Happy New Year! After blogging every single day in December (32 posts in 31 days, in fact!), the new year hasn’t started off quite as strong. That holds true for more than writing. I also haven’t run a single step since New Year’s Eve, when it was a gorgeous 50 degrees.
I kicked off my new year with a nasty bout of stomach flu, which threw my plans into disarray. Suddenly, rather than doing my first 10 mile run on the last day of vacation as planned, I was stuck lying on the couch, aching from head to toe, willing the misery to end. And sleeping. Lots of sleeping. I slept so much I was tired of sleeping. I couldn’t form a coherent thought, let alone write, but the new academic quarter started, so I dragged myself to the first Finance class and gingerly nibbled on some crackers. (My classmate apparently wasn’t so lucky.)
So that was the first week of the year. By Friday I felt better but was making up for lost time on school and work. Then it got COLD.
When I started running last year, I waited until mid-March, thinking it would be easier to build a habit when it wasn’t miserable outside. And I was mostly right about that. But when October hit, I realized that to continue the habit, I would have to actually run in the cold and snow.
I did what I always do before embarking on anything new: I researched. My chief running instigator gave me lots of advice on dressing for the cold, and talked about how nice it is to run through fresh snow when everything else is quiet. I nodded enthusiastically, signed up for a winter race (the F*ing Freezing Frozen Lake Half, my first) and asked for cold weather gear for Christmas.
I really have enjoyed some of my runs out in the 25-40 degree range. Though I have to battle across the many (many!) uncleared sidewalks in my neighborhood, YakTrax do help, and it’s nice getting fresh air when most people are cooped up indoors.
But really, it’s been so damn cold this winter.
I’ve lived nearly my entire life in the Chicago area, so I’m relatively used to the winters. (Really, I don’t know any better – I was too young to remember the five winters I spent in Indianapolis, and there was only one winter in Budapest.) But December was one of the coldest on record. And between the bitter cold, the ice and the 4 PM darkness, it has not been easy getting out to run. Heck, even Mr. Cold Weather Running himself has had enough.
Sunday morning, it was 8 degrees when I woke up. 8. Single digit. I couldn’t bear to look at the windchill. I threw a hoodie over my fleece pjs and shuffled downstairs for coffee. I went outside (danger! danger!) to retrieve the newspapers and thought about running. Screw this, I thought. It’s supposed to warm up into the 20s! I’ll run later!
Of course, as the day progressed, I ended up spending more time with my parents than planned (time well spent, though) and didn’t get home until after dark. So yes, it was 28 degrees, but too dark to safely run and see obstacles (like uneven or uncleared sidewalks) or be seen by cars. And while I’ve considered the headlamp route, I’m not quite there.
I have a 10k trail race this weekend, and the forecast is in the 20s, so I’m optimistic. I ran the 5k trail race of the series last month, and it was freezing, in the single digits even at noon. I discovered that trail racing is tough when there’s snow on the ground, and it sounds like this weekend will reinforce that discovery. But at least peer pressure will motivate me to get out there.
How are you handling the cold?