Not That Hard Core

This morning I woke up at 5:00am, put on my cold weather running gear, and went downstairs to enjoy a pre-run coffee.

"Perfect. Everything is perfect.", I thought to myself as I sipped hot liquid Stumptown love in an oversized mug.

Then I shoved music into my pocket, strapped on the heart rate monitor, and opened the front door.  And that’s when I realized… I’m not as hard core as Julie Berg.  It was a devastating reality check. 

But when the door opened and the sub-arctic (ok, I’m being dramatic) wind hit me in the face, I shut the door again.  Immediately.

Julie Berg runs in snowshoes for godsake.  She runs when her feet are bloody stumps and she has to wear three pairs of pants to stay warm.  She runs miles by the hundreds.  And then she comes back to her blog and reports it like it’s just another day at the office.

Man, if you don’t read her blog, I don’t know what you’re thinking.  You want inspiration?  There’s your girl.  Holy crap.

I thought of her as I went back to my dining room table and started working on client projects.  Julie Berg would be so disappointed in me.  I am letting Julie down!  What would Julie do!!?


But still – did I go outside in the pitch black sub-freezing morning to do my run?  No.  I worked and waited until 8:00am when the sun was up and it had warmed to a balmy 25 degrees, THEN I went outside and put one foot in the other for 7.25 miles.

It was one of the first runs on record where I actually felt under-dressed. The wind hit me in the chest full on.  My heart rate went completely apeshit for the first mile or so as my body tried to figure out what was going on, why the hell we were doing this, and how the hell it would possibly stay warm.

But it did stay warm.  Even as the dagger-sharp freezing air seared the inside of my nostrils. Even as I gingerly dodged huge sheets of ice on the sidewalk. 

Running into the wind is like running up a hill – it’s all about the arms. When in either situation, I make every effort to forget that I have legs at all. Instead, I focus on that perfect arm motion, the rhythmic pumping hip-to-ear (or close). The legs always follow. They are suckers like that.

The run was randomized.  A turn here, a last-minute decision to turn here.  Up here, no down here. Now over here. Wherever the feet felt like going, that is where I went.  Timed tempo runs, as opposed to distance-focused runs, allow me this frivolity. No set course, just controlled effort.

I pushed.

I floated.

I hurt and felt strong.

And I ended up at the Division Street Stumptown sipping the single best Americano I have had in quite some time.  Mason Jenning’s "If You Ain’t Got Love" came up in the shuffle as the sun opened fire on the sidewalk with low winter rays set to full blast.  I stopped to nuzzle a gloriously backlit golden retriever puppy and then headed off into the glow of a cold and shiny morning to find my way home.




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  1. Found your blog through Martina Patella’s (a former runner of mine).
    I’ve recently returned to my own running (started in 1975) after two retina surgeries sidelined me for extended periods. I love running in the winter in Southern Oregon.

  2. I am so glad you’re running again.

  3. Me too, L. :)
    Coach Volk, welcome to the blog! And welcome back to running… it is such a gift to be able to do it.

  4. Cut yourself some slack, girl! You still got in a good workout–and faced some miserable conditions. You know these kinds of runs are primarily about mental toughness. You not only killed it, but you rewarded yourself with a great cuppa joe. That’s hard to beat.

    If you’d gone back to bed, well, then we’d all be talking about you behind your back!

  5. Hi Heidi! It seems weird to see my name in another blog. Weird in a good way:) I’m honored that you thought of me during your run. Really, I am. Hey, you got out there and ran and that’s awesome in my book! Thanks for leaving the nice comment regarding inspiration. I appreciate that.

  6. Julie – You’re a huge inspiration to me (and my cousin, too!)… so glad you stopped by. Thanks for being a constant source of motivation!

  7. girl, i’m impressed that you were out in 25degree balmy weather. Me, i gotta wait until it’s at least 40 degrees. Treadmill here i come!

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