Saturday, October 27, 2012

Alabama Relief Run, 1 Year Removed

Much to my surprise, it's been a full year since I embarked upon the Alabama Relief Run, which has arguably been my most ambitious run to date.  Given that I've had a while to digest what all happened, it seemed like a good idea to take some time to reminisce...

Early smiles...
I must admit that, although I realized that certain aspects of such a run could not possibly be foreseen, the extent of my ignorance prior to the start impresses me still (of course, truth be told, I'm reminded of the extent of my ignorance with respect to many aspects of life other than running on a regular and frequent basis...)

Once things got underway, everything went as smoothly as could be expected for the first few days; weather was almost perfect, the ol' legs held up pretty well, and the crew even seemed to be enjoying themselves.  After a bit of a scare on morning 5, things went relatively smoothly again until the finish.  A year removed, my achilles tendon is still tight, and I haven't really had the internal motivation required for serious training (dang, I miss running fast in races...), but looking at the experience and what we were running for, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Of course, the question is still ever-present:  What's next?

The best part of the answer is that I don't know.  I don't know where the running will lead me next.  I don't know if it will be some epically long jaunt.  I don't know if I'll ever match what I did last October.

But finding out should be fun...

For those interested enough to scroll through, a few candid moments from the run:

Tony and me at the beach just before starting (Note the "I'm so nervous I want to cry" smile...)

Dannie makes a pb&j that's hard to beat

Day 2:  Good times

I love this picture; it seems to illustrate the determination.  If there's something that Peter and I both have our minds set on doing, I dare anyone to try to stop us.  (Also, I pose the question here, who's feeling more protective of whom?)
Really, I feel great... and who knew that Grove Hill was on top of a big freakin' hill?!?!

Pounding out the miles late in the day. Tony and Dannie were the perfect crew for the task
Early morning, Day 4.  Beautiful rural Alabama Roads

A deep moment.

I didn't know this picture was being taken; this is the toll it takes.  4 days. 201 miles. A chink in the armor.

Feeling better after a rough morning.  Day 5.
Started with the lowest of lows.  Ended with the highest of highs.
Why we run.

Mataddy:  Ancient Hawaiian legend.  If you want to know more about it, ask; I'd be glad to expound upon the subject

Feet hurt.  Knees sore.  Body and mind exhausted.  I love this stuff.

An unexpected duty:  keeping the interwebs up to date on our plodding progress
Treated to lunch at Aroma's Cafe in historic Winfield, AL

Late start in the rain, but still living it up and running at blazing speeds


Workers from the Wrangler plant in Hackleburg came out to say hi.  Again, these folks are the reason this run occurred, and I was honored to get to talk with them and amazed at their resiliency
Talking with the people of Phil Campbell, AL, a town that was devastated by the storms and got half of the proceeds of the ARR

The mighty Austin XC Team joined for a few miles

I still think this is just a cool picture
Always a good day when my Darling Baby Sister shows up
Fun times on Day 9 for those who survive the battle of attrition

A great reception in Decatur with friends from all over

Getting my Forest Gump on...
I can see the finish...

No words needed.
Perhaps my favorite picture.  Dannie and Tony were the best crew I could have asked for.  The ARR Would have never worked without them, and this picture, in my mind, sums up how it worked.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hurricane Running

With Isaac making his way ashore, I can't help but reminisce about a run I did about this time 7 years ago.

(Note/Caveat:  I'm in no way making light or lessening the hardships that people on the coast may go through due to flooding/wind damage; I've got a sister down there and am keeping a close eye on the situation, myself)

A sophomore in college, I was thrilled that classes had been cancelled as Lady Katrina decided to come inland, and, like most of my fellow collegians in Starkville, I intended to make the most of the situation.

Most students went out and played football, sloshed through the mud, and enjoyed general shenanigans while the winds built.  By around the 40-45mph mark, most had had their fill of the sustained wind and returned indoors to hunker down and ride out the storm.

I had just woken up from a nap.

Around, 45mph, I laced up my shoes and headed out.  If you've never experienced rain at 50-60+ mph, it's an entirely different phenomenon, more akin to flying needles than drops of water.

Cruising down Engineering Row, the slight downhill grade combined with a significant tailwind to create a bit of a conundrum for me as I approached a 4-way intersection, but nothing that a well-timed, quick grab/clotheslining move on the already-flailing stop sign couldn't solve.

