|From Author’s Corner > Conrad’s Corner
|1993 Zero Degree Windchill Factor Another Good Winter Run
It’s a cold winter day. The wind is swirling snow flurries past your window. You’ve
accepted the fact that you’ll be stuck inside all day sipping tea, watching
the fire—or to be less romantic, the inane TV—wishing you were someplace warm
in the Caribbean or the Florida Keys….
You need some exercise. You know it. It’s your day off…
For me and many of my sister and brother runners this could be a great opportunity for adventure: To take an invigorating winter run! Shivering villagers look at you, shocked that you are trotting along wearing just sweatshirt and sweatpants, plus a wool hat, while they stiffly shuffle along like robot snowmen and snowwomen in their bulky overcoats and sweaters, barely able to breathe between the cutting arctic gusts.
You’re chilly at first, possibly unsure yourself if you should have gamely clomped out the door to challenge the elements. Lots of people might think you are crazy, especially the un-athletic, the conquered-by-convention, driving their cars, amazed that you’re even ‘outside,’ subconsciously jealous that you might be having healthy fun, consciously thinking that you are nuts, that you’re going to freeze to death.
But you’ve done this before, or you’ve read this story in USA Today, and your confidence builds as you run a couple of miles, 10-20 minutes. The circulation to your skin, heart, lungs and brain has you feeling ever steadily warmer and warmer. Might you possibly be removing your gloves soon, or at least one of them?
You’ve played it smart, running through sheltered areas to start your journey, minimizing exposure to high breeze zones where icy north east gales whip off white capped water, penetrating through your clothes. You’ve Vaselined (or ‘vegelatumed’) your face, especially your nose; everything is covered. Down below you’ve got a third line of defense to save the family jewels from frostbite. You’re definitely prepared.
You’ve stretched well—but you might still get a cramp, or pull a muscle. So there’s a quarter in your pocket or wrapped up in your folded over top of a sock, just in case, to make an emergency phone call.
The run that inspired me to write this had me wearing a short sleeve marathon t-shirt under a Philadelphia Eagle sweatshirt, boxer shorts under heavy white sweatpants, plus the above mentioned Vaseline, hat, gloves, etc. No coat, no face masks. Temperature 30 degrees F., winds max 35 mph out of the northeast, wind chill factor-temperature 0 degrees F.
I had travelled a different route than I had ever taken before, passing out of town, on a two lane county road between the tall endless trees as I watched the houses go by …. I decided to run up toward the bay on one of the upcoming roads. Was the bay indeed there? I wondered. How far would I have to go?
I reflected back on my youthful days growing up in a beach town when summer prevented me and my friends from going down unknown roads. Dogs might be there, summer people were in every bungalow, it was private property… But in wintertime, no one was stirring about, the entire territory was empty! We could play where we wished, climb onto porches and roofs, jump into the sand or snow from scary heights…..
One game I loved we called ‘Arrows’. Two of us would go off, having to draw an arrow with chalk or crayon at every reasonable turn. A horde of ten or twenty would be trying to find us after allowing us five or ten minutes’ head start. One of us would make a false trail, to meet the other at a designated spot, perhaps on the second story porch of an abandoned beachfront hotel. We could observe the stalking cloud-breathing packs coming at us from blocks away, half getting lost on our phony trail. We’d have to run like bandits when they approached too close…
Like I was running now, spying the brown county park type sign. This would be safe, I told myself, and the prospect of a vicious dog snarling, teeth bared, barreling at me, would not be that likely. Though deer hunters might be hiding behind weaved weed and branch bunkers, waiting, watching…!…
There was a golf course ahead. It reminded me of the nine hole one on the west side of
I saw the clubhouse with four pick-up trucks parked around it. No one was on the course beside me, naturally. I kept my peripheral gaze wide, not wanting to get shot. What could those guys be doing? I wondered. Telling tales and drinking beer by the fire? Or were they perched somewhere with their shotguns?….I could imagine a bullet silently sizzling into me, not believing I’d been hit, it striking a vital organ…
I could vaguely see the bay through the leafless woods. A few trails dead ended before I finally found one that led me to marsh and then sandy shore.
