Thursday, December 5, 2013

In the Deep Freeze

It is -2 F when I happily step outside for a run. What am I thinking, exactly? It's hard to say. The gym called seductively: It's warm in here. You know you can run faster on the treadmill. You can wear shorts! You can't watch TV because the only TV is mounted right above  your head, and some doofus will have it turned to football, but you can look out the window and see people going into the bank! Doesn't that sound like fun?

We've entered a deep freeze, the kind that comes every year, but seems to always take people by surprise. Maybe they think they live in the tropics. My house is consistently 55 degrees because while log houses are great, they don't insulate all that well. I said, "But pioneers lived in them!" My husband said, "Pioneers froze."

For  my run, I layer up: tights, silk long underwear top, wool top, fleece top, jacket, hat, mittens. I look sort of ridiculous and if I have suddenly gained 20 pounds. There is nobody else out there. But it's going to be okay. I trot down the road towards the park, which would be an icy mess but it is too cold to slip. In the park I realize that only a couple of brave souls have forged a path on the trails. I flounder in the fluffy snow.

I am warm. Except for my feet. My feeeeeeeeeeeeeet. For the first time in all the decades I've been running, I almost turn back. The thought of changing clothes and driving to the gym forces me on. I'll cut out to the road and see if I can run faster to warm up. Reynaud's Syndrome, a condition where circulation ceases to the extremities, sets in. My feet ache. I could never climb Mount Everest or run the Little Su ultra, even. I wouldn't have toes left.

When I reach the road, despite my freezing feet, the lake is so beautiful I have to stop to take a picture. Steam rises from the calm surface. The mountains float above. It is so beautiful and so cold, almost like the air itself is going to crack.

I run for a little while longer and it works, despite the weak sun. By the time I return through the park my feet are wooden blocks, but they no longer hurt. I trot up the street proudly.

Winter is always my nemesis. I am intimidated by deep cold. I feel a sense of urgency that I never do in summer, something lurking just beyond my shoulder. It keeps me inside more than I like. I want to get better at winter.

Do you have a cut-off temperature? I think mine might be zero. Anyone have warm running shoe ideas?



9 comments:

  1. Love your blog. Never commented before but I am a regular reader. I totally agree with your take on cold and the fear/urgency it causes. I am bad at managing cold, even though I understand layering, etc. My hands and feet just won't be managed! Love your pictures and love your adventures. Stay warm (as best you can). Naomi in Kimberley, BC

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    1. Hi Naomi, thanks for commenting. You live in a cold place as well. I agree, it's the hands and feet! Everything else is fine.

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  2. I ran in Fairbanks when it was -20 but now I think that was just foolish.

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  3. When I lived in South Dakota, I once ran in -5 degree weather. But now that I live in balmy Portland, I'd probably bail once the temps reached single digits. The other morning, however, I did run in 20 degree weather. I don't know what to tell you about keeping your feet warm. I have a hard time with that when I ski.

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    1. I think rain is almost as horrible, I ran all the time when I lived in Sitka (110 inches a year). Now I don't really know how I survived.

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    2. Now at 61, if I can't be in shorts, it's too cold!

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  4. Love your new blog style, especially the header and especially your cute running skirt (I want! I want!, as William Blake supposedly said).
    Oddly enough, although I run in quite cold temps, my feet rarely become cold. I wear shoes 1/2 size larger in winter, with heavier socks, and as long as I'm moving, my feet are warm. The rest of me, not so much.
    Cheers and great that you got out. I also fear winter, which is why I also kind of love it (like a bad boy man, eh?).

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  5. you run in cold temps all the time. long, too. I'm a whiner.

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  6. My feet and hands have to be warm or I have trouble focusing on anything else. I use those hot-hands/feet inserts (they make toe-warmers too that work well). Simple, air activated, (iron and salt) that produce heat for about 3 hours. I use them snow-shoeing, hunting, anything out in the cold where I know my feet or hand are likely to get cold. If it gets too cold, probably teens and below, I have to wear a face mask too, cold air in my lungs is death for me. I also find that running when the ground is frozen hard makes a lovely gravel road running surface more like the pavement I avoid, so I tend to switch activities when it's that cold.

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