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Chariots of Ice: A Cautionary Tale by QED
Above: Some of my extremities were not very well insulated, but my ears were always quite warm.

It was an exceptionally chilly winter evening, and I foolishly believed that the three layers of clothing I was wearing would be sufficient to keep me warm for my standard seven mile run along the lakeshore. However, there were several factors which I simply failed to take into account when choosing my attire.

First, although the temperature for the region was reported to be a relatively bearable - 20 degrees Celsius, the lake produced a wind chill factor which made it seem at least twice as cold.

Second, the bicycle path upon which I was attempting to run was completely covered with ice, meaning that I was never able to run fast enough to be able to warm up.

Furthermore, my icy breath, filtered through a balaclava, was causing my prescription eyeglasses to fog up, such that I couldn't even see the sheet of ice upon which I was attempting to run. I therefore faced the frightening prospect of slipping and/or blindly running right into the freezing water and suffering an almost instant case of hypothermia.

Above: Once my glasses started to fog up, I might as well have been running with my eyes closed.

Meanwhile, I was trying in vain to keep every inch of my face covered from the freezing cold. As a result, large quantities of phlegm soon began to accumulate in my nose, such that I could only breathe through my mouth. This was not especially problematic until the phlegm began to ooze down through my nostrils to the lower portion of my balaclava. Soon thereafter, every time I attempted to breathe in through my mouth, the balaclava would stick firmly to my lips, completely cutting off the air flow. Suddenly, I was facing the very real possibility of succumbing to asphyxiation.

To make matters worse, when it finally dawned on me that it was really quite dangerous to be outdoors in such conditions for a prolonged period of time, I was at least three miles from any sort of shelter, in any direction.

Remarkably, I somehow managed to reach my destination relatively unscathed, in spite of my visually-impaired, frost-bitten and oxygen-deprived state.

Should I have learned my lesson about the perils of winter running from this harrowing experience? Absolutely! Was I in fact able to avoid another near-death experience the next time I ran in such conditions? You can probably guess the answer to that one, but I shouldn't get ahead of myself.

A mere three days after thawing out from my jaunt by the lake, I summoned up the courage to brave the elements once more. "Simply wear a few more layers of clothing and you'll be fine," I told myself. And so, I was bundled up in no less than five layers of clothing…above the waist. Unfortunately, I hadn't been quite as diligent about protecting my lower extremities, and hence was wearing just a flimsy pair of spandex pants over my briefs.

Above: It never occurred to me that running in shorts in the middle of winter could be dangerous.

For the first 30 minutes of my run, I was holding up rather well, and foolishly believed that I had conquered the elements. Then, when I turned around to head back home, I realized that I had been running exclusively with the wind at my back up to this point, but now found myself running into the very teeth of a brutal and oppressive wind. The extra layers covering my upper body served me well, but the lack of adequate clothing below the waist soon became problematic.

With horror, I realized that my phallus was becoming stiff, but not for any of the normal reasons associated with such an occurrence. I've heard of people suffering frostbite to their hands, their feet, or even their face. But their private parts? This was a very exclusive club in which I had no interest in becoming a member. Or should I say, a frozen member.

In a desperate act of self-preservation, I did the only thing I felt I could do to avoid a frost-bitten fate: I stuck my hand down my pants, glove and all, and sheltered the affected area from the unrelenting wind.

Above: With my pale skin tone, frost-bitten nose and involuntary crotch grab, it's a wonder that no one mistook me for Michael Jackson.

Not surprisingly, I received many puzzled glances from passing motorists and pedestrians who may not have understood why it was that I had my hand down my pants. Their misapprehension of the situation was no doubt exacerbated by the fact that I was also moaning quite loudly because of the extreme discomfort I was in at the time. Unfortunately, my mouth was so numb from the cold that I was in no position to be able to explain my predicament to any of the people whom I encountered.

Based on the looks of horror and disgust on their faces, most of these passers by probably arrived at the perfectly reasonable conclusion that I was simply a pervert. In retrospect, I actually feel fortunate that my Jacksonian crotch-grabbing conduct did not catch the attention of any police officers, who would certainly have had reasonable and probable grounds, based upon the circumstantial evidence and numerous eye witnesses, to charge me with engaging in lewd or obscene behaviour.

Once again, I somehow managed to make it home without suffering any irreparable harm, except perhaps to my reputation. At this point, you may be wondering if there's some moral or lesson to be derived from this embarrassingly candid account. I think there is, at least for SP's male readers, and it is this: The next time you choose to go frolicking in the snow in bone-chilling, spirit-crushing weather conditions, be safe and wear a condom…or at least a very thick set of long underwear.

Above: If running outside this winter, be safe and wear a condom.
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