I love this time of year.
We are free from the muck and disillusionment of the post-holiday haze that lingers like a bad decision throughout January, and have nearly escaped the societal pressures of, “If I don’t send roses for Valentine’s Day our love affair will be ruined!” gloom of unmet expectations that balloon throughout February, breathe……. It’s time to move toward the sunshine that is beaming brightly up ahead. MARCH!
We literally need to march our lame, “I’m too cold to smile,” attitudes toward the promise of longer and warmer days that are nearly within reach.
We are SO CLOSE!
I know you may roll your eyes and say under your breath, “What does this California girl know about cold weather?” Not much. But that is my point. Californians and winter go together like wet cats in bathtubs, a confusing necessity that no one enjoys. Californians mainline Vitamin D like Johnny Weir does with Aqua Net, the Cookie Monster does with chocolate chips, or Britney Spears, okay, I’ll stop there. I think you’re picking up what I'm putting down.
I am looking forward to the third month of the year.
I love March because of St. Patrick’s Day, my Mom’s birthday, my nephew’s birthdays, my nieces’ birthday, my step-brother’s birthday, the Spring Equinox, the LA marathon, (I am not running it this year, but one of my athlete’s is, and I cannot wait to cheer him on), finally, I love March because it is the time of year when I can really dig in and get going with the ridiculously hard training that makes me smile, but makes most people wince in disbelief.
I had one of those workouts this past Sunday, and what was amazing about it, was that it didn’t feel amazing at all. It felt like Sunday.
I ran over twenty-two miles on the treadmill, followed by an easy 1,500 yard swim, and another five and half mile run that afternoon to make it a slightly over twenty-eight mile day. My first, more than a marathon training day. Yes, my mind does register that kind of workout as an enormous task, of course, but then I go through the steps needed to complete it, and the realization that I can, many of us can if prepared properly, and then I set out to do it.
I think that is a sign that my life has shifted from, “I swim, bike, and run to have fun,” to “I swim, bike and run to be happy.” I know, heavy, but if I’m being completely honest with myself, and you, it’s true.
This transformation didn’t happen overnight. When I first started running marathons in 2001, I didn’t consider qualifying for Boston at all. I didn’t even think a sub four hour marathon was in my future. But I kept running, and racing, and then I did go under four hours, I did qualify for Boston, (at my seventh marathon), and then I started to dabble in triathlon.
I nearly drowned at my first triathlon, (Wildflower Olympic course, 2005,) or felt like I would, because I had never swum in my wetsuit before the race. Not smart. The fact was that I didn’t pull my wetsuit up high enough, so when I extended my arms I didn’t have much clearance over my neck, and was choking during most of the back half mile of the course. Not fun. I have allowed for ample pre-race wetsuit hike up time ever since.
Next, I raced a couple other short triathlons before stepping up to race in my first Ironman, (Louisville, 2008), and I finished in a life-changing 12:52 hours. Literally, my life changed once I crossed that finish line.
Who am I kidding, my life changed months before that.
I fell head over heels for the hours of swimming, riding, and running I had to complete every day in order to just survive the race, let alone perform well. I enjoyed the listless, Gumby-like sensation brought on by riding my bike for hours, and then running as soon as I stopped pedaling, not quickly, more like in between a trot and a canter, but still running. My goal time for that first Ironman was an even 14:00 hours, so when I cruised under that by over an hour, I knew I was onto something. The whole, suffering in my free time was not only fulfilling me emotionally in a way I had never felt before, but my body was responding very well to the physical demands, too.
Over the years my race results have improved, however, what I have learned from running marathons for seventeen years, and ironman triathlons for ten, is that it is the process rather than the results that keeps me coming back for more every day.
If results were my true motivation, I would have stopped doing this endurance gig a long time ago.
I was reminded of that fact last Sunday after I finished my first run on the treadmill and was about to jump in the pool, when one of my swim buddies, a super fit sixty-one year old named, Rick, shared with me, “You know even when I was on the UCLA track team I hated my workouts. I just did them so I would achieve the results I was after. I’ve always been more about the results than the training. Even now, I swim these laps and get so bored, I can’t wait until I’m done. I just don’t have that passion. You have that passion.”
“I do love it.” That is all I could say, because, a.) I enjoy my chats with Rick, but I wanted to get my swim done so I could go home to eat and recover for my next run, and b.) It is the truth.
I consider the chance to swim, bike, and/or run every day my recipe for happiness. Simple, right? Or, strange? Probably both. I am fine with that.
Uh oh, it rained last night, and the temperature is hovering in the low 40’s. Great. I suppose February wants to make a final impression. That’s fine, because I can see March just over its soggy cold shoulder.
We’re SO close….
Following is a classic and poignant song to go along with this week's inclement weather theme, Missy Elliot's hit, "The Rain" (Supa Dupa Fly).