Contrary is as contrary does (whatever it wants)

As we wind through the final week before this year’s running of the Chevron Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon, the biggest buzz I’m seeing in my Facebook feed is the weather – or, more specifically, worries and complaints about the weather forecast for the weekend. It would seem that Texas is living up to the old saying about how if you don’t like the weather here, give it a minute , it’ll change. A few days ago we had a sudden hard freeze descend upon us;  today I ran shirtless at lunchtime and needed a towel -and a mop – by the time I was done.  To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I know the conventional wisdom says the cooler the better on race day, and for those who were hoping for stellar performance on Sunday,  these warm muggy conditions will be a huge letdown. I feel for them,  really I do – but the selfish part of me is turning cartwheels at a predicted 65° start and 75° finish,  with humidity in the low 90’s. I live in Houston, man, and I train in those conditions (or worse) nine or ten months out of twelve, and do alright for myself.  Maybe if I wasn’t skinny as a rail  (5′-10″, 130 lbs on a good day) the cold wouldn’t bother me,  but I am,  and it does. I hurt when I’m cold: hands blue and stinging, up to my elbows if I’m out long enough; eyes watering; every breath tearing at my throat. I get distracted from the business of running because my body is telling me I’m dying. This quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as I fall behind on fueling because I can’t get a gel out of my belt, let alone get it open.  Hydration is hard too, when my lips are too numb to drink anything. I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences things like this,  but I’ll bet not many enter that zone at 50°!  Welcome to my world.

If I had to pick one thing that I will not miss when I move away from the Houston running scene,  it would have to be the 6-8 weeks every winter when running loses its appeal because of conditions. Yes, I know that treadmills exist ( I tried that one year, and I’m pretty sure the knee pain I struggled through that season was a direct result) and many people will roll their eyes at my little whine festival, but ultimately I have to find my own limits,  and either learn to overcome what I can,  or to accept what I can’t.  They say real wisdom is knowing the difference; I say contrariness is knowing,  and going on anyway – and going on is what it’s all about. 

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