Saturday, January 14, 2012

19 Degrees

Just right for a run!

"You're crazy".  Those were the supportive words Hot Dad offered me after my morning run.  Crazy?  Really?  I don't think I'm crazy, I just like to run.

I like to run in the cold, I admit it.  Last winter ('10-'11) was my first winter running, and I tried to run outside as often as I could.  The dark and cold forced me indoors for a couple of months.  If you think January and February are boring and desolate, try being confined to an indoor track twice a week, trying to keep up at least your regular mileage, and your sanity.  Ugh.  I nicknamed it the hamster wheel because it couldn't have been more boring and confining, at least for me.  The saving grace, for me, was the use of this indoor track was free.  This winter, I have the benefit of having met a group of people as "crazy" as I, and I haven't been forced indoors one single day this winter. 

This morning was cold, there is no doubt.  No matter how you slice it, it's uncomfortable being outside when the mercury goes beneath 32F.  Of course just standing outside when it's that cold is not just uncomfortable, it's rather stupid.  Just my opinion.  Once you get moving, though, it isn't really as bad. 

Your cheeks freeze, your front teeth feel the bitter cold, and your eyes begin to water.  At first, the cold seems to reach every part of your body and your fingers beg for mercy.  You start to realize just how breathable your shoes are as the cold air slices into your socks, and you feel the cold try to overtake your toes.  Keep going, though, the best part is yet to come.

It can take a mile or two to get into the groove on a nice, warm day, but when it's this cold, your mind has a lot more work to do to help your whole body find its stride.  When you're in the company of others who are as dedicated to those five miles as you, though, it makes finding that groove much easier, and more enjoyable.

This morning I debated staying home, nestling into the couch with a hot cup of coffee and a book.  I thought about how easy it would have been to roll over and go back to sleep.  I thought about my flannel pants and sweatshirt and slippers, and a relaxing breakfast with my family.  Suddenly, it hit me.  Reality.  I have two children of my own, plus three others sleeping over in the other room.  There's no way in hell I'm going to read that book, sit on that couch, or enjoy a relaxing breakfast.  I need to get the hell out of here!

Once that thought entered my mind, it wasn't that difficult to decide to get out of bed and go for my run.  Sure it was cold, sure it was early, and of course it was tough leaving the warm comfort of my cozy bed.  Once I hit the second mile, I knew it was the right choice to get up and run.  Close to mile 2, your body warms up, your cheeks begin to thaw, and your toes start to forgive you for leaving them so exposed.  Your body hits that groove, and you feel the warmth come over you and remind you why you're out on the snowy road at an unGodly hour in frigid temperatures.  You've hit the groove.  You start to sweat.  Or if you prefer, you glisten.  

The tough part is stopping after a good run in the cold.  Your body begins to cool down, no doubt with the help of the cold air around you.  At first it's rather refreshing and you get brave and you open your jacket.  You might even take off your hat or ear covering.  You might even consider taking your jacket off.  It's not long before your body reminds you, though, it's below freezing out here, you idiot!!

You've gotta be careful not to let the chills set in, because once they do, it's harder to get back to feeling warm.  Still, winter running has a huge sense of refreshing satisfaction in the end.  

The easy 5 miles this morning was the perfect distance for my new shoes.  My feet felt great, my legs felt great (funny how you forget your hammies screaming on those two big hills, eh?), and my mind benefited from the escape.  

The escape is temporary, but the results are long lasting.  My job as Mom resumes the minute I click the button to lift the garage door.  I don't feel dread, though, I feel like I can tackle just about anything.  I can handle picking up after the kids, cleaning up the space where they all slept, and I can handle the energy and activity I'm about to return to.  I can do it.  It's amazing and hard to put into words, but, I remember one particular morning last winter when I returned from a snowy run and I told my husband, "I feel like I can do anything!". 

I don't mind running in the cold.  I actually like it.  Some people think it's crazy.  I think it's wonderful and relaxing.  I think it's a challenge, one I'm happy to take on.  Most of all, I like it because I can.   If that makes me crazy, call up the paddy wagon.