I love to run outside. I am not a running fiend. I have never run a marathon and generally I eschew running outside in the winter like the plague. It's cold. And dark. And, well, cold!
Last night, I got home at the unheard-of early hour of 6 p.m. The idea of walking an hour to get to the gym was more daunting than braving the outdoors. The outdoors also cooperated. The temperature was about -10 to -15 in the evening (unusually warm), there was little to no wind, and I happened to know that it was going to be a lot colder the rest of the week. So, I made an educated guess at how many layers I needed and set out, hoping I would not get too cold.
The biggest challenge was getting used to the cold air. My nose got pretty cold. My lungs got a little sore as I ran uphill. What I imagined to be the greatest challenge, however, the slippery ground, didn't turn out to be at all. Trail runners and careful footing kept me on track.
At one point, I needed to stop and do some jumping jacks. I just wanted to warm up a bit without breathing too hard. A woman walking home saw me and thought something very different. I noticed her staring at me, so I stopped.
She asked, "is there a polar bear?"
I imagined what she must have seen from her point of view: a woman running from a side street, crossing the road, running a little, then stopping, turning and jumping up and down while waving her arms. Oops.
"No, no," I assured her, "I'm just exercising."
"Oh," she seemed relieved and took her daughter by the hand and kept going. I ran on, hoping that in fact there was no stray bear roaming town looking for delicious human running snacks.