Going out cold

That’s what they always say, “go out cold.” It means not overdressing, but it’s really a moot point around here at this time of year.

Around now, we New Englanders chart our annual blood thickening process: in November, 40 degrees feels arctic but by February we’re running around in shorts when the mercury goes up that high. Early December can be tough, because our bodies are fighting the process, still remembering those hot summer days when the ocean’s 72 degree temps felt comfortably refreshing.

Mike and I dragged out the warm months as long as we could. In October we surprised ourselves by bodysurfing in Narragansett in just bathing suits, leaving the wetsuits in the car. I think I was the last to swim in his pond after a trail run in mid-October. Then on Veteran’s Day we were knee deep in the Atlantic, fishing and paddleboarding on the bayside of the Cape. We congratulated ourselves on how hardy we are, nobody else was near the water. Ha, how things change.

we bundled up for Borderland but still froze

we bundled up for Borderland but still froze

Yesterday’s hike at Borderland State Park was a different story. It was more than a little nippy. We were bundled up and trying to stick to the sunny paths for a little extra warmth as we trudged around the ponds. There were patches of snow on the ground that made it feel even colder, but the scenery was picture perfect. Amazingly, Mr. Warmblood was still cold when we got back to the car. This is the guy who hiked Mt. Hunger in a snowstorm without a shirt on (so he says, there were no witnesses). His is a severe case of Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, I believe (a syndrome of my own making, thank you). Another indication is that he talks constantly about our upcoming trips to warmer climates. I worry this psychological intransigence will interfere with his ability to physically adjust at all. God, I don’t want to start looking for the one other single guy who actually likes to snowshoe.

Easton-20121130-00049

But something changed for me today: I believe the chilly hike tweaked my inner thermostat and I woke up with thicker blood. When I saw the snow falling this morning something inside me urgently needed to go out and run around in it. As I got ready I wondered why it can be so difficult to get out on a borderline warm day but when I know it’s cold and raw I can’t wait to go. Maybe it’s the ambiguity of the layering process: a warm day can mean the irritation of taking off the windbreaker and trying to run with it tied around your waist, or the jarring interruption of your running rhythm when you’re trying to run with an open jacket slapping against your thighs.

Then there’s the baseball cap vs knit hat conundrum. I hate carrying stuff that I’ve decided is too uncomfortable to wear. Maybe the problem is not the temperature at all, it’s that there are too many decisions to make.

When it’s winter I know just how to dress, and know I won’t need to peel off layers or run too hot. The windbreaker on the outside is my secret weapon, I know it will keep me warm despite the thin layers of polypro under it. Running tights are much warmer than you’d think, and they don’t bother me by slipping or twisting around my ankles. (And yes, Tim, I for one wouldn’t mind if men adopted them in greater numbers. For reasons of comfort and performance, of course.) Gloves are a must.

So, it happened: I am no longer dreading cold days. I’ve got my new area to explore by bike, board and foot, and I’m gonna be out there, cold be damned.

PS: The one thing that still left me cold today was the music. It would be nice if Pandora would cooperate and not cut out or change the station unexpectedly from hammering U2 to groovy date night R&B when I really need a push to finish the beach leg in soft sand. Kthnxbye.

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