Written by me shortly after entering my first Ironman, September 2001
OK. So, snow.The weather outside is frightful. It has been frightful every winter since at least the last Ice Age. Still, like the chronic speeder pulled over for the umpteenth time, we seem surprised each time that it has happened to us once again.
Really there was just a smattering of snow in Toronto this week, although this is usually enough for us to consider ourselves part of the next Armageddon. Here in our town we have twenty-five different words for snow, and they are all swear words. We get snow here, and while we do not get battered nearly as much as our neighbours less than a hundred kilometres to the north or south, we manage to whine far more. One year the city actually called in the army after a particularly heavy snowfall. We were laughed at by the rest of the country.I am one of the whiners. My Ohioan friends Pam and Dave embrace the drifts of winter and head for the trails on bikes slung with tires that look like they belong on a monster truck. I am envious of their spirit, and wish I had the [insert body parts here] to love this season myself. I don’t. I have paid my dues in the past: biked to work all winter through puddles of salty slush; run through the snow in shoes with screws drilled into the soles. I'm over it.
|Get inside you fool.|
So my outdoor training season is effectively over. What this really means is that I can no longer blame the weather for missed workouts; for the fact that the pages in my training log look as blank as the expanse of unmarked white snow I can see today outside my window.Yesterday I mounted the red training tire on my bike, clamped the bike onto the trainer, and spent some quality time with Coach Troy Jabobson on one of my dozen Spinervals DVDs. Today I’ll hop onto the treadmill and begin a winter of running nowhere.
My training for my planned 2015 season, including Ironman Muskoka next August, has begun.What was driven home to me after I was carted off the course on a stretcher at Mont Tremblant in 2013 was that although race day is important to me, it is only the terminus of a months-long process of mental and physical preparation. I had better love that process, because life is too short to wallow in months of misery for the sake of the single day at an athletic event. Winter training is part of the process. And I will happily do mine indoors.
I intend to relish every minute of my triathlon training over the winter months—even the unenjoyable minutes: evenings in a tepid, pee-filled public pool, navigating myself over and around unidentifiable flotsam and dog-paddling folks who have no grasp of what a lane swim is; pounding away on a moving rubber tread with the overhead furnace vent blasting hot air over me and Frasier reruns on the TV; cranking away on my trainer-manacled bicycle pretending to be climbing a hill in Muskoka by grinding the rear derailleur down to the smallest cog and standing on the pedals so that my head hits the ceiling.
It doesn’t get any better than this. Well actually it does; once the snow is gone and I can get outside again, I know it will be more fun. But I still plan to cherish any hours I spend working toward my goal, indoors or outdoors, and intend to be grateful that I can.
Crossing the finish line at Ironman will never stop being a singular thrill. But after many finishes over the past dozen years, it has stopped being a mystical, spiritual, life-changing experience. What it represents to me is the fulfillment of a promise made to myself, the realization of a plan followed to the end. The hundreds and hundreds of miles of training ahead, even those in my basement that move me nowhere, are the real reason I do this. The destination is indeed the journey, as so many have said, and I’m on it once again.