“Are you okay?” A concerned forty-something husband questioned his wife shortly before 7AM on the hottest day in July on record in Southern California.
“This is going to be hard.” His sleep deprived thirty-something wife replied before sipping the last inch of cool water she would experience for nearly five hours, set the empty cup on the counter, walked outside to face the hot wind and nearly triple digit heat, slung her long legs over her regal black bike, and pedaled down the road.
The facts are these, on July 6th, 2018 the temperature in the San Fernando Valley, the area just north of Los Angeles that I call home, rose above 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and I rode my bike and ran in that heat. It wasn’t pretty, it certainly wasn’t fast, but I did it because I wanted to learn and grow from the challenge.
Nearly every second of it was uncomfortable.
Some moments were spent smiling, but many were not.
The sun felt so close to my face that I could taste its garlic breath. There were a couple of times during the ride when I might have yelled out loud, “Why am I not better at this?” Followed closely by, “Why am I doing this?” Finally, the classic, “Why do I spend my free time torturing myself?” Of course, my ego is no wimp; she’s just overdramatic, being the youngest child and all, so I followed up those weepy whines with, “Just keep going. It doesn’t matter how you feel. And this isn’t your free time; this is your favorite time.” Therefore, yes, my bike ride on Friday was a challenge.
The run felt much worse.
The heat all morning felt like a scratchy wool sweater you were forced to wear at holiday gatherings growing up. Still, as soon as you were back home, and stepped foot across the threshold of your bedroom, you pulled that sweater over your head, closed your eyes, inhaled precious oxygen, and felt certain you grew stronger from enduring that night of suffocating discomfort. Of course, you thought about giving up. The pile of similar sweaters your cousins refused to outlast was never far away, (it teased you from your grandparent's den), but you refused to show weakness, even if you felt it. Time became an unfunny joke you laughed at just to prove no one could break you, no one did; you suffered and won.
That is the point. Not quitting is really winning.
I actually felt great after my bike ride. I was proud that I muscled through it, and that it was over. Next, I guzzled as much water and NUUN Hydration my stomach could handle, changed into my run gear, and set out again in the 110+ degree heat to run four hard miles and change.
It didn’t go as planned.
The workout called for a much faster pace than my rapidly frying body and brain could handle, so I adjusted my expectations, tried to accept that I would fail the workout, (I couldn’t do what it specifically asked for), but I would still finish it.
The first two miles felt reasonable, I was even holding a decent pace, but the last two miles were a slog of one foot in front of the other determination that didn’t resemble anything like the first two. It felt like walking down a flight of stairs normally, then suddenly missing the bottom two and falling flat on my face.
In fact, during the last mile as I was shuffling down the road about three blocks from my house, I spotted a woman watering the plants in her front yard. Salvation! As I approached her house I yelled out from the street, “Can you spray me with your hose?’ She froze in place. So, I froze in place. She must not have understood what I said? Or, maybe was frightened by the vision of a large lady with a hyperactive ponytail running and yelling at her in the midday record setting heat? It was strange, but I was desperate, so I repeated, ‘Will you please spray me with your water hose?”
“No.” She replied.
“Really?’ I took my ear buds out as a show of trust, which oddly worked, because she started to laugh and walk toward me with the hose. Clearly, she did not understand my request. I wanted a full body spray, but I went with it, reached out my hand to cup some water, and drank it quickly. ‘Thank you!” Next, I turned up the road with a renewed spirit and ran that last mile slower than and I have run any in months, but I completed the workout, which was the true victory.
I woke up that morning knowing that I was choosing to suffer. I knew I was going to be uncomfortable for over five hours, the effort alone required to complete the workouts in pleasant conditions required that mindset, but to set out in the roaring wind and incessant heat was a notch above the average Friday morning suffer fest. Still, as hardcore as that sentence may sound, I faltered all morning, physically and emotionally, it was hard, but I kept going. I had to. I wanted to find out how I would handle enduring such a difficult situation, and now I know.
Sometimes choosing to be uncomfortable creates the greatest comfort of all, knowledge for next time.
I think this new song from my girl, Celine, represents the theme this week nicely. Watch the whole video, the ending is priceless. Enjoy.:)