Why Didn’t You Bring Ice Skates? {Half Marathon Musings}

Today was the Hypothermic Half Marathon up here in the subarctic.

The name of the event is slightly ironic this year since it was a balmy -3 when I started out; have I mentioned how much I adore El Niño? Instead of dressing like an eskimo, I had on a few light layers and didn’t have to put my jacket over my water belt to keep my water from freezing.

A few years ago it was -27 for this race. ACK!

A few years ago it was -27 for this race. ACK!

Basically, we are experiencing a tropical heat wave up here.

Tropical heat waves in the subarctic create havoc – ice, slushy snow and completely uneven, slippery as heck surfaces are a direct result of hovering around zero for months on end.

  • They should have renamed the race to the “Why Didn’t You Bring Ice Skates? Half Marathon”.
All of the roads were some sort of variance of these conditions. Not dying quickly became everyone's primary goal.

All of the roads were some sort of variance of these conditions. Not dying quickly became everyone’s primary goal.

Have I ever mentioned that I am a klutz?

Thank goodness for those weird grippy things you clamp onto your shoes. Sure, your toes fall asleep and running on pavement feels like you’re running on sand while wearing them but it’s better than a trip to the ER.

Yup, those round things get wrapped around your shoes and help you avoid death. Pure brilliance.

Yup, those round things get wrapped around your shoes and help you avoid death. Pure brilliance.

Rewind 7 days.

Instead of finding me running next to hundreds of very fit people wearing spandex, you would have found me sick as a dog in bed wondering if I was going to die. Three days of not eating, many trips to the doctor and antibiotics comprised the beginning of my week.

While in bed and running a fever, I received an email about the race details which also let me know that the race was sold out and if I wanted to sell my spot, many people would be happy to get into the race. Not only did I want to sell my spot, I wanted to die – luckily both of these options took more energy than I had at the moment, so I just went back to sleep.

Here’s the thing – I don’t run, bike, ski, weight train, etc simply for an event, I train because I want to be a woman who can say “HELL YES!” to things she wants to do in life. When I signed up for the race a few months back, I knew I would be able to run it no problem despite the crazy schedule of 2016 that was already looming.

I am glad my social running ways have paid off.

The truth of the matter is, I don’t love running. I run long distances because the friends I run with are amazing and the coffee at the end is always fabulous. Most weekends this winter have found me running long distances early in the morning with amazing women. Waking up around 6:30 am, drinking a few cups of coffee, reading random news, writing, having a small breakfast and then running somewhere between 16 and 26 kilometres before 10:00 am on a weekend is a fine way to kick off a day; it leaves you another 12 hours to do whatever you want or need to do and means you’ve already checked off something great for the day.

  • Being a woman who loves to check things off lists got me to the starting line this morning.

Despite the rough start to the week, I was there with my friends ready to check off something great this morning.

Good friends go through the start of the race rigamarole together.

Instead of being able to show up and simply start running at the start time, you have to pin a number to your chest (which if you have a chest is a feat in and of itself), line up outside and then hop around in the cold in a effort to stay warm while you wait for someone to tell you you can start running. Then a giant mass of people slowly lumbers through the start line and running doesn’t commence for quite some time while everyone sorts out their pace.

If I do sign up for a race, I don’t race for a time because pinning success on a number is a horrible way to live. Been there. Done that. Sure, having a time you’re aiming for is a great idea, but to make that the indicator of success – meh!

I love that my phone thinks I burned 1900 calories.

I love that my phone thinks I burned 1900 calories …

Conditions are rarely ever perfect.

Nothing is ever perfect, nor am I even close to perfect. The not perfect conditions of life paired with my many imperfections have taught me to be tenacious and positive while maintaining a dichotomous balance of striving and acceptance.

To me, this is successful living.

  • Rather than chasing success, live successfully when no one is watching.

I race simply because I can, not for a specific number on a time chip. It reminds me that I am alive, healthy and a woman who knows what it means to dig deep and do something hard and not die.

Learn to do hard things.

While running this morning and putting one foot in front of the other I realized that if I hadn’t signed up for the race, there was no way I would be out running today, not even 10 km – heck, I don’t think you could have gotten 5 km out of me.

If you pay attention to the internal conversations you have when you want to quit, you will learn a whole lot about how you think and what effect it has on your life. The pressure to keep running and do both loops (whoever thinks looping a race is a good idea needs to be hit over the head) shows you that you can do hard things and when you want to quit, you realize you have untapped resources to keep going.

Running a race gives you the opportunity to dig deep and find you have more grit, determination and ability than you previously knew about.

Dig deep friends, there is more inside of you than you know. Oh, and whatever you do, get those grippy things for your shoes!