When I was younger I use to think 60 was really old. Now that I’ve arrived I realize I was right. It’s not that I think of myself as old (on a good day my wife would say I’m mentally an adolescent) it’s just that my body keeps reminding me. That’s particularly true when I’m out marathon training. There are days when I just feel like an old car that still runs but the chassis is sagging, the shocks are shot, the headlights aren’t very bright and it makes a wheezing sound when it’s going uphill. While it still runs, there is no longer a 4th gear (or even a third gear), having a full tank of gas has a whole different meaning, and I carry a lot more junk in the trunk. One positive is the neighborhood dogs no longer chase me since my exhaust rendered them unconscious.
I can still get out and do a creative imitation of running but I miss the old days when you would just glide along the roads with the wind blowing through your hair (heck…I miss the hair too). These days I think the correct definition for my style of running is “plodding”. I was running through a neighborhood the other day and a man walking his dog passed me by and asked if running in place was a new form of exercise.
So while Father Time has been beating me around the body with the old age stick, I expected Mother Nature to swoop in and give an old man a break. Not likely. Going out for this morning’s long run (18+ miles) I was greeted with a balmy 6 degrees. When it’s that cold you not only have to work harder to breath, but the pavement is less forgiving on the legs and the inevitable sweat tends to freeze to your mustache, eyebrows and any exposed skin. Oh yeah, and the water bottle freezes to a semi-solid slush that gives you brain freeze when you drink. I guess I should be thankful; it was 2 degrees when I went out the other day.
Cold, while difficult, is a minor annoyance when compared with snow. The lack of traction on snow covered roads makes forward progress twice as difficult. Given how slow I’m already going I have nightmares that I may find myself going backward in time. Add to this the risk of muscle injury (you use totally different muscles trying not to slip), the risk of stepping in hidden potholes and of course staying out of the way of the ever present but woefully ill equipped winter drivers. While over the years I’ve gotten use to the idea of running in the snow in Boston, it is a whole different experience in PA where plowing the roads to payment is an occasional experience.
If you read this far I appreciate that you have been kind enough to put up with my venting. I suspect Father Time is a strict parent and I don’t expect much help from him. But I’m putting in a special request to Mother Nature to ease up and take pity on an old man. If not for me, for the poor flowers and trees that may not see spring till sometime in June.