A short while later, passing in front of Hilbun Hall, the headwind, rain-needles and all, was stiff enough to stop me in my tracks.  That was the only time I've ever leaned forward and driven my knees/steps as hard as I could without moving an inch forward.  Tactical lateral movements combined with further leaning and infinitesimally slight and momentary reductions of wind eventually let me progress.

By the time I got to the spot my friends and I had chosen as our respite from both the storm and the dorm, wind speeds had topped 70mph, and since I had relied on momentary lucky breaks in the wind to get that far, I decided to end my run there.  All my friends had been there some time and were surprised I was still out at that point.

Katrina was still a category 1 hurricane when it went over Starkville, roughly 200 miles north of the coast, as the crow flies.  I've never experienced anything quite like it before or since.  We all know what it did in terms of destruction, but my short little run gave a somewhat unique glimpse into another aspect of such a phenomenon.

Whereas I would never wish something like a hurricane or other such destructive force of nature on anyone, I hope that everyone has experienced some form of unique standpoints with regard to otherwise monstrous, highly-visible, and awe-inspiring events.  Maybe even while running.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Late Summer

Much to my surprise, late summer is already upon us.  This might not seem like a noteworthy observation, but late summer is a magical time for running.

Last night was warm and muggy (not hot and muggy, thanks to a summer storm passing just north of us), which is rather typical, and the equally as typical effects were in full force.

Running came with ease, albeit not quite as quickly as it might feel; the obscenely high humidity and dew point ensured that.  Breathing equal parts water and air comes with a price, I suppose.

The late summer tends to bring out the best in other runners, too.  The company of those who have weathered the 100+ degree days for months on end is easy to enjoy, especially when everyone is of the same opinion that truly fast running might be better suited for *another* day.  This enjoyment is enhanced with the seemingly contradictory inevitable burst of speed.

...maybe the word "speed" is a bit generous...

The route itself, by now a fixture of the collective weekly routine, passes underfoot with ease, each root and trench known all too well.

Also known all too well are the endless swarms of gnats, which as the evening progresses will undoubtedly magically transform into a ubiquitous mass of mosquitoes.  We all make the obligatory jokes about caloric and protein intake due to swallowing these gnats, and I was even lucky enough to collect one in the eye that was still there this morning.  (the strange things you notice whilst brushing teeth...)

The wildlife were aware of the perfect conditions as well.  My six or seven rabbit sightings were eclipsed by others' raccoon, turtle, and coyote sightings from the morning.

The late summer is certainly a time to be cherished as a runner.  All too soon, the days will shorten, temperatures will drop, and we'll all be discussing the challenges of winter training.

...which will bring its own set of fascinating observations, no doubt...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One of Those Days

Tuesday was one of those days.

From the start, running felt disjointed, awkward, and otherwise off.  These were amplified by the ever-growing dehydration due to heat and humidity approaching that of a well-maintained sauna.

We all felt it.  Everyone that cared to comment indicated that he or she was having roughly the same experience, which was, needless to say, not exceptionally pleasant.

The truly disturbing part of it all?

That quite a few of us came to the same conclusion that this was exactly what we needed.

Motivational Misery.  Got to love it.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Last Annual Vol State Road Race

This coming Thursday, a group of hearty souls will embark upon the Last Annual Vol State Road Race, which is a 500k run, primarily through Tennessee, but at least touching four other states, including Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little jealous of these runners.  The experience they are about to have will undoubtedly be an unforgettable one, and the mere thought of it sends me into a reminiscent state.  As much as I hate to admit it, guys like DeWayne and Prof. Lake were right; the road gets into your blood.  Once you've experienced something like it, there will always be something of an allure, a call from the endless ribbon of road. 

As much as I wish (in a very strange and masochistic sort of way) that I was out there, suffering along with them, I eagerly await the daily updates from a couple of email lists, and I've even heard that, somewhat contrary to the original spirit of the race, there is a page on thefacebook dedicated to the run.

All that said, I suppose the silver lining to missing it this year is that I can always run the Last Annual Vol State Road Race next year...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Substantive Contributions and Information Gleaned

Sitting on a telecon to which I have no substantive contribution and relatively limited information to be gleaned, my odd and seemingly irrational inclination to take part in an activity such as distance running is somehow validated.  (emphasis on the "somehow")

I suppose that the argument could be made that the very activity of running is such that provides no substantive contribution and (in and of itself) has relatively limited information to be gleaned.

