The route for most of my long runs goes out-and-back, then out-and-back in the opposite direction. I live near the midpoint of a bike path, so it just works out like that. It’s lovely for long runs…except in the springtime. I maintain that Albuquerque is windy year-round, but in the spring, the winds seem particularly tenacious. They don’t really stop. And don’t believe anyone who says they only pick up in the afternoon.
This time of year, an Albuquerque runner can expect a steady head wind going one direction or the other. Sometimes, I swear, it’s both.
One 15-mile morning, starting the first of my out-and-backs, I blithely thought, “Well, this isn’t bad! I don’t feel any wind!”
My capacity for idiocy on early weekend mornings never ceases to amaze me.
I finished that first leg, did an about-face to commence the long middle stretch, and murmured “ohhhhhh #%$@.” Helloooo head wind! Not just head wind, but cold head wind. It numbed my hands even with gloves on. When I tried to press my watch’s lap button, I apparently pressed another button(s), which caused the watch to freak out and become useless for the remainder of the run. When I wanted an energy Gu, my paralyzed paws couldn’t even open that, so I had to rip the top off with my teeth, Honey Badger-style. That would’ve been amusing if not for the fact that a) my nose was running like a faucet at that point, and b) the cold temps had coagulated the Gu. You know which two phrases do NOT go well together? “Chewy slime” and “gag reflex.”
At one point I passed a runner heading in the opposite direction. I, unable to coax my hand into a traditional wave, raised my partially-closed fist in greeting (it felt like some weird political gesture). He waved back, which made me so happy that I did an additional head-bob, which promptly sent a stream of snot down my face. So much for staying classy. When I heard odd little sounds coming from my fuel belt and realized my water was forming ice chunks, I almost started laughing. What did I write two weeks ago about tests of faith?
But THEN…I reached the second turnaround! Suddenly, no more head wind! Unbelieving at first, I started the home stretch in a daze. After about a mile, though, it hit me. “Hey! I have this glorious tail wind now! Why am I not taking advantage of it??” I don’t know how fast I ran those last few miles, but I certainly enjoyed them.
As my nose dried up and my fingers regained mobility, my brain thawed and got all philosophical on me. I thought about head winds in general. They exist everywhere: on runs, at work, in relationships, in traffic; you name it, you’ll hit resistance somewhere along the way. It’s natural. What I need to work on is seizing opportunities when there isn’t a head wind, rather than just coasting. Sure, there’s gratitude for the break, but also complacence. What good is gratitude without corresponding action?
Lesson learned: Got a tail wind? Use it!
After that run, with the literal and figurative wind still behind me, I filed my taxes, went grocery shopping, baked a pie, and wrote this.
If you’re encountering head winds of any kind, here’s hoping they’ll soon turn in your favor.