Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Well, not today, of course, as anyone in any part of the country that was violated by this late-winter blast of nastiness knows. This is the blog post I meant to write on Friday, or maybe it was Thursday, whatever that day last week was that it was WARM. (Not Tucson-warm, but Michigan-warm.) I'm writing it today instead of when it happened because when it happened I was outside enjoying it, not inside writing about it. Today, on the other hand, I have just returned from walking the dogs, a miserable slog through the latest 8 or so inches dumped on top of the grimy, pitted remains of the rest of the winter's unmelted snow. (At least it looks fresh and white again! There are few things more disgusting than late winter's leftover snow when most of it has melted and all the frozen trash and dog crap buried underneath are reemerging.) It's cold again too. The Carhartt snowsuit, the wader boots, the heavy gloves, all had been put away and had to be pulled out again. But even though today is an awful day (albeit made slightly better by an early dismissal from work), it is inevitable that spring is coming and soon, soon, soon! I can play outside again.

The feeling of the first not-miserably cold day is hard to describe. Giddy, joyful, glorious, alive with a sense of possibility, all come close. Last year the first snow that stuck and left no doubt that the terrible WINTER was here happened on November 22. On November 23 I layered up and set out, determined not to let weather stop me just like I didn't let 110 degrees stop me from running in Arizona. After having run less than a mile, I slipped and fell on a sheet of ice buried under the snow. I wasn't hurt, but the fear was now there, and if it was freezing at any point during the day* I could not run anything like fast, because I was too afraid of the ice monster hiding under the snow. (*It was always freezing at some point during the day. We've had well over 100 days this winter where it never got above freezing, and on most of them, to the best of my recollection, we've never even gotten close.) Anyway, I picked myself up from that fall and ran the rest of that 13-mile run, and haven't run outside since then, other than during vacations to California and Arizona, which seem like they happened in dreams. My reality now is cold and snow and biting wind and thermals and Carhartt and boots and gloves and running on the treadmill.

But on Friday there were none of those things. Oh, sure, there were huge... puddles is not the word, more like half-block-long lakes of frigid meltwater to splash through, but there was no ice anywhere at all on the sidewalk, and on the east side of the road where the sun hit in the afternoon the sidewalks were bone-dry. The air wasn't cold enough to freeze snot (that happens!) or hurt teeth just by breathing it in. I started with gloves but took them off in less than a mile. I passed lots of other runners and every one of them waved and smiled and I did the same back. We're free! Released from the prison of the treadmill! I was supposed to run four miles but ended up doing six just because it felt so good to be outside and not freezing. Best of all, I was able to average 8:05 pace. Not great by any means, but considering my 20 pounds of winter fat and the fact that I've been on the treadmill for months and this whole run was made of hills, I was pretty proud of it! I am sure at least some of the reason I had such a good run was that in my head I was yelling, "Take THAT, winter! Die, evil bitch, die! You have ruled for a long time but Mr. Sun is going to VANQUISH you! See Mr. Sun over there? Feel his warmth on your face? I DO!!" and other things of that nature. (I think I was only yelling them in my head. I may have been yelling out loud. I'm not sure.)

I can't wait till I can run outside every day in just one layer, and the gym is a thing of the past except for swimming. I can't wait till I can bike again! Although, looking at the shape these roads are in I'm not sure I can EVER bike again. Talk about potholes... these are more like sinkholes. Giant, axle-busting, car-wrecking sinkholes that eat up entire curbside lanes. (See, for example, article here and video here.) How or when these will ever be fixed is impossible to know, but until they are, I'm probably not going to bike anywhere except at Stoney Creek, and that's after I drive my bike there in my car. That is where all the triathletes train on the bike anyway. Oh, Michigan, you suck so much for road bikers...

Anyway, spring is almost here even though I am in thermals again sitting in front of the heat dish trying to thaw out from walking the dogs, and looking at a low of 0 for tomorrow and a range of 10-27 for Sunday, 5k day. It's worth it to be here, it's worth it to be here, it's worth it to be here! Right?

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