up my shorts and sundresses, keeping the tank tops only because they can be layered, and the thick sweaters and long pants are coming back from the dungeon. I shake my fist at the sky every time a grey cloud rolls in, just in case it’s carrying snow. I brought up my boots Monday, and this morning asked Google to remind me to find my headband when I got home.
Normally all of this would signal the commencement of Operation Grizzly (a.k.a. the 5-6 month period I camp out in my house sipping hot chocolate and Baileys in sweats talking about how much I can’t wait for spring). Problem is that I signed up for Ottawa Race Weekend’s 40th Half-Marathon. Which I’m super excited for. Especially since this year my mom and I convinced my dad to do it. Problem with this decision? It means that the bulk of my training will occur during the coldest and darkest parts of the year. So when it’s minus 30 with the wind chill, I will be running. On Sundays when it’s not even light out, I will be running. Or on my way to the Running Room. Let’s just hope it’s at least up by the time I get back or I might cry. Full on ugly cry.
In an attempt to ease my suffering, or at least not make it worse by essentially learning to run again in the middle of winter, Omar and I agreed to push each other to show up to Run Club every Sunday. I then skipped the next three weeks, though in my defense, one of them I was injured, the second I relocated Run Club to the treadmill in my parents’ basement, and the third I went, just not in the right city. The theory behind our clever plan is that as the distances increase, unless you keep up a fairly intense running schedule, it’ll be too nuts, thus I am forced to keep up an active run schedule.
Great plan right?
Yeah in theory, but walking over the Laurier bridge yesterday morning I thought “nope, nope, nope, nope, with a side of hell no.” I had thought of a run, but ugh it’s too cold! At about -2°C, I had already decided it was too cold. I reasoned that I wouldn’t normally run Fridays, and I had already run twice this week, but that excuse is invalid today and Sunday. It is going to be a long winter folks. Very long indeed.
When I think of the five worst episodes of physical activity, most of them occur in the winter. In fact the only bad episode may have been my first run in temperatures above 25°C when I was unprepared for the effects of humid heat on my cardiovascular system. But there are ways around the heat, run earlier and it’s not so bad; take off a few layers and run in the basics, even better. In the winter, life just sucks.
Exhibit A: the time my brother invited me to go skating. I ended up a giant bruise (that’s right I didn’t have bruises, I had so many I had become a bruise), and because I lean on my ankles when I skate, I had blisters that were so bad it took three weeks to heal.
Then there was the time I walked for a week doped up on Tylenol with tissues in my pocket because I had such a bad cold that I couldn’t breathe but was determined to train.
First year was apparently just a bad year all around for me. Probably because after my first half-marathon I became a very lazy half-marathoner, only going out when there were near ideal conditions, or at least only when nothing falling from the sky and the temperature was above hell frozen over. I remember training for my first half-marathon, at the time I was pretty hard-core about it – if my schedule said go out, I went out. One day in particular I’m recalling, it was cold enough that there was still a lot of snow on the ground, and if my memory serves me correctly this was somewhere around late February. So it was supposed to be winter. It was pouring rain. There were 4-inch puddles on the sidewalk, and there was so much rain that the puddles actually stretched across all 5 lanes on Laurier at Elgin. Reasonable to not go right? I still went. I fell ass-over-tea-kettle before I even made it out of the residence parking lot. I fell at least three more times on the 3 kilometer loop I was doing.
Also that year? The day my brother Cory and I went out for 16k in the freezing rain. He called me in the morning to check that I still wanted to go, it was going to be ten below with 50km/h winds, and the possibility of freezing rain. I rationed that it wasn’t that cold, and if it was that cold, it couldn’t rain, plus the forecast said there was only a 30% chance of precipitation. He dutifully showed up and I put on every layer of dry-fit I owned. Turns out I was very wrong. Very, very wrong. It was freezing, by the tenth kilometer I couldn’t feel my feet, which was probably good because my socks had become soaked sponges, but it is hard to walk when you can’t feel your feet. It was every bit as windy as the weather had said it was going to be. By 12k, it had started to rain. Which didn’t seem physically possibly given the current temperature, which was approximately ten below too cold. We stopped at this point for coffee and stood quietly in the corner dripping, convincing ourselves that we had to get back somehow. After getting puddle splashed around kilometer 15, I was begging for mercy while my brother jibbed me about skipping out on the last 2 kilometers we would be missing off the 18 kilometers we had originally planned. I told him to bite my frozen ass.
Moral of the stories: ice is dangerous, but did I really regret my decision to go out? No.
Second moral? Go for the run.
It is going to be a long and painful winter. This will be the first year I have remained active after each of my half-marathons, but I am committed to this whole being a runner thing. Which I guess means always being up for a run? And running at least 3 days a week year round, not just intensely for 4 months? I can do it, right?
I made it through the entire summer getting up at 7AM to run so I would be just slightly below internally boiling, at least this season sleeping in is almost preferable. On the upside, this week has presented near ideal temperatures, and given that I am not overheating, I have actually managed to shave between 15 and 20 seconds off my pace per kilometer. I guess this winter thing won’t be so bad. At least it won’t be raining? Upsides?
Worst case – as I told Doug during the Army Run, I’d better be getting Airmiles for all these trips to my happy place.