The Beauty of an Outdoor Workout

This morning, the alarm clock began it’s duty at 5:00 am.  The churchbell chime on my phone continued until I sat up to relieve it from it’s duty.  I sat in the darkness and enjoyed the stillness around me.  Soon my wife and I would dance around each other as we got tri-bags, swim bags, bikes, shoes, water bottles, bike carriers, wetsuits, and food loaded into the truck and headed for the lake.  It’s amazing that we don’t slam into one another or at least step on each others toes, but we’ve dancced this same dance a few times and seem to know the steps pretty well.  No one gets bumped, and after the last item is loaded, we sit down for breakfast.

The smell of waffles fills the kithcen as we get some water to drink.  Soon the waffles are covered in peanut better and quickly devoured.  We are both looking at the weather forcast, wondering what it’s going to feel like at 7:00 am when we hit the water.  Loading the truck gave us our first clue that summer was slowly losing it’s grip on Iowa, and fall was quickly mounting an early attack.  The temperature at 5 am was 55 degrees, pretty chilly for August weather.  So we ate, said goodbye to our sleeepy pups, and headed out into the silent, cool, dark morning to start our day.

The sun barely started to peak at us when we got to the waters edge.  The coolness in the air, along with the steady wind, made us wnoder if getting out of bed was the right thing to do.  We could start later, when it’s warmer, but that’s not the way we do it. If we delay, we will find an excuse; a long forgetten task that needs to be completed, or some other situation that suddenly gets pushed to the forefront in order to push this workout to the back of the line.

No, we were here, and this workout was going to get completed.  We donned our wetsuits and looked out over the beach and the moving dark water.  The wind was making the water choppy, but not so bad as to cancel the swim.  We braced ourselves and waded in, knowing that the water had to be a chilly as the air stirring it.  

It wasn’t.  In fact, while you needed to wear a wetsuit, the water was a lot warmer than we thought it would be.  We waded in, discussed our plans such as how many laps were we doing, what to do if we had trouble, etc.  We then wished each other luck and started off.  Now we were on our own, working until we completed this portion of the goal, or were forced to abandon the quest.

The darkness of the water removed any extra light it was displaying when looking at it from the beach.  From eye level in the water the whole lake got a lot darker, and the buoy lines were even harder to see.  But as I rounded the first turn, the sun decided that peaking was no longer enough, and raised it’s head for a better look.  Even a couple of curious fish jumped out of the water to grab a better view as we swam by. Lap after lap the sky got brighter and brighter, until I was done and heading for the shore.    1,493 yards later, and the air felt colder than ever.  Now, being wet and cold, I considered returning to the lake and avoid the air and its unpleasant bite, but I came to complete my workout not sit in the lake and hide from Mother Nature.  So we headed back to the truck to transition into our next phase of our Sunday challenge: the bike.

We removed the wetsuits, dried off the best we could, slipped on socks and bike shoes, strapped on helmets, grabbed some quick food for the road (and before the start of the ride), and headed out.  The trail was beautiful, with leaves hanging onto their branches for dear life, yet another reminder that fall was near.  The sun, now obscured by the trees, rose even higher for a look, it’s beams shooting through every crack in the forest.  We continued to ride, through water and mud from last nights rain, over old wooden bridges, under highways, alongside golf courses, the bike lane kept going, urging us on.  We got to the halfway point and marveled how beautiful the trail was, and then attacked it again as we headed back.  

For some reason, Mother Nature must have been offended by our lack of appreciation for the beauty of the trail, because she started releasing her winds directly at us almost all the way back  It was a battle of wills; on one side: nature, trying it’s best to keep us from returning to our starting point.  On the other side; us. Desperate to succeed, to push through, to win the battle.  In the end, we won.  We returned safely to our starting point, locked up the bikes, changed shoes, and headed out for our run.  25 miles on the bile was over, the only thing left was a 6.2 mile run.  That would show us if we won the battle, but lost the war.

As we have been training, I’ve noticed that the time it takes my legs to adjust from bike to run has decreased.  Today it seemed almost non-existent, which surprised and delighted me.  I was able to move along, sore but easily, and enjoy some of the beauty of the trail we were running on.  A lone dragonfly greeted us aroud one turn, and a pair of deer watched us from afar on another turn.  The sun, was now fully extended in the sky, and even through the wind you could feel the warmth upon your face and shoulders. You could now see hidden parts of the lake; little alcoves and corners that were covered in the darkness. We continued on, only stopping for a restroom break, before turning the last corner and heading for our makeshift finish line; our vehicle.

We completed 32.7 miles this morning, between swimming, biking, and running.  We got to spend time outdoors in the splendor of nature.  We felt natures’ warmth, it’s chill, it’s rath, and it’s blessing.  We saw it’s beauty in many ways.  We accomplished a goal, but enjoyed a show as well.  Here’s to many more beautiful workouts in the splendor of nature.  

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

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