I would disagree,  but am happy to entertain a substantive argument against me; however I suspect that any such argument would provide relatively limited information to be gleaned.
The best of both worlds?

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I was somewhat at a loss last night when asked a seemingly straightforward question:  How do you feel after a 100-miler?

Being posed by a rather accomplished runner (i.e., went to high school in Oregon, made it to Footlocker Nationals in XC, and broke one of the H.S. track records formerly held by a Mr. Steve P.), I figured he was looking for a more substantial answer than I can typically posit for a non-runner or a rather ambivalent runner simply giving half-hearted fancy to the idea of a 100.  I couldn't simply talk about a "feeling of accomplishment" or "how trashed my body was," nor could I talk about the "mix" of the two that so often accompanies such a tale.  These cunningly ephemeral and ambiguous ways of relating an event would not do it justice. This guy wanted a legitimate description.

I didn't know how to give one.

Still don't.

I've run a few hundreds, and I remember in rather vivid detail what they were like, but describing the feeling at the finish is beyond me.

How would you further, perhaps more accurately and precisely describe that finish line feeling?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Perhaps a decent illustration of this feeling... (?)

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Are They Thinking?

I wonder what goes through the mind of a (non-runner) driver passing by a runner strung out from miles and miles and miles.

I suppose it is highly dependent upon the driver, given the varying reactions I've noticed, ranging from the asinine cat-calls to the little old lady who, although she has seen you, refuses to look at you while gripping the steering wheel, staring straight ahead, unwilling to yield even an inch of her road.

The one driver's perspective upon which I can draw is, obviously enough, my own, but I think that mine, along with most of ours as a running community, is somewhat skewed.

More often than not, I find myself a bit jealous of the fatigued runner, wistful of the satisfaction found in exertion while simultaneously waxing nostalgic over runs of days and years past.

Occasionally, if the effort, form, and overall countenance of the runner look sufficiently strained, I'll feel a momentary twinge of pity, which is ironic given that, even at my worst moments, I still (possibly errantly, if not conceitedly) considered myself and my plight above the pity of motorists passing by.

But the question remains, regardless of the reaction of a given driver, what are the first opinionated observations and subsequent thoughts of a driver unacquainted with the nuances of our addiction?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

To Race or Not To Race...

It's the time of year that I find myself looking for yet another event upon which to focus.  For one reason or another, summer tends to bring about the most consistent training of the year for me, so it's always nice to have a race, run, or other event to hold my attention, which is, admittedly, not easily done.

At the moment, three ideas are emerging as front-runners; these are, in no particular order, the Arkansas Traveller 100, a run across Mississippi (E-W, likely Hwy 82 from Columbus to Greenville, somewhere around 180-190 miles), or a flat-out and fast marathon (e.g., Rocket City, Chicago, etc.).

Truth be told, this list can and probably will change, possibly drastically, but on the off chance that anyone actually reads this and feels the urge to respond, I was interested on the running community's thoughts on these three, pros/cons, as well as what some of your late-year race/event plans are as additional possibilities.

All that so say that for my own benefit, with regard to planning some goal event, I'm open to suggestions, and I have a sneaking suspicion that others are as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not a Realization

After posting up one of my slower 10k's in recent memory, I get the feeling that I'm supposed to be coming to some kind of realization.  All of my races recently have been quite a bit slower than the last several years, for various reasons.

Recovery from the Alabama Relief Run, a lack of recent training, a lack of motivation to train hard, and inconsistency could all be cited as reasons for my sub-par performances of late.

Perhaps this should be indicative of something that would lead me to some catharsis.

But then I come to the realization that in the face of all of it, I don't care.

I don't care that I'm slow(er) for the moment.  I hope to get a bit faster, but that's not a prerequisite for my continued running.

I don't care that I don't particularly feel the obligation to put in 100+ mile weeks.  I'd like to get to that level again at some point, but the desire to do so must come about naturally.

I don't care that I miss a couple days a week of running when life (real life, not to be confused with running life or work life) happens.  I look forward to the days when I'm back to clockwork consistency, but it will come in due time.

I run because I enjoy it.  I run when it's hot.  I run when it's cold.  I run when people say I shouldn't.  I even run when it's a stretch to use the term itself.

