Tuesday, December 27, 2011

noel blanc, or, eat your fruitcake


I'm up on Mt Washington, happily staring out into a big white blizzard and drinking tea after a mid-day cross-country ski to re-acquaint my legs with things that slide.  I'm a happy girl.

Without sounding like a debbie downer, I had a rash (no, not a real rash) of unfortunate viruses that have plagued me for most of November and December.  When I had finally recovered & refound fitness after the first quite unpleasant smack in the face, I turned the other cheek, and I was delivered a Bjorn Borg backhand that knocked me entirely off my feet.  I got the flu.  It's no joke.

Luckily, I had gone through the stage of frustration, exercise withdrawl and unrealistic notions of fitness lost through the first virus, and I was also so sick the second time around, I really didn't even care that I couldn't swim, bike or run.  I was just happy I wasn't coughing, worrying that each cough brought me closer and closer to the Crowie Cracked Rib scenario.  However, with the passing of time, antibiotics (my bugs needed drugs), inhalers (my virus gave the gift of asthma this holiday season), and quite a few holiday movies, I pulled through.  Hooray.

Although I was only home for about a week to try some things out, I managed a few swims, 1 bike, and 1 run.  I definitely noticed the distinct sharpness of losing my breath when I tried to use the majority of my lung capacity, but that will come back as things continue to heal.  Instead of being mortified, I was somewhat amused at the amount of ache my legs held after my first run (after 15 days of no running).  Doing 50 squats (something I don't usually blink an eye at) brought laughable leg burn.  Swimming was really the only thing that felt normal.  It made me wonder, will I eventually become a swimmer?  As in, how I was once a runner now triathlete, would I be a once a triathlete now a swimmer?  Scary thought, as I always thought of the varsity swimmers across the hall from our varsity soccer team, as aliens in spandex who were always way too friendly with each other.  Times have changed.  Now I look much more like an alien in spandex.  Thankfully, I'm still not very friendly.

Credit: Teresa Nightingale

In the meantime I've been transplanted up the mountain and couldn't really ask for a better distraction than the fun, sliding sports that I have access to.  Time away from the others only wants me to do them more, so that's not a negative in the least.

The other benefit of having the downtime of an illness is the mental energy you have to give to yourself to better understand the 'big picture'.  I will eventually sit down and wrap up my thoughts for the year on paper but I'm not quite ready to do that yet.  Having the end of my year coincide with the holiday season has given my year new depth and perspective, in the vein of what really constitutes a 'gift', and what is really important in life, and what we hold most dear.  These things changed for me this year, and it's been interesting to take notice this December.  But, for another post, as I can't quite wring my brain out of it's tidings and joy.

In the meantime, if you have the chance, I strongly suggest you take a break from your normal routine and enjoy some of the things that only come once a year.  Or don't, and have a mid-season burnout and breakdown on the side of the road (but that would never happen to you....right?).   Fruitcake, I suppose also fits into that category but I don't think that's a 'must-try' of the season.  XC skiing, on the other hand, is an unbelievably nice activity if you've never tried before.  So is snow-shoeing, whether you run or not while you're on them is up to you.  It's just about having fun.  Snow and surviving the cold to come into warm tea and a sugary treat is what winter's about.  Don't skip it this year, embrace it.  You'll be glad you did.

More tales on how I'm going to ski my body into fitness to come.  The benefit of bad technique is that you really must make up for it with more fitness.  This is directly related to the case of the poor swimmer, of which I certainly fit the bill 2 years ago.  Now swimming seems so easy and effortless - I can't wait for the day when xc skiing feels like that.  Until then, it's all madness and double poling like a european until my arms give out and I fall on my face, laughing all the way.

May the snow be with you.

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