But Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Albuquerque is in the sunny Southwest, but it still has a winter with cold temperatures and yes, even snow. Exhibit A:

Our 2nd snowfall this winter

Our 2nd snowfall this winter

Remember my attempts to run regularly? Anyone? Bueller? It has been awhile since I wrote about running, and the reasons are twofold. 1) I’m old. 2) It’s cold.

At my peak, I was running three times a week for 2 1/2 miles. I was feeling good and carrying ambitions to continue extending my mileage. Then one day I felt my ankle. You normally do not feel your ankle. It’s just there. It was odd because I did not twist it, hit it or anything to give it reason to make itself noticeable. Another run later, it was very painful. It hurt just walking around the house. I was puzzled, but my ever-affirming husband simply said with confidence that he knew what the problem was: I was getting old. I searched online and came up with a guess of tendonitis. Sure enough, some of the causes were, in not so many words, old age. 🙂 I would like to think that it was due more to my usually sedentary body adjusting to regular workouts on steep mountainous grades with distance extensions all within a few days. (Ok, maybe weeks but still.) Regardless, I was forced to cut back. I took a week off. When I did try again, I cut back to 2 miles. Since then, my ankle is back to being just there, thank goodness. However, my runs became less regular and less long. At least they were still happening.

Then the temperatures dropped so that it was below freezing in the mornings. Mornings are the best time for me to run because both boys are in school. But with those temperatures, this I-need-perfect-weather-conditions-to-run person was not braving the great outdoors. I tried our treadmill and succeeded to use it a handful of times. I am NOT a treadmill person. Even with great music, I was constantly looking at the clock and unable to keep myself on it for a respectable amount of time. With holiday travels on top of that, I had a long hiatus from running.

In a fit of temporary insanity, I decided to break the 3-week (or more) hiatus and go for a run outside this morning. I must hate myself to think of such torture when what I really wanted to do was OD on coffee while lying on the couch to finish the book I am reading. Fate took over the moment I put on my Lululemon pants. I fully blame my fabulous homegirls in Chicago who bought me the overpriced (super comfortable), trendy (super cute) wear to encourage my running. They guilt-tripped me to keep it up. Otherwise I’d feel unworthy to own the expensive gear. To justify such digs, I feel pressured to keep at it. Then another friend bought me a running tank to layer underneath during the cold months. Here I am wearing Lululemon pants, a runner’s tank, and then to make sure I know it really is me, a comfy Champion sweatshirt I picked up at Costco perfect for curling up in ON THE COUCH. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “impostor!” It’s like how Mike and I think because we watch Food Network that we are bonafide Food & Wine Magazine critics. We’ll sample something and judgingly say, “Oh, this is way over salted!” when the chef who made it endured culinary school, training in various kitchens and cooks for a living. Just because we won a Top Chef pool with our friends does not mean we are Gail Simmons! Wearing Lululemon does not automatically make you an athlete, but it does help motivate you to delusions of grandeur that you could be. Now there’s a dangerous conclusion. (Mike will now hide my wallet.)

Anyways, back to my sadistic morning run. The weather app on my phone said a balmy 38 degrees and dutifully noted that it felt like 27 degrees. Am I in Albuquerque or Chicago? YIKES. Not to be deterred by possible nose hair freezing, I determinedly started my jog. As I ran, I noticed patches of snow and even ice that managed to persist in the high altitudes, cold temps and shaded landscape. I almost had an out-of-body experience realizing that had anyone told me I would be running outside in the dead of winter not half a year ago I would have known they were crazy. That kind of stuff is for people who subscribe to Runner’s World, eat quinoa, and sign up for runs marked in kilometers, in other words, NOT me. Yet there I was, chugging along. And when I say chugging along, I mean I really did sound like a freight train huffing and puffing desperately using every ounce of lung capacity. I passed a real runner with his running gloves, toboggan, and SMILE. Who smiles when being tortured? He was running with ease and a genuine smile while my face was the picture of pure pain. A nice walker then passed and said, “What a beautiful day it is!” which made me feel I couldn’t get away with the usual panting nod. Somehow, by the power of Grayskull (“I have the power!”), I was able to puff out, “Yes, it is.” That was three syllables more than this freight train could really handle.

I almost didn’t make it. I debated the last leg around my little subdivision, and this was on my shorter 2 mile route. I was tempted to stop six houses before mine. The view at that point is spectacular with the Sandias grand appearance. I heard Mother Abbess singing, “Climb every mountain…” and somehow completed my circuit feeling like I literally had climbed every single darn mountain out there. Inside my house, I did not get the endorphins of a good runner’s high. Instead I wondered if this is what it felt like to drink sulfuric acid. I even felt a little brain freeze without the benefit of a sweet ICEE to please the palate. On top of that, I have been sneezing ever since and resurrecting Rudolph’s red nose. Who knew that one needs allergy medicine in January? Maybe I really am allergic to exercise? Whatever desert plant out there that is wreaking havoc on my system is obviously not intimidated by a little cold and snow.

In the midst of so much pain, there WAS a small (microscopic) feeling of accomplishment. Will it be enough to last me through the winter? Will my fling with running hibernate or will it turn into true love? Will I prove as resilient as the desert bloom in the face of meteorological treachery and impose just as much hell on this poor body? I have no idea at this point. I am not making any promises after feeling so tortured. However, a trip to the Lululemon store just might help….where’s my wallet? Mike? MIKE?!

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2 Responses to But Baby, It’s Cold Outside

  1. "Usain" Park says:

    Keep those feet turning Leslie! It will soooo be worth it. Here are some benefits to your brain from running from Runner’s World magazine with my comments:

    “Running sparks the growth of fresh nerve cells, called neurogenesis, and new blood vessels, called angiogenesis.” – Anything that has genesis in the name must be good? Helloooo…remember the 80’s band Genesis?!?! Case closed…I’m sold…give me those shoes! I’m lacing up right now as I’m typing.

    “Running helps you get better at learning and storing new information and memories, and can potentially stave off age-related dementia.” – So at some point when you guys are older and Mike is wearing hats made of aluminum tin foil because he thinks the government is trying to read his mind through the use of microwaves, someone will need to keep a level head and keep the house in order.

    “Lacing up regularly may make the executive functions that happen in the frontal cortex—decision-making, planning, organizing, juggling mental tasks—easier.” – Which means you can plan, organize, and juggle Top Chef viewing parties and keep track of the contestents with more ease. Or the Bachelor…or the Apprentice…or which ever reality show happens to be on at the time.

    “Being aerobically active is key not just to making memories, but finding them when you want to. In a study of patients diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, those who exercised were better able to recall names of famous people.” – Don’t you want to remember “The Situation” and Snooki when you’re old?!?! Don’t you?!?! Do you want to be the only person in the retirement home who doesn’t remember Kim Kardashian? (Wait…did I say famous or infamous?!?)

    “Running may be just as effective—and in some instances better—than SSRI drugs in treating depression.” – Then again, in my case, running only made me cry even more…but it was crying in physical pain…not because I was depressed…totally different types of tears…tears of joy…joy that the run was over. OK…scratch that last point…but just keep running! :o)

    • Hilarious, Usain! I thought it Flo Rida? But with all that Genesis in my system, I can keep track of all your aliases. You made me remember something else I was going to write about how the cold and wind was making me tear up and cry. Or maybe it was the sheer agony of it all. Hard to tell. Thanks for the encouragements and pointers. Now go eat your quinoa before your 10K training! 🙂

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