Monday, January 6, 2014

Long Run, January 4th: Cold

It didn't seem like many runners were interested in doing the training program long run this weekend, given how the sidewalks are snowy and slushy it's extremely cold. Still, I was a little surprised to be the only Samaritans representative down in Kenmore Square come 7:30am on Saturday morning. Thankfully, I am someone who (as long as I am running in the morning) is not too bothered by cold temps. That said, it was still not easy waking up in my icebox of a room at 6:30 and shuffling out into the barely-lit morning to catch the number 1 bus in Central Square. The sky was still dim and my street looked muted, but the air was so cold and clear it made everything seem sharp as nails. At about 1 degree out, the packed snow on the sidewalks felt hard as concrete and it was the type of powder and squeaks and crunches, and even copious amounts of rock salt couldn't convince it to melt. I think there might have been a  pretty view of a sunrise-in-the-making from the bridge, but the bus window was so caked with salt I couldn't really make out any detail.

As 8:00 rolled around, the eight or so of us who gathered at Joint Ventures smeared vaseline on our cheeks and noses to ward off frostbite, although thankfully it was not very windy out. The nor'easter that brought the snow and cold had been replaced by a rather soft but steady breeze from the west. Our route took us down Beacon street, and by Coolidge Corner it became clear that there weren't really any other runners who were my pace--a few faster ones out in front of me and the rest behind. I wished I hadn't forgotten Nan's ipod. So thus began a somewhat lonely and really freaking cold run out to Newton Centre. Yet Beacon street is so busy, and I had the T to look at and people walking their dogs, so I never really got bored. At the beginning when we were more clumped together, several passersby gave us sort of knowing winks and "oh, aren't you all brave!" kind of comments but were really probably just thinking we were crazy. And by the time I got to Cleveland Circle, I was beginning to have my own doubts. My Asselin was freezing, and I began to wonder if butt frostbite was a thing. My left foot had gone numb, and it seemed that if I bumped my numb elbows, weird zingers would shoot down my arms and into the sides of my palms. Hmm.

John had his truck parked next to the reservoir, and was waiting for me with water cups as I approached. "How are you doing, how do you feel?" he asked with this super concerned look on his face. He told me that calling it quits due to poor footing didn't count as copping out, but I assured him I was really doing fine. He looked dubious and urged me to cover my face with my gator as I left. The wind coming off the reservoir was a bit too refreshing, so I did indeed pull the fleece over my nose, although my breath soon began to cake the outside with ice. The rest of the way into Newton was a kind of dodgy, footing-wise. Big patches of un-shoveled sidewalk meant a lot of dancing back and forth between the road and the walk. Newton Centre was a mess, and I had to wade through puddles of slush and climb over a few snow banks to reach Centre Street. The upside was that the sun had now risen above the buildings, and I was so thankful I was wearing all black. Still, it had barely crept past 6 degrees.

Coming up Commonwealth Avenue, I knew that I was supposed to turn on Chestnut Hill Ave, but I was not sure when to look for it. I saw a car drop off two runners who took off ahead of me, and as I passed the driver I slowed to ask where I should look for the turn. She was clearly in charge of another charity training program--the National MS Society, it turned out, and although she couldn't give me directions she instead offered me gatorade, water, and gels. I declined, but thought that was awfully nice of her. I caught up with her runners and spoke with them briefly before spying John up ahead with gatorade, and he said the turn was in 3/4 of a mile. He asked me again how I was doing, and then concernedly asked if I thought he was negligent for not canceling the run. I did my best to assure him otherwise, although he was obviously worried he was going to find at least one of us stripping off our running clothes in the throws of hypothermia on that final stretch of Beacon Street.

The journey back from Cleveland circle was uneventful. By the last mile I began to feel a bit tired, and could feel the loose footing taking its toll on my legs. It is hard to maintain pace on slippery surfaces. We slowly all staggered back into Joint Ventures one by one. Somehow I was sweaty, yet freezing, yet overheated, yet numb. I decided to wait until I got home to see how my butt looked (turns out it was fine). Let us hope that next week brings warmer temps and a larger crowd to train with.

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