In 2013 a friend of mine announced she would be running a 5K and invited others to join the race. I’d never run before outside of gym class but I also had committed to myself to saying “Yes” to things as a default that year and so it was that I signed up for a 5 kilometre race never having run even half that distance.
I trained, ran it and had a great time. Two days later I ran another race that was poorly marked and my second 5K became an 8K. I felt amazing – until the next day at which point I was limping – something in my knee was not happy. I took a few weeks break and was back at it.
I ran more and more and my times got better and better. I loved it because it was incredibly portable. I could bring shorts and sneakers with me on business trips and I was good to go.
My mileage worked up and up until I was ready for a half-marathon, easily running 22 kilometres in a respectable time. I never got to do the half-marathon race – but for a good reason: I had to leave early for a business trip in India and would miss the event.
That was my peak. Over time, my shins complained more and more. At the end of that 22 KM run, my shins were so sensitive that just lightly touching them was painful. A visit to the doctor confirmed: I had shin splints, likely due to very flat feet. They suggested I try orthotic inserts but the adjustment on those was so severe my feet slipped out of the shoes. It was time to give up running and so my convenient and easy exercise option went away.°
Of course you all know that I do love cycling, and can quickly work my way up to long distances in the 100-170 kilometre range. But I have a secret to share: I am a fair weather cyclist. Left to my own devices I would ride only on sunny days between 15 and 35°C. Colder days, rainy days or even windy days that suggest the possibility of a headwind are out.
I don’t know why it wasn’t until this week that this occurred to me but this isn’t really a feasible way to operate. If I say I won’t ride in winter that’s fine, I can bring my bike upstairs and ride on a trainer in Zwift. But once I move it to the bike room, it needs to stay there as bikes aren’t really welcome in our elevator. And now my bike is down there. With that in mind I did a bit of mental math. In any given week we could get several days of rain. If I’m unwilling to ride when there’s rain or even the possibility of rain I’m eliminating easily 50-70% of my exercise opportunities in any given week. With a short riding season I had to change my attitude. And so it was that I found myself at the bike shop yesterday buying rain gear. And today I went out even though there were lots of clouds and a bit of a chance of rain.
I headed out the door and 5 minutes later I was on a bike trail headed for the lake shore. I was a bit chilly but it was manageable. I had a general direction in mind – west – but nothing else. The most pleasant way to go west was to go down to the lake shore trail and head west. This was the same route I took to go visit the Fort York Library. There was no need to share the road at all on the way out.
After about 15 kilometres, I knew where I would go. Last summer Sage and I went to a Night Market on the site of a now-closed theme park, Ontario Place. Some of it has been turned in to a park, and other parts of it remain abandoned which makes it an interesting place to visit.
After spending some time in the park, I turned back, this time riding through the city and then past the usual turn for home so that I could relax and reward myself with a coffee. I’d been craving it for some time – not just for the caffeine. It was still only 9°C and quite damp so I was chilled. A hot beverage sounded delightful.
Despite the cold and damp there was no rain (though I was prepared for it with rain gear in my pannier). It felt great to get outside, get a couple of hours of exercise and have a small adventure. I’m looking forward to going out more and looking at the weather forecast less.