A snow storm came through in the early hours of Christmas morning leaving about three to four inches of fresh and untouched snow for me to run on. And it was still coming down when I took off down the road.
The sidewalks were indistinguishable from the streets, I decided to run in the middle of the road. Down Main Street. It was so calm and silent, I could hear the traffic lights buzz and click as the colors turned, when I passed underneath.
Making my way past the heart of the town, I followed a path on the side of the road towards the foothills. I’m not sure if this is for people to exercise on or if it’s for people to snowmobile on when conditions are too harsh to drive. There are markers indicating each quarter mile, which make me believe it’s for exercising. But whatever it’s for, I run based on time not distance.
I went 30 minutes one way, up and down rolling hills and made my turn around. I guess I never noticed it because it was on my back, but as soon as I turned around a punishing wind ripped at my face. My senses went from dormant to heightened at the flip of a switch.
The beauty of the flakes diminished as each felt like it was chipping on any areas of exposed skin.
The headband I have, is versatile. Once it became apparent that the run back wasn’t going to be pleasant, I briefly stopped for a moment to mess with and reposition the head gear. I thought about unrolling it. Then you can put it over your head and pull it down to the neck, like a neck warmer. You can then grab the back and pull it over your head, to make it as a hood. And in that position, you can grab the front and pull it over your face to make it into a face mask.
But when I stopped, I felt that there was a frozen layer on the outside and I figured it would be sweat dampened on the inside. I decided to leave it as a headband because I could end up making the rest of the way home more miserable.
Occasionally I would hold a hand up to block the wind and frozen precipitation for any amount of relief. I was looking forward to retreating to my safe haven at the end of the run.
Walking in the door was welcomed and a deep respect and appreciation was born for Mother Nature.
The snow continued to fall until the early afternoon. And when night fell, the temps fell too.
Saturday I awoke to a windchill of -4. Planning ahead, I left for my run with the Headgator situated as the face mask.
Immediately, breathing became a challenge. My Georgia lungs haven’t fully adjusted to the elevation of 4,600 feet, where my runs begin. And now trying to breathe through synthetic material limited my oxygen. I pulled the face part down to my chin.
Every five minutes or so, I would become aware of how cold my face was and attempt to run with the front part pulled back over my nose. It would either slip down or the long up hills made me decide that getting the proper amount of air over warmth was more important.
As the run went on, one of my nostrils was about to completely freeze up. My face was just about immobile.
I found it comical thinking about all the extreme conditions people run in, undermining the power nature can inflict.
I was within a half mile from my place when I passed another runner. He said “we’re the crazy ones!” And he extended his fist for a friendly and encouraging fist bump.
I went straight to my bathroom mirror when I returned home. My nose was solid white. I first thought it was frost, but a second take on it, I realized it was the skin that was about as white as the porcelain sink.
I had no idea what to do or think. As I stared at myself in the mirror, my color slowly phased out the death and blood returned to normal circulation. It took about 5 minutes for it to look normal again.
Another run that was eye opening. Nature can be marvelous at one minute and life threatening the next. Not that I thought I was about to die. But the forces that can take shape by the natural world are nothing short of incredible.
What I need is a ski mask with the eyes and mouth cut out. That way I can still breathe and also have my nose and the rest of my face covered. The next few days I don’t think I will see temperatures in the double digits. I think one day the high is 0.
All this is a new experience for me. With that are new lessons and a stronger heart to succeed.