Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Cold" weather and droopy tights

I'm being a wimp.
And I'm really annoying myself.
Here's the deal: I grew up in Minnesota, and spent my college years in Wisconsin. Cold weather? Ha! A joke! I'm immune to cold weather! I grew up romping in the now, sledding down the snow-covered hills at Newell Park, and going ballistic at the first snowfall. I loved it all, the seasonal change, watching the autumn leaves fall of the trees, smelling the clear air, feeling the cold nip at my nose, nearly everything. So enthralled was I, that I spent 4 years in high school devoting every late fall and winter afternoon to Nordic Skiing. Like the postal service, we went out in all conditions. I was the first one off the bus, and the last one on. I loved it! I loved the feeling of floating above the snow, gliding effortlessly across the smooth surface, the warmth from the bus after a long workout. It was wonderful. The snow, the peaceful woods, watching a cold sunset and long shadows stretching across the ski paths - were all wonderful. And cold weather...? No biggie. Because I had already been out in 0 degrees for hours, skiing or playing chucking snowballs at my sister, or building a snowman. There we were, two Minnesota/Nordic, blond-haired, blue-eyed girls, rosy cheeked and bundled head to toe in various types of cold-weather gear. And when we trundled inside, we would leave piles of wet, soggy gear on the floor, partially melted snow leaving wet spots all over the carpets. But it was wonderful, and I still treasure those wonderful winter memories.
But my ability to withstand cold has been severely compromised since living in Florida.
A few days ago, I had a morning run scheduled. I love running in the morning - waking up at the crack of dawn, watching the beautiful colors streak across the sky, breathing clear air, and just letting myself think. There usually aren't a lot of people out, so I get the road or trails to myself. I've never minded getting up early, and a cup of coffee never tastes so good as after a really great run.
The alarm went off, I bounded out of bed, and saw Nathaniel in the living room. He was sitting in our ugly green recliner, looking at stuff online. Before I could say "HI" or "Good morning", he looked at me with a slightly malicious grin.
"Do you know what the temperature is?" Innocent question, but he looked slightly mad as he asked it.
"No," I responded slowly. "But don't tell me, just wait." I opened the door to our deck.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," he warned, a slow smile spreading over his face.
And then the blast of cold air hit me head on, colder than any leap into the pool, colder than my ventures off the ski bus, colder than the water in Oceanside Harbor before 2006 California 70.3 (I was COLD! - as you can tell from this photo shot. Here I was, with my friend and training partner Kacie, as we waited in line to enter the water. We were some of the only idiots out there with SHORT sleeves. Notice the neoprene hats behind us, and the people hugging to stay warm? My nose was freezing, and I had lost all sensation in non-essential body parts, like arms, legs, feet, hands, those kinds of parts. When Kacie's Mom took this photo of us, I remember the exact thought that was going through my head. I will never do this race again. Quick note - I went back in 2007, and will be going again in the future. But this was one of the coldest moments of my life.)

I didn't heed Nathaniel's warning. I opened the door and BAM! (as Emeril would say) - the cold hit me. I was dimly aware of Nathaniel's laugh in the background, and then heard him exclaim that the temperature was 49 degrees.

And then it hit me: I am a wimp. I am a cold weather wimp. The Nordic child in me would be appalled! All those snowy, wintry, nose-freezing, bone-chilling days spent romping outside in the cold Minnesota air have finally left my system.

I still had to run, and I blanched as Nathaniel suggested I run on a treadmill. It was 49 degrees, not -9 or anything (which I've still ran in, by the way), you have to draw the line somewhere, right? Gray skies and a "chilly" morning, piece of cake. (I just don't like being cold).

So I went to the dresser, pulled out my ahem - tights, long sleeved whicking shirt, and windbreaker, and got dressed. Not that bad... but my high school self would have scoffed at my tights. As my Dad once told me, "If it's 32 degrees or warmer, I'll wear shorts." What's a mere 17 degrees warmer, eh? And let's face it - to someone living in Florida, who has become acclimated to the 90 degree heat with high humidity that makes it feel like a warm. wet blanket outside, a windy 49 degrees can be quite a shock to the system.

