Monday, January 18, 2010

Amok in the Muck

Yesterday morning, I had what they call "frostnip," if not a very mild case of "frostbite" on some of my fingers.

The East Nasties, my group of running peoples (and oh so much more) had their third Sunday morning training run for the Country Music 1/2 marathon yesterday morning. I wouldn't say that the weather has been uncooperative for our runs lately, but it has certainly made for interesting running conditions, to say the least.

The first two of these runs were unseasonably cold for Nashville, TN - about 15-17°F - cold enough, in fact, that the moisture from my breath froze into "beard-cicles." (I've included a picture of myself and my buddy Hunter...his sideburn-cicle's pretty amazing) Well, true to form for 2010 so far, yesterday's conditions were no exception. Let me set the scene:

The first few runs of our training are done in the luxurious land of Shelby Bottoms park in East Nashville, which is a protected area of natural wetlands. The temperature has just recently risen above freezing and we've had rain for the last couple of days. This makes for standing water on the paved trails, and grass/unpaved trails that are completely submerged underwater. The temperature was about 45°F and it was raining when we ran yesterday.

Shelby Bottoms has a great greenway that connects to other greenway could literally run for miles and hours. I spent the first 7 miles running with my friend Julie on the more civilized parts of the greenway, but on our return voyage, my adventurism got the best of me and "the wild" called. I bid Julie farewell and disappeared into the nastiest trail I know of in did not disappoint. I ran most of the next 3.5 miles in ankle-deep to calf-deep 40°F water (no exaggeration), plotting the wettest return route I could think of, and it was simply EXHILARATING!

It was so fun that I actually ran that part faster than the greenway part. It was so fun that I miscalculated my time and ended up running 90 minutes instead of 80...10.5 miles. When I finally emerged from the wilderness back into the mundane and stopped running, I realized that I quite literally couldn't move my hands. A 45°F-run isn't normally cold enough to freeze my digits, so I neglected my gloves. I hadn't accounted, however, for the cold rain and the icy swamp water I was bounding through.

My heat doesn't work in my car right now, but getting all of my wet clothing off REALLY helped. It's very difficult to untie your shoes, however, when you can't move/feel your fingers. That was the only bad part...I was helpless, irrational, freezing and very frustrated because I couldn't get those blasted shoes off and thus, was stuck in my wet shorts for a time. It took some time, some DEEP breaths, and a lot of focus, but I eventually got them off.

My hands went through the painful thawing process: warming up, burning, extremely sensitive, etc. After 25 minutes or so, the temperature had risen in them, but to my surprise I still could not feel my thumbs, index or middle fingers, and the color wasn't returning to them...I began to get a little worried. Thankfully after about 45 minutes (and oddly instantaneously), I regained feeling in them (perhaps by some magic in the Cracker Barrel coffee), but they definitely gave me a pretty good scare. Wowsers.

Anyway, I wanted to remember this, so I blogged about it. For some reason, I still don't feel quite right calling myself a "runner." I'm more comfortable calling myself a guy who runs. But I do feel that a run like this may be enough to earn me the title, "runner," or maybe "idiot."

Adventures to you on this Monday.

Let's also DEFINITELY take a moment to ponder the life of one of the greatest human beings to ever walk this earth...Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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