Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SAD-light summer

Date: July 28
Mileage: 38.2
July mileage: 631.5
Temperature: 48

I felt just over the blah side of awful on my morning ride today - couldn't turn my legs over very fast; couldn't climb; couldn't zone away the general malaise after several miles of warm-up. Every time I have a bad ride like that, I look for reasons why. Overtraining? Hardly. I'm not even training right now. Too much time on the bike? My bike time is barely half what it was in May, and likely would be less if I had more opportunities to go hiking. So, I concluded, the struggle must be psychological.

It's sinking in, this summer. My friend confided that he had resorted to cooking himself all of his most desperate winter comfort foods. Several people have told me they dug their full-spectrum SAD lights out of storage and switched them on. Then today, I was walking by a cubicle when I was hit with a blinding flash of white. "What is that bright light?" I wondered, and squinted toward it. "Oh, it's a SAD light. How sad." The jokes about pot roasts and SAD lights in July were pretty funny, until they weren't jokes.

I know I have no mandate to complain about the weather. No one in Alaska moves here for the weather, and I distinctly signed up for Southeast Alaska knowing full well what I was getting myself into. But my status as a former desert baby and northern country expat means I have no background to draw on when the coping gets tough. We are products of our environment, and it's been a long time since my last vitamin D fix. So I joked about how ready I am for summer to be over already so snow can rescue us from some of this rain, and it was pretty funny, until it wasn't a joke.

During the dark winter, I always believed that getting outside every day would help me push through seasonal malaise. Until now, it always did. But that's not so much the case this summer. I actually feel worse when I'm outside, and start to feel a bit better as the work day drags on, when my eyes are fixed on a computer screen and my back to the window. Maybe the fact that it is summer makes coping harder. Deep down I know that September and October are coming, and there will be no respite or relief. Geoff has been hinting that he's not coming back to Juneau after the Wasatch 100 in September. His plans for extracting himself from this place made for pretty funny jokes, until they weren't jokes.

But just because I'm a little blue right now doesn't mean I'm ready to follow him out. I still love this area, in the same way I'll still love my cat even when she's old and smelly and can't always make it to the litter box. I always knew we'd come to a tipping point. But why did it have to be July?