I started this run late, at the tail end of the freakish two-day cold spell, at about 11 pm. Man it was cold, 2F. Too f-f-flippin’ cold. So, I wore a hat…on my ski mask. I wore a shirt under my shirt under my puffy jacket. I wore a scarf, some ear warmers, a pair of gloves. A pair of gloves on the pair of gloves. Socks and shoes, along with some tights, some wicking cotton boxers and a pair of lined jogging pants.
I checked my watch, clicked my headlamp on, hit the empty streets. A few days ago, after a decent snow, there was slushy black piles and ruts of road snow, but the (hey, last time I hope to ever say) polar vortex froze this salted applesauce in place. Cars crushed it down, smoothed it out, and icy powder blew upon it and froze it into sheets that looked quite sturdy. Where water run-off plagued intersections, I had to move over the ice like I had roller skates. But there was plenty of places to run.
The cold made it hard for me to breath, and like the day before, I began to lose my wind at almost the same time it took me to warm up, about fifteen minutes. I had to stop to catch my breath. I ran a couple more miles and did the same thing, and again at the crest of a hill approaching the end of the run. Slow, real slow going. The layers started to get pretty sodden.
There was no one out. Overhead, the stars shone brilliantly in a clear sky, so unbelievably cold and windy it was, and a yellow half moon hung low in the east like a hammock slung by a fire…really far away.
The jacket was overkill. I was sweating balls. I unzipped the jacket halfway. The area around my chest and my shirt blossomed with frost, as did the balaclava. I let my scarf trail out, I rolled up my jacket sleeves for a moment, found my shirt sleeves soaked, instantly chilled and hardening into ice. Jacket sleeves back down. A cop cruised past me. He circled the block, caught up to me, hung back and followed. Then he drove away, bored, I thought.
A few minutes later and I’m passing him again. The town is very small. I even lapped the police station towards the end of the run. Tables are turned! Ha, but actually my headlamp died and the block around the station was very brightly lit. The bleak streetlamps showed me the way home. My super awesome balaclava was frozen to my face, and I had what looked like a hairy snow chest. And speaking of chest, mine hurt. I wasn’t used to running in single digits at all. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, where winter is practically more of an opinion than it is an actual season.
I think if I had worn a different top, maybe a parka, it would’ve been better. But I didn’t want to get so cold as I did the day before. My nipples had frozen, gone numb, then were blistered by my clothes. When I had returned to the house, warmed up, it felt like I’d sanded them off. They don’t help with my performance, but I try to keep them just the same. I was killing my nipples softly with my shirt. Nipple death disco.
So, my nipple were safe from the polar vortex – oopst – that night, safe from rogue cops, sheets of dirty ice and sloth. And that’s sort of the nadir of my running career. Everything else is just pablum, some half-googled cheap gibberish about believing in myself and enjoying the meditative qualities I find in running and stuff like that. I’ll think back and say, “I nearly ran those nipples off in Janathon.” I don’t know who I’ll say that to, but no one ever does.
Better living through anti-chafing.
So, I ran 6.4 miles. I don’t know how many that is for the month. As my son says, “it’s about thirty hundred five two sixty.”