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by Jeff Wilkin

Type A To Z

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Cold Rush

I don’t complain much about cold weather.

I’d much rather deal with the ice, snow and wind of winter than manage the heat, humidity and bugs of summer.

Still — I prefer January, February and most of March indoors. I’m never far from my stacks of firewood and library books.

On Sunday, decided to take the air — as they used to say in the old days — and take a run around my Albany neighborhood. I’ve sort of been “training” for an upcoming road race in Green Island, and have been counting laps on the track at the YMCA in Guilderland.

I think you always get better exercise when you run with somebody. It means there’s always someone to keep up with ... one sets a pace, the other stays in step.

That’s what brought my old friend Mike Goodwin to the house. Old Goodwin, a former Gazette reporter who is now an editor at a Truly Unique newspaper in Albany, liked the nature challenge. Goodie has already run a marathon, and is now training for a half-marathon ... so four miles are not a personal peril for him. I can survive four miles, too, although my usual runs are just two or three miles.

Another running friend, Karen Roach, decided against the cold rush. She had other plans.

I was kind of wishing I had other plans when noon showed up. It was only about 20 degrees, and a whistling wind — wasn’t quite a howling wind — made it seem much colder. Old Goodwin showed up about 45 minutes later, ready for our 1 p.m. run for the roses — rose-colored cheeks.

I bundled up. First up and on was a pair of purple sweat pants that just can’t be worn in public. I won’t even wear them when nobody’s around, and as I’m a bachelor, nobody’s around quite a bit. They just make anyone look like a dope. Nobody would ever know about these fashion duds because I covered them with a more conservative pair of gray St. Bonaventure sweats.

Topside, a navy blue, long-sleeved thermal shirt covered my skin. Then a heavier gray thermal shirt covered the blue. A black Chicago White Sox sweatshirt covered them both.

One pair of socks, one pair of blue ski-style gloves and a tan wool hat with a wool snowball on top were final accessories. Whoops, almost forgot my sunglasses.

Goodwin wore more technologically advanced and enhanced fabrics, but my athletic glory days came during the 1970s — I still endorse cotton.

I wish I could have endorsed warmer weather, but at least the sun was out. Without the big lamp, now operating on “low” in the Northeast for the next couple months, I think it would have felt like 10 degrees outside.

We started to move at 1:15 p.m. and went out relatively slow. But we weren’t crawling along. We were running.

There was no ice or snow on the streets or sidewalks. Didn’t see any squirrels or crows, either.

One nice thing about this route of mine, there is very little traffic. Once you pass University Plaza on Western Avenue and turn into the University at Albany, there is zero traffic. Just nice, wide sidewalks that circle most of the campus.

But the wind and cold were annoyances. Even great athletes like myself and old Goodwin had to respect the elements; I needed a quick breather or two inside UAlbany. Both Mike and I agreed the cold air made the whole endeavor harder than it would have been during April or May.

We huffed, puffed and sort of froze. We made the distance in about 48 minutes, a laugher for real runners but OK for me. At 57, I can no longer run a quarter mile in 53 flat.

Goodie and I both considered the run a victory over the lords of winter. Mike confessed that had I proposed cutting the run short and turning around, he would not have protested. So while some guys sat by stacks of library books and burned firewood, we were burning calories. And feeling good about ourselves.

We should probably try this again soon. Sure wish I knew what other runners do to keep warm on the road in February.

Besides running faster, that is.

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