4 Below at 4 AM

Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!

That's the sound my foot falls made this morning.  

We are in a bit of a cold snap up here in the nort' country. It was especially cold today- four degrees below zero- and that was straight temp not windchill. I love how the snow gets so dry and squeaky, almost like corn starch when the temperatures are so low.

I have run in much colder weather before, I think my lowest was -28 degrees. If you bundle up and cover all exposed flesh it is not too bad- even enjoyable. If we didn't run when it is cold, well then we would not run much at all this time of year. Of course, a temp of -4 or even -28 is nothing from what my friends in Alaska tell me.

To keep warm I dress in layers. On my feet I had two pairs of thick socks under my shoes, on my legs I wore long underwear, my tights plus an extra layer of windstopping long pants, on my upper body I had on a cool-max long t-shirt, two thick polypro long undershirts and an outer layer of a windbreaker, on my hands I had on my running gloves covered with wool mittens and then finally on my head I wore a balaclava, a polypro fleece hat and a neck warmer.  

Most mornings I can peel off a layer or two after I warm up in a few miles-but not today!

It is always hard for me to drag myself out of bed these cold dark winter mornings. Sometimes I wonder what kind of crazy fool I must be to get up out of my nice cozy bed and go for a run.  Instead I could be snuggling and warm next to my lovely wife for an extra hour or two!  However, once I warm up and find my rythym, I never ever regret getting out and seeing the world at a time when few others do.

It's just the getting up and getting going that is the tough part.

The sky this morning was crystal clear and the stars were brilliant. There was a crescent moon to provide some light reflecting off of the snow. The frost sparkled from my head lamp. As I passed each farmhouse,  I caught a whiff of the pungent smoke from the wood stoves that many of us heat with up here. Many mornings, I see the local dairy farmers getting up to start their day. However, this morning all of the houses I ran by were still black. The inhabitants must have been more sane than I and were still asleep in their beds. Only the dogs barked to announce my presence.  

The forest was dead-quiet. There was only the sound of my breathing and my foot falls to keep me company. It was too dark and early for birds to be stirring. The only other creature that I have ever seen moving around on such a cold early winter morning is our local red fox. But I didn't see him today. I guess even foxes know when to stay in bed.

At times, I felt as if I was barely moving.  Layers of thick clothes and occasional patches of black ice under the snow are not conducive to a fast pace. After such  runs, I always feel awake, alive and invigorated. They wake me up better than a cup of coffee (but I will still have that cup of coffee too- thank you).

We are supposed to have warmer temps this weekend- up to the 30s and 40s- with possible freezing rain. What a bummer. My wife and I received new cross country skis for Christmas and would have loved another weekend to enjoy them. If we must have winter, we would rather have it at least be cold and snowy enough so that we can get out there and enjoy it. I hate freezing rain.  

Oh well, winter is not over yet, I am sure that we shall have more snowy weather to come. 

I would be lying if I said that I enjoy running in these bitter cold dark winter mornings as much as I do on a sunny warm spring day. However, in running as in life, to appreciate the good sometimes we must also experience the not-so-good. When every day is warm and sunny, you begin to forget how much you should appreciate them. We used to live outside Reno, Nevada but didn't appreciate how awesome the weather was there until after we left.  

Keep on running shuffling but watch out for black ice!

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8 responses

  1. You are now my new weather hero.
    as you may have noted, I completed folded in plain old 6 degree weather!

    January 3, 2008 at 7:56 pm

  2. Well, I've been in a "boot" for the past six weeks, so there hasn't been much running. A sprained ankle and a fallen arch. Ugh. Hopefully the boot comes off Monday and I can become less sluglike.Peper

    January 4, 2008 at 1:10 am

  3. Much applause to you for actually braving the bitter cold!

    January 4, 2008 at 1:37 am

  4. sounds lovely to me. it is so nice to be up early and be out running- though I find 6 or 7 am plenty early enough for me thanks! and still early enough that there is not much activity.. I got up really early on new years day and did some hard interval running this year, and for some reason the streets were deserted… it felt like such a good start to the year, much better to run and watch the sun come up, than to crawl out of bed feeling 'under the weather' from too much revelry!

    January 4, 2008 at 1:38 am

  5. I meant to leave you a comment yesterday….wowee. I had so much trouble with just 6 above zero….you are such an ultra-runner, tough to the core, even if the core is frozen solid!!!

    January 4, 2008 at 6:58 am

  6. Thanks. I don't know about being tough… crazy is probably a better word!

    January 4, 2008 at 8:10 am

  7. And here I was feeling pretty tough for a few 13F runs I had in November.. ha ha. Great post.

    January 4, 2008 at 6:24 pm

  8. oooh todd, not the boot! Hope you get to feeling better….

    January 4, 2008 at 6:29 pm

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