The fog was particularly bad on my run this morning. I think "soupy" is the adjective you're required to use. Before I left the house, I noted the temperature: 46 degrees. I wore a long-sleeved T-shirt and shorts. Sure, it was a tad damp, due to the fog, but really quite tolerable.
All of which led me to this conclusion: We Northern California runners are damn lucky bastards.
I mean, it's January and I'm wearing shorts and one layer. Sure, those SoCal wimps might think it's cold, but they don't know cold. In fact, we in NorCal don't know cold, either.
Cold is the rest of the country. (Strawberries are freezing now in Florida.) I came to this pretty obvious epiphany last night. The new issue of Runner's World magazine was in the mail, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading scores of stories about winter running in the snow and frigid temperatures, what to do and wear and what to avoid. You might think it'd be boring, because none of it relates to a Californian. But, like Proust's madeleines, the photos of runners trudging through the snow sparked my memories and took me back to the past.
The winters of 1991-93, to be exact.
I was living in Ithaca, N.Y., where the town motto is "Brrr." In Ithaca (see photo above), winter there lasts, oh, maybe nine months. Then there's a day of spring, followed by three months of humid summers.
I made it a point to run outside no matter the conditions. It was my way of not giving in to the elements. I recall one day, it may have been minus-4 or something, when just breathing in the air was painful. I would wear three or four layers (wicking material was still in its early stages back then) and two pairs of gloves. I also looked like some sort of criminal, because I wore a black ski mask that covered my entire face, save eye and mouth holes. My wife called it a "head condom."
Running in Ithaca was tough under ideal conditions because it's hilly, really hilly. Add snow and ice, and it becomes precarious. One day, I recall, I wasn't vigilant enough watching where my footfalls were landing and I slipped on black ice. My legs-- whoosh -- went right out underneath me and I fell directly on my tailbone. I slid about 10 feet on the sidewalk. Part of the problem was that I wore regular running shoes. Had I known better, I would've donned spiky trail shoes for better traction.
But, hey, those days are gone now. Thank goodness.
I can handle a little fog.
The wind? Yeah, I still curse the wind when it blows through Davis and rural Yolo County. But I keep plugging away, repeating this mantra: "It's not Ithaca-cold."