Glory hallelujah, it’s pothole season!
Don’t you love pothole season? There’s nothing quite like driving 70 mph down I-44 and catching, from the corner of your eye, a blinking MODOT sign warning of “Road Work Ahead” and being greeted by a subsequent cascade of illuminated brake lights as the twenty cars ahead of you discover the prophesied road crew.
As I slammed on my brakes and dive-bombed into the middle lane, I was almost giddy.
“Thank you!” I wanted to yell through the driver’s side window, which was delightfully—gloriously!—open. “I don’t care that the guy behind me eating his breakfast burrito came within one refried bean of embossing my back fender with his license plate number! I still love you!”
Pothole season is a wonderful time of the year. Pothole season means you survived winter. Pothole season means the light at the end of the tunnel is daylight savings time, not an oncoming snowplow. It is a harbinger of warmer days. In anticipation of spring’s advent, we lug out our first aid kits to repair what was broken down and torn up over the harsher months of the year.
Less than six weeks out from my goal half marathon, I’m feeling the effects of training through the infamous polar vortex, or, as it is known in some parts of the world, “winter.” Every run was preceded by a Broadway production. I wore my YakTrax so often the little steel coils begged for mercy every time I put them on. “Not again!” they’d yell as I strapped them to the bottom of my feet for yet another long run on ice and snow. (Could you say they “recoiled” in horror…?) My thermal tights, which usually make a cameo appearance or two each year, started tearing at the seams from overuse. Even my balaclava told me where to stick it. You hear about actors who spend six hours a day in makeup and wardrobe preparing for their roles. Pshaw. If I had a run scheduled for 7:00 a.m., I’d start getting dressed at 6:00 a.m. The day before.
And is it just me or was this the snot-rocket-ing-est winter ever? Seriously, I’ve never blown so many snot-rockets in my entire life. I almost considered becoming a professional snot-rocketeer, except I think I pulled a nose muscle a few weeks ago. My velocity just hasn’t been the same.
Other things I re-discovered in one day of above-freezing temperatures:
Blindingly white skin.
How to sweat.
GU is not a brand of popsicles.
Road kill defrosts.
Breath is not always visible.
Less clothing = fewer pockets.
No, seriously. Blindingly white skin.
Like the interstate, my body and training survived the winter, and now it’s time for pothole repair. Because let’s be real here: this winter left me riddled with potholes. And now, with the spring thaw, all the aches, illness, and injury overshadowed by snow and ice are becoming exposed.
Just this weekend, I had to make an unplanned trip to the doctor because I was pretty sure someone was trying to double-park the Goodyear blimp and the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile in my nasal passages. And I never go to the doctor. I don’t even know who my doctor is.
Name: Amy L. Marxkors.
Primary Care Physician: I don’t know. Dr. Seuss? Dr. Who? Dr. Zhivegas? Take your pick.
But one hour and a $35 co-pay later, I waltzed out of Dierberg’s pharmacy with prescription nasal spray and a box of Sudafed.
For the record, if you ever want to feel uncool, walk around in public holding prescription nasal spray and a box of Sudafed.
It pained me to waste a morning—a Saturday morning, mind you—in a doctor’s office waiting room, but the trip signified the commencement of pothole repair. Plus, it gave me an opportunity to catch up on some Kenny G and Phil Collins.
Just another day in paradise.
Runners need pothole season just as much as the interstate does. The grunt work of winter training is winding down. The glimmer of race day is just becoming visible on the horizon. We’ve sucked it up day after day. Our determination is past the point of no return. Despite a few dents and dings along the way, our base is strong. Now is the time to ensure we are as fit and strong and healthy as possible come race day.
Instead of being discouraged by battle scars uncovered by the melting ice and snow, be grateful there is still enough time to patch them up before race day. There is still time to repair, to recover, to take an extra day of rest if you have to. That’s what pothole season is for.
Pothole season really is a wonderful time of the year. It means we survived. It means we can stop saying, “It’s only going to get worse” and start saying, “It’s only going to get better.” It means the roughest patches are out of the way and smoother roads are ahead.
Glory hallelujah, it’s pothole season.
Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner. Her second book, Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story, will be released in 2014. Click here to receive Amy's weekly article via email.