An Uncommon “Phone Freezing”

RunningSelfieOur first “300 Miles In Our Shoes” guest contributor is Amanda Wilkie, WithumSmith+Brown’s Chief Information Officer. An avid runner, Amanda immediately joined our Withum 300 group when she started with the firm last July and ran nearly 400 miles over the course of 2015. Here, she shares her story about the perils of running outdoors during a particularly unpredictable winter season — a lesson that was surely helpful to her when she ran the NYC Half this past Sunday.

My New Year’s resolution two years ago, while living in the Washington DC area, was to complete the Couch-2-5K program. Like many others, I quickly fell in love with my running shoes and discovered how amazing and dynamic the world around me is while logging miles. Even the same old route changes dramatically depending on weather, time of day, or time of year. I was hooked.

Through trial and error, I’ve learned the importance of choosing the appropriate gear for the current running conditions; and layering – proper layering – is essential. I own a Sparkle Skirt or two and various running tights – compression tights, fleece-lined tights, and even tights that turn your sweat into heat (don’t ask me how, but the description on Amazon sounded really cool). The majority of shirts in my closet are wicking. I have wool ones, short sleeve ones, long sleeve ones, vests, and jackets that convert into vests. Since I love running outdoors, I’m prepared for whatever Mother Nature can conjure up – or so I thought.

With two races on the calendar in March, I refused to let the chilly temps over Valentine’s weekend keep me from my 7 mile training run. Sunday, February 14th, I watched the weather closely and waited not-so-patiently for the temperatures to creep high enough and the wind to subside enough to bring the wind chill to positive digits. Finally!

I headed south from Pier 13 along the Hudson River in Hoboken, NJ. The first couple of miles weren’t bad at all. The sun was out. The sidewalks were clear. I even snapped my ceremonial running selfie with Manhattan in the background. I had been looking forward to this run all week and I was rocking it.

Then I ran through the Hoboken transit station through Newport and into Jersey City. The sun, making its way further west, was blocked by tall buildings. I was in the shade…..and the shade was cold.

As I approached mile 4, and my turnaround point, I pulled out phone to skip the song that was playing. Big mistake! My phone died – it simply shut off. I tried to turn it back on but the battery was dead. How could the battery be dead? It was 100% charged when I left the house.

As it turned out, the battery wasn’t dead. It was frozen.

Without a phone, I didn’t have music, which directly effects my pace and motivation on any run. Furthermore, without a phone, MapMyFitness wasn’t keeping up with my mileage. And if I can’t share my miles with friends, well, it’s like they never happened in the first place!

Even worse than a frozen phone was the strange sensation developing in my legs. I had stopped running and walked as I inspected my phone. As a result, my phone wasn’t the only thing freezing. My legs started to feel like two cold rubber bands.

I tucked my phone into the inner most layer of my running shirts hoping my body heat would help prevent permanent damage to the battery and picked up the pace one again. Without music, I was left alone with my thoughts….

Wow, it’s really cold. Maybe running today was a mistake. No it wasn’t – I can do this. Its only 3 more miles! Whose idea was it to sign up for two March races anyway? I wish I had some music. I don’t think that tingle in my legs is a good thing. Five miles is good enough. Yep, it’s not getting any warmer. I could call Uber. No, I can’t. This run sucks!

After a mile or so, I pulled out my phone and was ecstatic when the power button actually worked. Battery indicator said 63% so I was back in business. But, that tingle and tightness was really starting to impact my stride. For a split second, I revisited the option of calling Uber. I had music again and only 2 miles to go, so I decided to power through. It’s safe to say, those 2 miles were the worst 2 miles I’ve run thus far.

I slowed from a run to a walk near the door of my apartment building but still hurried inside. By the time I made it to the 9th floor, the tingle and tightness in my legs had turned into a throbbing. Not the good kind of throbbing you experience after a nice long run but a pounding I’d never felt before. To make matters worse, I was wet and cold and started to shiver.

Perhaps I’m a bit naïve from growing up in the South, but I assumed a nice hot shower was exactly what I needed to warm my frozen muscles. I was wrong. The hot water felt like knives on my beet-red thighs. And, oh did it burn! It burned from the inside out. Then the itching set in. Of course, it was not the kind of itch you want to scratch. I couldn’t even touch my skin. My thought process was much like my running thoughts….

The burning, the itching, the pain! I’ll be okay…I’m not going to die. Skin is not supposed to be this color. Yeah, going out for that run was definitely a mistake. But, I did it – 7 miles. Surely it will stop hurting soon. Why am I still shivering? Never again!

Luckily, I survived the run and the shower. I even laughed later as I shared the lessons I learned with my running friends. To summarize, I’ll share those lessons with you here: (1) an iPhone 6S battery will freeze on a cold day; (2) if your phone battery freezes, your body heat will thaw it out; and (3) a hot shower is not a remedy for frostbite.

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