I am not a jogger.
I don’t do 5k runs. I don’t have one of those Garmin things, whatever those things are. I don’t dream of running a marathon. Actually, I did dream of running a marathon once: I woke up in a cold sweat and had to get a glass of water to calm my nerves.
There have been periods in my life when I actually was a Running Person, when I did feel the need to cross long distances moving my legs at a faster rate than they would be going if I were walking. Sometimes, putting on sneakers and taking off has struck me as a thing — even the thing — to do.
For example, one of the best memories I have of my relationship with my ex-husband was the day we ran from our apartment in Edgewater all the way to Navy Pier … and back. It was 15 miles! And we just did it. Neither of us were regular joggers. But we were in love and we felt like it and we could. Marvelous. It was less marvelous when my big toenail turned black — and I didn’t run much for the rest of the year — but I’ll never forget that and how good it felt, start to finish.
And before that, back when I was a waitress at an Uptown brunch joint, I would wake up at 5 a.m. and go jogging before I had to clock in two hours later for the truly insane Saturday shift. That is fairly remarkable, but then, I was 23 years old. What else did I have to do, really?
After some years of zero jogs, I have been going out and getting a few. I’ve been gathering jogs, you could say. And what do you know? Jogging feels really good. I’m diggin’ it. I’m almost — not totally, but almost — looking forward to doing it tomorrow morning.
“Oh, Mary,” you chuckle, and tenderly pat my hand. “You’re so sweet. You mean that you liked jogging a few months ago and you were too busy to tell us about it so you’re telling us now.”
“No,” I say, but I let you pat me because I have never refused a tender pat. “No, I mean I’ve been jogging lately. Like, now, lately.”
You look at me and I think for a moment I have managed to put an exploded pen in my mouth or something.
“Mary,” you say slowly, “it’s winter. It was nine degrees in Chicago today.”
Yeah, I know, I know. But the thing about me and jogging is that doing it in the winter is when I like to do it. Jogging in the heat, under the glare of the sun, dodging a zillion people who do not think it necessary to wear clothes that cover large parts of their bodies? No bueno. Winter jogging is where it’s at, my sisters.
Everyone’s first fear is that you’ll freeze out there or worse, that you’ll sweat and freeze, and that does sound pretty awful. But with the proper clothing, you’re fine. You need leggings, an undershirt, and a pullover. You need a hat, gloves, and a neck-thingy. And your shoes and socks. Why, in that getup, you’re downright toasty! And everything “wicks” now. All your winter running gear is going to “wick” moisture, so you won’t be cold or wet, I promise. You’ll just be a big wick.
Of course, one of the major benefits of winter jogging is that you’ve got the world to yourself. Most joggers are on treadmills this time of year, which means you’ve got wide open spaces to explore and all the trails and bike lanes are your private roads. Nice. And you’re out there, out in the clear, bright white world. The air is crystal clear. The sun glints off the snow/lake/rooftops and then you blow your nose on your sleeve and no one sees. I’m telling you, it’s terrific.
I’m not getting kookoo bananas with this “jogging” thing; going out a few times a week feels about right. It doesn’t mean I’m leaping out of bed to go out there, though; not at all. Some days, as it gets closer to the time I told myself I’d go for a jog, I resist. I look out the window and I think, “No, no. It’s too cold today …”
But then I suit up and I get out there. And this version of me shows up and she’s pretty cool.