There is no escape. Any direction you run only changes the location of the pain. And you were so careful! You mapped out every weakness, reinforced it, and then reinforced it again. Alas, no matter how meticulous your plan, the biting winter wind never fails to find a way in.
And your hands — your poor hands! No matter what combination of gloves, mittens, and hand warmers you use, somehow you always end up feeling as if a thousand miniature icicles are being inserted into your fingers. It is your traitorous heart who has let you down. Like Tom Hanks watching a wounded Vin Diesel in Saving Private Ryan, your heart has left your hands in the cold, without support, to perish. But your heart, like Tom Hanks, knows that the sacrifice is necessary. All you can do is watch as your hands freeze slowly before your eyes.
You begin to weep. But it is not for your lost hands that you expel instantly frozen tears. No, it is the cursed wind again, pulling the moisture from your eyes as it attempts to rob your body of everything it can steal. Snot bubbles up from your nostrils like some grotesque, upside-down volcano, and as you raise a clawed hand to expel the foul accumulation, the dastardly wind strikes again — this time altering your snot rocket’s trajectory across your cheek and onto you chest. Now smeared with the unsightly goo, you draw a gelid glove across your face in an attempt wipe away your shame, only to fine find that your face has gone completely numb. In fact, the only areas on your head that still have functioning nerves are your ears, which are screaming in pinched agony.
This, this broken and wretched state, must be misery. So why, in the name of Alberto Salazar’s remaining eight lives, are you smiling?
Perhaps it’s the way that the chill invigorates your mental processes. Like a wave that holds you under water, the cold yanks you from the fugue state of your daily routine and forces your body to fight for survival. You feel alert, aggressive, ready to spit directly into the face of adversity. And while your tendons were begging for mercy at the onset of your run, they have quieted as you stride steadily through the deafening silence of the world around you. Not a single soul stirs in the faint, hopeful glow of daybreak, and as the morning sun rises, the warmth in your core recognizes it as a kindred spirit. Yes, your smile may be as demented as that of a gargoyle due to the frozen muscles in your face, but the joy behind it is genuine.
Winter has it all: bracing air, the impossibility of overheating, the transfixing tranquility of a frozen morning, and the desolate beauty of unpopulated running routes. Winter is here*, and winter running is the BEST!
*Mandatory mention of the fact that the applicability of this post is entirely dependent upon the hemisphere in which one resides.
Will has been running competitively since high school, and is currently running with the HOKA Aggies, a post-collegiate club here on the central coast of California. With a preference for the humorous and the verbose, he enjoys playing the wordsmith almost as much as his daily runs.