Winds with gusts of more than 50 mph are blowing through the Chicago region this morning. I sat with my little dog on the couch listening to the wind and whispering to him. The house creaked and he jumped. Then he spun around and laid next to my leg while looking out the far window at trees shaking and leaves blowing by.
The Chicago Tribune reported this: “Chicago police shut down part of the Skyway on Thursday morning after debris kicked up by high winds struck two semis.
The Skyway closed down between 91st and 106th streets around 2:20 a.m. after winds blew cables from nearby scaffolding onto the road and two semis were hit, according to authorities. One truck’s windshield was broken and another’s side mirror was broken. No injuries were reported.”
Those of us that run and ride know the force of the wind all too well. If it kicks up on race day, throw that hope of a PR right out the window. The amount that the wind blows you from behind when running never makes up for the time lost trundling into the wind.
In cycling, it may be more of a balance. I’m never sure. Riding west from my house more than once I’ve averaged a meager 14 mph into the wind and come back my favorite route averaging 25 mph the whole way. Basically, that averages out to what I’d ride on an average or good day. It’s a tarsnake of balance and proportion.
Running track workouts in a strong wind is an exercise in frustration and futility. Knowing that you’re going to come around a turn into a fierce gale every time works on your mind. You get almost paranoid about it, facing choices about whether more or less knee lift is better. Should I bound or should I scoot? Is it all just foolish and moot?
We call the wind around here an Illinois Hill. Lacking many real hills on which to build leg strength, we depend instead on riding into the wind. It’s not the same of course. The body position tends to be completely different while riding into the wind or climbing. To make matters worse, as a road cyclist often training with triathletes, it is not possible to get into same aero position without aero bars on the road bike. I finally installed them on the Waterford and gave that a try late this summer, but the gearing on that bike is for racing criteriums. The experiment did not really work.
I humped along as far as I could and turned around at an hour rather than go out the full 1.5 hours and come back. I was worried the entire affair would turn into a slogfest. The wind had me down in aero full time and the longer I went, the more my lower back hurt. It was almost a spasm.
For an invisible source of anguish, the wind is certainly a proud and fearsome nemesis. One can only thank God there is typically not much of a current in the lakes or pools where triathlons are held. The swimming done in rivers tends to be done in the same direction as the current. Doesn’t it? If not, I will never enter a race where you are swimming upstream. I refuse to do that. Ever.
As for today, I have a five-mile run planned. Perhaps the wind will die down now that it has stripped the landscape bare and pasted the remaining maple and Sycamore leaves to the side of my house with glee.
Yes, the wind has a wicked sense of humor alright. I can hear it laughing at me from outside my windows now. “C’mon out, let’s playyyyy,” it whooshes around the neighborhood, brushing through my yard like a bully. “We can have Some Real Fun!”
First I have to walk the dog. He’ll hate this I know. His fuzzy ears pin back and he squints as we walk around the block. The wind today will nearly blow the poop right back up his arse. It’s blowing that strong.
We can’t get to winter if the wind never comes around, so I suppose all this is necessary. I’ll bundle up if it’s genuinely cold and choose a route in the river valley so the wind won’t beat me up too badly. They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? When you wind up running or riding in the wind, there is no greater truth in the world.