Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Wimp?

I didn't used to be a weather wimp. I swear.

Need proof? I offer up the nine-miler I did in single-digit temps. Or the New Year's Day sub-zero race. Or a couple of February half-marathons on the coast. Or countless other wind-whipping, teeth-chattering routes.

I have plenty of tough-it-out examples. But not lately.

For some unexplained reason, I've slacked off a bit when it comes to winter running this season. I think that, mentally, I just wasn't ready to admit winter was here - despite the fact that Mother Nature dumped several inches of snow on us last week.

That's not to say that I haven't run. In fact, I think I've put in some more productive, better runs on the treadmill in the past couple of weeks than any outdoor run I would have done. I know they've been good for me, and I feel a notable improvement in my running already. My form is better, my speed is faster and I really push myself.

Still, I was itching to get outside this weekend.

I needed a change in scenery - actually, I needed any scenery at all - and I needed to feel the air on my face, experience the sunshine, hear the sounds of barking dogs and passing cars. I needed real changes in elevation, not just simulated ones on the treadmill. I needed to feel like I was actually going somewhere.

The weather forecast called for chilly starts to the weekend mornings and some pretty decent winds. (I've never seen a weather graphic with just three blue lines, but apparently that's the accepted symbol for gusty.)

Gusty and blustery. Perfect. Just what I need to step out of my wimpiness with a bang. (Although I must confess to waiting until a little bit later in the day, when the sun was a little brighter and warmer, to get out there.)

I bundled up in my running tights, a turtleneck, a fleece, gloves and a hat and started down my six-mile loop.

Apparently I'd forgotten how quickly your body heats up. Less than a mile in, I was shedding my gloves and debating whether to keep on my fleece for the rest of the run. As a turned corners and was hit head-on with some wind, I decided to keep the jacket on and played my on-again-off-again game with my gloves for the remaining five miles.

I trotted along at what felt like a decent pace, stepping carefully along the side of the road that was lined with snowbanks and, at times, patches of ice.

I made it back in about an hour - warm on the inside and slightly frosty on the parts with exposed skin, most notably my now-rosy cheeks. The ends of my hair, which poked out from under my hat and dangled along my neck, were crispy with frozen sweat.

Frozen sweat, rosy cheeks and a six-miler in the winter. Just what I was looking for. Welcome (back) to winter running.


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