The wind rattled against the car doors as I pulled into the parking lot and shut the engine off. I pulled my hat over my exposed ears as tightly as I could, trying in vain to reach every inch of exposed flesh that I knew would suffer against the icy wind.
I know many who can handle the cold. I'm one of them. I know a few others who not only can deal with the cold but enjoy it. Sometimes that's me too. But I don't know anyone who likes the wind. It is an insistent, nagging, even painful reminder of winter's chill. And I hate the wind.
You would think I'd get used to the wind, with as many mountains as I've climbed, given that a day above treeline without it is rare, almost unheard of. But I never do. Getting used to the wind, in my mind, is like getting used to traffic. Even if you could, would you really want to accept it as just a fact of life?
On days like these, getting out of the car and running - in this case running a race, a 5K - is the toughest part of the run. I've said it before, and that's a fairly common mantra among runners. And yet I think I struggle with it even more than most.
I do not like leaving my cocoon of comfort.
Now one of the things I truly love about situations like these, about running and mountaineering in crappy weather, is it makes you appreciate your cocoons more than most. You just don't take a hot shower for granted after you've been out in a bluster that's rated at 0 degrees.
The thing is, I REALLY like my hot showers. It's going to be tough when the kids get older because I hog as much hot water as a teenager, my normally environmentally conscious mind be dammed. I like my bed and its cozy flannel sheets. I even like my car, with (currently) Mastodon blasting through the speakers and the heater on high.
I am a wuss at heart, in other words, so the wuss side of me is in constant combat with my tougher badass side. Only, as you might expect, the wuss side is, well, a wuss, so he loses to the badass side all the time.
He does eventually, anyway. He hangs on like the entrenched Japanese (that may not be the most PC comparison but I just saw "The Pacific" and believe me, it's an apt one), whispering to me to stay in the car and maybe just go home and forget this stupid race because it's windy and cold and running 5Ks the way they are supposed to be run hurts.
The wuss whispers to me during the race, too, for me to slow down, just relax and enjoy it, why even bother running this hard in a stupid little event before the Super Bowl. I used to call this the troll, but I've learned to silence the troll for the most part, and now that is just a tiny little voice suggesting it every once in a while rather than insisting. Now it's the wuss.
The wuss is what keeps me from being better, getting out there and achieving PRs, like the one I ran Sunday (21:25 for a non-sea-level 5K). It's a constant struggle, but I'm learning to enjoy leaving my cocoon, spreading my wings and flying.