This winter sucked. Between snow, ice, and rain, every Portlander I know seems beleaguered by the gloom. I know that this is what we PNW folks signed up for, but the clouds seemed much darker this time around. The world around us is in a terrible tailspin of flux at the moment, but often times I found myself ignoring the newspaper, only to make the literal environment around me seem less chaotic and melancholy.
After a few weeks of being sick and submitting to the weather, I finally got my butt in gear and resumed my Sage Running training plan. My legs came back to me much quicker than I expected. Whatever cold plagued me knocked me on my ass and I didn’t even think about running. I rarely opened Instagram or Strava to see what other runners were doing, mostly because I was bummed that the couch was my habitat, and getting up to make dry toast to settle my stomach was the only adventure I had. The fact I was able to pick up the training plan almost right where I left off made me grateful for whatever athletic base I had stashed away beneath the pity parties and Netflix binges of being sick.
But, what I realized is that the run itself is not that hard for me. Getting out of the car is the hardest part for me. The commute from the Stumptown roastery is about 15 minutes, usually with heavy traffic because everyone and their fucking mother moved to Portland this last year. It’s 15 minutes for me to either pump myself up or dwell on how much this run could potentially suck. When rain is blasting sideways against my windshield as I cross the Fremont Bridge, it’s usually the latter dwelling. I’m a wimp when it comes to the weather, despite the fact I have a perfectly fine running jacket and I’ve yet to hear of a runner die from a wet 90 minute run. As I make my way up Thurman Street, turning left to Aspen Avenue, excuses to not run bounce around my head like a goddamn pinball machine.
“You don’t have time, you should go home and write.”
“Training for a self-supported run is fucking stupid. Why are you wasting your time?”
“There’s things to do around the house, you selfish prick. Go home and do some housework you constantly put off.”
Those are just a few that come to mind.
I park my car and look down at my hydration pack, filled with water and a Ziplock bag to put my phone in. I cue up whichever running podcast I’m either starting or finish (it’s a mix of Ultra Runner Podcast, Ten Junk Miles, Trail Manners and Ginger Runner). I stuff my key fab in a shoulder pocket. Then I sit and breathe. I get nervous when I start to visualize the run. I know the difficult sections, and what if today is the day I collapse from the exhaustion of climbing a trail. These thoughts and fears are completely irrational, and I know it, but I still haven’t gotten out of the car. Rain drops splash hard across the roof of my car, I see the trees up the hill swaying back and forth in the wind, looking like ghosts.
I turn the handle and step out of the car. Ear buds in, Strava fired up, and every self-defeating thought pushed aside. I run toward the trail, knowing that my successes far outweigh my failures on the Wildwood Trail. There’s not a reason to think I won’t return to my car with a smile on my face, proud that I pushed through another day and another momentary dilemma of whether or not to open the car door.
Getting out of the car is the hardest part. Not getting speed work or hill repeats. Yes, training is hard work. Your body is pushed, the cold wind and rain smack your face, and each step in that first few miles feels like an eternity. Getting out of the car, accepting the challenge, and remembering to trust your strength is where I often fail. I feel like everyday I’m training myself to open that door and get out of the car.