What not to wear.

I headed out on an afternoon (evening? nighttime?) easy distance run with Margot today, and was running a little late. I threw on a pair of tights (not sissy tights, CWX Stabilyx Insulator tights), my Vapor Dry hoody, and my Icebreaker hat. I wore my ol’ standby gloves (the nylon/poly/cotton el cheapo’s) and threw on my trail runners.

I couldn’t find my running jacket (that doubles as a garbage bag), so I grabbed my fleece vest and headed out the door. Brr. As soon as I stepped out of my apartment, I thought: “hmm. I should go grab another layer.”

But I didn’t. I was meeting Margot at 5:10pm, and I forgot to wear a watch to remind me. I ran down Huron Street toward Chutes and Ladders, where we were meeting up. She was running a little late, so I jogged back and forth in front of the park, and the uphill climb to MI26 warmed me up a little. I saw her rambling down the hill toward me and we took off eastbound.

The run was uneventful. My shoes had great traction, even though I could see the exposed ice in the middle of each lane. Traffic wasn’t too bad, although I almost got swiped by a Jeep and couldn’t see very well once the sun set and car lights were shining us head-on. My stomach got a little grumbly but we were going at an easy pace, so I didn’t complain. Margot warned me that her toes were a little chilly and she may have to turn back early if they didn’t warm up, but we kept motoring along.

Then it started to get colder. I should have known it would, because the sky wasn’t capped with clouds and the stars were shining bright. Stars = cold [as a side note: One of the things I love most about the Keweenaw is the lack of light pollution and the ability to see the Milky Way on any clear night]. Anyway, we rolled around the east side of town for a bit, through Daniel Heights and Portage/Mill Road. We talked about adventures, trips, fun future megatough stuff. Then it got a tinge colder, and my fingers started to feel the bite. Weirder still, my elbows got cold.

I could see frosty glimmers of Margot’s hair popping out from under her hat, and it looked like streaks of gray mixed with her dark brown hair. That was pretty cool. Little ice chunks started forming on our faces, and we struggled to hold an understandable conversation. I tried to warm up my fingers by hooking them into my shirt’s built-in “mittens”- and that actually helped. But the elbows… What do I do about the elbows?!

We chatted about a trip to the sauna, and lamented about how we can’t use the one at the SDC (our uni’s gym) for the next few weeks. We tried to think warm thoughts; she told me about her chocolate of the month club and I told her about coffee. We headed back towards West Houghton and I swear the temperature dropped even more. We went past the bank and it read 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Yikes! Time to get home.

The run ended and I climbed the stairs to my apartment as fast as anyone could with numb legs and frozen fingers.  I sat at my kitchen table until the frost dripped from my face and my elbows could make more than a 90 degree bend. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a better shower. Follow that up with some spaghetti and Trigger Point quadballing, and you’ve got yourself a great recovery. Now, I’m bundled up in a long sleeve shirt and jogging pants, and those fluffy soft slipper socks that are so completely impractical [except when you are not planning on leaving your apartment for the rest of the night].

Lessons I’ve learned today:

  • Just because you live and breathe the U.P., doesn’t mean you can go outside in the winter time with just a long sleeve and a vest on. Especially when its 16F when you start.
  • Don’t eat a bowl of pumpkin oats within half an hour of running for two hours.
  • You probably can get frostbite on your elbows. So don’t risk it!
  • El Cheapo gloves are not always the best for a cold evening run. Shoulda wore my snowboarding mittens!!!

Interesting Fact of the Day:

Sauna, pronounced “SOW nuh”, is a Finnish tradition of placing water on very hot rocks in a small, enclosed room to create a “steam room” (it can also be used sans water to make just a HOT room). Trust me, it is the best post-winter run/ski/snowshoe/outdoor activity treat you can have. I don’t like sweating a lot or being too hot, which is ironic because I LOVE being in a sauna.


About megankillian

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. I love biomechanics!

Posted on December 16, 2009, in In Training. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Sheesh! I went skiing at 6°F tonight and wore two pairs of socks, thermal top and bottoms, a sleeveless insulation layer, a Pearl Izumi half-zip, and a vest, and Toko gloves inside lobster mitts. And I still got pretty chilled. You must have sauna steam running in your veins.

    • ooh, did I mention my elbows were reallllly cold? Plus, I was only running, not moving as fast as you do on skis 😀 I wish I had my lobster mitts… I lost ’em! Time to get new ones!

  2. Hello Megan Killian, I found your blog through reading your review on Racevine for Columbus Marathon. I am a runner and origionally from Michigan (lower), so I was interested in reading about the cold and snow. Fun stuff, your cold adventure.

  3. All these people talking about how great saunas are (Lisa has one, too and my husband loves them). I’m not a fan but maybe I need to give them another go sometime.

    • Sorry I switched bloggers on you. I like this one better. Anyway! Maybe you haven’t had the “right” sauna. I remember hating them before because I’d feel like my skin wanted to peel off. but in da yoop, we make ’em HOT and HUMID!

  4. Holy CRAP, that’s COLD!

    I was skiing once when it was 2F, and had enough layers on to look like Santa. I can’t imagine doing any hard work, like running!

    Ditto on the sauna fondness!

    • That’s not even as cold as it gets here, but it was pretty darn cold nonetheless. 😀 I loooove snowboarding with lots of layers. It doesn’t hurt so bad when I fall (and I fall. a lot)

  5. Wow. Thanks for putting DC’s lil’ ol’ 33-degree cold nights in perspective! Also, I agree about the pumpkin oats. I’ve learned to sub banana for my pre-run breakfasts, even though I’d rather have the pumpkin. 🙂

  6. Congrats onthe webspace–looks great!

    I get asked al the time, what do you wear. But as a 1st year runner I never really know. Often I over dress. Last weeks run in polar fleece tights had frost foeming on my knees at 16 degrees. But I could not feel the frost under the tights. I guess my buttt had frost too! Someone made a comment 😉

    Do you have recommendations for Yak Trakx and such?

    • Thanks for the comment, Kim! I am glad you couldn’t feel the frost under your tights. That’s a good thing, right? Have you ever tried Swix ski pants? The ones for cross country skiing are great- the old school ones I wear (from 2002) have a different fabric around the knee.

      I personally don’t particularly like Yak Trax, but I have only ever used one kind before, and I know a lot of other people that use them with GREAT success! I am going to try the Stabilicers in the future, and will post a review of them on here. I haven’t got them yet, tho.

  7. Agree about the wonderfulness of a sauna after a winter outing. Often it is the only time I am truly warm in the coldest part of winter. Sam, come try out the sauna wildknits style! Can be dry or humid – your choice.

    As hard as it is to get out the door on the coldest days there is something to be said about generating enough heat on your own to cause frost to from on the outer layers of clothing – makes for cool pictures too. Bonus – some of the coldest days are the sunniest, which can be a blessing in an area with limited daylight in the winter.

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