How cold is too cold? I think I have an answer. It’s rather disturbing, and I apologize for even sharing it, but if your boogers freeze when you take a breath in through your nostrils, it’s too damn cold!
Have you ever had that happen to you? It kind of hurts. After you breathe out, the mucus in your nostrils will unfreeze, but man that’s cold. That reminds me of the coldest I’ve ever felt.
I went to college at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and when I was there, I ran on the cross country and track teams. During a terribly cold winter, myself and about five of my teammates went out for a run in sub-zero temperatures. I don’t know the exact temperature it was during that four mile run, but it was somewhere between booger freeze cold and hell freezing over.
I made two critical errors during this run. First of all, I started the run with the wind. This gave me a false sense of how cold it really was outside. The second mistake I made was to lower the scarf that was covering my face. During the first two miles of the run, when I was headed downwind, my face was warm enough without the scarf.
Oh, but did things change when I turned around to head back to campus. The wind and cold slapped me across my bare skin wicked hard. It felt like I was getting poked with thousands of little needles. I reached up and attempted to put the scarf back onto my face, but I couldn’t. It was frozen around my neck. The water vapor from my breath collected on it and then froze.
I spent the next agonizing two miles running with one hand over my face. My feet felt like blocks of ice by the time I reached campus.
When I finally made it back inside, I immediately went into the bathroom to run hot water over my hands. The image I saw in the mirror was ridiculous. A crust of ice had formed on the front of my winter hat. Small particles of ice were in my eyebrows and eyelashes. My face was burnt scarlet red from the wind. The scarf was frozen solid around my neck. It took a good five minutes to undo the frozen knot and take it off.
Miraculously, I didn’t get frostbite. Keeping one hand over my face somehow prevented this from happening. It probably helped that I ran the two miles back to campus in ten minutes.
Now, I’m smart enough not to run in these temperatures. Unfortunately I’m not smart enough to run consistently when it is nice out. I need to get back into good shape, but that’s a story for another day.