I wake up, roll out of bed, and glimpse out the window. Grass is everywhere. Not the green kind of grass, the brown kind of grass that was expecting winter months ago. The rain continues to fall into piles where the cross-country trails used to be. Instead of those strips of freshly groomed corduroy that existed days ago, all I see is a puddle that is actually starting to resemble a small lake.
It’s on days like these where I have to really dig deep. It’s days like these that make me curse at all the times I took snow for granted. Negative thoughts try to cling on and cloud my mind. I don’t want to go outside but something inside of me knows I have to.
I slowly get dressed. Putting on clothes that I already know will not stand a chance against the elements outside. I packed three months worth of clothes into a suitcase but am unbelievably unprepared for the rain. Maybe I was being optimistic when I packed up, or maybe I was just being stupid. With the climate in Europe nowadays, I think the latter is correct.
I leave the hotel and begin to run up the bike path. The path winds its way along the Slovenian countryside, which is hardly visible in the torrential downpour. I try to keep my mind empty and ignore the rain. For the first five minutes this works. Then I begin to feel the cold. I try to focus on my running stride. I remember what Physical Therapist Dave Cieslowski told me, “Run with the hips, drive the knees up.” This helps take my mind off the freezing rain. Another five minutes go by. Now I’m starting to feel the moisture breaking through my outer layers.
A thought comes to mind and I get lost in it. I remember a story my mom still loves to tell. My mom would put me on my little bike (with the training wheels still on) and we would head up the bike path that winds along the Yampa River. She would insist on turning around at a point she thought reasonable. I would dismiss this idea and keep going. A few minutes later she would bring it up again saying, “Ben you’re not going to have enough energy to get home if we go any further.” Once again I would shake off the idea sternly and continue on. This would continue until finally, I would become too exhausted to pedal any further. Then my mom would have to carry my bike and myself all the way home. I had a terrifying amount of energy as a child and these walks
Just like those days on the bike path with my mom, I keep refusing to turn around. I need to make it for at least an hour. I need to drain my energy. By the time I make it to the next town, I’m absolutely freezing. I turn around and ramp up the pace. By now my clothes are becoming heavy with moisture. My shoes are already soaked and the puddles now seem pointless to avoid. As I get closer to home I kind of hit that, “Oh shit I’m cold moment”. It’s that moment where it goes from being kind of funny to serious. I ramp up the pace again.
I make it home and head straight to the shower. I know I need to warm up fast but I can’t help but glance at my watch. I scroll through all the stats and start to smile. This is what I read:
Time: 60 minutes
Distance: 9.5 kilometers
Average Heart Rate: 121
Running Index: 68
Running Index is a measurement that puts time, distance, and average heart rate into a formula that calculates efficiency. I’ve found that this number is very representative of my fitness level. 68 is the highest running index I have ever achieved.
Turns out the numbers don’t lie. I had a very solid weekend of competing. My jumping was average but I skied well and held my own in a very strong field. The first day I jumped to 14th and skied to 24th and the second day I jumped to 16th and skied to 20th. After last weekend I am sitting in 22nd place in the Overall Continental Cup Standings. I believe I finished somewhere in the 70’s last season.
Cheers to staying positive no matter the forecast! Cloudy with a chance of rain in February.