Seeing sunshine and a temperature in the high single digits (let’s just ignore the wind chill for now), I decided it was time to head outside Wednesday after weeks of running circles indoors.
I looked up some tips on running in sub-zero weather (OK, so I did take the wind chill into account), and determined it was doable. I wore two sets of gloves, a pair of sweat pants over running tights, my ancient Lands End wool socks, three long-sleeved running shirts (two insulated, one not), an ear band, a balaclava (face mask), and wrapped a scarf over my face. I also wore sunglasses, even though I know they’d fog up. (They did).
My one hesitation in breaking out of Polar Vortex Hell was traction. I didn’t want to risk falling and getting injured with less than a month before my marathon. So I strapped on the Yaktrax my husband got for Christmas. They were a bit large on my Newtons, but not too bad. I should also add that these aren’t specialized running gear; I bought this pair at the Ossian Hardware store for less than $20 (and later wound up giving them to my sister Traci, who had Bob’s name in the family gift exchange).
Shivering as I walked down the driveway, I wondered if I’d dressed warm enough. But remembering the advice of Mrs. Smith, Colleen’s fifth-grade teacher and a triathlete, I reminded myself that I’d “dressed for mile 2,” not the driveway. The bigger question now was: How would the Yaktrax hold up on pavement if, heaven forbid, I ran into sections of road devoid of ice and snow?
It was weird to head out so encumbered after having gotten used to running in shorts the past few weeks. But I soon forgot about that as I marveled at the fantastic traction of the Yaktrax. Ice, snow, it didn’t matter – I landed securely each time. At times I found myself actively seeking out the most slippery-looking patches of ice – and ran right over them without a hitch.
After a while I forgot about all the stuff I was wearing and just enjoyed how it felt to run outside again on a beautiful sunny day. It was cold, but not unbearable. And by the time I got in 4 miles or so – I decided to run past the old Murray Cemetery where Great-great grandpa Hege the Civil War soldier is buried – I was actually loosening my scarf a bit.
I wound up with a 7-mile run, which felt like the antithesis of Tuesday’s long treadmill slog. (I was aiming for two hours again, and it’s unclear if I did it or not, as the treadmill shut off and didn’t reset correctly late in the first hour. I ran another hour after that, finishing up “The Great Gatsby,” without ever knowing for sure how far or long I went in Hour 1.)
As for the question of running on pavement: I didn’t have to very often, but when I did – for no more than a few steps at a time – the Yaktrax seemed to hold up OK.