Yesterday I was in surprisingly good spirits, considering the environment. Maybe it was because the sun was shining and it was a mild 32 degrees, or maybe it was because it was Friday, or maybe it was because I knew that as soon as my work day was over I was heading to the gym for a mega-dose of physical punishment. I’m talking a trifecta here: 1. Safari class (think Zumba, with an African flavor), 2. Yoga class, 3. Logging every mile I can muster on the treadmill. The reality is it’s crunch time. Hyannis is 22 days away and I have lots of catching up to do. I was genuinely looking forward to hitting the gym after work, and suddenly the three feet of snow outside didn’t seem quite so unbearable.
I worked at home yesterday and since I couldn’t run, I decided go snowshoeing in the trails behind the house. The trails were especially tricky to navigate due to the deep snow and recent ice storm that left a thick coating of glaze to crush through. A quarter of a mile in and my glutes were on fire. Great! Awesome cross training! What a great idea this was! While snowshoeing I got to thinking about my other main activities, running and mountain biking. A lot of people have asked me why I don’t move up a notch and do triathlons. Two reasons: 1. I hate swimming. The only body of water I’ll go into is a Jacuzzi. 2. I do not ride on roads. Cars scare me, wild animals do not. It’s unfortunate that triathlons require these specific sports. If we could change it up a bit, I would love to try one. For example, if instead of road biking it was changed to mountain biking. And if instead of swimming it was kayaking. That I would gladly sign up for. Then I got to thinking, you know, I might be onto something here. Who says triathlons can only be swim-bike-run? Why not kayak-mountain bike-run? Or, speed skate-snowshoe-run? I haven’t worked out all the details and I’m sure someone has already beaten me to this, but I think this is an adventure worth pursuing. After all, different physical pursuits and challenges are always popping up. Tough Mudder and Ragnar relays are examples of extreme alternatives to just-your-average-race. I know a guy that just this weekend flew from Kansas City to North Carolina to compete in the Krispy Kreme Challenge: a 2 mile run to a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, an “obstacle” to consume 12 honey glazed doughnuts, and a 2 mile run back. Then I wondered philosophically, would that be considered a dualthlon (running-eating-running), or a triathlon (running-eating-absence of vomiting)?
Shortly after returning from my exhausting lunch time adventure, I received a message from my sister telling me the gym was closed until further notice due to a failing roof, under threat of collapse from the weight of the snow. After exclaiming a smorgasbord of profanities, I realized she must be joking. She probably just read my blog, saw how desperate I’ve been for miles, and like a typical big sister was just looking to get me riled up. I tried to play it cool when responding, but eventually I realized this was no joke. The gym was closed. Those rotten treadmills I’ve learned to love and love to hate were locked up and getting dripped on by a leaking roof. As if Mother Nature hadn’t messed with me enough already, she dealt me one last blow. I was furious, and felt completely out of control. Having tried everything to get in a decent run, everything I tried failed. I hated snow even more right at that moment, and decided to take my frustrations out on my own roof. I climbed onto the roof and shoveled until it was too dark to see. It was my own little private revenge on Mother Nature.
Today I vowed not to be a victim to the snow. I would do whatever was necessary to get a run in and log some miles. I sent a message to Ron, asking if I could join him at his gym. He agreed, but it wouldn’t be for a while. In the meantime I took the dog for a walk out the street and used it as an opportunity to check out the road conditions. If absolutely necessary, could I run up and down the road repeatedly to accumulate miles? After a short walk it was clear that the road was still not in good enough condition to run. It still had a fair amount of snow on the road and was quite slippery. While I continued to wait for Ronnie to call me back, I killed some time going snowshoeing again. Shortly after I strapped on the snowshoes it started raining. Oh, Mother Nature. Bite me. I made my way down the trails, quickly warming up from the strenuous exercise, and considered the absurdity of my current situation. Here I am, on a 30 degree winter day, snowshoeing in the freezing rain while hoping and praying for my phone to ring so I can hurry down to Rhode Island for a free trip on a treadmill.
As I continued my adventure, feeling sorry for myself, I remembered a conversation I had last night. I had met up with some friends at a local bar and spent some time chatting with the bartender, an old friend from high school I hadn’t seen in… oh… 17 years. While I complained about the snow and how it was screwing me up so much this winter he said, “I love New England, and all the different seasons. Think about it. Every story we have revolves around weather. You remember events based on the season: if there was snow on the ground, if the leaves were changing, if it was the first frost. Wouldn’t stories be so boring without that frame of reference?” It didn’t mean much to me at the time (I think I was still shaking snow out of my pants), but out there in the woods today it started to make a lot of sense. I thought about some of my more memorable moments and quickly realized the weather connection. Like the time we had a tornado fly through our campground during a group camping trip with the horses. We refer to that as the “tornado” trip, and I even have the Me-and-my-horse-survived-the-tornado-of-2008 commemorative T-shirt as a reminder. Then there was the mid-August camping trip where the temperature overnight got below freezing. No one in camp was prepared for such extreme cold except for one friend who came out of her trailer sporting a fuzzy winter hat with ear flaps. Everyone was impressed with her foresight to pack winter garments on a mid-August camping trip and now it’s become the standard for all of us. (Note: the following year we had a heat wave, 100 degree temperatures, in which we had to cut the rides short or eliminate them altogether and stay in the shade). Other camping trips have involved extreme floods and evacuations, and those stories inevitably get retold time and time again. I can’t think of a story at the moment that is frequently retold involving average temperatures and forgettable wind chills.
While I can’t control every aspect of my training plan, and I certainly can’t control the weather, I can control my reaction to it. I’m going to continue doing everything I can to prepare for Hyannis but I know I won’t be in top shape. The race might hurt a little, but one way or another I will finish it. A short time from now we’ll be looking back on this winter laughing, and I’ll be saying, “That was the year I trained for the Hyannis half marathon on nothing but snowshoes!”, and we will laugh harder. I certainly won’t get a PR at Hyannis, but this winter has been a collective PR for me. It’s been the winter I’ve logged more miles on snowshoes than Asics, and overcome some ridiculous obstacles in pursuit of fitness. In the triathlon of Snowshoe-Snow Shovel-Nose Blow, I win. J