Yesterday, Mother Nature decided to mix things up and remind Torontorians that it’s only March and winter is still upon us. As I opened my curtains to a landscape of white, I was both shocked and amazed! First, I was impressed at what geoengineering can produce in a matter of hours since the day before it was sunny, warm and well above zero. Second, I was excited to tackle the winter-playground because simply put, I love the snow! After a long day spent sitting at my computer, you better believe I was itching to suit up and take a breath outside. The day before I got ready for my run in about fifteen seconds since the mini heat wave provided the opportunity to wear spring clothes. While spring attire is effortless compared to winter layering, I did not care. I opened my balcony door to get a whiff of the cool, brisk air and was instantly confronted with an fierce wind. “Yikes”, I said smiling and instantly ran over to the front door to lace up my beat-up runners. In that moment I realized that I have dated and dumped more shoes than men in the last few months, but the whole idea brought a smile to my face because beat-up shoes means I’ve been training! I hit the elevator button and found myself jumping on the spot with excitement! As the elevator doors opened, I said a warm “hello” to the man intently focusing on the buttons. He looked at me and said “you’re not going running are you”?! Unable to contain my “joie de vivre” (joy to live), I looked at him and replied “of course I am”! I’m sure my wide eyes and extremely large smile threw him off because he responded in disbelief “how”? I smiled again and thought to myself, “people have no idea how indirectly motivating they are. Their disbelief in what I do gives me the power to go out there and do it”! After responding to his question I wished him a great evening and reminded him to “stay warm”. I ran pass the concierge who yelled “Laska, you got your wish”. The day before I mentioned that the above zero temperatures were tough for this cold-blooded gal to handle. When words like that come out of my mouth, I truly believe that I am Laska from Alaska since I love the cold, and truly excel when the temperature is below zero. I did one last assessment of my gear, took a deep breath and opened the door to a whole new world! There were very few cars on the road, which is rare during six o’clock rush hour in Toronto. The streets and sidewalks were not plowed and when the wind hit your face it felt like needles were stabbing into your cheeks! I pumped my arms with pride and headed for the trail in the park across the street; however, the trail was buried in knee-deep snow! In any case, I needed to start my run and physically be in the context in order to assess the situation and weigh the options. Option one was I could cut my run short and finish my workout inside, but that would mean I wouldn’t get my hill training in. And I know, based on experience, that I am much happier when outside. Option two encouraged me to take my time and do the hill training. Before I left, I threw a streetcar token and extra money in my pocket; as such, I felt fine knowing that if I carry on, I had a backup plan in place. In the end, option two won!
About ten minutes into the run my calves started to throb. The deep snow and strong wind made each step a fight! Yet, I simply went back to the thought “take your time and focus on each step”. Sure enough, I began to pass common landmarks and each time I reached another I thought “that wasn’t so bad”. 3km later I reached the hill, and according to the schedule I had to do 9 hill repeats. Without stopping, I conquered the incline with a determined spirit. The road had awful footing and yet to be plowed, but I saw all of it as an advantage. I realized that my 50km vertical challenge was going to be less than merciful. There would be awful footing, rough conditions and many hours of throbbing calves. Therefore, I saw this as an opportunity to give it all I had because I needed training in conditions like this. By the time I finished the seventh hill, I was cheering and singing out loud to myself. My calves stopped throbbing and instead went into a state of sedated acceptance; accepting that I was going to finish this. At the end of the ninth hill I opted for a bonus, just because, and up I went one last time! Ten hills down and the race back home was on. At that point, my hands were getting cold and I considered taking a street route home, but I told myself that I could hang on another fifteen minutes. I headed back to the trail, but you wouldn’t even know I had ran it some twenty minutes prior because the wind had swept away any trace of existence. I began to pick up speed and zoomed passed a man slowly walking along the deserted path. I looked back at him and yelled “we’re doing it”. He looked up, smiled and quickly put his head back down to avoid getting snow in his eyes.
By the time I reached my condo lobby my hands were frozen. As I walked toward the elevators the concierge laughed and said “I don’t know how you do it Laska”. In that instant I thought about my 50km goal and realized that anyone can be determined and committed. And it was so empowering to have my word, in this case to training, win!
(Back at home after my hill run.)