keep going out there

Just keep going out there.

Believe in yourself and keep going out there.

Always keep going out there.

John Morelock, “Run Gently Out There”

Today is one of those days where winter won’t let go. Snow is falling, mixed with sleet, and it is just warm enough for the snow to stick to the ground in the form of two plus inches of slush. It isn’t pleasant, and it’s the sort of day where it is impossible to stay dry and impossible to stay warm. I knew that I had to go for a run today and I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. I did it anyway.

The first mile wasn’t so bad. My clothes were relatively dry and I hadn’t stepped in any puddles worth noting. The weather was just bad enough that, despite it being a Saturday morning, the city bike path was empty. For the first few miles I thought about my fall race-Yeti 100-and the fact that I could end up running in the rain. This is what training is all about, I told myself. I stepped in a puddle and the wonderful vented tops of my Hokas flooded with water that squished every time I took a step. My socks were soaked.

Another runner joined behind me around mile three. I didn’t know what they looked like, but our paces were close enough that they were about five feet behind me for the next two miles. Our footsteps lined up and I thought about college cross country. I thought about my pacers and I thought about the fact that our feet were sloshing in the snow in sync. When we crossed Lake Street in Arlington, they split off. I turned around to see a woman ten to fifteen years my senior, in all black except for high-visibility orange gloves. I gave her a wave and kept going. I was five miles in and I became aware of the fact that my sweatshirt was finally soaked through. I’d forgotten my rain jacket and was sweating but I promised myself that I wouldn’t put headphones in until the halfway point. I should have brought gloves.

6.87 miles into my run, .13 miles before my turnaround, my watch died. I thought about the silly Strava challenge I’d joined for the month and the fact that a manual entry of my run wouldn’t count. I realized I wouldn’t be able to check the time or my pace easily. I put my phone in the front pocket of my vest and kept running for what felt like .13 miles. I walked for two minutes, drank some water, ate a snack, and put my headphones in. I started My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade” at the beginning and started running.

I took stock of my body. Nothing really hurt, but I was very wet and cold. My sweatshirt was getting heavy and loose the way that wet clothes do and my tshirt was soaked through and clung to my stomach. My feet were very wet and one of the velcro straps on my sports bra had come undone. I was not in pain but in no way comfortable, though I could deal with that. All I had to do was turn around and run home.

The music drove my legs and I tried to find beauty in the sullen grey day. My baseball cap kept the steady falling snow out of my eyes and my feet were too wet to worry about dodging puddles anymore. I visualized the bowl of hot oatmeal I’d have as soon as I got inside and I gave thanks for magically dry leggings. I didn’t skip the sad songs but let them course through me. I embraced the mournful music and let it carry me home. I noticed how lovely Spy Pond looked shrouded in fog, the sort of monochrome peace that spring snow brings in New England.

When you’re that cold-not shivering but chilled to your bones-you think in short sentences. Your main goal is warmth and it’s hard to remember how that feels. Today I stretched in the shower, the room filled with blinding steam and hot water stinging my extremities. I must have been in there for at least twenty minutes, but I emerged feeling revived.

I’m glad I didn’t quit today. I’m glad I let myself suffer today. I’m glad I kept going out there.

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