No More Chi-bernation!

No More Chi-bernation!

Shamrock shuffle 2by Nancy A.

There’s nothing like the first running event of spring. For me, it’s usually the Shamrock Shuffle 8k. But the Shamrock Shuffle usually kicks off something else: the end of my Chi-bernation. Typically, my workouts fall off, and my eating ramps up somewhere around the holidays and doesn’t end until the Shamrock Shuffle. Each year just a few days before the race, I have to find—and then dust off—my running shoes. Then I have to actually go in my crawl space to dig out the windbreaker, fleece running tights and all the other stuff I intended to use on my wintery runs. Finding my gear is about all I do to prepare to run five miles. The morning of the race, I feel pretty good about myself, because I ran a mile the day before without dying, and didn’t drink all weekend long—not even a glass of wine. On race day, I suffer through it and come in around the hour mark, pleased with myself that I only walked once and didn’t stop at the port-o-potty mid run. That’s good start to the season, right?

Not this year. This year I had Experience Triathlon’s Coach Cathy. They call her Chilly for a reason: she’s totally cool … until you meet her spicy side. This quality only comes out in her training plans. Oh, the plans don’t look like such a big deal at first, but they sneak up on you, making you work hard unexpectedly. Before you know it, you’re doing interval sprints, tempo stuff and hills all IN-THE-DEAD-OF-WINTER. There is no sitting on my couch eating cheese puffs. There will be no Chi-beration this year. I got Coach Cathy, and she’s saying strange things like “stretch afterward,” “taper week,” “recovery,” and “PB” (I really thought PB was peanut butter).

My running buddy Chris and I were completely stumped—and a little concerned. Cathy is her coach, too. “Wow.” Chris said on the way to the race, “We never actually trained for this before.”

“I knowwwww,” I said, feeling a little dazed.

So I’m in the D corral waiting for the race to start. In past years I was in the Z corral or something close to it, as I stand there I secretly begin to suspect that Coach Cathy has somehow arranged this more competitive start. And I’m here with all really these fast-looking athletes, who clearly run all winter. They don’t even shiver when the wind blows. They are totally acclimated to this insanity. Wait. I’m not shivering either. In fact, my legs aren’t all cramped up, because Cathy told me to “Warm up.”

When the race starts, a strange feeling comes over me: calm. I start running and I don’t feel like puking…yet. Whoa, I just passed that lady with the marathon jacket. Yes, those are my feet moving that fast, and, no, I don’t have to find a port-o-potty at mile three. I just run, and I feel really good. Then I run a little faster and I settle in, enjoying the music and the people and the costumes. Wow. Did they have music last year? This is fun.

And then it hits me. PB doesn’t mean peanut butter, after all. But it’s just as good.

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