PUMPING IRONY: Embracing the Unpredictable

January 1, 2013, is Commitment Day, and I don’t have a clue what to expect. Maybe that’s a good thing.

I woke up to a couple of inches of new snow, so my morning commute to the office was a bit dicey: A little bit of ice hidden under new-fallen snow can certainly encourage one to embrace the unpredictable. That’s the positive approach to this sort of weather. The negative . . . well, let’s just say I’m not looking forward to race day on Tuesday.

You may recall that I signed up to run/walk at 5K on New Year’s Day in downtown Minneapolis. It’s part of Commitment Day, a nationwide movement championed by Life Time Fitness. I’ve never run a 5K before, but all my coworkers (and tens of thousands of folks in 30-some cities around the country) have registered, so I figured it would be unsociable to ignore the challenge. After all, it’s more of a rally than a race, and several of my coworkers have said they’d be walking the course, so there’d be no pressure to actually run that far. What did I have to lose?

And as the weeks went by, I found myself gradually anticipating the experience with some genuine enthusiasm. My mile-long walk to and from work each day has cultivated an odd appreciation for cold-weather activity and a certain level of confidence about my ability to survive an outdoor athletic event on the first day of 2013 (average temperature: 25 degrees). It got to the point where I began to consider actually running the course, just to see if I could do it.

Then this latest snowstorm hit, which complicates things — really basic things, like what kind of shoes do you wear?

My basketball sneakers are quite comfortable, but I’m not going to sacrifice them to the slush that I expect will greet us on race day. Same goes for the ancient running shoes sitting warm and dry in my closet. The most practical footwear for these conditions, it seems to me, would be the waterproof and insulated work boots I’m sporting today, but I couldn’t run a quarter mile in these.

And what about jackets and gloves and pants and hats?

If I’m running, I’m going to work up a sweat. A couple of layers under my hooded sweatshirt would suffice. If I’m walking, I’ll want my down jacket. I don’t own any of the skin-tight running pants I see guys wearing as they jog across the bridge on these frosty mornings. Can I just pull on a pair of jeans?

That may seem like a lot of kvetching for a guy who hasn’t done any real running in preparation for the big event (and seldom thinks twice about his everyday clothing choices), but I really do like to have a plan before I stumble into something I’ve never done before. The weather, unfortunately, can be pretty unpredictable. It may just force me to wing it.

Which makes me wonder whether embracing the unpredictable is what this Commitment Day is all about. Am I willing to travel out of my comfort zone? Test my boundaries? Wear the wrong shoes?

Sure I am. Maybe. We’ll see. . . .

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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