I have had a problem lately with underpreparation. It does kind of run in my family. My dad is notorious for forgetting to bring extra underwear on vacation. At the same time, when you grow up you have to start taking responsibility for your actions. So while my mom might be in charge of packing my dad’s suitcase, I think the time has come for me to acknowledge my issues and deal with them.
I am not new to significant underpreparation. Almost a year ago I moved to Colorado with the sort-of promise of a job and no real back-up plan. In hindsight said back-up plan would have been really nice… Just about this exact time last year, I ran into an issue due to the absence of a map, a plan, or an internal compass combined with an overinflated sense of self-efficacy in matters pertaining to navigation plus limited daylight on a bike ride. (See blog post entitled “A Three Hour Tour” for full details).
At present, it seems I still haven’t learned… Just this Saturday, I left for a bike ride armed with water, 1 gel, and no money. About an hour and a half from home, as the group decided the best path would be to continue before turning back, I battled with myself regarding whether to admit my error and risk looking foolish versus say nothing, inevitably bonk, and definitely be foolish and slow. Before anyone could clip in I took the plunge and outed myself.
“I ate my only gel. I don’t have any other food and I didn’t bring money?”
It came out sounding like a question. I wonder now if this is why ditzy girls talk this way; it softens the blow of any dumb statement, making it sound cute and innocent instead. At least this was the route I was trying to go. I think cute-stupid is better than plain-old-stupid-stupid. In any case it worked, as everyone chuckled. Whether it was with me or at me is moot, as one of my friends offered me any combination of sport beans, gels, or Cliff bar. This was the same friend who ended up giving me a second pair of socks because I neglected to wear booties. It seems there is a warm air weather pattern that holds just outside my front door but dissipates once I leave that 10 foot radius.
Cold feet and inadequate nutrition were nothing however compared to the debacle that ensued Monday morning. Having completely blown off my Sunday long run in favor of eating banana pancakes on the couch while watching “Its a Wonderful Life,” with Dan it had to be done Monday. Sunday was so cold and snowy I just couldn’t bring myself to get out there. Awash with guilt, I set out Monday morning determined to redeem myself and get in a solid 15 miles. So what if it was cold. I had no excuse, considering I didn’t have to be at work until 12:30. For maybe the 3rd time in my whole life, I got up without pressing snooze. I got out the door just 4 minutes past my estimated launch time. Everything was going according to plan. Except that I couldn’t pull my sleeve over my Garmin. Normally this would not be an issue, however the Garmin wrist band has a couple of holes in it and the cold air was passing through them and touching my skin. This was intolerable. Not as intolerable however as the fact that I was unable to pull my sleeve over my gloved left hand. I struggled with the sleeve for a bit then finally decided to undo the Garmin and just put it on over the sleeve. Problem solved. I forged ahead. My eyes were tearing, my face was burning, and I felt slow and heavy, but I kept moving forward. My eyeballs got cold after a little while but this is something that is pretty normal for me when the temps dip below 30F. I told myself I was enjoying a winter day. I even tried to get excited when I saw a rainbow-y thing. (That thing that’s not exactly a rainbow but it has all the colors of a rainbow, but a blob-like shape instead of the arc of a traditional rainbow). I convinced myself that the rainbow-ish thing plus the view of the snow-covered Flatirons were a sure sign that I was meant to be running on this chilly morning. I reminded myself that the sun was only getting higher and I was sure to warm up some as the day progressed. The Gatorade I sipped from my fuelbelt was getting icy after only 45 minutes but I took a refreshing sip and continued on my path. I quieted the voice that said “I’m f*ucking freezing!!!!” When I was a child, my mom ignored me all the time when my older brother was beating the crap out of me. It was my turn to ignore something this time.
About 5 miles from home however I could no longer hide from the truth. My left hand hand quickly degenerated from numb to burning to downright painful to swollen, strange-feeling, and cause for major alarm. The problem was I had 2.5 more miles before I was scheduled to turn around and go home. I didn’t know how my left hand would fare. I decided it was best not to find out. I turned around. Suddenly I had a burst of energy. Even quickening my pace however was futile in warming my hand up. I approached a private elementary school and walked in with a few of the kids as the door opened. One of the moms guided me in by my shoulder. This would not be the first time I was mistaken for a child in the last few months… I figured this was better than being taken for some wierdo who hangs out in elementary schools even though she has no kids. I explained my situation to the kind mom who shoo’ed me in. She looked at me with concern and said “You know its 2 below out there.” By my estimation it was f*cking freezing but I had no idea it was THAT cold. No wonder my left hand was experiencing a searing intense pain like none I had previously experienced as it came back to life. That would explain the fact that both of my hands were swollen and gross-looking. It also accounted for the fact that another of the moms did not hesitate to offer me a ride home. This was also why my teeth were chattering so violently I had to struggle to make pleasant conversation with this kind stranger.
New Years Resolutions:
Look at weather forecase before spending long periods of time outdoors
Stop relying on kind strangers to bail you out
Stop pressing snooze so much
(The first two are new, the last one has been on the list for like 2 decades)