Monday, December 15, 2008

First Run in Iowa

Well, I attempted my first winter run in  Iowa  today. 

You can't run outside in Iowa in the winter. 

Any Mid-Westerners reading this are thinking, "Duh!" But I wanted to give it a try. Just for the experience. 
God tried to send me a couple messages to tell me it was a bad idea. First, when I opened the door to go out side, I couldn't see through the glass of the storm door. It was covered with a quarter inch of frost.... ON THE INSIDE. Second, as I drove to my starting point I didn't see a single soul outside. Not one. Barren. But I wanted to see if I could run. (Who do I think I am? An Artic explorer?) 

Growing up in Iowa I knew the key to being outside for more than the time takes to run from the  car into the store, or workplace or any where else you have to go outside of your house, is to be sure there is no skin exposure. None. Any exposed skin will be damaged in a short amount of time. 

So I was completely covered. Long leggings, wool socks with the leggings tucked into the, two layers of gloves (the outer layer being ski gloves), three layers on my head, sweat band around my ears, ear warmers and a stocking cap. Then I had a neoprene face mask that covered every inch of my face below my eyes. It has slits for my nose and a series of holes for my mouth. My forehead was completely covered with the aforementioned ear and head layers leaving just my eyes which I protected with my favorite pair of Oakley sunglasses. 

The sun is very bright in Iowa and it reflects off the snow and ice. So you definately need sunglasses even in the middle of winter.

So I turned on my Nike+ band so I could track my distance and I set my i-pod on my running playlist while I was still sitting in the car. It's very hard to do those simple tasks with ski gloves on and I was not about to go about my preparations out in the elements. I would leave that solely to the time running. 

So I was finally ready and I got out of the car and started running. 

It was invigorating! For the first 60 seconds. That's all the time it took for the frigid cold to seep through my layers and hit my skin. Ten seconds after that, it was reaching my bones! I aimed to finish a short loop in the sports complex where I chose to run. But as I kept running I kept recalculating a smaller and smaller looped route because it was obvious I was not going to finish my usual distance! 

At one point my legs felt frozen through. I couldn't feel my muscles flexing or even any fat jiggling. I felt like the liquid metal morhping guy from Terminator 3 when he was freeze dried. I was afraid that if I slipped and fell on the ice, I would shatter into a hundred pieces just like he did. Only there was no heat source to melt me back down so my pieces could find themselves and reconstruct. I was careful not to slip. 

Another interesting phenominon was that my favorite Oakleys were freezing and the bridge of my nose where the glasses were touching my face, was aching with cold. So I had to pull the glasses forward and off my face. I had the bows of the glasses stuck between the many layers of my ear coverings. So the glasses were able to stick out at a straight angle so I could see through them while they blocked the wind and stayed off my face. 

As I turned back toward the car, the wind hit me straight on and in full force. Unfortunately, I had my easy piece of the run behind me. I had to run hundreds of yards into an icy headwind before I reached the safety of the car.

About half way to the car, there was a dumpster that I took shelter behind for a few seconds so I could get a little break from the freezing wind. It was not much of a break. But it was enough to fill my lungs back up as my breathing was feeling more and more shallow as I went. 

I came out from behind of my little shelter and the wind was just as bad. So I tried to put my head down and run in the direction of the car. Tough to run without looking where you're going. 

Another challenge at this point was I was feeling like I wasn't moving any air through my lungs. Even though I was gulping deeply I didn't feel like I was breathing. I concluded that my brocules had frozen and were no longer working. I looked up and could see the car still 50 yards away. I knew I was going to pass out from my mild suffocation, lay there on the field unseen until I froze to death only a few feet away from the car. 

"What a shame," I thought. 

Since I was losing my breath I wanted to walk the rest of way. But I wasn't sure I could last out there during the extra time walking would take. So I kept running. I spent a few more unpleasant minutes out in the piercing wind but made it to the car!

Once I was safely inside, I check my Nike+ band. I had run for 9 minutes 20 seconds, covered .71 miles. Not stellar. But my pace was pretty good. Must have been that last desperate 'sprint' to the car. :)

When I returned to my parents house, Dad asked me how cold it felt out there. I said, "About 1."

I will be doing the remaining runs while out here in Iowa on the treadmill. Painfully boring perhaps, but a lot less painful!

By the way, once I had thawed enough, my dad and I checked the weather. The windchill factor was -20 degrees with a temperature of.....1.

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