The cosy chill of the last few days that carried the scent of burning wood from fireplaces the whole city over had turned into a windy cold. Still, the thermometer swore it was warmer by at least 4 degrees. Strange how temperature can be a matter of interpretation. Take how it's a constant 22 degrees in the flat, for instance. Yet it always feels colder around midday. Warmer when I've eaten some spicy Mexican soup. Colder when I'm tired. Warmer when I've had to make a difficult phone call. That's why J lovingly (yet - I suspect - sarcastically) calls me ”the weather expert”. I can never dress right.
One thing's for sure. I always get warm when I'm running, so I like to dress light. A white T-shirt saying that I am training for Stockholm Marathon 2011, which is a blatant lie now, and it was a blatant lie a month after I bought the T-shirt, when I got plantar fascitiis and had to skip the marathon training altogether. And a wind jacket on top of that.
The problem was, as J and I walked down to the river in the dark to warm up before our run, that a headwind when you're walking can feel so much colder than a headwind when you're running. As a result, our so-called walk to the river was also a matter of interpretation, as it very much resembled an easy jog. Once there, we turned our backs to the wind and turned the so-called walk to a proper easy jog, that is to say, we changed very little about our speed. Soon we were running under the bluish light of the riverside lamps, with reflections of the considerably warmer light of the houses on the other side of the river on the water surface. It was a magical evening.
Then, the lights went off. And suddenly I was very warm. Unfortunately, not all of the riverside path is lit – as to why, it is a long discussion for another time, another place. We had to get to the bridge, and we didn't want to leave the path to seek other, more illuminated ways of getting there, so we continued in the pale light shed by the half moon. To our right, a slope upwards to houses and flats. To our left, a steep slope down to the river. I kept as far to the right as possible, my eyes narrowing to make out the small details, stones and cracks that had to be there, my pupils opening up to let in as much of the little light that was available as they could. A man was walking there, in the dark, no dog by his side to explain why. I was glad I wasn't running alone. J was right behind me, probably not understanding why I was suddenly running faster. After a couple of hundred meters, I stopped dead in my tracks. A trick of the light had caused me to think that last week's never-ending rain had washed away the path, making me pull on the hand break hard so I wouldn't fall into the river. Darkness is a muse for the imagination, bringing out monsters, trolls and bogeymen that aren't really there. The path was, of course, intact.
Despite the obvious plethora of dangers all around, we made it to the bridge unscathed. It was lit up like a Christmas tree, in sharp contrast to what we'd just gone through. Our agreement was that the run there was to be a warm-up, and then we'd introduce some fartlek into it. I ran the first segment conservatively, to see how my body was feeling just then, and then I gave it my all. I was down to 3.30 min/km just before I stopped for the third one, a speed that I'm pretty sure I had never reached before in my life. Too bad I could only hold it for a few seconds. My body was light as a feather, but my breathing was struggling to keep up. I need to do this more often.
I was almost too warm by the time we turned to head back home. I even considered taking off my thin gloves. When we stepped through the flat door, the steady 22-degree warmth indoors was almost suffocating. Yet not five minutes later I was freezing and looking forward to the hot shower that awaited me. Strange thing.