Tuesday, February 16, 2016

That's Tough

I have a rule: I’m allowed to complain as much as I want in the winter about the weather, provided I don’t complain at all in the other three seasons. I think my complaining at this point might be outweighing my not-complaining to the point where my rule isn’t fair to other people anymore. I haven’t posted since I talked about learning to run in the cold. I have simply been putting my head down, whining, and slogging forward. I honestly do not want to. I want to curl up inside next to a fire with a book. I want to sleep when it’s dark outside.

I thought I was pretty tough. I ride galloping horses and jump scary jumps. I lead climb outside. I grin when I bleed and call it a good time. I ran a Boston-qualifying time at my last marathon with stomach cramps the whole way and still negative split. I practice Bikram Yoga in 105 degree heat once a week. I like backcountry camping. I can grit my teeth and outlast plank-holding competitions or arm-wrestling competitions with anyone that doesn’t completely overwhelm me in fitness or muscle power (Arrogant? Yes. Try me.). I started a ‘diet’ three months ago wherein I don’t eat dessert or chocolate for three weeks, followed by one week of unlimited chocolate. I can do delayed gratification.

But facing the reality of running outside in freezing cold turns me into a blubbery mass of whiny weeny-ness. I have the right equipment. I start out freezing cold, heat up to comfortable, sweat through my clothes, get cold from the sweat, and then heat up again. I wear a balaclava when it’s cold enough. I have a hat and gloves and puff jacket. I seem to always need a layer more than everyone else, even when just walking around, but I take that into account. I am not happy. Is there a point at which this ever becomes comfortable? Or is it just learning to “grin and bear it”?

This is so much worse than being hot. When I’m hot, I’m not afraid. Yes, I actually get a background buzz of fear in my brain when I feel cold. It trips some ancient awareness that survival is not guaranteed. It makes my heart beat just a little bit faster and more miserably. My muscles hurt and I can’t breathe as well.

Boohoo. I am not going to literally die. I am running in urban areas. I can duck into a store or restaurant, knock on someone’s door, catch a taxi, or flag down a passing car if I really need to.

The truth is, I am not nearly as tough as I thought I was.

I want to be tough. I want to be a ninja badass wind. Telling myself “it’s not that bad” has not worked. I get really annoyed when others say it to me. I don’t believe it when I say it. This past weekend, I abandoned that strategy. I was scheduled to run with my new running group Saturday morning at 8:30am. The predicted temperature was 16 degrees. There was no putting a nice spin on it; it was going to suck.

But I decided I was doing it anyway. And I was going to be grateful for each annoying, ouchy step. Every mile would add to my ninja-badass-wind points, and when I’m doing 20 milers in May, I can think back on how much worse things could be.

So I ran. I did not die. In fact, I was alive. Super, super, super alive. Nothing like pain to remind you that you do in fact exist.

Then I went home and watched Shalane Flanagan be tougher than a tortilla chip left in the sun for two weeks. #goals

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