Friday, February 7, 2014

Living in the Cold

Boredom has given me a lot of time for introspection in these winter doldrums. This isn't incredibly up-beat, but it's a semi-complete thought.

The land is beautiful and frozen. I'm cold and clumsy
I've been trying to hit the trails lately, but the snow has been getting the better of me. I attempted a jog this week. About a mile in, I realized that I was really sluggish in spite of nearly 9 hours of sleep. My upper respiratory tract felt inflamed and phlegmy. I slowed it down to a crawl and took the time to observe what was around me, just embracing the fatigue. Being sick and wandering around in the cold alone made me nostalgic for a time that shouldn't necessarily give me warm feelings, but does.

These cold winters remind me of my childhood. I struggled with Asthma every winter because of allergies to all things indoors. Close up the house, and my bronchi follow suit. Sometimes the only remedy among nebulizers, inhalers, steroids, and pills was to go outside and let the cold air in(a rather unscientific approach). I'd have attacks that refused to let me sleep. Many nights, my mother or father would carry around outside to calm my inflamed airways and help me relax. As time went on and I got older(and heavier), I either didn't want to bother anyone, or was told that I knew what to do. I don't have any recollection of times when I've been more certain that I was going to die. I suppose having no air in one's lungs will do that.

I'd wander around in the yard at night, crunching my feet into the snow, taking deep breaths in and feeling the air make its way in. I was terrified often, alone in the darkness around our rural Michigan home. The sensations that stay with us over time are fascinating. I can feel the itchy liners of my boots because I didn't bother to put socks on. The frozen air would rush up the sleeves of a baggy coat. Lights on in the house became further and further away, and illuminated my foggy breath less and less as I slowly plodded around. Moving and feeling the cold air felt rejuvenating. There was no magic amount of time it took to breathe more freely, but I learned that until I really relaxed, I was just faking it. It was a scary thing for a rather fearful child like me to face. I couldn't just say to myself, "okay, it's been long enough. I'm cold and I heard a sound. Good enough. I feel better." The fear and breathlessness had to truly subside. It had to be real before I could sleep.

I'm not particularly motivated to train right now, but getting outside is helping me keep it all together. I suppose that's the good part about being a recreational athlete. Also, there are snow angels to be made.

a blurry picture of me smiling to offset the gloomy nature of this post.


  1. I too have lacked in motivation of late. Partially due to a flair-up of post-tib tendonitis. Partially due to temperatures I haven't seen since living in Alberta. Partially due to a sparse springtime race calendar.

    I'm signed up for the Telluride Mountain Run in August, so will have to bring my weekly mileage north of 15 miles if I plan on doing better than last year's DNF. By the way, this is a stunning low-key race run by Dakota Jones and his girlfriend. It's 'only' 40 miles long, but according to Dakota is mile-for-mile harder than Hardrock (I'll take his word on the Hardrock part, but it is pretty damn difficult). Might be a worthy destination race for you or the GF...

    1. I claimed dibs on Telluride long ago, David.

    2. Make sure you follow through on your dibs - it's a helluva race!