Trail Monster Running

Visit the official TRAIL MONSTER RUNNING website for information on upcoming group runs, local trails, trail races and more, including the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival and the Bradbury Mountain trail Running Series.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard Running

Since I'm planning to run 2 races this upcoming weekend I knew I wouldn't have the opportunity to run the Beautiful Loop, but since I'm trying to run it every week this winter I decided to give it a shot mid-week. Of course, the only day I had time to run it in the middle of the week was during the massive snow storm that caused my office to close for the day. I knew that running this 15 mile loop with snowshoes, during a blizzard was a bit ambitious so I brought along another ambitious Trail Monster, Red Meat, who's training for The Barkley Marathons

I knew the trail conditions were going to be tough, that didn't bother me, but I did decided to head out in the opposite direction from how I normally do this route to get the steep hills out of the way before too much snow fell. I also decided to mix things up a bit at the beginning by heading up the Terrace Trail and tagging the summit. When we arrived at the park there was about 5" of fresh powder in the ground and the snow was falling fast. The running was slow, and we had to walk at times on some of the steeper climbs, but it really wasn't too bad.

Everything was going fine until we hit an open field at about 2.75 miles and we were faced with a chilling cross-wind. The temperature really wasn't that cold, but with the exposure of the field we started to feel the wind chill. After a another half mile we were into the woods again and out of the wind, but then just a quarter mile later we came out onto the power line trail and turned north. Directly into the wind. This is when I realized that I really hadn't come prepared to deal with these blizzard conditions. It wasn't the amount of fresh snow covering the trail that was the problem, it was the 20+ MPH wind directly in our faces. Snow and ice quickly built up on my face and started to encase my eyes. A balaclava and goggles were what I really needed, but they were at home.

After a half mile on the power lines we reached the Elmwood Rd crossing and paused for moment. I knew that we still had 5.5 miles of power line running to do, there would be no escaping this wind, and given the rate that the snow was falling I knew that our pace was going to continue to slow. The first 4 miles took us about 55 minutes, I figured the next 5.5 could take us an hour and a half in these conditions. That was just too long to be out there dealing with the wind. Facial frostbite was not something I wanted.

So the decision was made to turn back. The quickest and easiest way back to the park would have been to take off our snowshoes and run down Elmwood Road, but we didn't head out for a hilly 15 mile snowshoe run in a blizzard because we were looking for an easy run. So we headed back on the trail exactly the way we came. With the wind on our backs the running was actually quite enjoyable again. Even the massive climb back up the west side of Bradbury was fun, about 350 vertical feet in just over a mile. Unfortunately when we hit the summit we were faced with the same unpleasant headwind again which made the usually fun run down the Terrace Trail a lot less enjoyable. Ice cream headache.

I was disappointed not to get in a 15 mile run this week, but I still got in a solid 2 hour workout, and was grateful to come out of the woods alive and without any frostbite.

time: 1:57:29
distance: 8.0 miles
pace: 14:41

weather: low 20's, heavy snow, strong wind

conditions: 5" of fresh powder at start, heavy snow throughout adding up

gear: Atlas Run snowshoes, Inov-8 F-lite 301 PK, OR gaiters, sock liners, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, 2x buffs, gloves, mittens, Nathan HPL #020

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