If you’ve never spent a winter in the northern Midwest, consider yourself lucky: for the most part. With such phenomena as polar vortex, arctic blast and hell freezing over, I can appreciate anyone’s desire to live in a more tropical climate.
As you may have witnessed on the national weather report, it gets, how can I say this appropriately? Cold. More so: bitterly cold. Cold enough that any exposed skin with the slightest amount of moisture instantly freezes, including instant freezing of eye lashes and nostril hairs. Yes, frozen boogers. And frostbite? That becomes a reality in a matter of minutes…MINUTES!! And while this is all too often a reality, it gives you time to reflect. Not necessarily on those days that you thank the car gods that your engine was able to turn over so you can venture out to work, but instead, the milder days such as a positive 20-30˚F mercury reading. In fact, spend one day dealing with a wind chill of 30-50˚ below and anything on the other side of zero is enough to consider laying out by the, albeit frozen, lake to work on your tan.
I recently enjoyed an evening walk around the lake, amidst a light snowfall in a mild 20˚. And it was amazing. What was even more enjoyable was the cool crisp air that allowed me to clear my head of anything that may have been weighing on my shoulders. Normally, I would prefer a quicker pace, say 6:30/mile to start, for a much longer distance of total solitude to fully appreciate the serenity that surrounded me. However, a relaxing walk with a friend of the four-legged kind is a close second.
In my evening jaunt, I took in all the new snowfall that blanketed my surroundings in fresh powder. Everything appeared so pristine and new, as the glare of the street lamps danced on the ground. It released any pent up anxieties I had, knowing that there’s always something new, something beautiful ahead. All I have to do is look around, be ready for it. It also reminded me of the constant change that we inevitably face. A 60˚ swing in temperature from one day to the next will make you more apt in accepting the changes we face in our lives. I’ve always had a relatively steady routine from my day to day life, but overall I’ve made significant changes that I’m both proud of and have readily accepted, to allow myself to become who I want to be and where I want to go.
My training was at the forefront of my mind along with the obstacles I’ve been facing recently. Such obstacles require an appropriate amount of attention to recovery. An area I don’t always excel in. And though difficult for any athlete to appreciate, it does give me some time to reflect on certain weaknesses that led me here in the first place, allowing me to adjust myself in a way that will strengthen such shortfalls. It also allows me to practice a bit of patience, something I tend to lack when it comes to training and racing. Greater patience will give me more faith in my own training along with seeing my training all the way through, with as few hiccups as possible. Each obstacle that obstructs your path gives you an opportunity to grow. I couldn’t imagine tackling the obstacles I’ve come to so far, without accepting the appropriate change that has allowed me to assess each situation from new angles, with new solutions.
And as I concluded this thought to myself, my furry little friend finishes making his 18th or so puppy snow-angel, as he rolls around in every bit of powder he can find. As he has lost himself in the careless play only a puppy could fully embrace, I find myself returning from my own carelessness, not finding any immediate solutions to my questions, but rather a means to go about better understanding those questions and ultimately approaching them from a new angle. For when those beautiful answers present themselves, I’ll be ready for them.