I learned a new word today: snotsicle. A snotsicle is created when you have a runny nose and it's so damn cold out that the drippage freezes on your nostril or upper lip. That's how cold it was today for our run at the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary.
Mindy came by this morning and rode with Emma and me up to Lewiston, most of the way fueled by vegetable oil which still burns well in these frigid temps with the right heating system (thanks James). Valerie was the only other brave soul to turn up this morning, I guess she had to since she offered to host the run and was the only one who knew the trails.
After taking a few extra minutes to get all of our layers on while Valerie did laps of the parking lot to keep warm we were finally ready to head out in the cold. A thermometer we passed in Lewiston on the way to the park told us that it was -10 degrees, but Valerie told us her thermometer at home said -19 when she left this morning. Either way this was going to set a record for the coldest temperature I've ever run in. I think the previous low was a balmy 7 degrees during the winter of 2005 when I stress fractured both my femurs. After getting home I checked Accuweather.com which stated the temperature range from 8 to 9 am was from -17 to -11 degrees.
The trail we set out on immediately headed uphill and it didn't take long to get warmed up. By the time we reached the top of the hill I decided I was overdressed and took off my windbreaker. This still left me with three layers on my upper body which was more than enough to keep me warm and with the unrelenting hills I was working hard enough to actually break a sweat. This had the interesting effect, combined with our breathing, of putting a lot of moisture into the air which then froze and accumulated on our eyelashes and hair. It was pretty cool looking, hopefully Mindy will share the photos she took afterwards.
For an "urban" park the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary has a great little network of trails that get a lot of use even in the winter. Despite being snow covered the trails were well packed by foot traffic and conditions were great for running. Even though it was a little uneven the footing was much better than the GAC Fat Ass course that we ran last weekend and I soon began to think about putting on my own Fat Ass event here this winter. That was until we'd completed a loop that covered most of the terrain here and I realized just how hilly it all is, that would be one hell of a 50k course. I wish I had brought a camera with me so I could share some of the beautiful imagery of this place. Within the park there are several old stone foundations, memorials, benches and an incredible stone fireplace that add another level of interest to the natural surroundings. There are also several places where you can get great views including Mt Washington. Although there isn't much of an opportunity for a long run without repetition these trails were well worth the drive to Lewiston. Thanks to Valerie for sharing them with us.
After the run we stopped at the nearest Tim Horton's to refuel. We like eating off of real dishes and drinking out of real cups, and there food and coffee is pretty good too.
distance: 6.8 miles
weather: -17 to -10 degrees, calm and sunny
conditions: snowy trails well packed by foot traffic
gear: Brooks Cascadia 3 with screws, heavy socks, tights, 3x thermal tops, windbreaker, balaclava, buff, gloves, mittens, handwarmers