I’m done with winter

It snowed again the other night. It is winter and it is still March. I’m just saying I’m over it. I’m ready for warmer weather.

After a winter of running in temperatures that hung in the single digits for three full weeks. I miss the freedom of slipping on my running shoes a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Now its socks, tights, long-sleeved shirt, face mask, hat, and a fleece jacket. It’s so difficult for me to go outside when the temperatures are what I would expect if I were living in the Arctic. It’s still dark when I run in the morning which can sometimes add to the depressed feeling I sometimes get when I run in these temperatures. The morning run is my thing. The opportunity to not have to dodge (too many) cars make me a happy person.

Snow covered

Clear roads during the winter months. This is always a crapshoot. If it has snowed the likelihood that I’ll be slogging through several inches of snow is real. I hate running in this much snow as much as I hate running on the beach in the loose sand. Then there’s the black ice and sidewalks which have been neglected by their owners forcing me to retreat to the street and take my life into my own hands. Despite the plethora of reflective gear and lights, blinking and solid, I still occasionally wonder if I am a purposeful target of the drivers of passing cars.

Street view

Black ice is the master of my fear. It is that treacherous ice which does not appear to be slippery until one puts their weight on it and realizes, on the way to the ground that it is in fact ice. Those who live in warmer climates and have not ventured north during the winter months have asked: “What is black ice?” Black ice, as defined by the dictionary is as follows:

black ice

ˌblak ˈīs/

noun

a transparent coating of ice, found especially on a road or other paved surface.

River view

As the days become longer and more daylight becomes present, I live for those days in a portion of the world where sunlight becomes something which I need for my mental as well as my physical health. Soon I will be able to cease ingesting Vitamin D tablets. Sunshine pushes me out the door. Just the desire to be outdoors sans the heavy apparel of winter is enough to lift my mood.

Soon. Soon I am told, at least by the calendar that winter will come to a close and spring will follow. The days will continue to increase in length. The sun will make more frequent and lengthier appearances and temperatures will continue to become warmer allowing the change of clothing to include shorts and t-shirts.

Advertisements

The Grayness of the Day

I woke up this morning to 6″ of fresh snow. This was quite a change from the bare grass which was uncovered after the previous snow had melted. The temperatures, more seasonable this morning approached 16 degrees. The bitter cold stinging my face. I pull the face mask up a little bit higher and lean forward as I make my way through the newly fallen snow. My thoughts drift to the previous days run when the pavement was dry, snow was absent from the landscape and the temperature was 40-degrees, a far cry from the temperatures this morning.

There are times during every winter where I seem to drift like the snow through the gray of winter. There is little desire to run and often traveling to work to listen to the problems of others is also a struggle. I move slowly through the morning envious of those individuals in warmer climates who are not shoveling snow. There is an argument in my brain, so I rise, dress and go for a run or do I stay in bed for another hour? My inner groundhog insists there are 6-more weeks of winter. It is often the run which wins as I remind myself how I feel when I have laced up the running shoes, turned on the headlamp and head out the door.

winter running

My spirit needs light. It is this light for which I long and for which my spirit longs. I exit my house and make my way to the car for the drive to the office. The sky, a blanket of gray which does not seem to go away and which seems endless as it stretches the length of the horizon.

The end of the day arrives. I exit my office and am happy the sun when we see it in this hemisphere, makes itself present. I know longer days are coming and with it increasing warmth and more sun

I’m getting there or why I didn’t listen to the voice in my head.

I haven’t written my blog for a couple of months. There has been little desire and frankly, beyond writing in my journal the thought of writing seemed more like a chore.

 
I have no good reason for not writing more. It’s not that I was too busy there just hasn’t been anything in my head that I felt like writing about. This winter has been long and as of this writing (March 26) is getting on my nerves. I’ve written in the past about my love for winter and I do, love winter but seriously; I’m about done with this season. I woke this morning to snow…again. My heart sinks when I see it. I know it sounds like whining but quite a few people who I cross paths with agree, this winter can go away.
 
I haven’t run with any consistency since the Super bowl. I ran that Sunday when I had no business doing anything other than getting up, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner and watching tv. But I did run. By mile three I wasn’t feeling it. I  thought about calling my wife for a ride but I succumbed to the voice in my head which kept uttering the word “whimp.” So I kept running. I stopped three or four more times still not feeling anything other than a strong desire to get home. I thought again about calling my wife for a ride and again the voice in my head put that idea to rest. By now there was a hitch in my stride that “felt better as I ran.” The next voice in my head kept calling me “idiot.” I knew it wasn’t good. I knew this pain would result in time off. I checked in with my body throughout the run but that voice too was overpowered by the voice in my head. I felt tense, tight and had even less rhythm than I normally have. Each stride felt forced; my body and mind arguing. My mind won.  
 
