January 15, 2012
Well, it seems that the dead of Winter has finally arrived, and for those of you who don’t live north of the Mason-Dixon Line or high in the mountains out west, that means days and night of temperatures in the teens (or lower) and wind that will freeze the drizzle from your runny nose faster than you can say ‘Jehoshaphat.’ The dead of Winter….where does that term come from? I’m curious, but I’ll spare you readers the spoils of my research on this.
When I greeted the day today, Weather.com reported that here in Monroe, NY it was 12° F, with a “feels like” temperature of -1° F. Ugh…. I had 18 miles to run beginning at 7:00am, and I could see that it wasn’t going to be the easiest long run I had ever done. I remember a training run I did in February a few years ago in preparation for the Boston Marathon; another 18 miler, and on a day when the air temperature was in single digits with wind chills were in the -10s. That run turned into a 7 miler instead, and I was hoping today wouldn’t be a reprise of that one.
I arrived at Elk Pen to meet my friend Micah, who had done about 19 yesterday, so was going out today not only in icy temps but on somewhat tired legs. Upon getting out of our cars, we didn’t spend too much time small talking before hitting the road – it was just too dang cold to stand around, especially after stepping out of a warm car, so in a few moments we were headed up the hill that is Arden Valley Road.
All in all, the run route was a good one – a hilly but wonderfully scenic out and back that would take us 4.7 miles to Tiorati Circle, then 3.5 miles south to Kanawauke Circle, and finally about 8/10ths of a mile on Orange County Rte 106 past Lake Kanawauke before turning around and running it in reverse back to the cars. The only problem was the aforementioned temperature. I was carrying about a liter of Powerade in a Hydrapak, while Micah had two handhelds filled with some mixture that included Perpetuem. About 20 minutes into the run, I opened the valve on my feeder tube and sucked some orange fluid through it. Not thinking too much about it, I left the valve open, and within minutes I noticed that the fluid in the bite valve had frozen. And more than just that, it seemed as though it had begun to freeze in the tube as well. I tried putting the bite valve in my mouth to warm it, and put my heavily gloved hands around the lower part of the tube in a desperate attempt to unfreeze things. But it was fruitless, and I now had to run the final 2 and a half hours with no fluids. Given the conditions, I figured that I would make it, but it wasn’t the most desirable prospect I could think of. Ah, well…
Micah offered to share some of his later on if I needed, but within another half hour, he found himself in the same position as me – frozen valves on both of his handhelds, and no way to unfreeze them. And so, in 15 degree temperatures and some pesky winds along lake Tiorati and Kanawauke, we persevered, filling the time with good conversation and positive thoughts. Before we knew it, the hours had passed and we were trodding down the last part of the hill leading back to Elk Pen. It would be nice to get the car warmed up and flip on my seat warmers. I was a popsicle, and my face had gonna so cold that I had begun slurring words as I talked to Micah near the run’s end, but it was 18 miles of running that only some mettle and perhaps a little bit of insanity had allowed to happen on this especially cold mid-January day. I imagined how cold it must be up at Lake Tear of the Clouds today, but I knew I would see nothing of this kind of challenge as I traversed the mountain roads of the Adirondacks in May.