Posted by: thehungryrunner | January 27, 2009

Running in 6 Degrees F, -8 Degrees Wind chill: Exhilarating, peaceful, and WOW that’s COLD!!!!

Clearly I have developed an amusing defiance surrounding this winter’s unrelenting cold and snow.  Perhaps part of it is fueled by my memories of last winter:  Thanks to my handy-dandy running log, I can recall that, due to that same unrelenting cold and snow, there was a period of time between January 16 and March 12 in which I didn’t log a single outdoor run.  All my workouts were indoors, and while having the gym as my magic back-up plan may have at least provided me the means of maintaining my fitness all season long, there’s no question that missing out on spending time outdoors took its toll on my psyche.  The image of a bird in a cage (or, less poetically, a grouchy cavewoman snowed inside the cave) comes to mind.

Thankfully, I have learned a few tricks for maintaining my outdoor runs in weather conditions I previously would have thought prohibitive, which I’ve put to use this season.  Even so, there does come a point in which it’s just too cold and/or too treacherous to venture outside for a run.  And we’ve already racked up our fair share of those days this winter. 

But Jack Frost must have been feeling a little sorry for us, for he threw us a bone last week in the form of two sunny, “warmer” days — one day at 25 degrees (F) and the next at a whopping 32 degrees, and with no recent snow or other precipitation, so the roads, while still too snowy/icy in some areas, were dry enough on the main drags of my neighborhood to finally allow me to scamper along the shoulder without concern.  It was glorious, a reminder that it WILL get better soon, and why running remains such an exhilarating activity for me.

But revelatory glee can get carried away, and the weekend brought a good example of this.  By Saturday we were back to a deep freeze, with temps that started out below zero and only made it to around 6, with a windchill of -8.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t bear the thought of all of my cardio and exercise being forced once again indoors.  Determined, I saddled up:  leggings and plastic pants, multiple layers of running shirts underneath my jacket, balaclava over my face, ski hat, neck gaitor, mittens, and my winter hiking boots in lieu of my running shoes (my toes would never have survived).  With just about everything in black, the final effect was somewhat a cross between Ninja warrior and Darth Vader (which is one reason my husband wanted no part of this), but hey, serious weather calls for serious outfitting!

I managed to finish the run (make that a clomp, which is the only way to describe the movement needed to heave my heavy hiking boots off the ground), but it was no easy task and it was just a short one:  1.5 miles around my immediate vicinity, a return to the house to thaw out, then a second round for a total of 3 miles.  Despite my breaking a sweat somewhere deep in my interior, I swear for the two hours that followed I could detect a “cold steam” rising off my body, as my cells thawed out.

But it was still a nice outing.  There’s something awfully thrilling about being able to forge a solution despite whatever obstacles have been set before you.  Even so, I don’t think I’ll be quick to repeat many runs in that weather; better to just hope that milder weather is right around the corner at last!


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