Tag Archives: weather

Under the Rock Pile

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Today was stressful for no one particular reason. Rather, it was a lot of little things stacking up like bricks in a wall. The last ‘brick’ was more like a pebble, placed jovially atop the rapidly crumbling structure by one of my unfortunate children, and the whole thing collapsed.

Yes, I lost my cool.

It happens from time to time. I almost didn’t blog today because I was so out of sorts, but my daughter said that I should talk about my meltdown because, “It is such a rare occurrence.”

I’m glad it’s rare.

There was a time in my life when fits of anger would build inside me, and the only way to alleviate it was through yelling, since violence wasn’t my thing. It took many years to break the yelling habit. After all, many women I respected assured me that they, too, yelled at their kids. It was ‘normal.’ But something about that never sat right with me. I knew I wanted something different. I didn’t want to pass on the yelling gene to my own kids. Or heaven forbid, to watch my theoretical grandchildren become yellers.

This morning, I didn’t exactly yell–it was more of a verbal pounce, but in our sensitive house, it was the same as full-lunged bellowing. Afterwards I felt so badly, I went to my study to ‘be alone,’ which means praying and leaving a little puddle of tears on the floor.

Normally, I handle stress through running (which is also my time of prayer and contemplation) and proper nutrition. But lately I’ve been lacking both sunshine and sufficient exercise. And let’s face it–it’s hard, if not downright impossible to feel happy eating salad when it’s cold and dark outside! I’d rather cozy up with some gluten-free croissants drizzled with Nutella.

It is hard for me when there is no sunshine, and the puppy, cute as he is, pees on the brand-new rug after I’ve been outside with him for an hour.

I know there are worse things in life, and that the puppy IS a little glimpse of heaven; but even small doses of stress are toxic, and if you let stress build up, it can lead to a meltdown of nuclear proportions.

After “Mommy’s Time-Out” today, I emerged from my study to find a pink card on my pillow, a loving email from a concerned teen, and a pint of my favorite ice cream, wrapped up with a bow, sitting right outside my door. Sure, one of my kids was completely oblivious to the whole thing, but that’s okay too. My kids are so loving and so forgiving that I think they came through it unscathed.

In fact, it might be good for them to see me fail once in a while and for them to see me make amends when I’m wrong.

Sometimes we stumble.

The key is to get up and look ahead.

Because you can’t see clearly from under the rock pile.

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Puppy Sunshine or Why Runners Should Love Dogs

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Training

Training

Last week I ran 44 miles in five days.

That is what a little dose of sunshine does to me.

Unfortunately, the sun went away and it began to snow again, which means a corresponding household spike in Maranatha Raw Organic Almond Butter consumption.

My husband says that I am solar-powered, and it is no joke. I feel like a completely different person when the sun is shining.

When it is gloomy, I want to cuddle up with my Mac while dipping my Wasa gluten-och laktosfritt Knäckebrot directly into the jar of almond butter and (ironically) shop for marathons. But when it’s sunny, I am the person I like to be–the one who actually goes running, rather than the one who thinks about it.

When the sun shines, I go running AND clean the house. The residual effects from last week’s daylight were so profound, I even cleaned out my pantry. And if you’ve ever been frightened by my pantry, you will understand what an accomplishment this was.

Yesterday I came home from a busy day and the sun was out. It was cold, and even though I am sick of the cold weather, the sun lured me out. Also, we have our houseguest Bailey here, and she is an AVID runner, so she coaxed me out-of-doors. So, I set down the jar of almond butter and put on my shoes. I even thought, “It is SO sunny out, I won’t need my balaclava!”

I know, I know…I should NEVER tempt fate like that.

It turned out to be like some kind of twisted joke, a cruel irony, bad karma, or in Christian terms, a time of refinement, as halfway through the run, the clouds swooped in and it began to snow directly at me.

Bailey and I were both covered with snow on the left sides of our bodies, as if someone were shooting a plaster-gun at us.

I had to laugh. It wasn’t the maniacal laugh that sometimes scares my children when I’m at the end of my rope. It was, strangely, a happy laugh. And the only reason I could laugh was because of the ever-cheerful labrador.

