One thing I remember hating about the East Coast was how pale everyone became during the winter, fish-white and weak-looking. And one thing I loved about Arizona was how people were brown all year round. If I could pick the one look I wanted to achieve, it would be Arizona leather-skin ranch woman. I pictured myself at 60 with brown skin, maps of wrinkles around my eyes from squinting into the sun, long grey hair probably always tangled from being outside in the wind, and maybe a couple of melanomas to go along with all that sun. Well, here in Michigan after this brutal winter I have reached the stage where my legs and my ass are exactly the same color. It is depressing. This week is the first week of shorts and T-shirts (for running, anyway), and while I am very excited about that, the sickly, unhealthy pale skin is the opposite of exciting. Even when I'm out in the sun, I suspect that the sun in Michigan just doesn't have the strength to "toast" me properly. The sun is weak too. Yes, I know that sun exposure is bad and dangerous, but... but... but... I want to be tan and strong-looking like I was in Tucson! Maybe it's time for a tanning salon?
Or maybe it's time for a diet. I had my phsyical a couple days ago, and, while I actually feel about the healthiest I've ever been in my whole life, I was pretty horrified at the number on the scale. I am going to say it just because no one ever seems to post their weight when they are fat -- only when they are skinny and proud of it -- 167 pounds! A good weight for me is 150; a good, lean, racing weight is 145; my Boston-qualifying weight was 133. So I am now 34 pounds heavier than I was when I finished the San Diego Rock-n-Roll Marathon and qualified for Boston. This is the same weight I was at my fattest in recent memory, when I ran the St. George Marathon in 2008 and my weight was high enough to put me in the Clydesdale category! (I also got a time of 3:51 in that marathon -- not impressive, but respectable -- so, maybe, who cares?)
The actual effects of being fat are not so bad. I'm running pretty well, surprisingly, 8:00-8:15 pace most of the time, which makes me wonder how fast I'd be running if I were 30 or even 15 pounds lighter. Do my clothes still fit? Well, define "fit". I still wear all the same clothes, but I can't exactly put things in my pockets comfortably while wearing them, and I admit that the need to wear layers ended just in time. I don't look at myself and think I look terrible (unless I tried to squeeze into my skinny jeans, which I would not do). I think I look pretty good, actually. So if my clothes still fit, I'm running well, I like how I look, and all the important numbers from my physical are what they should be, do I really have a reason to stop eating at Tim Horton's and making a regular practice of having two dinners every night (the one post-workout, and the other right before I go to bed)? Maybe not! Everyone I run with has also got a good layer of winter fat on, and they don't ever seem inclined to skip the post-run beers, so maybe I should just accept that people in cold climates get fat in the winter?
I am two weeks into an 18-week training schedule for the half-Ironman in August, and it's going well so far, so maybe the increased activity by itself will burn off the fat. And eventually it will be warm here, supposedly. (I have seen 70 in the forecast; that's a good sign!)