Is that a realization?

I think it's something we all have known all along.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Do We Look Like That?

On my drive into work, I pass Wilson Morgan Park, which has a 1.5-mile cinder path around its periphery.  This time of year, when the weather is most cooperative, quite a few people tend to be out walking the path in the mornings before the day warms up.

Over the past several days, I've been noticing that, almost without exception, they all look very intently miserable.  They are walking with a purpose, arms churning mechanically, eyes fixed either on some distant horizon or at their own feet (rarely anywhere in between), scowls firmly affixed on their faces.  Truth be told, I can't help but be jealous; I would infinitely rather be out running in the cool sixty-something degree temps than on my way to the office.

However, after thinking on this recurring observation, I can't help but wonder if, when we're out running, do we look like this?  Do I look like this?  If someone saw us out running, would they assume that we hated what we were doing?

...joke's on them, I suppose...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Southern Spring

A late start ensured that the rush hour traffic had already passed through.

The typically busy streets were calmer, and the recently elevated temperatures were just a little bit more manageable.  Clouds slowly building in the distance seemingly justified the humidity and foreshadowed spotty showers that would arrive in the wee hours of the morning.

Bustling streets had been replaced by bustling yards.  Children playing , parents watchfully lounging on porches, homeowners tending to heretofore neglected yard work; they all (or should I say, we all) were taking advantage of those perennially difficult to find "just-about-right" conditions.

Even the running contingent of the population was out in force.  Gliding through the streets, it seemed like each turn of a corner brought a new runner into view.  Some smiled and waved, some just waved, and some kept eyes dead ahead, face locked in the perpetual grimace that some are convinced is the true indicator of "doing it right."  Each one of us experiencing the day in our own way, each one of us striding through the low-angle sunlight with our own intentions.  Interesting thought...

As many people as were out, the great indoors must have been a bit barren.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Lazies

Every now and then we fall victim to a strange malady as runners.  We get the Lazies.

We allow ourselves to skip this run and that, sleep in today and tomorrow.  It's an excruciating condition.

This plight has nothing to do with injury, as this would be a perfectly valid reason for foregoing a period of running.  Also, contrary to what most would assume, it's not entirely due to a lack of desire to be out running.  I find myself daydreaming about covering miles and miles and miles, and then I find myself mulling over suicidal speed workouts, and then I'm reminiscing about races of years past, and then....

But when the time comes to lace up the shoes, the Lazies rears its ugly (or is that beautiful?) head.

We've all been there, and most of us find our own elixer to cure such a condition.  Before long we're back in the training cycle once again.

Maybe I should go for a run...


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

A couple times early in high school, I was put on the 4x200m relay team.  This had nothing to do with any particular aptitude for the event; it had more to do with the fact that I was a warm body that wasn't good enough at other stuff to have a full schedule already.

Regardless of the reasons for participation, what struck me the most about the event was the time warp that seemed to occur.  All I could ever recall about my leg of the race was that I got the baton, and I handed off the baton.  There was no recollection of the 200 meters of all-out sprinting in between.

This phenomenon has fascinated me ever since, and I'm always intrigued when a run approximates such an experience.

Yesterday's run did.

To be sure, it was a differently flavored time warp, but after finishing up, I realized that a hair over an hour had passed, still feeling that I had just walked out the door.  All that was noted were the first two or three strides and the last two or three strides, the rest lost in thought.

Such bending of the space-time continuum happens on occasion during runs, whether it be an 8-mile jog, a 15-mile tempo, or miles 65-75 of a 100 miler, but each time I emerge on the other side, I am equally fascinated with whatever has just transpired.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Weekend Rambling

It seems that, at least for the time being, relatively straightforward races are the main motivational goal of my training.

5k's, 10k's, half marathons, even the upcoming 12-hour run all fall into this category.  This might sound like a motley assortment of races; after all, a 5k is quite different from a 12 hour, both in terms of the physical and the mental, at least in my experience.  However, on a different, perhaps more internal sphere, they are the same.

The comfort zone.

In their own respective ways, these are all known races.  To be sure, the last several races I've run have been new to me, but the distances have simply not been those that require special attention.  On the other hand, the 12 hour next week is of sufficient length that I could make a Herculean effort should I so choose, but I've run it several times, so the familiarity is somewhat comforting, not to mention that given my current level of fitness, I couldn't push for 12 hours even if I was so inclined.  In the comfort zone I shall stay.