Bailey doesn’t care if the snow is blasting at the side of her body. She doesn’t care if the frigid wind blows her ears inside out. She doesn’t care if the snow accumulates on top of her head like a wobbly little party hat. She is just thrilled to be outside running. And her cheerful nature is infectious. How could I be miserable when she looks up at me, and snow is plastered to a single side of her goofy grin?

This is part of the reason we added Charlie to the family. I hope that someday he will love running as much as Bailey does–and that his good attitude and cheerful outlook will rub off on me, whether the sun is shining or not.

Down Time

Down Time

Almost Never Christmas

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I saw my shadow today!

I saw my shadow today!

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve quoted the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe since December 26th. Though Lewis has written more inspirational lines, none can capture Germany’s winter this year quite as well as his phrase: Always winter, never Christmas.

And I’m not just whining. There was a reason for chasing my vitamin D pills with multiple shots of espresso.

My husband sent me a link to an article in der Spiegel that states this has officially been the darkest winter in Germany in 43 years, which completely validates my compulsive macaroni-and-cheese eating.

After nearly 13 years living in Alaska, I know I shouldn’t complain. But at least in Alaska, I knew what I was getting into. I KNEW the Arctic Circle wasn’t arbitrarily named. I KNEW polar bears only lived near a pole, which meant, coldness. But Germany duped me.

When we moved here seven years ago, they had the mildest winter on record. It looked like the shire in perpetual spring. Gazing at the emerald fields in February, I thought, “This isn’t so bad!” In fact, the winters have typically been more mild than my native midwest, where you can go from 80 to zero in a day.

But this German winter won the fight. I have posts on this very blog describing the beauty of running in the snow–when the road is frozen and gentle flakes are falling all around–blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Enough! I am done with winter! So done with it that I briefly stopped running. I was simply sick of feeling cold. So, I slunk away and hid in the Crossfit box until things began to thaw.

Fortunately, the sun came out a couple days ago, and with it, warmer weather. It was above freezing for the first time in weeks, and I was able to run without a jacket and YakTrax. Today, I didn’t even need mittens. It wasn’t particularly sunny today, but it was warm, so I stepped out into the fresh air, and it felt so incredible, I ran for 12 miles.

I’ve heard rumors that winter will be back again, but I don’t want to think about it. In fact, my friends won’t even talk about the forecast in front of me (bless them…I have the most awesome friends).

For today, the sun is peeking through the clouds, the birds are singing, flowers have pushed their delicate white and yellow heads through the mud, and I went running.

Yes, I had mud to my ankles, bugs in my face and some remnants of snow to slide through, but I went running and did NOT feel cold! That is a reason to celebrate! That is a reason to hope! Christmas WILL come eventually! And we shall call it “Spring!”

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring: Running while Soggy

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Because I had written my last post on the things that don’t bother me as a runner, it naturally rained during my entire long-run yesterday. Even when the sun came out, it was still raining.

It was a warm, gentle rain, and after the first four miles I was coated in sweat, making my light rain jacket ridiculous; and once I stripped it off, the rain kept me cool.

I didn’t need as much water during my run, and I could go longer between breaks for chia-gel.

While I prefer running in the sunshine, running in the rain on a warm day is great too. In fact, some of my fastest runs this year have been during a warm rain shower. (Notice how I keep mentioning a ‘warm’ rain?)

It rained during my last marathon, but it was the type of rain that sinks into your bones and joints and causes your muscles to feel like blocks of granite, which is not desirable when you’re trying to envision yourself as Legolas, darting lightly through Middle Earth.

Mind power only goes so far.

The only downside to running in the rain yesterday was that my SmartWool socks were completely drenched. Normally, they do a great job wicking away sweat while keeping my feet from chafing; however, yesterday the wool socks held the moisture like sponges.

When I switched my Newtons for flip-flops post-run, my feet were pasty & wrinkled, like the hands of a kid who’s been in the tub too long.

The question is: did the rain affect my running?

The surprising answer: yes–in a good way.

Because I was cooler, without being at risk of hypothermic, and because I wasn’t too hot, and thereby obsessing over the warning signs of heatstroke, I was able to simply run–shocking, I know.

I don’t run with gadgets anymore, so I can’t give you my splits, but I ended up running the entire 15 miles in 140 minutes, which means, if I run that fast during my marathon, I will make my dream ‘goal’ of a 4 hour marathon.

