By Krissy Moehl
We are in it. The Pacific Northwest is a lovely place to live, no doubt. But, and there is a but, it means you have to endure the winter. The word winter can drum up images of snow, knitted beanies, warm coats, frozen lakes, blue skies and quiet landscapes. Winter in the PNW however has its own flare. As one ex aptly described it, “it’s just different shades of grey. Grey water. Grey sky. Grey roads.” And it’s dark. The sun doesn’t necessarily come up, but at it’s worst, it gets light around 8am and is dark by 4pm.
Because of this I feel PNW’ers are hearty people. They endure and find ways to bring light to the drab winter months. For me, this winter I tackled training for a 100-mile race that will be March 9. I knew the training would be hard; it is 100 miles for goodness sakes. What I didn’t fully appreciate was the extra psychological toll the grey and dark would take. How the cold, windy, wet days would attempt to snuff out my spirit. How having to run with a headlamp at 4pm would create intense cravings to cuddle on the couch, by the fire, with my pup, and never leave.
Training through the winter is showing me my hearty PNW side. My trick to endure is to add some sparkle and treats to the miles. I’m a big proponent of finding extra motivation by stimulating my senses. Following are three stories to back up this sensory boosting technique and are reminders as I continue to endure.
Tasty treats from the local bakery.
I love baked goods! They are delicious to my taste buds. But I realize that for me they don’t always sit so well on a normal day and often leave me wishing I hadn’t indulged. This is a personal realization, and is not the case for everyone. But when I’m training long distances…??? These indulgences are a necessity! The calories burn in a way that isn’t normal, and the feeling of soul food filling my belly and recharging my spirit creates an awesome reward system for my hard work. The pure enjoyment of walking into the bakery, taking in the buttery smells and choosing one, two or more items from the case all add to the reward package.
Lipstick if that’ll get you out the door.
While leading a group run for a New York based running store, I had a woman approach me to ask a question about training. There were about 40-50 runners crammed in the basement running section of the store. In preparation for a 45 minute run around the local neighborhood we gathered there to casually stretch and discuss the route. I was introduced to the crowd as the guest athlete, Patagonia ambassador and ultrarunner; if anyone had any questions that is what I was there for. This standout woman had to maneuver through the 4-way racks tightly packed with running shorts and shirts to connect with me, and as she made the last bend my smile widened. Her headband, matched her wristbands which both matched her deep red lipstick. She wore colorful capris and a coordinating tank top. She looked amazing and I told her so before she could ask her question. Instead of asking her question, sidetracked by my comment I imagine, she launched into her rational. “Girl, sometimes it is all I can do to get out the door for a run. I figure if I look good, I’ll feel good. I carry this lipstick with me and I’m not shy to reapply out on the run if I need a little boost.” Ya Sista. I’m more of a chapstick girl and it is always in my pack.
Fun sparkles in some durable jewelry.
When I started this sport (2001) all of the clothing options were basically men’s designs sized down to fit women. And to be honest, they didn’t really “fit” the female body. They draped, hung and basically covered us up. Thankfully this has changed over the decades (gulp, decades??) and the colors, design lines, and functional fit for women has greatly improved. In those early years jewelry was my effort to add some femininity to the otherwise one-size-fits-all approach. Small posts or simple hoops were the only functional pieces I could find.
Luckily, just in this last year I teamed up with a woman that gets it. Fun sparkles that can endure the dirt. Running is a dirty endeavor, let’s face it. At a minimum, if you are getting after it, you will be sweaty, salty and stinky by the end. And trail running takes it to another level adding dirt, dust, mud, water crossings, etc. Patagonia has up’ed their game and added great fit and fabrics. Ultimate Direction Hydration packs have shifted pocket features and harness shape to conform to the varying female bodies. And Bronwen brings sparkle to it all. Some of my runs are as long as most people sit behind a desk on a standard workday. When I’m getting dressed for these multi-hour runs I like to add the sparkle. Chances are I won’t see anyone else out there where I’m going, but it’s not for anyone else. The necklace displaying a charm of mountains bouncing around my neck reminds me of my boyfriend, he bought it for me before I actually met Bronwen, and the support he gives even when I’m out there solo. These necklaces and earrings have seen me through some of the toughest 100-mile training I’ve endured to date (see the upcoming Trail Sisters Blog post). And I’m so thankful for the motivation the sparkles add to get me out there and keep me going.
The 100-mile race is March 9 in China (Gaoligong 165km by UTMB). The grit I found this winter will be a huge piece in finishing this endeavor. I am ready to toe the line, to take everything I’ve learned and pushed through, and put it to the test. And I will do it with sparkle both on my ears, around my neck and in my eyes.