Thursday, February 18, 2010


(Photos: Left - Frozen eyelashes. Below - Broken & leaky, Bonnie reclines regally on her kitchen counter while Mike washes the dishes. She claims that the used tissue wads that surround her are actually "divinity." What the heck is she talking about?)

By Bonnie Siegel.......frozen eyelashes

Loath. That word may seem appropriate when applied to getting up very early on your only day off to shovel the driveway for the arrival of your not so welcomed in-laws or cleaning up after the dog discarded his recently consumed outdoor surprise, but it fails to fully encompass how I feel when I so much as gaze upon the (insert scary music here) treadmill.

Yesterday I had the privilege of talking with one of Minnesota's finest elite triathletes Mr. Name Left Out to Protect the Innocent. For purposes of fluidity, we will refer to him as Boe hereafter. Boe embraces training outside as much as possible during the winter months. I can attest to this as I nearly ran him over at night with my car fairly recently. Thankfully he was wearing a head lamp. I asked Boe what he considers the benefits of training outdoors in the Minnesota winters to be and his response was, "There are no benefits. Minnesota winters suck. Fly to Arizona." Thanks for that insightful piece of encouragement, Boe....

Over the past few months I've noted with growing interest the number of what I commonly refer to as "Maniacs" running around the streets of Eagan in the dead of winter. I had yet to run outside in fear of dying from frostbite, being attacked by skidding vehicles, or simply dying of pneumonia from having my lungs instantly freeze up and no one finding my lifeless, frozen body until the spring thaw sometime in July. I went to the gym a few weeks ago and looked loathingly upon the treadmill. I forced my body up onto the elevated platform of bodily mechanical hate and willed myself with all I could muster to slog along going absolutely no where.


After my fun run I drove home and noticed a group of Maniacs out weathering the near zero temperatures, donning their multi-layered heat compression gear, hats, gloves and head lamps.

Pivotal moment.

I quickly called my better half and poured out my hate for the treadmill as well as my newly found inspiration and interest to give the outdoors a go. He was as supportive as any man in love with absolutely no earthly interest in doing anything sounding so remotely horrific could be: "Sounds great! Let me know when you're ready to give it a try!" God bless him.

Two weeks later we emerged from the garage while it was still light out. I immediately noted the wind chill factor had dropped to temperatures in competition with Antarctica. The ground seemed to stretch out before us like a never ending plate of icy death, beckoning us to come and break our backs. There was an igloo close by and someone wearing what looked like full winter body armor consisting of a thousand pounds of down crouching next to the doorway. We were wearing enough layers of clothing to stock a second hand store and proudly displaying our mugger hats, burglar outfits and YakTraks; off we went. Five miles later we were smiling, high fiving and wondering why we didn't do it a long time ago. We laughed as we tried to talk with our frozen cheeks. I never knew my boyfriend could look so cute with frozen eyelashes and brows. Two days later we wrapped up a successful seven mile run in the dark with our headlamps guiding our feet.

I think what Boe meant to say is that the benefits of running outside in the winter include constantly changing scenery, fresh air, body mechanics, stabilizer muscle usage, camraderie, potential sunshine to offset SAD, frozen eye lashes, and the feeling of accomplishment. Not everyone braves the great Minnesota winters outdoors so now you've got something to be proud of. Shake it up! Now where's my coffee?....