Here the wind was moist, blowing its coldest, raising whitecaps across the gray green water bordered by beach that swept around back to what had to be the north end of town. More houses were concentrated there. Two rock jetties ran across the harbor, leaving perhaps one hundred yards for vessels to pass between them. Away far across the expanse of salty horizon towered a gigantic boat’s bow…
I could make it along the sand, I perceived. Then I wasn’t certain if I could. But I didn’t want to retread the route I’d just travelled. It‘d be more magical to keep going, take the new never seen way, rather than run back to give those imaginary(?) intoxicated hunters a second chance at me.
I’d just run and see what happened, my feet propelled me. Then I saw a point where tiny waves wrapped around its outermost shallowness. As a surfer I could picture possible rideable waves, yet knew it was a one in a million chance only—maybe during some kind of freak storm.
Unfortunately, I also perceived that around this sandy point was actually an inlet, with marsh water rushing out. And I couldn’t cross it with a mere jump, I gathered, as I ran along its bank. But I didn’t want to turn around.
The caribou of the Alaskan Arctic National Refuge came to me as I began realizing I would have to take my sneakers off to continue my journey. The water was perhaps 38 – 40 F. 165,000 caribou ran across such icy waters, I told myself, migrating hundreds of miles to produce their calves on the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain—one of the last places in
I was a caribou today. My hooves, and hairy legs, would splash through the Arctic waters. I would understand what it was it like to be an animal unaffected by Man’s transgressions. George Bush and his oil industry cronies were my enemy. The U.S. Dept. of Energy didn’t care about me or the muskox, the grizzly or the snow goose that had lived here near-eternally. They needed that mere 200 days’ worth of oil for the lumpy grumpy traffic jam mopers and gas guzzlers, while I and my offspring, and future generations of caribou, might die, might thin out.
I took off my sneakers and socks, pulled my sweatpants above my knees—runners and swimmers and other athletes often have to do things like this, gaining inspiration from whatever can push them forward so they can disciplinedly accomplish their goals, move on to the next level…
My feet rapidly warmed. My gloves were not too wet, nor were my pants too soaked to adversely affect. me. The latter were heavier, I noticed. But I was back in the groove, getting warmer all right, even with the treacherous breeze, looking at the houses on the cliffs, reaching the breakwaters, deciding to run through a vacant lot into a tiny street I’d never before stepped upon.
Several people nodded at me in a friendly manner as I ran through town.
By the time I reached home I was sweaty, relaxed, yet enthusiastically invigorated, full of the fresh air that had flushed out my lungs from the outside, assisted by the accelerated circulation through them caused by my efficient heartbeat and many many runs including today’s.
It was a cold winter afternoon, but I was satisfied, not restless, now. I felt like an unlimitable mountain climber or skier as I did my cool down stretches. Soon I would be in the shower, continuing to envision the new places and paths I had taken, life’s mystery growing, the freezing weather outside hardly restricting my vistas and dreams, the plight of the Arctic National Refuge’s caribou mine to fight those merchants of greed as I crossed and re-crossed that inlet barelegged in my optimistic mind again and again, that episode the heart I emotionally embraced of my nine mile, hour and a half run challenging winter’s bitter elements.
Copyright 1993 Conrad Miller M.D.
This could precede the previously posted article that included another winter run from this very winter of 2007-2008….
22 January 2008
Winter Running, Huckabee Funds Running Out, John Hanson
Welcome to 2008, Dear Readers, I hope this
There are many seconds in a day, and many minutes.
Winter running, if I may focus on one very
Today, it was the ice on the water in the bay, Shinnecock Bay.
Last time this fella had set up some decoys, that I didn’t notice at first
Around the corner a couple of miles away, I came on one solo duck swimming out
When I reached the canal and ran along it, the sun had gone down, but it was still
The shells on the northside were thinner, whiter, not robust and colorful. Different species
Winter running. Feeling very strong. And blessed to be able to chug through this cold,
More to come. Other things seen with other runs on the same route. On previous runs.
And goodbye to Bobby Fischer. A genius, who went over the deep end. Heard his
And, I finally saw ‘The Illusionist’ in DVD form, wherefrom, after you watch the movie
As for the politics at the beginning of the primary season
Back in 1781, during his one year term, these things
Vote count in Iowa, for Obama would be 90,000 to 30,000 for Huckabee,
What can you extrapolate from this?
Footnote on Huckabee: they say his funds are running out somewhere
Enjoy the winter.
C Jan 22 2008 Conrad Miller MD