I know it’s not much to some people (like those featured in running magazines), but for me, a nearly 40 year-old housewife with no prior record of athletic achievement, this is fabulous.

I ran my first marathon in 4:40. My second in 4:30, so realistically, I should aim for 4:20–or 4:15. But I AM a dreamer, and for some odd reason I have it in my head that a 4 hour marathon would mean that I could, realistically, achieve my next goal of running a mountain marathon.

But one dream at a time.

For now I will pray for ‘perfect’ running conditions for the marathon, which may include a few scattered showers and a touch of humidity.

Good Days. Bad Days.

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Good day:

The weather was cold for running, but not so cold as to question your sanity. We’d had a bit of a thaw the days prior, but now the temps had dipped again, solidifying the muddy mess of tractor ruts. Though the sky was gray, and my eyes were streaming with tears from the wind, it was a beautiful run.

Along my path for the day, trees had been planted at regular 200 meter intervals (you have to love German precision). So, I sprinted between two trees, then took two trees rest, and then sprinted again, all the way down the lane. When I came to my first roller coaster hill, I decided to skip like a schoolgirl.

It quickly became tough, but I didn’t quit; I didn’t give up; I felt strong.

I went over the hill and ran along the bottom of the valley, where I passed the compost heap, which, unfortunately, had not frozen. Once again, I dug in and skipped up to the plateau of canola fields.

Relieved to be almost done with my workout, I reached the final hill, only to discover deer standing along the ridge.  

My mind flashed to the image of the car I had seen parked on the other side. Hunters? Or Farmers? If the village hunter was armed and ready on the other side of the hill, it would probably not be wise to go joyfully skipping up behind his group of targets.

For the first time ever, I was a little upset with my deer, because if they had informed me this would be a five-mile workout, I wouldn’t have expended so much energy.

But, I reasoned, the deer know best.

I retraced my path, taking the long way home.

When I came around the side of the hill, an old man and an old woman were chopping at the frozen ground with hoes.

Farmers.

I smiled as I ran past them.

It was a good day.

 

Bad day:

It was the most perfect day for running you could imagine. The ground had no snow or ice, and the mud was frozen solid. Plus, the sun was shining with the type of faint warmth that wakes something dormant inside you.

I was at the spa with my family, having a great time toting my little water monkeys in circles through the outdoor heated pool, but all I could think about was going for a run.

As we drove home, and the winter sun began to lower itself towards the horizon, it seemed every slow-moving vehicle in the country arranged to be directly in front of us. They took turns. First a tractor, then a semi-truck, then a Peugeot…and on and on. We were trapped in the most depressing parade you’d ever seen, all the way to the autobahn.

But the sun continued to bathe the countryside in a warm golden light, and if Amelia, my GPS, was correct, I would have time for a good run before the sun sank completely.

Autobahn, yes! We zipped along. Soon, we passed Rothenburg. Almost home!

As we approached the last hill before our exit, our car was suddenly enshrouded with fog: thick, icy, can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face fog.

Our entire village was covered in it, yet not five miles away, it was a perfect early spring day.

It was a sick joke.

I MUST have done something wrong. Bad karma? Was God punishing me for thinking about running the entire morning?

Even with my neon green jacket, running in that fog would be dangerous.

Fine! I thought.  I’m just going to be lazy!

I made myself a big bowl of popcorn, sprinkled some peanut M&Ms on top (my particular weakness), and watched TV (which I normally do only while folding laundry).

If I were a little German kid, I would have thrown myself on the ground, kicking and screaming—it was the same idea: the same frustration and rebellion motivating me.

It was a bad day.

A few days later, I reflected that while my moods do not actually generate the weather, my mindset dictates what kind of day I’m going to have.

Good days are only good if I make them so by overcoming difficulty.

Bad days are bad because I wallow in difficulty.

Some people, myself included, have very real symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which cannot be overcome by simply thinking happy thoughts (trust me, I’ve tried).

But when I stand at the crossroads, and I have the choice to work towards my goals or to give up, I should always choose the higher path.

I want to be the kind of person who takes challenges head-on and overcomes them.

I just need to hide the M&Ms.