So, the last time we met, I gushed about the beauty and splendor of a day on the trails, a day that just happened to be sunny and gorgeous – short and short sleeves weather – at the very end of November. That was not the case for the Snug run a few Thursdays ago. Much to the contrary, in fact, that run represented a new kind of PR.
Nine forty-three in the morning. “You still going to run tonight?” “. . .Supposed to be below zero tonight as of 6:00.” Eleven thirteen. “Sounds like JD’s running so I’ll give it a shot.” Five fifty p.m. “I’m going to heard out to run. Be careful. See you soon.”
And, just like that, we were all running in a temperature that surely marked PRs for all of us – for our coldest run to date.
The air was still, and it actually felt great when I arrived at the Snug. This isn’t so bad. It’s a gorgeous night for a run! About forty minutes later, though, I chewed up and swallowed each letter of those words and washed them down with a cold beer.
Everyone else I knew to also be running were already on the course; I was the last one from the usual crew who had yet to start out. As I signed in and was just about to head up the back staircase toward Marion Street to start out, JD was just getting back.
He was all bundled up, from head to toe. The only bare skin you could see was the bit of his face around his eyes, just wider than what a pair of binoculars might hide if held up to his face. Not much, right? Even exposing so very little skin, the weather had still found him; and it left its mark. . .in the form of icicles on his eyelashes. Yep, you heard right! Actually looked pretty cool, like some fancy Hollywood movie makeup.
If I don’t go right now, I’m not going to!
The first mile wasn’t so bad, just a few frosty fingers and toes, nothing I hadn’t encountered before. Still, the trail through Cheeseman Park was empty; and the frigid night air felt a bit lonely. Almost there. Then, my watch beeped. Finally done! Mile two.
I was too concerned about the icy patches on the sidewalk eastbound on Eighth Avenue and then along northbound York to pay much attention; but by the time I reached the Denver Botanical Gardens entrance, I noticed. And by the time I was about to leave Eleventh Avenue to return to Cheeseman Park, I could no longer ignore it.
My fingers – all ten despite two pairs of gloves - were beyond chilly, beyond cold, beyond needing yet another pair of gloves. They were devoured in searing pain.
I still have a whole mile to go. I don’t think I can take much more. OOOWWW! So, I did the only thing I knew to do, you know, besides knock on a random door and ask the kind stranger who answered to allow me to stand inside the door until my hands stopped stinging. I unzipped the pockets in my coat and ran the rest of the way with my hands balled up in them, right hand holding onto the icy metal case of my camera.
Lucky you, my hands warmed enough to snap a quick photo to document my coldest run yet – a new kind of PR – with about a quarter mile to go:
Once back, I wasted no time getting through the wrought iron gate and side door leading to the Irish Snug basement, out of the frigid air, and into the cozy company of my fellow crazy running peeps – back to the great indoors where warmth, and, arguably most important – BEER – were waiting.
I think it took a good fifteen minutes before my fingers and toes thawed out enough to stop tingling, a feeling I certainly did not miss.
Wise? Absolutely not. Gutsy? Mmm, maybe. Would I do it again? Most definitely.
Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., a long-time road and trail runner, conducts applied child development research and works to influence child development policy and practice at the University of Denver. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.