June 5, 1988: The Day the Strong Men Cried

I want to tell you about how yesterday my furnace broke and the house was 49 degrees when I woke up.  I want to tell you how I had to wait all day long for the tech to show up during the window that the company gave me of "sometime today".

I’d like to share how I worked huddled over my laptop upstairs next to the electric heater until 4:00pm when the tech came.  Or how I watched as a massive storm gathered outside the window as I did so.

I could wax melodramatic on the driving rain and howling wind that battered me as I ran for 85 minutes in the dark black of a stormy night after the tech left.  How my running tights were heavy with water, how my rainjacket soaked through 40 minutes in, and how my amazing Swobo wool base-layer managed to keep me somewhat warm while my hands and legs turned bright red and lost feeling.

I could tell you all that shit, but the bottom line is that I survived.  I made it back.  I finished the run.  Even when I had to start it in the dark of night and even when I’d been huddled in sweaters and hats all day in a freezing house.

You go out and do these things.  It comes down to duty.  And honor.  And trust.  You promised yourself this was going to happen so if you don’t make it happen, how will you believe yourself next time.

Failing to deliver on promises to yourself has the exact same effect as failing to deliver on promises to others.  Compromised trust.

I came home last night frozen to the bone.  Sal was not home when I left the house so he was surprised to see me there, standing like a drowned rat, shivering.

"You were outside in this?"

Over an inch of rain fell yesterday.

Out on the most remote part of my run, I realized that I was not going to find the vacuum today.  There was no place to disappear.  No place to go.  I was up on the ridge above the golf course with the wind ripping through me and I had to just take it.  I was keenly aware of every sensation.

The streetlamps creating textured patterns of light on wet hedges.  The monochromatic quality of a stormy dusk.  The weight of my shoes.  The weight of my legs. 

I let every thought come to me and turned my attention toward whatever cropped up.

While I ran, I tried to frame my experience in a way that would diminish its apparent misery.  When I did, I thought of a race report that MtMann left in a comment here the other day.  It’s the story of a mountain stage in the 1988 Giro D’Italia that quickly puts all whiny, pitiful voices inside of you to rest.  It is going in my personal "Anti-Wimp File".

The Day the Strong Men Cried


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  1. I really need blogs like this at this time of year.

    We have a treadmill in the basement, but I hate running on the treadmill. I’ve invested in some good clothes this year and it’s made a huge difference. I feel better after runs that are weather-challenged then I would after a run on the treadmill of the same distance.

    I’m glad your furnace is fixed and I am glad that you got out the door yesterday and made it home.

  2. Brutal!

    Last night I missed my workout as I had been not getting enough sleep the past few days. I took the night off but felt crappy about it. As I was getting ready for bed I decided that I’d get up early and do my workout before heading off to work and double up with the weights this afternoon.

    Guilt and commitment can be a good thing :)

  3. I’ve been a fan of very few people because I’d rather do things than watch or read about someone else doing them. I was a big fan of Hampsten before he did that amazing ride in the Giro. It made me an even bigger fan. Since I only lived 90 miles away from him, I could understand what he meant about training through the winter.

  4. Don’t know if you saw it (I missed it) but the Rapha booth had a commemorative reproduction of the jersey and number Hampsten rode that day. BKW has a photo in his write-up of NAHBS.

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