And it may be mixed with snow.”
This was how our coach announced the probable weather for this weekend’s long run. And lo, it came to pass. The entire Eastern seaboard is in the grip of an unseasonably early winter snow, which in our region at least continues this year’s weather theme of startlingly abrupt seasonal transitions which usually prove to be illusory and yield to an equally abrupt climatic reversion a few days later. When we moved here a little over a decade ago we were charmed by the weather for a few years, with a slow, luxurious slide from summer through fall to winter, and then an easy climb back out again to (an admittedly wretched) summer. This year? Throw the dice and put money down on what the weather will be in a week’s time.
You could blame global warming. Or you could blame the DC micro-climate created by all the Congressional hot air recently (much of it flatulent in origin). Blame and complaint are both pointless, however: you still have to train through it.
The last couple of weeks have seen the real start of our training for next year’s Ironman. Days like this remind me how much the challenges in training come in all shapes and sizes. Most of my team-mates are just coming off the most challenging phase of their training and staggering into their taper period before Cozumel and Arizona next month: bodies are sore, energy is low, some are doubting themselves, some are over-confident. Talking with them, I remember that period so well, the monumental challenge of every individual workout and a level of challenge in putting them together back to back so great that it was imperative not to think about it all. Some of them were doing a 4 hour spin inside today; some will be doing an 80 mile ride tomorrow.
To get to the big challenges, however, you have to overcome numerous smaller ones first; today reminded me how many of those smaller challenges I’d forgotten. Many of those smaller challenges are incredibly basic, but it is exactly those small challenges that deter most people from ever getting involved in multisports in the first place. Like getting up early on a Saturday morning, after waking periodically to the sound of rain and ice spattering against your window, to go on a run that you know will be miserable. When training for something as huge as an Ironman it is easy to toss around words like discipline, commitment, desire, and the like. I tossed a few of them round last time myself! But all of those grand terms are really the product of something very basic: establishing a routine and sticking to it. Regardless. Freezing weather in October, unfortunately, falls into the regardless category.
And yes, it was pretty foul. The rain was not insignificant, as promised, and as I reached the turnaround point in my 9 mile run there were, indeed, a few fluffy globs of snow plummeting through the air. There weren’t many of us out there, but we got it done.
It is for days like this that Mary and I invented the category of “virtue points.” Unlike brownie points, which someone else has to award you, virtue points are great because you get to award them to yourself! You get them for toughing it out and doing something challenging and/or disagreeable when the sober citizens of the world are all safe abed or firmly ensconced in their central heated/air conditioned (virtue points can be earned in any season) houses watching TV. However earning virtue points requires not just that you show up when ordinary folks have no thought of doing so but when a significant number of people who are usually as crazy as you choose to absent themselves. So the dozen or so Team Zers who showed up on the W&OD trail today all earned major virtue points.
I sincerely hope, however, that today wasn’t an indication that there will be abundant opportunities to earn virtue points in the near future.