That being said, these comfort races are doing the job of getting me out the door most days.  I'm not quite back to the point of simply wanting to hit the kind of training I "want to want to do," but I'm close.

All that to say, I guess I'm just floating for the time being.  I feel grateful that I'm at a point of my running life at which I can call various ultras just "floating," but being at such a point creates a hunger... a desire for more... an unrest that can only be sated with ludicrous acts of ambulating.

I've got one in mind; we'll just have to see if it comes to fruition...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Training Hard

So yet again I find myself looking ahead to an ultra with little to no training.  The Delano 12 approaches, and I'm almost in good enough shape to run a 5k.

Come to think of it, I've only managed to be in decent shape for Delano once, and that year I was too dumb to only run for the prescribed 12 hours. (I just like to say I got a really good warmup that year... for a bit more on that, check out the Delano Day)

In any case, I was wondering if maybe some of you could tell me how an out-of-shape novice such as myself is supposed to run a 12-hour (or a 5k, for that matter).

Maybe one day I'll learn how to really train. 

Maybe not.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blast From the Past: Ultra Experience From My Pre-Ultra Days

The gravel road passed quietly and relatively easily underfoot; the silent stillness all around struck me as a stark contrast to the rest of life, but experience had shown that the trail gets that way, especially when the run intrudes upon North Farm's typical 1am slumber.

Miles had come and gone, and there were yet miles to come and go, but the distance already covered was promptly forgotten, and the distance to come had not yet been brought to the fore.  The entire effort was encompassed completely in the now, although this did not erase the steadily growing fatigue in both the legs and the mind.

The steady cadence of leg turnover seemed the only consistent aspect of reality; even the moon and stars changing more noticeably than the organic, yet mechanically cyclical sound of foot hitting rock over and over and over and over.

Little did I know at the time that such a serene experience could be found, almost paradoxically, in the competitive fire of a race spanning days just as well as the simple late-night 12 or 15-miler in which I found myself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maybe This Is Obvious...

This might simply be a commentary on a concept that most understand well, but in my humble opinion it bears reiterating from time to time...

I think one of the simple joys that ultrarunning allows us is a typical willingness to do stuff.
(I know.... "doing stuff" is a far too specific and technical term...)

Albeit indirect in most cases, something about an intentionally trained ability to rise to the occasion is a necessarily versatile quality.

This was illustrated to me in a running situation on Sunday; I had run a half (don't laugh...) that morning, and while eating afterward, when a friend mentioned wanting to go for "12 or so miles" that afternoon, I didn't even have to think twice (even with ulterior motives aside...).

Obviously, this example is a direct effect of the distance-running-specific training, but after contemplating it a bit further, it seems that we can extrapolate quite a bit from such training.

Just think of the last time a friend or family member asked you to come along for something outside your normal routine.  What might have been an intimidating prospect to most was just "something else" or "something new" for you.

I also think it goes beyond the oft-mentioned dictum of "Well if I can run XXXXXX Epic Race/Run/Event, then I can do anything..."
I think it's more of a newfound outlook than a comparative look back.

Yes, success breeds success, but with the type of sport we're in, seeking out that next challenge or simply taking the blows as they come is ingrained in us.

This is something we all innately comprehend, but perhaps it's worth thinking about from time to time.  It's got some pretty cool implications...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Into the Mist...

It's been a while since I've gone into a race with precisely no expectations other than that of a completion.  I suppose most wouldn't consider such an event a race, but since I paid an entry fee and got a shirt, it's got to be a race, right?

It's been nearly three months since my little stroll up the road with the Alabama Relief Run, and as such I figured it's about time for me to get off my lazy duff and make some sort of re-entry into the running community, even if such a return would prove to be slightly anticlimactic.  The Mountain Mist 50k appeared to be a tame enough candidate.  With this in mind, I set about a rigorous ultra-training regimen of 20-30 miles/week, and I made sure that I prepared for the rugged Monte Sano trails extensively with my 2 runs of about 4 miles on said trails.  (ow... my tongue just hurt my cheek...)

With such a monstrous fitness base, and the oh-so-pleasantly damp weather of the weeks leading into the Mist, I was only assured of one thing:  it was going to be sloppy (in many respects...)

