Apparently this is one of the coldest winters in decades in the US of A and it certainly is the coldest one the guy with bad memory remembers from his entire life. For the first time since 7th grade, I caught a cold/flu that's how cold it is. I hear that the reason is it's called a cold is that people thought that people originally thought it was because the cold caused it but we're just more likely to be indoors and so the air's more stagnant with disease since we're stuck with people indoors (hey I love people I just prefer outdoor time with them generally speaking).
So 2014 has started rough on the athletic end because when I have seizures I run within a day or two. With a cold, if you cough hard enough and you can't finish a long run or a track workout... I even had to go see a doctor who gave me anti-biotics. Still, I already had a couple of races I'd committed to. I have a lot of friends who are serious runners or trying to become it and so on New Year's day they were doing the black eyed pea run (a point to point half marathon) and then there were others doing a New Year's day commitment run. I went out and did the underwear run again and won it for the second year in a row (and if you've ever wondered why my screwed up brain keeps me single, how am I running ahead of instead of behind the crowd when there's cute girls running around in their underwear?!?). I took some dayquil before and coughed about as long as the run had taken me.
But then there was the fact that I had another race starting the first Sunday of the New Year. The rogue distance festival. It was the second long race that had ever let Kiana and I in with a stroller, 30 kilometers, roughly 18.6 miles. (Running these races with Kiana each time makes me both appreciate and reminds me that there's a reason you shouldn't start running late with your kid because while we've been doing it for almost three years, I think our retirement just due to her size in the stroller and her age is not too far down the road.) Most days I run 4-6 days a week... The week before this race due to the incessant cough and a fever for a couple of days I had run only 2 days (hey I had an underwear run title to defend! and a failed track workout to fail at?).
There are hard core runners who seem to take pride in running in the absurd Texas heat or in miserable cold conditions (it takes just one look at that picture of me in my underwear to realize I'm pretty soft core). The weather for the 30k was going to be in the high 30's, low 40's with winds ranging from 14-22 mile an hour winds. I asked/begged Kiana if she really wanted to do this (I've never hoped she said no more) but she layered up more than she ever has and for the first time ever we put the wind block on the stroller.
The playlists for my music are usually about getting pumped up, to create a little extra push when tired. The race playlist for this race had more songs that had never made a race than any before or probably any after. Because between the cough, the wind and the cold for this 30k, I had never quite questioned why I run these races more with or without a stroller. And the answer, most of the time, most days is because both during training and during races, I run because it is a joy of life, because exercise, especially the way I do it, with Kiana and with a great training group, with people whose company is irreplaceable, is happiness. One foot in front of the other with people you love, that is happiness. It was one of those moments that I was reminded that while I attend church, go to plenty of parties, and have jumped off planes, gone scuba diving and seen wonders of the world, won a marathon that the adrenaline rushes in life are nothing compared to the marvels of daily living.
Or at least that's what I kept telling myself as I was wondering why the hell am I going to do a 30k with a stroller under these conditions!?! So I just went back and found moments to remind myself with music of the little joys in life. When I got to go to New York, I got to meet Tony Danza who in a surreal moment spoke first when we met and because it was the day after the NBC piece said, "Hey I saw you on TV." That's not how you imagine meeting people like Tony Danza will go. But just like all my favorite people that I've ever met my whole life what was so great about him that he just enjoyed little smiles and jokes. He Mc'ed the entire event while balancing himself on inline skates. When a picture of us had gotten put on someone had captioned it "Hold me closer Tony Danza" apparently something that has been misheard from Elton John's "Hold me closer tiny dancer." That song was downloaded the day before the race and it was the first song on the 30k.
It kept on with a gift that a friend who I'd had a few laughs with had sent "Safe and Sound." It had some George Clooney songs to just laugh in the middle of it like "They can't take that away from me" and "Short skirt and a long jacket." I'd explain that in more detail in an "uncensored" blog but hey my mom reads this blog. It had some that anyone passing by might have gotten confused but they served no greater purpose than to get Kiana, the actual tiny dancer, to semi dance while she was in a covered up stroller like "Boogie Wonderland" and "Feel this moment." Of course kid's songs were on there like always but unlike I had done in a while in any distance other than a marathon, I used to have a standard practice of a song that would come in shortly after the time I had hoped for which is Daniel Powter's "So you had a bad day" so that even if you recognize you didn't hit your time goal, you acknowledge it and smile.
The winds were the strongest and coldest for the end. I took 9th over all and 3rd in my age group. As Kiana and I did some games and puzzles later, she more than acknowledged that it wasn't her favorite race but that she'd had fun most of it. She'd talked to others in the race after math and said, "It didn't sound like it was anyone's favorite race."
In the end, I can say that like the worst days of my life, it was miserable with smiles slipping out here and there. I just wish Tony Danza had been there at the end to warm us up by holding us closer but he was in New York. Still with a PR, a medal and atrophy there was a girl who I held pretty close and danced with even if she was tiny.