Here it is a little over two months later. A few visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist and a helluva lot of stretching and I’m finally able to run 3-miles without pain. There’s some mild discomfort which hangs around long enough to remind me to not rush back. Last year I was injured and unable to run when I arrived in Florida and the entire summer was missed. I won’t let that happen this year.
 
I ran 5K on Monday and felt really good. The run felt good, physically and emotionally. If it hadn’t been for the injury and my recovery plan, I would have gone further. It was that kind of run. I have done quite a bit of walking and have used this form of locomotion as an adjunct therapy
 
For now, I’ll keep listening to that voice in my head.

I did it again.

I did it again!

 
I found myself, allowing myself to become so frustrated with this long winter and getting overwhelmed by work that I missed the signs. The signs were apparently screaming at me and I apparently had the volume muted. 
 
The bottom line is I ran when I shouldn’t have. The desire was purely to “put in more miles”. I should have listened to my body over the previous weeks. I thought I was listening because there was no pain and no discomfort. I just listened to the wrong voices. These were the voices that said, “Don’t get up (at 4:30 AM).” “Don’t run. It’s not a race to put in more miles so stop comparing yourself to others.” This voice, if I would have heeded it’s cautionary note would have saved me from pain, discomfort and more importantly the depression of not being able to run.
 
This Saturday I meet with my chiropractor. I’m taking it as a good sign that this Saturday is not only one which he had available but also there was an available appointment. Despite the diagnosis, I’ll not be running for a few weeks and when given the OK to return to exercise, it’ll be something mildly less stressful to my body.
 
I spent quite a bit of time journaling this past weekend and thinking of the decision I have made to push myself. We hear all the time “If we want to improve we need to push ourselves.” I also need to be reminded that “If we want to remain injury free we need to not push ourselves.”
 
For now, I’m OK with not pushing myself. I want to be able to run for many years to come and do so with little to no injury. An injury last year forced me to miss the entire Spring and Summer. Not a step from April through the end of August. Not running involves a level of humility which I thought I had reached…but will be tested yet again. My goal is to pass the test this time and to not have to repeat the class.

Ah January…

This is the month when I struggle the most. Despite this knowledge and what I call above average preparation, it still seems to sneak up on me.
I woke this morning to the sound of my alarm. I showered and went to the chiropractor. One of two private patients attended their appointment and I went to Tim Hortons for coffee with Scrooge. Then a trip to have an oil change and a tire rotation.
I sat in the waiting room waiting for my car to be complete, I feel tired, like my head is in the clouds. Sitting in waiting for my car to be done, I think only of going home and taking a nap. I gave out the window in disappointment; the skies are thick and grey, snow is falling and I’m already beginning to think of my busy schedule next week. An app is definitely in order with some TV, a glass of wine and my Kindle.
The maintenance to my car is complete. I know this because the salesman said he has called my name several times. I pay for the work, get into in my car and drive home. The roads are slippery with a new coating of new snow. The sadness I felt as I drove increasing as I approached home. Much as a horse sensing the nearby stable begins to pick up its gate in anticipation of reaching home and solitude.
When I reach the safety of my driveway and back my car into it’s space, I remove my jacket and place it on its hook next to my office. I retreated to my bedroom, turn on the TV and pull out the pile of mail which has been haunting me throughout the week. This is a daunting task which I attempt to put off once again so I close my eyes for a few minutes but neither sleep nor the drowsy state before sleep find me.
The day progressed and darkness descended. Surprisingly, my mood began to lift. Darkness for me during this time of year becomes something of a friend. It allows me not to see the grey skies with their low-hanging clouds. The same clouds which form an impenetrable barrier against the Sun and blankets the northeast for much of the winter that even the briefest appearances of the Sun are cause for celebration.

As pen touches paper, my thoughts pour from the nib much like the rain which is falling outside. The weather forecast is predicting 4 to 8 inches of new snow beginning Tuesday night. With this news sadness begins to find me once again. I reach for my fountain pen and write in my journal in the attempt to relieve the stress which has been building.

I hope that through the night the rain will cease, my alarm will gently wake me and I can sleep on my running shoes and allow the solitude of a long run to bring back the balance in my life.
This next week will be a week away from running. After forcing a run “to get in more miles” I hurt something in my right leg. I will also use this time to relax and write and allow the remainder of the winter to wash over me like the cold winds which blow over the snow.

The Blizzard of 2014

I woke this morning to the sound of a snowplow at the apartment complex across the street from my home. After peering through the slats of the blinds and glancing at the clock, I decided to head back to bed. The temperature with the wind chill continued to hover in the below-zero teens. I decided, with my best interest in mind to return to bed. Another day escaped without a run. The thought of hiking to the gym and running for an hour on the treadmill was a thought which lasted as long as the blink of an eye.

