I woke up this morning at 5:30 when the cat settled onto my shoulder, his black, fuzzy face just inches from mine.
I reached for my phone and pressed the weather app. 27 degrees (-3Celcius)! That's practically a heat wave considering that I ran on Tuesday morning and it was 7 degrees (-14Celcius).
The app warned that snow or freezing rain were forecast for 7 a.m.
By the time I got out of bed, dressed and was dancing in the kitchen to Pitbull's "Time of Our Lives" before I headed out the door, it was 6:30.
As I headed down the walk, I felt a few thick drops hit my face and my lashes. Snow or rain was starting, but the roads were clear, so I joyfully ran about a mile and a half before the snowy mix increased. Soon, my hair was dripping and my fleece jacket hung heavy on my shoulders, but still, I was sweating from the run.
I stopped inside a bus shelter and pulled my fleece off, tying it around my waist.
I headed back toward home, feeling the icy material sticking to my thighs.
The black asphalt was shiny in places and I wondered whether I might slip. But each step felt fairly secure.
Then about half a mile from home, I felt a foot slide before the other one found a secure anchor. I stopped running and slid my feet along the street. Yep, solid ice.
I headed for the sidewalk, figuring I'd walk the rest of the way home. But the sidewalks were even more slippery, and as soon as I started walking, I felt the wetness of my clothes on my skin, the temperature still hovering around 27. Without the body heat from running, I felt sure I would soon succumb to hypothermia.
This was one of the first times that I felt like I had truly put myself in danger: soaking wet, 27-degree temperatures with icy roads.
There was nothing to it but to continue running in the hopes of keeping my body temperature up and getting home sooner.
So I headed back to the road. I changed my running stride. Rather than a lope, I was nearly running in place, bouncing up on each step then landing just inches in front of where I'd left. I was afraid to stretch out, picturing me ending up in a split if my front foot slid.
As cars passed close by, I tried to remind myself that if I fell I should roll toward my shoulder, rather than landing on my nose, like I did in September 2013. I figured, if I hit my head, I could just try to roll to the side of the road then the school kids would be on their way soon and they'd find me before I froze to death. (Yes, strange thoughts go through my head when I'm running alone in the dark freezing rain.)
Finally, I made it home. As I had run, I had come up with a plan. I knew that I couldn't hop into a hot shower with my skin so cold. I've experienced that burning and itching before. But I couldn't stay in my wet clothes. Luckily, I don't work until the evening today, so when I got home, I stripped off all my clothes, hung them on the clothes hamper and climbed into bed under the covers.
I stayed there for at least half an hour, until the skin on my stomach and thighs didn't feel cold to the touch any more.
By the time I finished a hot shower and got dressed, I was nearly human again. Earl texted me from his walk to the bus, "It's dangerous."
I tried to tell him.
I love running, but I know I need to be more aware of my surroundings and the weather before I take off in the mornings to enjoy an unfettered run.
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