Yup, walking yesterday was one of those days when I can hear my father saying clearly, “JEEEEEZZZZZUUUUUSSSSSSS…cold enough to freeze the [indelicate term] off a brass monkey!”
Although the origin of this phrase is in dispute, I find it does convey a sense of bitter cold. And, yesterday, with wind speeds over 70 km/hour and the thermometer plummeting to -15 degrees Celsius, we faced one of our bitterest, most daunting, long walks of the season. Our training menu called for twenty-six kilometres. We all agreed that we would complete 26 kilometres or 3 hours, whichever came first. It wasn’t much of surprise that three hours and three minutes found me ordering a steamy latte.
Not only are these training walks getting long in distance, but the cold weather means that the preparation time for the walk is long. Twenty four hours prior to heading out, I need to be sure that all layers that might be called into service are laundered. These items are delicate – toss these babies in the dryer and I’ll have naked skin from my knees to my ankles and my elbows to my wrists. Laundry lead time for air drying is essential.
Then, there is the matter of eating. Food is fuel and it must be prepared now with the utmost attention to severe winter formulations. Twenty six kilometres is a long way and when the body is faced with a wind chill factor as low as -25C, that fuel has a bigger job than just keeping the legs moving. There is the life-saving, hypothermia-staving job of staying warm. Dinner can not be hamburger and fries. Breakfast can not be a bowl of Fruit Loops. Snacks can not consist of left-over candy canes. To be well fuelled, there is likely a trip to the grocer involved. And not to forget the negotiation time with family members as to why pasta will be on the menu every Saturday night for the next 11 weeks. Finally, be sure to set the alarm early enough to get the regular oats cooking on the stove. Like I said, Fruit Loops with cold milk is not going to get me out to my car much less 26 kilometres.
Now to get dressed. For reasons I have yet to understand, this takes 20 times as long as in the summer, even though simple math would suggest that since I am wearing only 3 or 4 times the layers it should take that multiple of time. There is definitely an exponential relationship going on here that, sadly, I do not have time to calculate because I am too busy walking, or preparing to walk. Perhaps, it’s all the shea butter that needs to be slathered on my face to protect from frost bite. Could it be because I always find myself missing one critical layer – the extra pair of gloves, the balaclava, or the goggles? Or, I could blame it on my watch. To my utter disbelief and frustration, I always bury my watch underneath four layers of shirts and jackets. Just when I think I am ready to leave, I go to look at my watch to see if, for once, I will meet my training partners on time. Every time I must go through contortions to extricate it without removing any layers, to put it on over my gloves.
Here’s the good news. I did make it to meet my training partners yesterday. (Yes, they did wait for me!) We completed the walk. (In three hours!) And, even though I know there are people who would say there are easier ways to get one, I discovered that -15Celsius is the perfect temperature for turning orange juice into an orange slushie. MMMMM- yummy.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and observations on winter walking. I’m assuming that despite complaints, we love the challenge and we LOVE being outside.