The only other problem with my get-up, were my tights. I've had them from a while, and they're my favorite pair. I wore them during my first marathon (Pensacola, February 2007). I've had many great memories wearing them, fast runs, great bike rides, and I just like how they fit. I'll say that again: I like how they fit. They're the only pair of tights that I own that doesn't make the little bit of tummy fat that I have spill over the top of the band. I know, I know - but for some reason I'm a little vain about my stomach. It's always been that way- for as long as I can remember... I just don't like the "muffin top" look, so I would rather have a larger size than have to suffer through a workout worrying about how awful my stomach looks. And for what? It's not as though passing drivers are thinking to themselves Wow! Look at that girl run. She sure is fast, but gee whiz, get a load of that wobbly stomach! Complete bollocks, if you ask me. But I'm sensitive nonetheless. So this pair of tights has become my friend. (By the way - the temperature really WAS cold when this photo was taken. It was 38 degrees outside, 30 degrees at the start of the run, with a windchill of 18. Bbbrrrr. But I was happy to be done! It was a great first marathon, I had a blast... and in my photos... no muffin top! Again, my high school self would be appalled :)

I put my tights on and gasped. They were loose! Holy cow, what have I done? What happened? How is this possible?!? They're TIGHTS! Some quick thinking, and I rolled down the waist a few notches, so the band was tighter and sitting just below my belly button/hips. And viola - no stomach spillage. Extra bonus!

A few minutes later, I was out the door and driving to the track.

I love running speed work. I always have. There's something so liberating, so freeing about going fast. One of my happiest memories during a race was the half-marathon run at Timberman. I just let go and felt as though I was floating. Yes, I was still in a lot of pain, but the sensation was indescribable. "The runner's high", I suppose. I am still searching for that same sensation, that feeling of being in "the zone", and hope to experience it again soon. In the meantime, my track workout was at the forefront of my mind. As I was driving to the UWF track, I snuck a peek at the car's thermometer. It read a discouraging 47 degrees. Humbug.

As soon as I walked onto the track, the wind nearly ripped the paper I write my splits on out of my hand. Great! Cold AND windy. Nathaniel's treadmill was starting to sound downright motivating. I threw my stuff in a pile under the bleachers. This is the point that I would usually stall - get an extra sip of water or re-tie my shoes. Not today. Instead I shot off on my warm up, trying anything to stay warm, and not wanting to spend any additional time in the cold.


No, this wasn't cold. I was truly a wimp.

And then I started having "tights" issues. Apparently there's a reason for tights being, well, tight. They stay on that way! After half a lap, I could feel the waist slipping, and the tights bunching up around my knees. I jerked up as quickly as possible, trying to maintain my form as best as possible. There! That's it. 200 meters later, they were slipping again. Double humbug! 2 more laps around the track and I was not a happy camper. Not only was it cold and I was being a big wimp, but my trusty tights were now highly embarrassing. What was I supposed to do? I've got 2 mile repeats (hard enough as it is!), and the last thing I want to do every lap was to tug up my tights and break my stride. But I had a plan. It wasn't going to be pretty. And my high school self would have turned red and pretended not to know me. But I knew it would work.

I removed my windbreaker. I needed as much access to my torso as possible. With a strong resolution and a determined mindset I knew I could 1)beat the cold and 2) beat the tights. I quickly unrolled the waist, taking one last look at how "hip" I looked. No muffin top, I could see my abs (yea!), and my tights were at my bikini line. Here goes. I unrolled my tights and quickly (just to make sure no one was looking), hiked the waistband of my tights up to the line of my heart rate monitor and sports bra. Yes, I now looked like an old lady, with her waist band hiked up to her boobs. Wonderful. Lovely. All feelings of "coolness" I had were quickly erased. And now I was cold because I was standing around hiking up my not-so-beloved tights.

But it worked, for the most part. I still had to yank them up during my sets, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. So my trusty tights will be replaced by a new pair, that may give me a slight muffin top - but I won't have to hike up to my chest in the process. And you never know - next week it'll probably be 70 degrees all over again, so I can just pretend the new "wimpy" side of me doesn't exist. Denial will be okay, as long as it doesn't get "cold" again. And the Nordic child in me sighs in exasperation. But one trip home, one romp in the cold and the snow, will bring my old self back. And I can't wait.

The photo at the top of the page was taken during a light snowfall in front of my parent's house on Como Lake. The image makes me really happy - it reminds me of home.


Anonymous said...

I am SO glad that despite the fact that you live in FL now, you are a midwesterner at heart. NO ONE south of the Mason-Dixon line really understands COLD. We don't wear tights here until it is well below 40F....and we cycle outside in anything above 25F. As I get older, that number increases...but you understand. Had to chuckle at you wearing tights on the track and it being above 40F. Hee hee....the Chicago gal, Jen :)

Anonymous said...

You're right about the Mason-Dixon LIne. And while I really do enjoy aspects of living in the SOuth, I do miss MN and the Midwest a lot. All it takes is one trip home, and I've got my "cold weather genes" back. Thanks Jen!

Anonymous said...

49!? Ha!

and no wonder you were cold at Oceanside wearing just a sleeveless wetsuit. as your stupid doctor would say, "I hope you learned your lesson."