(credit goes to XTC for this post title.)
When I left the house this morning for my scheduled 6-miler, my first thought upon breathing in the crispness of a typical February morning was "Well, it's really not that bad out here!" The cold air against my face was nothing out of the ordinary.
I can tell what people are up to in the wee hours of the morning by the smells surrounding their houses. Drying a load of laundry. Burning toast. Frying bacon. Warming up a car. Stoking a wood stove. And then there's a house around the corner from my own that just smells...peculiar. Kind of sour and bitter and chemical-ish. My personal and totally unfounded theory is that someone is operating a meth lab in there.
My shoes on the thin skim of new snow: squeak squeak squeak. A city fire truck, sailing down Main Street: Sirens wailing! The wind through dead oak leaves still hanging high in the branches: Rustle, rustle. Someone doing some woefully overdue sidewalk shoveling: Scrape, scrape. An idiot going 40 mph in the 25 mph zone inside the subdivision: VROOOOM! Me, in response to said speeding idiot: Slow down, asshole!
The new snow is so pretty under the street lights! Look how it sparkles and glitters! The song "White as Diamonds" by Alela Diane was created just for this moment. "I’ve known mornings/white as diamonds/silent from a night so cold..."
Is that...light I see in the eastern sky? Oh happy day! I have been running in the dark for so long. Bring on the dawn! In another month, it might be light when I leave the house.
When a thin line of snot trickles out of your nose and it's not enough to farmer blow onto the ground, what do you do? Oh yeah, you know what I'm talking about. How else do you think I know snot is salty?
That is my impression of my run this morning, brought to you by the five traditional senses. We do have other senses, however. I'd like to discuss one in particular.
Nociception, aka PAIN:
First, let's go back to what I said at the beginning: "Well, it's really not that bad out here!"
It was zero degrees. With a breeze. As I later learned from the helpful folks at WEMU on my way to work, that's a wind chill factor of minus 16 degrees. There's a wind chill advisory in our area until tomorrow, you know.
No. I didn't know. My hands did, however. Around mile 4 as I ran into the headwind coming from the north, my hands started to chill. I curled my fingers tighter against my palms to no avail. By mile 5 I knew I was in serious trouble. My hands were now stiff, frozen claws that felt like hunks of ice. Like an idiot, I pushed on for the full six miles even though I had a chance to cut it short. When finally I got to my back porch I had to fumble in my pocket for my door key. My fingers literally would not work; I could not uncurl them and grasp my keys. I couldn't feel the key in my hand. I managed to open the door. I was already groaning in pain. I pulled my gloves off. My hands were a weird shade of white with some red splotches. I turned on my kitchen faucet and put my hands under the lukewarm water. Almost immediately they started throbbing and tingling. The pain was...intense, surreal, supernatural. It hurt so much the only thing I could do was lay my head against the edge of the sink and moan and try not to throw up because the pain was so bad it was making me nauseous. I was crying without tears. The only sound I could make was a low "Uhh...uhh...uhhh.." I looked at my hands again. The backs and palms were an angry red, my fingers sickly white. I had to stop the running water treatment, however, since the bathroom break I had preempted for my hand-thawing abruptly became priority number one. My hands were flexible enough that I was able to take care of Business, though I still could barely feel anything I touched. Once I was in the shower, I held my hands under the warm water (which felt alternately searing hot and icy cold depending on which part of my hands it touched) and let them thaw the rest of the way. I noticed some dark, purplish patches appearing on the pads of my fingertips. I thought, "Well, at least my hands don't look like Beck Weathers's."
All of this was earlier this morning. My fingertips still hurt. A lot. They're tender, sore, and tingly. I think I had a bit of a brush with frostbite. Somewhere between "frost nip"and superficial frostbite. A narrow escape, if you will. I have to be more careful. I have to get better gloves or mittens, or at least wear two pairs at once. Winter bit me on my unprepared ass this morning.
At least I'm not Steve, who had the same thing happen to his...well, just read about it. And cringe.