Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pain Cave

In Winter, days of cold darkness can be squandered in somnambulance, waiting for warmth and light to return. For the triathlete, winter is a fine time to put in some serious training time. If the cold and darkness has you holed up indoors, may as well spend a little effort warming yourself. If it's dark outside, then even the basement, poorly light by a buzzing fluorescent tube, can become a sanctuary. This is the Pain Cave.

That basement may the coldest place in the whole house, but it is still warmer than it is outside. The lowered temperature means you can work it that much harder without overdoing it. Standing there in just your bike shorts, facing off against yourself in a mental struggle just to mount that bike again, you might shiver just a bit. But five minutes after clipping your shoes into the pedals you will feel warm from head to toe. In ten minutes the first drop of sweat will collect on your face. Fifteen minutes in you'll see beads of sweat building up on your shoulders. By the half-hour mark you'll be glad of the towel draped over the handlebars, the contacts you put on instead of glasses. The whir of the trainer is loud; the speakers turned up louder to get above it. Inside your own head, though, you will still easily hear the quick beat of your own heart and the heavy whoosh of your breathing. A quick click and accompanying shunck announces you've shifted up another gear. The rest of the house will not hear any of it: you are in your Pain Cave.

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OK. Perhaps it's not always that intense. But sometimes it is, which can in fact bring you back the next time. It is true that we'd much rather be outside swimming, biking, and running. Running we can usually still pull off unless it's down into the single digits. Biking is largely infeasible because of the scant daylight and the fact that a self-generated 18 mph wind makes things that much colder. Swimming outdoors it right out, even if you could find an open lead of water. So Hilary or I, sometimes both in the same night, make a visit to the basement, where among the piled storage boxes, washing machine, and cluttered workbenches is our bike trainer. Here's a shot from just the other night:

It's a good way to catch up on reading or the Netflix queue.

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