Race day came; the miles came; the mud came; the rocks came.

And went.

I must admit that an amendment should be made to my previous statement regarding the anticlimactic nature of the run.  The truly remarkable feature of the run was how unremarkable it truly was.

In spite of what was, for some, a thoroughly salient day, I was paradoxically thrilled at the mundane sense of routine that I felt.  Make no mistake, I don't mean to say that Mt. Mist was boring; quite to the contrary, it never fails to hold my rapt attention.  Moreover, I intend no negative connotation with the word "mundane."  Riddle's blazing time, Rob's second reverse-double, several friends' PR's, perfect weather, the true fun of slopping through the mud - the list of positive attributes of the day goes on and on.

I still liked the feeling of it being just another day at the office.

Maybe it's the sense of perspective I gained from covering a few miles in October.  Maybe it's the sense of perspective I've gained from running, watching, doubling, and playing in Mt. Mist a few times before.  Maybe it's the sense of perspective I've gained from the past year and a half of various personal trials and tribulations.

Maybe it's all of it.  Maybe it's none of it.

Somewhere along the way, the fresh-out-of-high-school-cocky-thought-I-was-fast-wannabe-ultrarunner changed into something else.  I can enjoy the sport for more than I could before.  I'm by no means renouncing my naturally over-competitive nature; I simply think that I've gotten to a point that it doesn't drive everything I do running-wise.  (maybe...)

I can enjoy the running for what is.  I can still train and run fast to enjoy the competitive side of things, and I can still train to run ludicrously long events, but I can also just train to run happy.  I'm hoping to light the competitive side again soon, and I'm hoping even more that I can merge this competitive motivation with the "just run happy" motivation in ways I've never done before.  It should be exciting to see what ideas we come up with...

Congrats to all Mountain Mist racers.  This Mountain Mist stroller is still sitting back and enjoying the ride.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Irony and Contrast

Ironically, the mild temperature was a bit of a shock to the system at the start of the run.  Cold air's bite had lost some of its bark, or at least said bark was beginning to fall on deaf ears.

Pleasant conditions managed to offset a bit of a twinge in the right achilles, both of which seemed to demand attention, the greater of which receiving the lion's share of an audience.

The achilles can wait.

A few cars scattered about, some lazily puttering down the road, many waiting idly while owners tended to business elsewhere, all of them appearing to be out of place in the world through which we run.  The oddity of this sentiment was striking with realization that I, too, would board such an entity within a couple hours.

Soon enough, perhaps too soon, the run had ended, and modern life began again.

Is this what it's like to feel anachronistic?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

today's run

it was slow.  it was sluggish.  it was sloppy.

but even sans form and grace of motion,

by the end, i was happy to be out there,

and isn't that what it's all about?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Enter the Chill

I am somewhat surprised at how excited I was to get out to run this afternoon.  With the cooling temperatures, my typical m.o. is to fight the urge to climb under a blanket and take an ill-advised nap after work.

Not that I don't stay excited about running during the days.  Quite the contrary; while at work it seems to consume my thoughts, leaving me pining for "the fix."

However, much to my chagrin (usually...), by the time I've made my 15 minute drive from my office to change, the weight of the day has usually begun to hit, leaving me to fight the mental battle.  Ironically enough, the mere act of waging the internal war is usually the first act of surrender; paradoxically, not showing up to fight (i.e., not thinking about it) is typically the best way to get out the door for that first, and often most difficult, step.  Once this has been accomplished, the rest is usually a breeze.

Today, for whatever reason, I was as excited about the run when I pulled my bright blue road shoes out of the truck into the cold air as I was sitting in front of a computer screen 2 hours prior.

This bodes well, I hope.

For all to often, Winter brings the aforementioned trickery of the mind.  It's a time when we've got to remember what we know deep down as runners.  The immediate discomfort, cold, tired feelings are, more often than not, simply false alarms, another manifestation of the weakness we are eternally seeking to purge from ourselves.

We know how to push past it.  We understand how it works.  We simply need to act on that instinct.

If, as students of this eccentric activity, we can manage ourselves in such less than convenient conditions, then we'll emerge in the springtime that much more fit, ready to race, ready to push that much harder, and ready to enjoy it all the more.

...of course, all that being said, maybe the true mark of success in this situation is learning to "enjoy it all the more" while the nip is still in the air...