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Climbing into a New Year

January 4, 2011

Laugh. (From

The new year often weighs heavy on my soul. Pre-kids and -Grant, I was always hoping that the new year would be the year of ______ (a great boyfriend, a better job, a purposeful life, fill in the blank); post-kids, it fast forwards time, so I can suddenly picture 4th grade then 11th grade and I can’t stomach my Ben, ready for bed in dino jammies and a Pull-up, learning algebra. So I try not to think about it too much.

But on Saturday, as I looked at the temperature on the Odyssey– -2 degrees (not kidding)–I knew I had to attach some meaning to day one of 2011 if I was going to get through a workout. We were up in Granby, Colorado (you may have heard of its next door neighbor: Fraser, a.k.a. the icebox of the nation), for a weekend with my parents and sisters. Because this is the first time I’ve seen snow this year and because the Mt. Taylor Quad, which has two snow-centric disciplines, is about six weeks away, I had to powder it up, Arctic temps or no.

In order to minimize the chance of frostbite, I needed efficient. Which meant my first hill repeats in about, oh, two years. I breaking in my sweet new Atlas Race Snowshoes, which trade surface area for feathery weight, so breaking trail wasn’t an option. I needed a path, and the best one I could find was a snowmobile track under a chairlift at Sol Vista. Forget the temps: I wasn’t psyched with the openness of the trail. I didn’t want to be the endurance freak who is running up the mountain while everybody else catches a ride. Then I looked up at the chairs, and they were all empty. Of course. It’s below zero out here.

So I start up for the first repeat without giving myself a specific number of repeats or knowing how long each repeat will be. Read: I am granting myself permission to bail at any time.

I’m only at it–“it” being a running-like motion that probably is equal to a 16-minute-mile pace–for about a minute when I can’t handle the burn in my lungs and legs. As soon as I step even with a big support pole for the lift, I start walking. I continue to hike up so I know how the hill lays out, and, within a few minutes, hit a ski path which I can’t cross.

So the hill is short. I have that going for me.

I fly down, cleats underfoot, feeling invincible, then head up again. This time, I tell myself, run 10 steps past the pole. I get to the pole, pound out 10 more, then slow to a hike.

Round 3: 20 steps past the pole. O.k., I’m doing this.

Round 4 (30 steps) and 5 (40 steps) go off without a hitch. I decide 10 total repeats is good, and–guess what?–I’m halfway there! Plus, the sun is out, the sky is so blue, there is no wind, and the temp has to be above freezing by now. Really, who wouldn’t be out running hill repeats on snowshoes under a chairlift on 1/1/11?

Round 6: Repeat 40 steps, but with a caveat: no dropping my hands to my knees  to catch my breath between running and hiking. Enough with the drama, Dimity.

Round 7: 50 steps, which takes me to the easiest part of the hill before I slow. Maybe I could get all the way to the top?

Round 8: 60 steps, which I, who has a bit of a Rainman streak in me, parcel out as 15 on my right, 15 on my left, rinse, repeat. My feet are soaked (so much for Gore-Tex trail shoes), and icy, tiny snowballs are clustered on the socks around my ankles. I notice this when I assume my gonna-die, hands-on-knees position at the top. Apparently, somebody else noticed my drama. “Are you o.k.?” a ski patroller, flying above me, asks me as I head down. 

Round 9: Getting ambitious: 75 steps. One more, and I’m done. Maybe I’ll even get to the top.

Round 10: 90 steps. No top, and I can’t find the will to keep going when I hit 90. I can’t end my first workout of 2011 like this.

Round 11: Top! Top! Top! The 11th time in 2011, and I made it! On the way down, so thrilled, I decide I need to run, non-stop, four times total: one for each discipline of the quad (bike, run, ski, snowshoe).

Round 12: top. Two more times, really? As I run down, I notice clouds have moved in, as has a breeze. My cheeks have that freezer-burn hurt going, and the sweat I’ve worked up feels like it has icicle potential.


The other thing that can weigh on my soul? Thinking about a hard workout: speedwork, hill repeats, anything that goes beyond my beloved steady state. I try to think of reasons I can’t do it, I fret about how much it’s going to hurt, I go over the workout again and again in my head.

Then I get up–have to do it first thing, or I’d obsess myself out of it–and dive in. Sure, the burning and the pushing and the coaxing isn’t exactly pleasant, but it’s never as bad as I think it’s going to be. And, unlike less-intimidating workouts, I’m always greeted, on the other side, with a quiet smile of pride and a hearty dose of confidence.

If I have to start a new year, not a bad way to do it.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Pilar permalink
    January 4, 2011 4:04 am

    Girl! You totally rock! Just finished my morning run. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  2. KarenM permalink
    January 4, 2011 4:49 am

    Like Pilar, I just finished my morning run, too, and I feel like giving you a great, big high-five!

  3. January 4, 2011 5:02 am

    My 3x/1 down hills at 5AM are ashamed of themselves. NICE WORK! Great read.

  4. Janette permalink
    January 4, 2011 5:06 am

    Sounds like an awesome workout. I’ve been sitting here procrastinating on going out for my Tues speedwork, and you just gave me the kick in the pants I need to actually get out the door. Thanks for the motivation:)

  5. January 4, 2011 5:29 am

    Damn girl! Suddenly my 1K repeats don’t sound so daunting. Good work!

  6. Amanda permalink
    January 4, 2011 5:36 am

    You’re a machine, Dimity.

  7. Martha permalink
    January 4, 2011 6:07 am

    Thank you for once again inspiring us! Facing the daunting task of starting to increase my milage on the dreadmill (hate it more than hill repeats) but I CAN DO IT! Thanks again for the motivation

  8. January 4, 2011 6:27 am

    Nice work! And thanks for the inspiration! It’s -4 here now but when I head out for my lunch time run it will be a balmy 7 or 8. And no hills! So no bitching about it today from me.

