Friday, January 10, 2014

Ice Age

We're frigid, people!

This polar vortex has been the talk of the nation, and social media has been all a'twitter about it.  If you want to know the current temperature, look to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and you'll be inundated with dashboard thermometer pictures and screen shots.  And if you follow a lot of runners, the most common caption is something like, "Nailed my 10 miler in 8 degrees this morning (-25F wind chill)", or "0 degrees is still better than the dreadmill!".  Many of the photos are selfies, to further prove through visual evidence that they were, in fact, running in this frigid weather, and they do, in fact, have icicles hanging from their nose hairs.

I admit it, I posted one of those screen shots of the current temp.  But my caption was something like, "I'm so glad I'm not running today".  Clearly I need to read the Badass Running for Dummies* handbook again.
*This is not a real book. Yet.

Then you have Chicago being renamed "Chiberia", Niagara Falls freezing over, and parts of Minnesota recording temperatures lower than that on Mars (or was it the moon, I dunno...) and it's pretty clear that no matter what temperature you complain about, unless you live in Chicago, Niagara Falls, Minnesota, or Mars, you aren't impressing anyone with your tiny temperature digits.  This polar vortex has created a media frenzy, with endless comparisons to further emphasize the severity of the cold.  I heard that yesterday's temperature in Atlanta (where the summer Olympics were once held) was colder than Sochi, Russia (where this winter's Olympics are taking place).

The good news is the polar vortex has apparently shifted back up to where it belongs, but the bad news is that I'm still freezing.  I contemplated crawling into my sleeping bag while I ate my soup last night.

My runs over the last couple weeks haven't been too impacted by weather, but it can be tough getting the motivation to go outside and freeze when you're already inside freezing.  I've been sticking to my marathon training plan (which is a very modified version of the Hal Higdon plan), and so far I haven't missed a run.  I did run once last week during a snowstorm, which was pretty tricky.  The roads were very slick so I stuck to just running up and down my own road to stay safe.  My road averages about 2 vehicles an hour, and at least 1 of them is lost, so I felt safe enough running on it during the snow storm.  What I don't advocate is running on normal streets during a snowstorm.  I know I'm going to pick up some haters here, but running during a snowstorm on busy streets isn't badass.  It's foolish, dangerous, and reckless.  Not just for you, who could slip or twist something or get hit by a sliding car, but for the commuters and plow drivers and sanders and everyone else out there on the road trying to safely navigate through the snowy conditions.  I'm all about sharing the road and sticking to your training plan, but if you're a danger to drivers then find an alternative for just that one day.

Last Saturday, after the roads had cleared up from the storm, I met Julia for a 5 mile run in Uxbridge.  It was 20 degrees and blustery, and it was one of those days that it's a good thing I was meeting someone or I might have wussed out.  Our run was good, but there were several drivers that felt we shouldn't be out there on the road.  Some of the roads we were on had sidewalks which hadn't been plowed, but the roads were wide enough that there was plenty of room.  Still, we had some angry looks.  One guy even honked his horn and waved his arm at us to move over.  We were running as close to the snowbank as possible, it was a very quiet street, and there were no other cars coming.  Julia's Boston Marathon jacket didn't seem to gain any sympathy from drivers either.  We marveled at how quickly people forget about Boston.  These same people driving around with Boston Strong stickers on their cars are shooing us off the roads, apparently forgetting how that sentiment all came about, during a marathon, which we have to train for, in the winter.  Later in our run we had to cross over a narrow bridge, and although there wasn't a lot of traffic, naturally there would be cars everywhere once we got about halfway across the bridge.  A pickup truck coming towards us had to stop and wait for a bunch of cars to pass before he could get around us.  Julia and I both expected to get spit on, but we gave him a big wave and smile and he gave us a big wave back.  Maybe all is not lost with the world!

On Wednesday, Kerri and I went out for a 4 miler at lunch.  I knew it would be frigid and packed pretty much everything I owned into my gym bag.  I was way too bundled up and felt like I was running in a fat suit, so it was a much harder run than I expected.  It was 15 degrees out, and we had the wind in our faces on the way back.  As I undressed in the locker room I discovered that my legs were a very unusual reddish purple color.  I think maybe I need to invest in some pants with more wind resistance!  As a side note, I also noted that Andover drivers as a whole seem nicer than Uxbridge drivers.

Yesterday I decided to head out through the trail to run across the West Hill Dam and out on some flat roads in Uxbridge.  I was getting bored with going up my street and needed a change of scenery.  That turned out to be a futile effort, because there was so much ice on all of the trails that I couldn't even get to the dam!  Instead I ended up just doing some trail running on bare sections of trails, until I'd hit another glacier and have to turn around.  It was frustrating but not really that bad.  It was actually kind of a nice change of pace from asphalt and cars and constantly checking my watch, and I think my feet really appreciated running on a softer surface than the frozen pavement.

So, listen up Mother Nature.  I know last summer when it was 100 degrees every day and I was dying, I swore that I would never, ever complain about being cold this winter.  I also may have mentioned recently in a blog post that I'd take a 20 degree run over an 80 degree run.  But that wasn't supposed to be a personal challenge to freeze me to death.  Go ahead and warm up you frigid beast.

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