Cafe de Desiree

November 7, 2011

Winter Running: It is Only the Beginning

Filed under: Athletics — desi83 @ 2:19 am

Running in the summer is intense because it is hot, obviously, and running makes one even hotter. I would walk outside on a hot August day in the afternoon with the sun blazing down on me, and all I wanted to do was return to my air conditioned haven. Yet, I ran anyway, anticipating the sweat, the heat that would burn my face to a deep red color, and the suffocating feeling that the hot, humid air would give me. I ran until it hurt, and I would keep running until my side began to feel like it was going to split open. Then, I would stop and catch my breath, apologize to Glen for slowing him down though he never seemed to mind, and delve into self-loathing until the pain seized. Then, I would get this second wind that made me feel like my lungs had actually grown a bit, and therefore could hold more air. I would get this energy surge that would power me that next mile, and I would feel that beautiful high that one gets as a runner, the reason one keeps doing it. Afterward, I would revel in the sweat dripping off of me, knowing that it was a sure sign of accomplishment, of pushing my body to the limit.
I have only been a runner since the beginning of last summer,as far as my adult life. I ran for a year in high school on the cross-country team, but that was a decade ago. So, I had forgotten what it feels like to run in the cold. Oh, how I miss the summer heat now. Winter running is so much worse. I start out running in a jacket with a long sleeve shirt underneath, and I’m wearing spandex pants instead of my usual running shorts. Glen is wearing his ridiculously tight Nike Pro shirt under his long sleeve teck shirt and pants. It is not quite winter yet, but it is the cusp of fall and winter, so temperatures are down into the forties in the evening. It is definitely too cold to comfortably be doing anything outside for a long amount of time if you ask me. We didn’t think to wear a hat or ear muffs. I mean, it wasn’t down to a freezing temperature yet, right? We didn’t even bother to do a warm-up walk this time. I actually jogged to the restroom first, and not because I was trying to get ready for the run. I was trying to stay warm. When I came out to meet Glen for the run, we started out running. My dog, Maggie, was more than happy to run with us, too. She even did her business before we got on the trail, much to the delight of Glen who is often interrupted by her doing it whenever she pleases along the trail. Just a few minutes into the run, I started to feel hot in my jacket. I wasn’t sweating, I was just uncomfortable; I felt suffocated in all of those clothes. So, I stripped off the jacket, which now that I think about it, was actually Glen’s jacket. I wasn’t even planning on wearing one, but as usual, he was more prepared than I was. I felt better after I shed the extra garment, and I appreciated the cool air. However, my chest began to tighten. It felt as if the cold air was freezing my lungs. I was trying so hard to breath through my nose, but it also began to feel frozen. Mucus built up in my nostrils, and I had also forgotten my handkerchief. Yes, I know, I forget a lot of things. I began breathing through my mouth, which always leads to cramps in my side. I felt the angry pain shoot through my side, threatening to debilitate me. I kept running, trying to fight the pain. It was now my mission to conquer it. However, my chest continued to feel tight, and I felt no air coming through my lungs. I thought for a moment that this first winter run was triggering the asthma that I thought I had long out-grown. “I’m sorry…I…need to…stop!” I barely uttered through gasps for air. Glen and Maggie stopped. “It’s okay, catch your breath, baby,” Glen replied. We walked for a few minutes while I breathed slowly, trying to catch my breath and prevent an asthma attack that I though for sure was coming. I could finally feel the air circulating in my lungs again, and my chest didn’t feel as tight. I was actually able to form complete sentences and have a conversation with Glen without feeling like I was going to pass out. “Okay, I think I am good to go,” I said. And with that, we continued to run. We ran for probably another mile when I had to stop for a second time because of the continuing tightening in my chest; however, we only paused for a few seconds. “This is the midpoint where we usually turn around,” he said. “Okay, let’s turn around and keep running,” I replied enthusiastically. We ran for what seemed like forever. The race we are now training for is not a 5K. It is a four and a half mile run, which is almost a mile and a half longer than our usual 5K race. So, I knew that we couldn’t keep jogging for ten minutes at a time like we have been doing the last few times we have trained. I ran through my tight chest, runny nose (which I kept wiping on my sleeve) and aching ears. We ran underneath the bridges, up the small hills, and finally reached the last hill. “Almost there, baby, just make up the hill!” he encouraged. My ears were throbbing. I was hearing everything around me as if I were under water. I grabbed my ears and moaned. “Keep your arms above your head,” Glen suggested. He thought it was my breathing that was bothering me. “No, it’s my ears,” I shouted. “I have to get that surgery soon, the ear tube surgery. It’s getting worse, and I don’t want it to ruin running for me. I am slowly losing my hearing because of this,” I complained. “I’m so sorry, I meant to bring that head band for you, and I forgot. Damn it,” he said, angry with himself. “It’s fine. I should’ve gotten one myself. I knew this would happen,” I replied, feeling guilty that he was feeling guilty. “Why haven’t you gotten the surgery?” he asked. I have been complaining about the constant popping, pain, and clogging of my ears for a long time, so of course it seems silly for me not to do anything about it. “I didn’t want to pay $700 for the surgery; that is out-of-pocket cost,” I answered. “That is it? $700 for surgery that could stop you from losing your hearing and from going through the pain? I think it would be worth it; you want it done right, I mean, it is your ears. If it was done incorrectly, you could lose your hearing,” he said, shocked at my silly reason for allowing my ears to continue to make me suffer. He is right. I love running, but as winter approaches, the ear aches are going to get even worse. So, it is time to buy some good ear protection and find a doctor to take away this annoying interruption to one of the few passions in my life that I actually have time to pursue.

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