In the early days of the Sunday Long Run, about 4 years ago, it was difficult to get more runners than degrees in the temperature. That was because there were only 5 of us and if the temperature was 5 only 2 of us would show up. Last year for the first time we achieved the milestone, attracting about 25 runners when it was in the low 20s. This morning we PRed by having 23 runners leave Brueggers into 11 degree temps. Twice the runners than degrees!
Heading north on Main up to Ell Pond we were greeted by some wind. The wind had died down some from the gusts from the last two days but the wind chill was still reported as -5. All bundled up the long route runners made a loop of Ell Pond while the short route runners headed straight along the Fells. Mike and Michelle took the lead with a group of about 5 right on their heels. Judi and I hung back a bit, me because I’m slower than them, Judi because she did an 18 mile training run the day before. The loop of the little pond made one thing obvious, facing north and west was going to be cold, south in east would be manageable. As we came back around to the LynnFells Parkway Tim came up and joined Judi and I, and I tried to pawn her off on him so I could run slower. We stuck together until the hills and then I let them go ahead, only to meet back up with them at Water Stop 1.
BarryP and Whitney served up the water stop refreshments at Grimsby’s, about 3.5 miles into the full route. A quick sip of warm Gatorade (a treat on a cold day) and we were off, trying to keep from getting too cold on our break. Walt joined Judi and I for this stretch, becoming the 24th runner of the day. Again we ran together until we hit hills, the big hills of the Fellsway East, and I let those two go on as I trailed behind. With the wind at our back and more than enough running gear to keep me from freezing, this stretch started to get warm, and clothes became damp with sweat. Turning onto Highland Ave this worked against me though as the wind picked up and the damp clothes amplified the cold. I scuffled along watching Walt and Judi pull up to the second water stop ahead of me.
Rick was manning this stop with his friend Jake, a big hairy dog that didn’t seem at all bothered by the cold weather. Barry and Whitney were also at this stop, for the second of 5 times we’d see Barry along the route. Again keeping the stop quick I washed a Snickers down with a Gatorade and was on the move. Whitney jumped in with Judi and the two pulled ahead into the distance as we circled Spot Pond. I put my headphones on and let some music keep me company and pull me along. At Straw Point Barry was serving refreshments but I passed by feeling good and not wanting to risk breaking momentum. Here Joanne and Liz would also join in the run, bringing the total runners to 26, the predicted high temperature for the day as well. Off to the Stone Zoo I noticed Carol was very close behind, and Judi and Whitney (having stopped for water) were now just in front of me. Judi turned down to Wyoming Ave to finish off her 10 mile run and I trudged along sticking between Whitney and Carol. This side of the pond had a lot of evidence of the wind from the past few days. Snow from the pond had blown up over the banks and covered the sidewalk that had been clear of snow since the last storm, looking like snow drifts from the arctic.
The next water stop was back at Rick’s car. Another quick sip and a Gu and Carol and I headed out, while Whitney ended with 5 windy miles. Up East Border Rd and through the hills of the Lynn Fells things were feeling good. Making good time I snuck up on Barry’sÂ car, now back at Grimsby’s for another stop. Carol ran by heading up the LynnFells hill and back to the stop to put in an extra little bit, shooting for 15 miles I assume. I passed here headed up the hill as she backtracked to the water, the last MRC encounter I would have before extending my run. From here I traced the MRC Summer route to make my run about 18 miles.
Along the LynnFells, over to Porter and down Upham St I went, everything feeling fine. Along Lebanon my knee started to ache but I ignored it, pushing through past Wyoming Cemetery. The climb up to Forest St took a toll on my legs and feeling weary and fading fast I headed over to Main St. With just over a mile left I turned onto Main. My legs were beat, my clothes were wet, and the wind got stronger. With windchills still near zero I had a hard time keeping a pace that generated enough heat to keep me warm. I wanted to walk a bit, having ramped up to 18 miles in 4 weeks was proving much more difficult than I had planned. A marathon shuffle, usually seen in the 26th mile of a marathon, was my only way back to Brueggers. I staggered through the door, 18 miles done, head a little dizzy, and plopped down on the first chair I could find. A rough run in a ridiculous cold. And thanks to Mike Urquiola I quickly had a hot cup of coffee and a little food in front of me to bring me back from the brink. Thanks Mike!
And thanks again to Rick and Jake and Barry and Whitney for putting up with such frigid conditions to keep all of us runners safe and healthy!