"I shall not die of a cold, I shall die of having lived." **Willa Cather**
Today's run finished week 6 of my training plan. Wow! I can't believe it has been 6 weeks already! It was the coldest run I have done since Germany. The temp was in the teens and I had been waiting for a while for the inevitable phone call from my running buddy to say she wasn't going to run. Today was supposed to be a 5K race, but since there weren't any in the area I had decided to just run my own 5K and try to maintain a 10 minute per mile (mpm) pace. One of my long term goals is to be able to run 10 minute miles comfortably, with my heart rate down in the 150's to 140's. I have a long way to go....
I finally decided it wasn't going to get any warmer outside. The flurries had stopped and the sun was peeking out so I put on a wool knit cap, my wind proof jacket, a turtle neck, a tech shirt, gloves, and running tights under running pants, then headed out the door. The first mile was REALLY hard. I was cold, stiff, and grumpy. I decided not to take my MP3 player because I wanted to be focused and maintain my 10 mpm pace, but I was a little too focused. My Garmin was supposed to be showing me little competing stick figures (virtual partner) to indicate if I was meeting my time goal, but I hadn't entirely figured it out so all I was seeing was how far I had left to run and what my pace was. I kept hearing the little voice in my head saying, "You will never maintain this pace, this is too hard, it is too cold, turn around and go HOME!"
The second mile was better. I was warming up, settling into a nice pace, breathing well (three steps in, three steps out), and feeling good. My mind was wandering a bit so I wasn't looking at my Garmin every few seconds, and the mile was over faster than the last.
The third mile started pretty good. Only one mile left at race pace, I was on the return route and I was actually getting hot! The wool hat that was so great at the beginning of the run was getting a little too warm. I was really beginning to sweat, but the front of my thighs, finger tips, and face were numb with cold. As I passed the familiar landmarks on my way home, the little voice had changed to, "You can do this, you can run all 3 miles at this pace, you can meet your goal, you are almost there!"
With a half mile left to go, I had had it with the wool hat and decided I didn't care if my ears froze and fell off, I had to ditch the hat. I pulled it off and felt the cool air blow through my sweaty hair. It felt wonderful, almost like a gulp of fresh water. The good feelings didn't last long though. I started having to work harder to keep my pace and my breathing stepped up to two steps in, two steps out. The dialogue in my head was something like, "Okay, there is the flag, I'll look at my Garmin when I get to the white mail box. My ears are freezing, wonder if they will fall off, in two, out two, in two, out two, in-in out-out in-in out-out I-am in-sane I-am in-sane in-in out-out in-in out-out I'm-a lun-atic I'm-a lun-atic in-in out-out, .3 left to go, in-in out-out, not looking until the next turn, in-in out-out in-in out-out..." until I finally heard the beep saying I was done, YAY!!
I wish I had been a little closer on reckoning my turn-around because the last few minutes of walking home were REALLY COLD!!!
So, I'm half way through my official training plan, although I do plan to extend it a bit. I'm beginning to feel like I can do this, but I know I have some very long runs ahead of me first. The best part is I have driven my RA back. It is not bothering me, the fatigue is not plaguing me, and there is no lingering pain in my joints. Tomorrow is shot day and I don't feel like the drugs have worn off from last time. It is such a sweet feeling! Maybe that is why I can run in the cold, because there are worse things than cold that could be holding me back and I know cold can be beaten with a hot shower. Cold holds no challenge.