Back during the Polar Vortex of 2014 I canceled out on a run with a friend because I simply couldn’t fathom running in subzero temperatures.
I always regretted it afterward, particularly when my friend – a native northerner who’d grown up snowshoeing in temperatures well below zero – appeared baffled by my reluctance. She considered winter weather exhilarating.
We hadn’t had much wintry weather since then – until last week, when the temperature stayed below zero for several days in a row. Determined for a shot at redemption, my sister and I decided to brave the Bluffton Rivergreenway on Tuesday.
The thermometer read minus-14 that morning. It had climbed a few degrees by the time we headed out, but it was still well below zero. Though the sun was shining and there wasn’t much wind, it still felt like we were on another planet.We decided to skip our usual stretching routine so we could start moving and heating our bodies up ASAP.
I was wearing sweatpants over running tights and two insulated long-sleeved running shirts under a sweatshirt, both of which felt just about right as we got into the run. An ordinary stocking hat and scarf worked pretty well in covering my face and neck. But my hands and feet were suffering considerably.
My lined gloves usually seem pretty warm, but I had to keep removing my fingers from their slots and making a fist inside my gloves to keep them from hurting. In retrospect, double layers of mittens would’ve been a better choice. As for my feet, I’d grabbed long socks instead of my usual short ones, but hadn’t paid attention to the fabric. I can see now why “cotton is rotten” when it comes to the cold. Traci said her wool socks were keeping her feet warm, and I wished I’d grabbed a pair of those instead.
Given my equipment malfunction, we wound up only going a couple of miles that day. Which seemed a shame, because it really was pretty exciting to experience that “running on another planet” feeling. I wouldn’t choose a subzero run over the treadmill every time – there’s no doubt you have to be in the right frame of mind – but it felt good to have broken through a mental as well as a physical barrier.