When I left the house at sundown, the temperature read -6°C. I was cold everywhere and couldn’t feel my toes as they numbly vibrated against the ground on each foot impact. I slowly trudged uphill out away from the city and tried to ignore the stares of people whose expressions seemed to say, we know you’re miserable, so why are you doing this?
The first mile was the last really cold mile, as even my fingers and toes were warming up. I continued on for another mile and cut through a nearby college campus, which was teeming with activity of people dressed in their winter black, moving between the beautiful old buildings. My face was still cold, but at least the feeling of wanting to stop and turn around had passed. Six miles at zero degrees is nothing compared to that feeling.
I weaved my way through the strange campus and exited out a gate on the southern edge, realizing that I knew exactly where I was, which was only surprising since I’d never gone through the campus before. I passed a girl whom I had seen just minutes ago; it appears she was running in a loop around the campus, and this time she waved.
Within a mile I was back in sight of familiar surroundings, with the sun nearly hidden behind the 1.7 mile reservoir, and I was feeling strong. The track around the reservoir was empty. One crazy guy ran around it in shorts, while another guy appeared to be in pain on his sprints. I made good time for the mile I stayed on it, and I made my way toward home, which was still a bit over a mile away.
Unfortunately, the feeling of strength would not persist, and even on a short run, the miserable cold can amplify the pain. My iliotibial band injury flared up and threatened to make the end of my run slow. As I tried to contain it and keep running, a rare abdominal cramp set in, and I kept hobbling along while clutching my abdomen with my left hand. I must have looked pretty foolish, but I usually can’t stop running once I’ve started.
That pain lasted for about half a mile, and when it finally subsided, I had already taken one shortcut home. I decided against a major one, however, and I continued running despite the sharp pains on my left hip and lateral portion of my knee. Thankfully, I’d paid my dues in hills at the beginning of the run, and now, in more ways than one, it was all downhill from there. I managed to get into a rhythm on the final half mile, until a sharp pain accompanied a pop from my left hip. I squeezed it and massaged the tendon in my left hand as I continued to limp home, in a state that was probably not quite “running” any longer.
Finally I made it home, beaten up over just an hour’s run, cold and happy to be finished for tonight. It’s not clear to me yet how I’m going to endure cold weather running this season ….