The ground was slick with hard ice frozen white-blue on the sidewalk. The streets were coated with an amalgam of icy slush and water. It was sleeting. It was barely above freezing.
Perfect morning for a winter's run!
If you're a fan of bad weather running, you know what I mean. There's something about running in foul weather that appeals to masochists. It feels so good when you stop.
The cold on your face is invigorating. The fresh air beats that nasty stale air on a gym treadmill. When you stop, you feel like you've accomplished something.
Don't be naïve about running on slick roads: You have to run slowly and cautiously. If you're a fast runner, you have to make a bad weather run a conditioning run, not a sprint. Bad weather days are great for long solitary runs - no one's on the trail but you! During the run home you look forward to getting back to your warm apartment and into the shower.
A hot shower quickly re-invigorates cold extremities. There's nothing quite like a hot shower to cure what ails you after a cold run. Your body's all mixed up, temperature-wise: your core body temperature's gone down, your skin is icy cold and slick with sweat and rain, but the shower is beating hot water down on you. The combination's quite pleasant.
Running in the snow is even worse and even better. It's bad because the running surface becomes atrociously slow. The footing is treacherous. On the other hand, the silence after a fresh snowfall can't be appreciated unless you're outside in the elements, not in a car or a house. In very cold air - somewhere below about fifteen degrees fahrenheit, your breath starts freezing, and your eyebrows and eyelashes and hair all become caked with ice. (If you run a long time, you'll want to take off your hat every now and then to let out the heat, even on the coldest of days). When you come in out of the cold and look into the bathroom mirror, you might shock yourself - the face that looks back is not your normal look. It looks like an Arctic apparition.
When you begin training for an October marathon, you should start training in the most miserable months of the year: December, January, and February. You get the bad months out of the way when your minutes and your mileage is low. Spring rains in April don't bother you as much when you've faced the hardships of cold winter mornings. Spring puddles don't affect you like winter puddles do. The weather only gets better. When the spring and summer come and you've upped your time commitment, you're running during peak weather conditions, and you become grateful for every morning without precipitation. The heat of the summer? You'll sweat during the heat, but you'll think to yourself, "Yes, but it's still better than running in the nasty deep freeze of February."
In a conversation many eons ago, I told arcanamundi about the cool-down period after running ten miles during a chilly morning just above the freezing mark. I told her what a sight it was to sit on the back porch, stripped down to nothing but running shorts, seeing steam coming off my head and trunk. She was entranced at the image. A few weeks went by. She messaged. She'd attended a college party the previous weekend, a typical off-campus affair, one with small apartment and lots of overheated bodies. When she stepped out into the cold Indiana air she saw the same steamy aura about her. She said something like, ah yes, now I know what you're talking about.
It is these moments we live for.
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