Transition to winter running

My transition to winter running occurred at approximately 6:53 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne was predicting an Arctic cold front. When I got home from work around 6 p.m., the evening was mild and still, the stars twinkling above me. I decided to head out for a run, even though I really didn’t want to. I talked myself into going out by promising myself I would only have to run 3 miles.

It was 44 degrees when I left the house.

Two blocks away from home, the weather abruptly changed.

A sudden chill gust form the north whipped dust and leaves up off the ground and clattered the bare tree branches above me. The rush of air grew in intensity, hitting 40-50 miles per hour, nearly bringing me to a standstill at times. My uncovered ears and fingers got increasingly uncomfortably cold.

I almost turned around, but I was already out there, and I was facing he worst – uphill against the wind. The route home would be much easier.

By the time I got home, the temperature was 27 degrees.

I got those three chill miles done, but I skipped my run the following morning.

I was supposed to meet a friend at 6 a.m. After running out in that wind and hearing predictions of snow overnight, my friend and I decided we needed sleep more than we needed to be out running in a possible blizzard with subzero windchill.

In the morning, I felt like a wuss. Yes, the temperature was about 6 degrees, and there was snow on the ground, but there was no wind! I could have handled that! Maybe . . .

Friday morning, the landscape was breathtaking. Hoarfrost coating everything. Steam rising from the river. I wanted to stop and take a picture as I crossed the river bridge on my way to a meeting, but with the ice on the road, I really could not do so safely.

Saturday was a lovely winter day – bright and warm enough to start melting the snow. Bugman and I were supposed to go for a run in the early afternoon. However, he lay down on the couch, was sat upon by a purring cat, and promptly fell asleep. We did not wind up leaving the house for our 8-mile run until 3 p.m., when the sun and the temperature were dropping.

We have forgotten over the summer how to dress comfortably for winter runs in the just-below-freezing range.

I should have worn a thicker shirt with longer sleeves that I could pull down over my hands. My arms and hands got cold.

Bugman had it worse. Ever since that cold post-Thanksgiving turkey trot some years ago when he nearly froze his hands, the blood vessels in his forearms seem to contract in cold weather, turning his hands to blocks of ice. It doesn’t help that he sweats like mad when he runs.

On the run yesterday, he wore two running shirts and a jacket and running gloves with a wind-blocking mitten shell. He sweated through both shirt layers and took his jacket off, then put the jacket back on when the breeze picked up. In the last two miles, he had to stop several times to try to warm up his painfully cold hands. I grabbed his wrist, and it was all cold and wet. When we got home, his warming hands burned with pain. I felt bad for him. I really don’t know what he needs to do – work his layers better?

Ah, well. Time for a few pictures.

First snow run of the season.

First snow run of the season.

It's wonderful to have the Monument Valley Pathway along the North Platte River as a running option. (The snow was well cleared from the path.) The setting sun made rainbows in the high ice clouds to the north and south. The open water of the flowing river attracted dozens of Canada geese and mallard ducks.

It’s wonderful to have the Monument Valley Pathway along the North Platte River as a running option. (The snow was well cleared from the path.) The setting sun made subtle rainbows in the high ice clouds to the north and south. The open water of the flowing river attracted dozens of Canada geese and mallard ducks.

 

As the temperature dropped, meltwater puddles began to freeze into fascinating starburst forms.

As the temperature dropped, meltwater puddles began to freeze into fascinating starburst forms.

At these temps, the open water on the pond near the zoo won't be open water much longer.

At these temps, the open water on the pond near the zoo won’t be open water much longer.

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw

2 thoughts on “Transition to winter running

  1. It was beautiful Friday morning, though cold enough to freeze the inside of your nose! I’d hoped the weather would be warmer here for my half yesterday…well, it was 23 instead of below zero. Warmerish at least, though I was still pretty cold by the time I finished despite all my layers.

    What about hand warmers inside the gloves/mittens? Maybe that would help? Or plastic bags over his hands? I’ve used them with some success over my feet for winter biking. I have wool mittens that work well most of the time, although I’m thinking of slightly felting them so they’ll block the wind better.

    • We need to do something – our temps are likely to be the same as yours were. I’m a little worried about Jeff. Wool is a good idea. At least we will have easy access to an REI and a running store prior to the race.

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