"You're gonna have a fun run today" my brother muttered to me as we walked in the freezing cold from the bus stop to our classes in the Mathematics building. I grunted back. I wasn't looking forward too it. It was -16 outdoors, without the wind chill factor added in. And man was that wind blowing. The coldest day that year, and probably the coldest for a few years given the relatively warm winters we had gotten used to. "I forgot a neckwarmer too" I spoke through my chilled lips to my brother as we reached our destination. "Here lets trade, your scarf for my neckwarmer" he replied. I accepted. Little did I know at the time that it was probably the best trade of my life to date so far.
As the class I was attending ran its course, I mentally prepared myself for the run to come. It's going to be cold I told myself. I wasn't going to lie to make it any better. It's gonna be bloody cold. I tried to compare this upcoming run with ones I had done previously. Only one came to mind. That cold dark Thursday tempo along Lake Ontario, which had me taking my hat off to put between my legs for protection against the wind howling off the lake. It was a tradeoff I'd make again. This run couldn't possible be as bad as that I thought. Not even close.
I made my way to the lockers from class, grim faced as I watched people walk backwards just so they wouldn't have to face the wind. I toyed with the thought of running on the treadmill. But no, I had brought tights, I would get hot too fast and the next thing I know I would be swimming in my own sweat. No way out now. I get to the change room and start getting dressed. As I look around I see people staring. Not the casual glance, full on stares. That's how cold it is. One person even asks "Are you going out in that?" as he points to outside. I nod. "Good luck" he adds. I'll need it I thought.
I head to the exit and just keep on going. As soon as I touched that door I started an all out sprint. The faster I go I thought the quicker I'll warm up. For the first few seconds I didn't feel anything. Sorta like when you just wake up in the morning and don't remember all that you have to do for the first few moments. It was wonderful. Then bam. It's cold. My bones hurt. I keep on running and make it to the cross-walk. My plan was to do loop around the park north of the school and head back, maybe even add a little jaunt up north a bit farther. The walk signal appears and once again I'm off. The general rule for when I get fairly warm during a run is around 8-10 minutes. I keep that in mind when cross a roundabout. Just a few more minutes and this might get better.
Around the seven minute mark is when things got bad. I had just cleared the small industrial area north of campus and was making my way around the top of the park. Had I planned I would have realized that the north end of the park is bare. No trees, no building whatsoever. Pure farmland. As I passed that last building the wind tore at me like a piece of cloth in the wind. I was literally pushed to my right by the gusts of billowing snow that came like a constant onslaught of enemy cavalry. I kept on running though. Damn the weather I thought. I'm going to finish my run.
By the time I had turned the corner at the north-east end of the park the wind had caused my eyes to tear up. As I continued to run the sides of my eyes and eyelashes froze to bottom of my eyes, causing an uncomfortable feeling and limited visibility. I started to laugh. This was fun. I was hurting from the cold from head to toe but it was an experience. Up until this pointed I had muddle with the possibility of extending the run. As I looked down at my threadbare and holey glove, there was no doubt in my mind that I wasn't going for a long run today. Not even me, the one who constantly runs on injuries, the stubborn naysayer, was going to say anything about this.It was just too cold.
I made my way around the north-west corner and saw the subdivision of houses I had been dreaming of in my mind only two kilometers away. Just like you dream of a glass of ice cold water after a run on a hot day I dreamed of a bunch of non-descript house offering me protection from this foolishness. As I got closer the wind picked up as if saying "don't think your getting away that easily". My fingers got tingly, and then stopped getting tingling altogether. Uh oh I thought. I began using my gloves as mitts. Just 200 meters to go. As I slowed down before an impending cross light the warmth came over me. After what I had just faced it felt as if I was sun tanning on a beach. No exaggeration. I felt I could strip down naked and still feel warm.
As I logged the few kilometers left in the run my groin began it's usual aggravated nagging. It didn't matter though. I had done it. I had beat the weather. I had ran outdoors. And man was it better than the treadmill.
I came back to the change room. More stares. The same stairs of awe, but now not in the sense, am I witnessing the largest knucklehead ever. I got undressed and went to shower off. I turn on the shower and nothing but a loud screech and brown liquid come out. More people enter the shower room. They try other showers. Same thing. We mill around like sheep until someone stumbles upon the solution. Only the cold water works.