 
I woke an hour later, grabbed my Kindle and read for an hour until Jack yawned, stretched, rose on the bed and walked toward me where he sat down. He stared at me with that questioning look asking, “Why are you still in bed? I need to go outside and I’m hungry.” The morning for me, even after a run is the time of “a thousand little things to do.” Walk the dog. Feed the dog. Take out the garbage. Take out the recycling. Shovel the driveway. Brush off the cars. Start the cars. Start the Vespa. I was happy I decided to go for the new battery last night. Another day/night of consistently below freezing temperatures would have taken it’s toll and possibly left me stranded. Jack and I returned from his walk in the brisk temperatures. As he ages I realize his step is more tentative. He doesn’t like the cold. As I grow older I realize I have learned how to tolerate the cold. When you live in the Northeast, it is what it is. If you don’t learn to manage it, you had better move to a warmer climate.
 
Jack and I both ate our breakfasts. He appears famished as he ravenously gulps his food and stands by my side as I cook eggs hoping something might fall. Of course it does  but not on purpose. I read again as I eat my eyes returning to the top of the page and again make eye contact with Jack. It seems as though he knows just where to sit. When he realizes I have made eye contact with him he retreats and moves to my side. Perhaps the thought is if he makes himself more well known, I might give in and feed him again. Or perhaps his thought is simply that I did not see him from his previous vantage point.
 
After a shower and getting dressed for work I make another pot of coffee, this one for work. I depress the plunger on the French Press the light colored oils rise to the top. The smell forces me to close my eyes and drink it in. Smiling, I wait for the coffee to brew before storing it in my thermos for the ride to the office.
Image
 
I arrived ready to see my first patient to find the first three had canceled leaving my schedule empty until 3:00 PM. I contact other patients on my call back list but none are willing to venture out in the cold and wait at a bus stop to see me for counseling. Again, it is what it is. Another thing over which I have little control.
 
As I sit at my desk, Peter Gabriel emanating from the iPod speaker on my desk, I read on-line that the blizzard warning has been lifted. When I left my home for the drive to the office, the sun was brilliantly shining and the main roads were clear. Temperatures are forecast for a high of 17 which means a wind-chill around zero. Definitely comfortable enough to resume running. The roads should be relatively clear by tomorrow morning and when I run at 4:30 AM, relatively safe from traffic. Gatorade is already mixed and warm running clothing is already laid out. Batteries for the headlamp are already charged and I’m ready to hit the roads again when the weather cooperates.
 
Namaste

I didn’t run today & I won’t be running tomorrow

I went to bed last night excited about the freezing temperatures forecast for tomorrow. Some of us who live in the North are simply crazy while others want to impress others by running in what others might deem “crazy” weather. 

 
As I lay in bed reading I heard what sounded like rain. It was a possibility as the temperature had risen steadily throughout the day. I put down my Kindle, rose and walked to the window where I parted the blinds. I bent down and squinted between the opened slats and verified the sound. It was in fact raining. I turned on the radio and listened to the weather. The forecast called for the rain to cease by the time my alarm sounded at 4:30 AM.
 
Sleep found me and let me go, several times during the night. I woke at 3:00 AM and repeated my earlier scenario. I woke, rose and walked to the window where I parted the blinds once again. I bent and peered through the parted slats and with disgust closed the opening. It was still raining. I enjoy running in the rain but not when it’s 35-degrees outside. I returned to my bed but before becoming one with the warm flannel sheets, I reset my alarm. This time, with all the hope in the world, I would not wake again until 6. Unfortunately this hope would be dashed like waves on the ocean crashing onto a rocky shore. I smiled. A decision well made. Sleep found me.
 
My alarm sounded and after completing all of those tasks which allow use to be ready for the day, I ventured outside slipping and sliding to my car. Confirmation that this decision was in fact well made. Driving to the office was further confirmation as I watched as cars slid along the ice covered road.
 
I sat in my office and watched as the weather changed several times throughout the day. As my day grew to an end the intensity of the wind picked up and with it the snow. As I drove home, I heard the weather report which indicated the winds were now considered to be a “blizzard.” Cars inched along the road barely topping 25mph. The wind speed increased to a consistent 30-plus mph and the temperature continued to drop. By the time I went to bed, the air temperature had dropped to -5 while the wind chill lowered it to -25. I’m crazy but I’m not stupid. There won’t be a run for me for the next couple of days.
 
If you’re running in the cold make sure you dress warmly and cover exposed skin. Don’t run, especially in such conditions simply to impress others. There is nothing wrong with taking a day or two off.