The Grand Canyon: Part III: Of Running in the Cold and the Sunset

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After our breakfast at Bright Angel Lodge, we took a drive to the much talked about El Tovar Hotel, located right at the rim. Known for having its own unique charm, it is considered the crown jewel of Historic National Park Lodges. This world class hotel calls for premium prices. I took a tour around the lobby and helped myself to their washroom (Haaaaa!).

Outside, one part of an area overlooking the rim was cordoned off by police and park rangers. There were a few patrol cars and an ambulance. My dad, being as Asian as ever, went over to find out what the commotion was all about. Apparently, a man fell off the side of the rim and he didn’t survive the fall. Tragic. Note to self: no more jump shots at the edge of the canyon.

As if I wasn’t exhausted from the mini sunrise workout (to stay warm), I was pumped to put in my canyon run! I had planned this before coming to the US and even though I was a little bit tired, I wasn’t going to miss RUNNING IN THE GRAND CANYON!

Before this, I didn’t have any experience running under freezing temps (below 5 degrees C). I was too busy mapping out my canyon rim trail along Mather point that it didn’t cross my mind to look up on anything about running in the cold.

Well, I guess some of the greatest lessons we learn in life are from our mistakes (if we bother learning from them).

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My dad drove out in his car and met me at several points along the trail that I had mapped out just to make sure that I was safe and of course… to take pictures. Best Dad in the WORLD!

Since I made these mistakes, you can benefit by not making them!

Here are some pointers when you’re out running in the cold (my personal experience):

Go Light:

I hate the cold. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word but let’s just say I’m meant to be living in the tropics, definitely not acclimatised to the cold.

Naturally, I piled on layers of clothing because I didn’t want to return looking like a popsicle. I had 3 layers on top including my jacket and 2 layers down.

When I stepped out of the room, I gave myself a pat on the back for putting on so many layers. It was FREEZING! 15 minutes into my run and I changed my mind. My body temperature was rising and well, it was getting a little bit hot in there. Also, the weight from layering wore me down quite a bit.

Conclusion: Think minimalist!

Warm Up Before Heading Out:

The mistake I made was not warming up before heading out. I was feeling chilly which led me to pile on layers of clothes.

What I should have done was: warm up inside the room to get my muscles moving and blood flowing to distribute the heat before jumping out into the cold. 100 jumping jacks should do the trick.

Don’t Rush:

If you’ve just started running in the cold (like me), speed is not your friend, mileage is.

Focus on maintaining your weekly mileage rather than challenging yourself with speed work. If you insist on increasing your speed, make sure your muscles are warmed up before doing so as it is easier to tear a muscle when it’s tight and cold.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate:

There is virtually no moisture in the air when it is cold. I felt the pinch and dryness even just after 5 minutes of running. It was so dry, I could barely breathe.

Bring a small bottle of water along and take mini sips every 10 minutes. You certainly do not want to dry your lungs and throat out. They could crack and bleed.

Shine Bright Like A Diamond:

Well, not really but you know the drill. When it is cold, daylight is usually limited. This point is highlighted when running in the Grand Canyon as there are no street lamps along the roads (to preserve the canyon in its Au Naturel state).

Wear reflective gear, bring a torchlight or put on a headlamp. Other runners/joggers and also drivers should be able to spot you from miles away.

Know your limits:

Above all, always pay extra attention to your body and know your limits, especially if you’re running under unpredictable weather conditions and on unfamiliar ground. Make sure you have eaten enough as more energy is needed to maintain your core temperate when it is freezing cold outside.

After your run, make sure you enter a well heated place or change out of your clothes as soon as possible. You wouldn’t want to catch a chill when your body temperature starts to drop.

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Done and dusted.

At about 6-ish pm, we headed to Mather point to catch the sunset.

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The Parents.

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Sunset faces. Haaaaaaaaa!

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The moon!

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When the light fades…

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The sun is down, time to run!

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I guess this marks the end of my Grand Canyon experience! Too awesome. Wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was… PERFECT!

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God; to thee,
How great thou art, how great thou art!

 

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