Sometimes it’s more apparent than others that I was never a Boy Scout. No, not even a Cub.
Yesterday was one of those days.
Rather foolishly, I made a public commitment to slip those fancy running shoes of mine back on and get back out on the pavement. 10k races, let alone half marathons, don’t train for themselves, you know.
Of course, just to mock me, the average temperature in Cincinnati dropped to something like minus 600 Kelvin the second that post was published. Polar bears where knocking on doors looking for a place to hangout for the night. Snowmen were putting on coats. In fact, it was so cold that my dog, after giving the evening signal that she needed to go out, arrived at the threshold of the garage, stopped short, and gave me a look that said, “Are you serious? Screw that, I’ll pee on the floor inside first thank you very much.”
She was disappointed to learn I was not so much down with Operation Carpet Piddle.
My point is there was no way I was going to attempt my first run in a month and a half in single digit weather. Sure, I could have tried it Wednesday morning, but let’s be honest, I’d have had to dress up like Ralphie’s kid brother from A Christmas Story. You try running a couple of miles when you can’t put your arms down and let me know how it works out.
By last night, though, the mercury had risen into the balmy low twenties. It was like a regular heat wave, comparatively, so I figured why not give it a shot? I dressed myself in what I hoped were my warmest athletic pants, put on a couple of shirts, a hooded sweatshirt, and a pair of gloves, and heading out into the only-somewhat-less-bitter cold.
What we learned from this experience is that yes, I can, somehow magically, still run (that is, “jog”, which is jogging only in the most academic sense of the word; picture Winnie the Pooh lumbering through your neighborhood in running shoes) two miles, even with a several-week break between attempts.
That’s something to be considered a minor miracle, right there. I mean it.
The more important thing I learned, however, was that, never having been a Boy Scout, sometimes I attempt things for which I am most decidedly not prepared. In this case, specifically, I Don’t Have Proper Cold Weather Running Gear.
Admittedly, I don’t need the Full Monty of Winter Operations Garments. There’s no reason to look like US Special Forces in arctic camo. At minimum, though, I do need:
- A facial covering. Sure, I’m hesitant about making my way through the ‘hood in a balaclava or basic ski mask for fear Granny McMuuMuu will be dialing 911 to report “a hoodlum planning to take all my precious kitties, or worse” the second I pause in front of her house to catch my breath. But, dammit, that stuff in your nose that likes to run? Yeah, it likes to freeze, too. Real fast. And after it’s frozen, that shnoz of yours is about as useful for exchanging air as wet concrete. And air is kind of important for running.
- Tights. Yes, I said it. I’m a grown man and I want a pair of tights. That’s not to say I expect to be dancing in Swan Lake soon. I’ll pass on the tutu. But something insulated and skin-tight would be pretty nice as opposed to the athletic pants I wore yesterday that, much to surprise, are actually designed to let air pass through them. I might as well have been in shorts. Brrrr.
- Insulated socks. Those fancy running shoes I mentioned above? They’re pretty much like having crepe paper stapled to rubber soles attached to your feet. And when it’s freakin’ 88 degrees outside, that’s fantastic; they weigh hardly anything and you can feel a cool breeze in them every time you open your refrigerator. But this is winter. By time I finished running last night, my toes looked like I’d been trying to use them to fish that last decent beer out of that ice-filled garbage can at your cousin Max’s college graduation party.
So, I admit it. I wasn’t prepared to attempt a run in 20+ degree temperatures in the middle of January. My lack of Boy Scout training last night was on epic display. But you know, even though it wasn’t optimal, I did get that first run back out of the way, even in the face of a bounty of excuses.
Maybe being ill-prepared isn’t always the worst thing in the world. After all, it is better than being apathetic. Nobody ever accomplished anything nursing their indifference from the couch. At least I jogged 2 miles.
Still, I really do need some tights.
But you probably won’t want to see them.