Tuesday, November 18, 2008

White Winter Hymnal

(With apologies to Fleet Foxes.)

The snow fell on Sunday, huge lazy drifting flakes that gently covered the last remains of fall's scattered leaves. The bird feeders grew puffy helmets; a male cardinal paused for some sunflower seeds, bright red against the white. I, in my Sunday not-so-best (comfy pants and fleece), spent the day ensconced in warmth, feet tucked into wool clogs, nestled in a blanket on the sofa with the two tabbies by my side. Guilt at not going out for a long run nagged at me only slightly. I was having a difficult time coming to grips with the sudden change of seasons. I knew that the surprise Indian summer weather of two weeks ago would never last; however, I just wasn't prepared to have winter shoved in my face so soon.

Monday morning when I released the hound into the backyard at 5:45 the frigid air reached in through the open door and slapped me in the face. A few flakes were still spiraling out of the sky and my motivation to go out withered, black and dead as the leaves on my basil plant after the first frost. I fled for the warmth and safety of the gym where I did three insufferable miles on the treadmill and then caught up on my celebrity gossip with Us Magazine while pedaling on the recumbent bike.

This morning I steeled myself. No more of this lackadaisical foolishness. The cold weather is here to stay and I need to accept that it will be around for five more months. I cannot run on the treadmill all winter.

I strapped myself into my cold-weather best (Asics Thermopolis pants, Pearl Izumi thick base layer, Asics Storm Shelter jacket, Sugoi neck tube, hat, gloves) and stepped onto the crackling snow on my doorstep. It was 19 degrees F. The sky was clear, the stars brilliant. The nearly full moon hung low in the sky, its still-bright light making the fresh snow glow. My breath plumed in the cold as I crunched down my driveway. I set off and the cold air burned into my lungs, brought a flood of tears to my eyes. My fingers and nose grew numb and protested this cruel treatment.

By mile 1 I was warm inside my clothes, the first beads of sweat moistening the band of my hat. By mile 2 the first hint of light appeared on the eastern horizon, the coming sunrise ready to do battle with the moonlight casting my shadow ahead of me, blue on the snow. The streets of my town were deserted; only the truly brave, hardcore, or insane would venture out on foot at this hour, in this cold. By mile 3 I thought: Why did I wait this long? Why did I fight so hard? This is delicious and refreshing! By mile 4 I felt like I could have run 4 more, but alas, duty called and I crunched up the driveway in the opposite direction.

I am now ready to take on the worst a Michigan winter has to offer. Bring it.


Mechelle said...

Please repost regarding this issue in mid-February :) I've been feeling the "cold rush" myself but I know another few months of this and I'll be wishing I was smart enough to move south!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Bring it.

Nice post, sister, but those Dubya-esque words can come back to bite you in the @$$. Or, no, not you. John McCain. So, fine, put it out there.

I also end up liking running in the cold, as long as it's not wet or icy. The dread is in the anticipation. The actual running, not so bad. But then again, I'm in NJ, not the frozen tundras of the I'm-Trying-To-Hail-A-Cab-Over-Here state.

Enjoy the cold. I'm serious. I won't be running for a while and I'm envious - moping like a Depeche mode fan, I am.

B. Kramer said...

This time of year is the time I call the toughening. Eventually, I come to enjoy this frosty treatment. (Though I suppose you can expect that from a former ice hockey player.)

Burt said...

I guess you just ruined my excuse that it was gonna be to cold to run in the morning. lol
Thanks for posting this.

joyRuN said...

Beautiful post. That's quite a sell job on running in 19degrees of dark. I'll have to come back to this in January.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Thanks for making me feel like a wimp for being thoroughly miserable at 45 degrees! :-)

Anonymous said...

I had my first experience of running outside in the cold and light snow. I feel exactly the way you do ;)

How do you handle the black ice? There were a couple times I was running and notice some spots that looked "slick" and was careful to go over them.

tfh said...


I was going to say, the blogger who wrote the book (okay, the post) about how to dress for cold weather can't possible keep to the treadmill for too long.

Sun Runner said...

Mechelle-- I'm going to need to revisit it myself, I'm sure! February is the cruelest month in Michigan. I believe I was fairly fed up with winter by the time February rolled around.

Viper-- "The toughening." I like that. It's true. One can make oneself to get used to anything, really. Except for spurious and unwarranted attacks on my beloved Wolverines.

Bunnygirl-- Don't worry, YOU have the market cornered on humid-weather running! I would melt into a puddle if I had to run in some of your temps.

Emilio-- Sloooooowly. Extra, extra slowly. I haven't fallen yet. I call it "mincing." Also, I find that the rough asphalt of the street often provides a better surface if the sidewalks are too treacherous.

tfh-- I wrote too soon. I bailed on running outside this morning (more snow!) and did four miles on the treadmill.

Nitmos said...

Sorry, I'm still in denial. You can "bring it" all you want...just bring it to your place and not mine.

Incidentally, my word ver was "restrite". They just know you are a running blog.

chia said...

LMAO.... "bring it?!?!?"

As long as it all blows over me I'm cool with that ;-).

Jon (was) in Michigan said...

Heh, heh. I do miss living in Dexter, but not on days like you had. Oh, I can take the snow, but not yet. I have a few more fall days to use before I'm ready for the white stuff again.