Thursday, February 9, 2012

February Is The Cruelest Month

 "Every mile is two in winter."
-  George Herbert
"Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow."
-  R. H. Newell

Yesterday a good friend, who's also a (newish) runner (been running for a couple years), confessed her fear that she might be losing her running mojo. She worries that it's becoming such an effort and sometimes a chore. My response: "That's just February happening. And don't worry, it happens every February." At least it does for me.

Each year February comes along - It always follows January, which followed December, which followed November, which followed October - and this year October marked our first substantial dump of snow. Lucky us! It didn't dump in September, which it often does. And February, it seems, is always a test of commitment, of optimism, of resilience. So, at this point winter has been going on for a good long time and it can get wearing.

The daily challenge of winter is the ever changing situation faced each morning when you step out the door: What should I wear? where should I run? Are the trails runnable? From what direction is the wind coming (gotta run out against, and back with the wind or you may freeze some valued body parts)? Are the side roads clear, or do I need to stay on the main roads? After months of analyzing the minutia of running, I just want to throw on some shorts and a shirt and go where I want to go (Important note: come July/August I'll probably be whining about the heat;)

But there's always that tantalizing light at the end of the tunnel: Get through February, and it's gotta get better. I just gotta get through February. Of course, in Colorado, March is the snowiest month, but generally it's also warmer, and signs of spring begin popping out all over the place. But February? February just demands cold, hard determination to push on and tough it out.

But now, it seems, there might be a new wrinkle in my February malaise: February is fast becoming my month of Doom. It seems that the week or so before and after Valentine's Day is fraught with danger for me.

This past Sunday I stood in the local rock gym packing up my things to leave and chatting with a couple friends, when out of the blue a climber was lowed, at a high rate of speed, crashing into me. The result of that accident was a trip to the ER and a concussion which has left me unable to work, to drive, to run, and until today, unable to think very clearly.

But there's more to this story - much, much more. Last year on Valentine's Day I was attacked by a Tibetan Mastiff (a large beast of a dog that weighed 130lbs) while out running on a nearby trail that I run on regularly. I was in the middle of marathon training then, as now, and suffered some major muscle strains and a bit of PTSD. A few years ago, also during February, I sustained an overuse injury that kept me from running for 10 months. Ten years ago, a few days before Valentine's Day, I fell while bouldering (unroped rock climbing which tends to stay fairly low to the ground) and tore my Posterior Tibialis Tendon - 6 weeks in a cast and months of rehab followed that one.

Is this some sort of disturbing karmic trend, a pattern, a curse, or just unfortunate coincidence? It's difficult, at times, not to feel doomed by the fickle Fates. So, now I am beginning to wonder whether it might be best for me to just hibernate for the month of February. It's hard not to blame February for everything...and right now I'm leaning in that direction. 

And lest we forget, there's one extra day in this February. Oh, woe is me...

And yet, as I sit moldering away on the couch, zoning out in front of the boob-tube trying to rest my injured brain, all I want to do is go for a run. I want to be out there, in all that February has in store for me, good or bad or somewhere in between. I don't want to be sitting on the bloody couch watching other runners trot past my back fence! I am angry, so very very angry about what has befallen me, thanks to some jerk's careless and negligent actions - right smack in the middle of Boston training. I want to say that I hate February, but the fact is that what I really hate is this climbing dude who's messed with my life and then just gets to go along living his life like normal. Oh, I know, 'hate' does nothing for me - but that's how I feel right now and there's no use denying it. I'm just really pissed. But - this too shall pass...As soon as I can run again!

Dear February...I will be back out there, soon, I promise. 
Love, Chronic Runner

To all of you...go for a run, and be thankful you can!

And, if anyone out there wants to cheer me up, don't forget, I've launched my fund-raising for Girls Education International - -ANY donation is greatly appreciated!

"The day is ending,
The night is descending;
The marsh is frozen,
The river dead.

Through clouds like ashes
The red sun flashes
On village windows
That glimmer red."
-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Afternoon in February


  1. I have had the same time of issues with February. Last year I fell while shoveling snow and severely bruised my tailbone. One year on Feb 27, my son had a ski accident. The very next year on the same date he and I were in a car accident. We decided that Feb 27 was not our day of the year. We were going to hibernate on that year but friends told us not to do that. They were afraid our house might burn down!

    I hope your February gets better and I am very sorry about your injury. I hope you feel better real soon.

  2. That's awful! I hope you're back out running soon.

  3. Hi Caolan I can certainly relate the difficulties of running in February. After growing up in New England all my life the winters can be pretty harsh in January and February. Running conditions are always compromised when running in snowy icy conditions. So I wish you the very best in your recovery.

  4. I don't know how anyone can deal with that many months of winter....YUCK!! Makes me feel like a bit of a whiner for the few months we get here in PA. Hope you have a fast recovery and maybe karma will bite your climbing guy in the ass...he really should have at least been apologetic.

    1. Winter here actually isn't THAT bad and there's lots of sunny days in the 50s and 60s. But February is just that time when you say "enough is enough". That said, having grown up in NJ and gone to college in upstate NY I can attest to some pretty long winters there as well. And it's not nearly as bad as Maine, where I lived before moving to CO. This too shall pass!

  5. Get well soon!!

    I'm with you, get through January and February! I find January to be exceptionally windy in CO, so I was glad to have that month behind us. February has been cold this past week. I'm glad we've had some respite with warm days, but those seem long gone for now!

    I am training for Boston as well, and the cold temps are somewhat off-putting.


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