While the East Coast gets bombarded with snow, it’s hard to feel bad for those of us out here in California. I know, I know, we have it so hard. Sometimes it rains. And when it drops below 50, I have to stop wearing flip-flops.

But I promise we’re really not soft. I’d maintain that training through the wet and cold Northern California winter is actually as rough as it gets. If it was snowing and not raining, then there’d be no option. You’d ride inside. If it was consistently colder, then our pools wouldn’t all be outdoors. Instead, though, we end up toughing it out on our bikes through hailing sideways rain, and standing on deck in 40 degrees in swimsuits, trying to ignore the ice that hasn’t melted yet.

Winter training is not my favorite thing.

Of course, for the last five years or so, when it was warm and dry because of the drought, I didn’t winter train. I was burned out and needed a break. I ran if I felt like running and I watched Law and Order if I felt like watching Law and Order. At one point in 2013, I managed to go six months without getting in a pool. There was nothing I missed about the December-January slog.

Now, this year, I’m ready to get serious again. And, of course, this year we’re in the midst of El Niño again. Naturally. So I’m back to logging wet miles on the bike and trying to pretend I can still feel my fingers. I have permanent chaffing in places I’d rather not talk about.

Winter training is still not my favorite thing.

To get through the long dark months before those first triathlon races (oh, April, you seem so far away), I have to come up with other things to mix it up. Too cold to triathlon? Let’s do an obstacle course race instead! Extra bonus: coach can’t make you ride for three hours if you’re at a race.

That’s why I’m signed up for a Spartan Race in Temecula tomorrow. Because that sounds a lot more fun that slogging through some more winter base miles. Even if it also sounds slightly painful.

Last year I tried a different obstacle race in Temecula. I didn’t take it super seriously — in fact, I went to the car in the middle of the race to change the battery on my GoPro — so tomorrow I get to see what it’d be like to try and race “for real.” I suspect I will, for real, be terrible. But at least it won’t be raining.

Atlast Race in Temecula in 2014.

Atlast Race in Temecula in 2014.