I have lived in Chicago long enough to know better than to complain about the weather. In fact, Chicago is the ONLY place I have ever lived, so that pretty much makes me as qualified to crap and moan about it as anybody. But you know what? I won't. I chose to live here, to absorb all the best of the world's greatest city, and with it comes the winter.
However, I noticed that, more than ever before, I am paying attention to the wrath of Mother Nature. Why now? Ironman training, baby! Because I leave my house at 6AM to swim, and notice that the temp (alone, without windchill) is -9. As in, below zero nine. And because of where we live, I have to sit in my car as it warms, or risk one of my neighbors warming it for me (if you know what I mean), so that always adds a nice element of discomfort in the morning. To deal, I take a mug of coffee and just sit behind the wheel, bent over the top of the cup, letting the steam warm my burning cheeks. And riding? Forget it. Running? Possible, but today we got snow and the temps have just frozen everything. Yikes. Long run on the treadmill tomorrow.
The winters before IM training are just a fuzzy memory. Long gone are the days where I could sleep in until the temp peeked to at least 10 degrees, and then lazily pull myself out of the tiny little burrito cocoon I created from my down comforter. Gone are the carefree winter days of running from the gym to the car in shorts, as now you risk black leg and amputation. Gone are the days when you could run without attaching chains to your shoes for stability. Sigh. But I still love ya, Chicago.
There are a number of people that, for whatever reason, have chosen to leave this end-all-be-all city for warmer climates. And to those that fall in this category (unless you are over 65 and severely arthritic) I say: You are a sissy (okay, really that means I'm jealous, but jealousy is so ugly, right?). Anyone could ride outside in 70-85 degree weather to train for a Spring race, and anyone could go for long rides and runs when the mood strikes when you're living in a state of sunshine. It takes a real wo/man to train in the land where winter tends to be the only season, punctuated here and there with some colored leaves and heat spells, where Mother Nature comes to unleash a year's worth of rage on those who destroy her delicate skin with their big SUVs and energy waste, where North Face is truly "survival gear," and where blood runs thicker than any other place on Earth. Freezing boogs, dry chapped skin, layered clothing and frozen toes while waiting for a morning train that never comes - That's Chicago living. That's what I'm talking about.