I’ve done a lot of stupid things, but moving from Guam, a tropical island to Corvallis, Oregon in January–the dead of winter–2011, definitely ranks near the top of the list. To put this in context, I hadn’t felt temps cooler than 80 F since I was 7 years old. But I decided to move to Oregon (I promptly bought a winter coat once I arrived) and also continue my morning running routine, which I had established after graduating high school in the summer of 2010. Prior to that, I would run up to 20 miles at 3pm after school, during the hottest part of the day.
I arrived in Corvallis to attend Oregon State University, and having signed up for an 8am class, I decided that running would need to take place at 6am…in the dark, and cold! This isn’t news to me now, but believe me I had no clue what I was doing three years ago! Somehow I managed not to die that first winter, though I stubbornly trained through snowy, slushy, and icy roads.
Runners are known to the public as a crazy bunch, especially long distance runners (i.e. marathoners). And I do nothing to challenge that stereotype!
This winter marks my fourth winter running experience, and I face a new challenge. I have registered to run the Asics LA Marathon on March 15, and I have a time goal of 2:43. This means that I need to train hard all winter long…no hibernating for me! Here’s my predicament: I HATE THE COLD!!! It is literally my kryptonite! Last winter I came down with chillblains in my fingers. Yes, I was wearing gloves, with handwarmers tucked inside each glove, with each glove buried inside my jacket sleeves and my fingers still swelled up in icy protest!
Today was the first really cold day of the season, it was only about 30F but the crazy wind made it feel like 20F! On my run this morning I layered up, but not enough! Thankfully I only had a 30 minute 4 miler planned, and I could not run fast enough! By the time I got back inside my fingers were frozen to the bone and I could not feel my face. I have another run planned for tonight and I am definitely wearing my lower face mask, thicker gloves, and maybe 2 jackets this time!
My fingers are already not happy with me this year. The pinkie on my right hand gets especially swollen and angry with chillblains, a leftover from last winter. There’s not a whole lot I can do for it except to try to keep my hands warm.
Chillblains can affect the toes, fingers, nose, and earlobes, any place sensitive to the cold that does not receive adequate blood flow. The blood vessels constrict with the cold and if the affected areas warm up again too quickly the dilation of the blood vessels occurs so rapidly that fluid leaks out of the vessels and the area becomes inflamed, itchy and red. These symptoms don’t go away, they persist as long as the area is repeatedly exposed to periods of intense cold followed by heat.
So basically, my finger will be swollen all winter 😦 It ranges from annoying to actually painful. The swelling affects the joints in my fingers and makes certain tasks hard to do, like completely curling my fingers. I’ve got a new heavy duty pair of gloves to try this year, and I ordered a 40 pair value pack of Hot Hands Handwarmers from Amazon this morning, so hopefully I will be set to conquer the cold this week!
The weather forecast for tomorrow is a “wintry mix”, whatever that means…but I’ve heard rumors of snow…this is especially troubling because I have a 6 mile hard tempo run planned for 6:30am. So I am either going to die, or my coach and I will need to have a change of plans. Honestly, on days like today I am just happy I willed myself out the door.
*Update! I wrote this before my second run of the day, and now that I have met with my coach and ran 7 more miles we have decided to call tomorrow’s workout off and instead I’ll just do a regular run. We will resume training as usual with my next workout on Sunday!
Repeat after me: This will only make you stronger. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
If any of you fellow runners have suggestions for battling the cold, please let me know! I’m still learning after living on an island all my life! (Sorry, the treadmill “dreadmill” is not an option to me.)