I often start these posts talking about the weather. Today is no exception. This morning, I donned a rain jacket, capris, and a single, lovely, long-sleeved tech shirt for a nordic trek with a friend. It was a crisp 40 degrees in Chicago, and the clouds never parted. We got spit on, my shoes got wet, and two hours after the walk, my quads were still cool with the wet cold of a rainy morning.
And I loved it.
Why? Because spring is here, and there were hundreds of people chugging along the lakefront path here in Chicago this morning, getting ready for their next (or first) big race. The Chicago Endurance Sports group was out in force, training people for the upcoming 1/2 marathon in Door County. The Chicago Area Runners Association groups were out, too, rumbling along on the path, prepping for their spring races. And there were lots of couples out today – channeling the slightly frightened look of people who haven’t run outside all winter, and who just realized that the Shamrock Shuffle (an 8k with a whopping 40,000 registrants) is taking place next weekend, and that they maybe, just maybe, should get outside and try a few laps.
In short, it was exuberant, wet, sloppy fun today on the path, and just like when the pitchers and catchers report for spring training, there was a feeling in the air. You can see it in the looks on the people you pass on days like today – a short nod, and an acknowledgement, that yes, the weather’s not perfect, but “LOOK AT ME! I’m out here! I”m running like a fool in the rain and AINT IT GRAND???”
Of course, there’s some misery, too. There was one poor girl in shorts (wind, honey, it will kill you on days like today), her legs red and raw. And there were some hot, hot men out there, overdressed in thermal tights with rain jackets, winter hats, and gloves (not over 40 degrees, folks!) But mostly, everyone looked determined, and excited. Like they knew what was coming.
So what was I doing today? Simple. I was catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in forever. She joined me for a nice, hour + walk, dodging puddles and catching up. We talked about the blossoming success of her new small business; the difficulty in getting yourself motivated to get out there when things are tough; and the people we had in common. Oh, and dating. The best part about walking or running with a friend is a roundup of your favorite dating activity (at least if you’re a girl) and at the end of our walk, we had some laugh-out-loud moments about what it takes to find a good guy – and how we might tackle that topic next weekend.
I’d imagine that things look somewhat different at the Cubs Spring Training camp in Mesa, but what do I know? Maybe the pitchers spend all their time talking about hangnails and hammy pulls, and the catchers just talk about what they did with their knees in the offseason. But I’d bet they also have that little kid excitement that we have when the weather turns – that sense that it’s spring, and anything can happen if we just set our minds to it.
I know that’s how I’ve been feeling lately, and today just confirmed it for me. So, given that optimism, it’s a good time to share my events calendar for the year with you. Sometimes, people wonder if I just talk a lot about running and walking and all these other sports – but alas, I’m the real deal – and this spring, I’ve set my sights on some great events to keep me motivated.
As some of you may know, last year I developed a lovely case of “athletic pubalgia” – aka – sports hernia, among other things – after the Rock n’ Roll 1/2 marathon in Arizona in January. I ran for awhile afterwards, thinking it would resolve on its own, and it didn’t. Shocking. I turned to triathlon training late last year, and only in August, when I really couldn’t run without pain, did I finally give in and see the doc. Since then, I’ve been (gasp) running-free. I’ve done some PT, I’ve walked, I’ve snowshoed, swam, nordic walked, and done lots of core strengthening, but even now, I’m nursing a nagging injury to my left foot, and am going to take care of that before I start to run again. In the meantime, I’ve booked a few things to keep me going.
If you’re looking for an event, or are planning to do any of the events listed below, drop me a line! I’d love to meet up and see you in person!
Pirate’s Cove Trail Run (8k) – March 20. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, near San Francisco, CA. March 20. I’ll be hiking this 8k with my friend and her husband! It’s my excuse to get to San Fran to do some exploring, and the course looks beautiful!
Door County Half Marathon & 5k May 1. (No, I’m not running the 1/2 marathon, just going to cheer, and to run/walk the 5k). I’ll also be taking my bike and exploring the park on two wheels. This will be my first run in 9 months, so I’m looking forward to it!
Little Red Riding Hood Ride – June 5. Cache Valley, Utah. One of my favorite readers, and a fine writer and inspirer to boot, Diane (www.downhourtraining.blogspot.com) who’s an avid cyclist, told me about this ride. She’s an organizer extraoridinaire and sang its praises, and who was I to judge? The ride is non-competitive, takes place in Cache Valley in Utah, and it’s a women’s only, fully supported ride of a distance of your choosing (18, 35, 57, 80 and 100 mile options). I’ll be riding with 3,000 other women in a gorgeous area, with “rollers” – no big climbs – to raise money for women’s cancer research. And I’ll be completing my longest ride in about 4 years, which has me pretty excited. I’m aiming for the 57 mile ride (I couldn’t do the 85 right now, I just know it) and my good friend Karen has committed to joining me for at least 30 miles. Considering she last rode long on the hills of Italy, I’m prepared to get my butt kicked, but it should be good times. I’m also looking forward to being part of such an amazing event in Utah, a state I’ve never spent any time in. Look out, Utes!
Lifetime Fitness Triathlon - July 10 (TENTATIVE) – Minneapolis, MN. This is a legacy race for me, and this year I’m considering adding it as my “A” triathlon (Olympic distance). I’ll be one month removed from great bike shape, so this might be the perfect year for me. I’m holding off on registration for one more month, but I love this course, so, worst-case scenario, I’ll be here, doing the Sprint. Best case: it will be the Olympic I didn’t get to do last year. Lifetime’s also offering a Clydesdale/Athena category for the Olympic, so there’s a great chance to be compared against your peers!
The North Face Endurance Challenge, 10k Trail Run - September 18 – Kettle Moraine S.P., Wisconsin. I watched my friend Jenny Hadfield run the Ultramarathon here last year, (though it was a month later) and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the day and the cameraderie of the racers. Sure, she made running over 30 miles look easy, but I was inspired, and I said to myself “next year, you’re doing this.” “This” is “just” the 10k, which is a distance I think I’ll be pretty good at, come September. The race last year was a great event, and I’m putting it on my calendar as my first-ever “real” trail run.
Other than that, I’m not quite sure what’s on deck – but it’s a good start, right?
So, take a look at that schedule – and think about what you might want to do for yourself this spring – and summer. Pick out a race for yourself, and make some goals. Don’t be afraid to go all pitcher-catcher, and report for Spring. I promise it will help keep you focused, and you’ll have a better 2010.
See you on the path!