Hypothermic Half Experience

So about last week.

For the first time since November, I didn’t run. I didn’t run for 6 entire days. I just didn’t want too. I spent a night in Vancouver for a work event, spent 2 days nursing myself back to health after a few glasses of wine … and the other days, I just didn’t want to. I can give another handful of excuses, like I was busy, it was cold, my body was sore, my dogs wanted me to snuggle them .. but it really just came down to the fact, I just didn’t want to.

In the past when running a half marathon, usually I would taper the week before the run and have a few days of rest to reenergize but because I am in training mode of the BMO Marathon, the rest was not part of my plan. Sometimes I just like to challenge the rules.

Last week was pretty cold and then on Saturday from morning until night it snowed while the wind blew. I couldn’t believe it. Now quick note – when I signed up for the Hypothermic Half I kind of secretly told myself if it was freezing outside I was going to give myself an out and bail on the run because it wasn’t the actual “goal”, it was only a check point on the way to get to the goal. So as the Hypothermic was getting closer and closer, I was wondering what the weather would be like and if I was actually going to do it.

On Saturday I figured I might as well pick up my race package in case I decided to run, I was really debating it at this point. I showed up half praying that the race was going to be cancelled because of the foot of snow and the temps in the negative double digits. The race organizer casually said “Oh no, we wouldn’t cancel because of this, this race has been run in Montreal in -38 before. Tomorrow is going to be a slow run because of the snow and ice, it won’t be about setting records for time.” I was thinking it would be a record if I could get myself out the door in the morning.

My pre race meal of choice is always thin crust pizza or fresh pasta. All about that carb load. I think I might enjoy the eating aspect of running more than the running itself. Not great for the ole waistline. So night before race checklist includes food, getting my gear ready and in my case doing last minute laundry because I forgot to do it all week, charge garmin and get to bed to get a good night sleep, oh and say a quick prayer the weather warms up.

Morning of Hypothermic Half – temperature -17.

First off … I don’t even know how to dress to run in -17 temperatures. This is not something I have ever done before. I don’t have pants to break the wind and its pretty windy out there. Do I wear my down running jacket or a sweater and a windbreaker? Do I wear a toque or a head band? Will my feet freeze? One layer of pants or two?

I accepted on the fact I was not going to be winning any awards for being the best dressed runner of the day and that I would rather be warm and comfortable than stylish. Which hurts my soul a little bit because I spend a lot of money on my extensive lululemon collection because 1. I like the way it fits and the quality and 2. because I look good.

So after laying all of my options out on the floor I settled on a thin pair of lululemon yoga tights under my regular running tights, a tank top, a thin long sleeve running sweater, my lululemon vest, a wind breaker, thick socks (my favourite brand right now is Stance) and a toque (no time to worry about a cute pony tail and my ear band, I needed to be warm), oh and gloves. I packed my backpack full of extra clothes in case I decided on the drive I might want to add a layer or change out a layer. I am glad I did because I ended up throwing on a thick long sleeve as well to my layers. Garmin, iPhone and headphones, cliff chews for fuel, a visa just in case I bail and call a cab home (seriously – I wasn’t sure how things were going to go). Time to head out!

Curt dropped me off at the start line, I don’t think there could have been more than 50 people there. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I have never run this race before and I was kind of out of my comfort zone showing up alone, the last few races I have done Nichole has been with me.

Side note – Is a run event called a race or a run? I don’t know. I feel weird calling it a race because I am absolutely not racing, I am trying to survive but just calling it a run doesn’t seem … enough?

Anyways back to the start line. People are in winter jackets, one girl has ski goggles on – no joke, a guy is pushing twins in a stroller and wearing shorts and knee high socks, peoples level of gear is all over the map. There were people doing both a 5km and 21km distances. It was so cold I didn’t take a single picture. Trust me, I wanted to document the fact that I actually was doing this, but I couldn’t think about anything other than trying to stay warm.

9:00 am start and we are off!

Slow and steady, the first part of the trail is a little slippery. We head out from Riverside east through Pioneer Park towards the yacht club. We do a 4km loop before heading across the Overlander Bridge to Schubert which is my normal running route. I notice a girl in a blue lululemon jacket running about my pace. I think to myself, this is my girl. We are going to run together. She’s solo, I’m solo. We need each other. Well I hope she needs me as much as I need her. I don’t even know her yet but its cold and I know at 10km things are going to get real hard if I’m by myself. Especially since I’m towards the back of the pack and majority of the people are heading in as they are finishing their 5km and I am continuing for another 16. As we head up the ramp onto the bridge girl in blue jacket and I meet! Have a quick chat, introduce ourselves and decide we will do this together. YESS!! I have a running partner for this. We can do it together. K is from Kelowna and her and her friend came to town together to run this. Her friend runs a faster pace than her so she was tackling it on her own as well. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have made it all 21km had I not met this girl. We ran almost the whole thing completely on our own, we passed few a couple people dog walking and the rest of the runners as they lapped back but given there were maybe 30-35 people running the half marathon distance it was pretty bleak out there. And running is just as much mental as it is physical. As we chatted about our lives, jobs and running experiences we covered the distance together in -17 weather. I finished around 3:03 and I honestly had no expectations for my finish time and given the conditions, so I am just happy I finished.

It always helps to have a mantra or an intention when running, it can get you through when your mind is telling you to stop. My mind LOVES to tell me to stop. Sunday I used, “If I can run 21km in -17, I can do anything.” It helped. It got me through. K got me through. And the volunteers that showed up got me through and last but certainly not least, the training I have been doing for the last 4 months got me through. I did it!

If you’ve read from the beginning you may remember me mention a lovely little man Candido, who mentally got me through a run by just stopping and saying hi to me! He made an appearance on Sunday, he was one of the volunteers helping put on the run and manning the fuel station. I said to Candido when we hit the fuel station at kilometer 6, “If I can do this, I can do anything”. At the end of our run, we are past kilometer 20 and I see this guy running in jeans and I am like to to K, “First off, who is running today besides us crazies … but why is someone running in jeans” and as they got closer we realized it was Candido!!!! He came to run with us in. He said to me “You are almost finished, you said if you could do this, you could do anything!!” OMG!! It was the burst of energy I needed to push through and finish the run with a smile on my face. Its the little things in life that make the big things happen.

Now onto my next challenge.

By the way, don’t forget to leave me a message below and let me know you stopped by!!

2 thoughts on “Hypothermic Half Experience”

  1. AWWW Amanda! The last few sentences gave me the shivers! I was actually shivering the entire time reading that! BRRR! But that is just such a precious little moment 🙂 YOU are amazing. x

    1. Not sure what was worse – running 21km in -17 or walking around in ripped jeans and no socks downtown today. Whoooops.


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