    I am a wimp when it comes to cold, wet feet so when we snowshoe I use neoprene snow shoe booties over my shoes. Got them from Crescent Moon snowshoes (online). Love ’em!

  9. Kathy permalink
    January 4, 2011 6:35 am

    Dimity, all I can say is “you go girl”! I am soooo impressed! I am truly my own worst enemy when it comes to new endeavors and pushing myself past my own perceived limits. I truly applaud your drive and accomplishment. One of my goals in 2011 is to try to keep the positive voices in my head and quell the negative (and do my first 26.2!)

  10. January 4, 2011 6:53 am

    Very impressed! I am going to spend most of the day – I can tell already – fighting the voice in my head that will try and talk me out of swimming after work. Once I get there and do it, I will be fine… it’s just the next eight hours of thinking about it wear me out! I’m going to remember you and your workout instead of the silly negative voice in my head!

  11. January 4, 2011 7:07 am

    nice job- you couldn’t have described the emotions I experience before a hard workout better… ahhh congrats on a creative cold weather workout and happy new year!

  12. Kristen F permalink
    January 4, 2011 7:46 am

    Go go go! so impressed. This Southern girl would have been BY the fire not ON fire like you.

  13. Alecia permalink
    January 4, 2011 8:27 am

    Way to go!

  14. Carri Schmidt permalink
    January 4, 2011 8:29 am

    Way to go Dimity!!! It’s 90% mental, right! Whenever I know I need to do something but I just can’t seem to motivate (and of course start in on all the other things I could be doing) I remind myself, “I’m NEVER sorry I did it when I finish”! This has become my mantra lately! Keep up the amazing work in 2011!

  15. Megan permalink
    January 4, 2011 9:34 am

    That is a badass workout! Those are those workouts that make you want to break/cry/die midway thru, but as soon as you’re done you can’t help but feel like a badass action star just because you finished it. I can honestly say that those types of workouts have become my new goal in running and exercise, that feeling of accomplishment once you’ve finished is just too amazing to ignore. And in a life full of being the reasonable, calm mama; the dedicated student; and solid dependable friend it’s become so important to me to have those moments to remember that I’m still that crazy, passionate, up for anything girl too, if only for the length of a workout.

  16. January 4, 2011 9:44 am

    Fan-freakin-tastic Dimity! Way to push yourself….and inspire the rest of us all at the same time! I’m facing my first hill repeats tomorrow and have been wrestling with the negative voices. Thanks for snapping me out of it. I’ll be thinking of your efforts when I head out tomorrow!!

  17. January 4, 2011 10:02 am

    Awesome job Dimity!! Even managed to bring tears to my eyes! Emotional much? Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. January 4, 2011 10:07 am

    Wow, that made me feel like getting out and doing more! Thanks for the motivational kick in the butt.

  19. Maria(h) permalink
    January 4, 2011 11:05 am

    Guess I have no room to complain about the frigid Alabama 35 degree mornings..teehehe. Thanks for another inspirational read. Almost makes me want to go back out for hill repeats…almost.

  20. Samantha permalink
    January 4, 2011 12:52 pm

    Amazing! Well done. 🙂

  21. January 4, 2011 1:04 pm

    As someone who wimped out on Saturday and did my long run indoors, I am not worthy! Really enjoyed reading this and even felt a little jealous of your badass-ness and that setting. Will try to do next weekend’s long run outside, even if Yak Trax are required to do it.

  22. January 4, 2011 1:11 pm

    WOWZER!!! I have chills head to toe! LOVE the workout recap. …parceled out 15 on each foot, rinse and repeat… I’m SO going to use that! Great job! Fan.freaking.tastic!!! 😀

  23. RLR permalink
    January 4, 2011 6:13 pm

    Suddenly, pushing 60+pounds of kid and jog stroller doesn’t seem like anything to whine about…. I don’t do it often, but now I’m going to appreciate the extra effort I’ll be putting into my “long” run on Saturday (just 3-3.5 miles, but that’s long for me!).

  24. Rhonda permalink
    January 4, 2011 6:19 pm

    Inspiring, impressive.

  25. January 4, 2011 6:47 pm

    Nice! And in Granby, no less. We stay there a lot during the summer. We’ve only been up once in winter to snowshoe and boy was it cold. So now you’re my hero: not only snowshoeing up there, but doing it in colder temps and running in snowshoes.

  26. joan permalink
    January 4, 2011 6:55 pm

    Well done!! Happy new year!

  27. Heidi permalink
    January 5, 2011 4:59 am

    Your impressive workout – and the way you pushed yourself – made me reflecton the training I did all last year and I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I did a workout that made me truly uncomfortable. I avoid speedwork like the plague and do trail runs instead of hill repeats – and yet, in order to improve, I know I have to push myself past the point of comfort. Thanks for setting an example and bringing this to light.

  28. Anna permalink
    January 5, 2011 7:48 am

    Good lord, Girl! The only thing I can relate to is the -2 degree temp and the Odyssey! Kudos for being so hard core, and having an awesome story to go with it!

  29. GrungeRun permalink
    January 5, 2011 8:41 am

    I love you Dimity, lol! You are a prolific writer, which actually made me feel a stirring to leave my little space heater office & go find a snow laden hill, of which to power up. Which, is ironic, considering the 4 inches of ice & snow in our area, kept me indoors for 2 weeks, ha! Thanks for sharing your moments and making me feel validated in my own internal moments, of psyching myself OUT of a run with all the mishaps that could happen, so that I can shake my head at myself & tell myself to get over it, pound out the run & feel good on the other side. Here’s to 2011!

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