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Yesterday (February 7th, 2015) I took part in my first half marathon of 2015. It was the Hypothermic Half Marathon in Ottawa. It has been a cold and snowy winter this year. No different to any other year in this region of Canada, but I had signed up for it anyway! They tell me the best way to get through winter is to enjoy it, and so that was why I signed up. But the past week I have been checking my weather app – hoping for it to show no snow on the day, and that the temperature would creep back to at least warmer than -10ºC. My wishes were not granted, it snowed a couple of times in that week with a light snow the night before the race. Although it was much colder than I had hoped it was not by that much, it ended up being around -15ºC (5ºF).
I went to pick up my race kit a couple of days before. Instead of a race t-shirt they included a useful pair of gloves and a convertible cover up (buff) box set. I did wear the gloves for race day which were a perfect fit, but not the buff. It was not clingy enough for my liking – so I stuck with my TrainRaceBeer buff! In an email, I had previously received, they suggested to also purchase some grippers to help with traction with the snow and/or ice. The course was to be run at a golf club, and although they would be ploughing the route, they could not vouch for how it would be on the day, and whether it would snow again. So I dutifully bought a pair of Due North Traction aids from a very helpful Running Room Sales assistant.
I had not seen a course map previously on the website so I was eager to see exactly what the route would be. When I checked back I noticed that there was a link there after all – I am sure it wasn’t there before!. I was a little disappointed to see that it was a looped course. I knew it started at the golf club, but had assumed it would go out into the town. Instead it was a 4 x 5km loop around the grounds, with the final 1.1 k along an out and back.
Race day arrived – it was a respectable 9am start, and thankfully there had not been that much snowfall overnight – so I didn’t have to spend time clearing the car again!
As you may be aware from some of my other posts, I am trying to become a fat adapted runner. So no carbs for me! I was also hoping that I would be able to run the race on just water. My last couple of 14km training runs had led me to believe that this would be ok. I didn’t take any GUs or shot bloks with me. Just a small bottle of water, and some cubes of cheese! I had 2 boiled eggs for my breakfast and a black coffee with honey!
Thankfully we were able to wait in the club house to stay as warm as possible. This is where I struggled to put on my traction aids 🙂 Then around 8:50 I went outside to see how it was and test out the grippers. Snapped a couple shots of the Start-Finish line, and myself still fresh faced.
I then went back in to warm up again. I hung around downstairs and watched as people started to pile out. I waited to the back of the pack, and then followed. They had instructions being delivered via a microphone but we were too far from the speakers for me to hear. I would be following anyway so I wasn’t too worried.
The race started a little after 9 am, a countdown from 5, and then we were off! After the leaders sped off – I was left comfortably plodding along to this lovely view. It’s much better to look at, then be in it that is for sure! But I soon warmed up. You can see the track they ploughed out for us to run on, and the height of the snow. It was much deeper in other places around the course too. And very little ground was visible, or accessible! So the grippers came in handy!
I was surprised that it was not as boring as I thought it would be, going round 4 times. I also did not listen to music or a podcast, in fear that the extra battery power would cause my phone to die on me mid race! That was a wise decision as by the end it was down to 7%! My iPhone has been causing me issues for the last few months – time for a new one possibly!
It took a long while for me to get into the swing of things. Possibly as it took longer to warm up maybe. I had to stop and walk around 2.5 K and then again at 4K and then at 5K at the water stop. There was only one water station and due to the loop it was passed 4 times, every 5 k – however the last time you don’t really get to it, as you are directed to do the 1.1 km out and back which took you in a different direction. But if you really needed a drink you could easily go and get it. At the next loop I did a little better, I managed to run continually the next 4 k (upto 9k) and then briefly walked and set off for the next 1 k back to the water stop again! I walked briefly. It was then I noted that I was using a walker to pace me. She was fast, I could never walk that fast, and continuously like that. It made my hips hurt just thinking about it! But she did so well. She would pass me when I stopped to walk. And then I would pass her when I ran again. She did not catch up whilst I was running, but at every water stop she didn’t need to take much of a break (ie slow down) that I did so she gained a bit of distance at those points. But she was my target to keep up with. There was also a couple who were doing the run/walk and they were doing a similar thing, passing me and then me passing them. So I was never alone! My third loop I was hoping that I would be able to at least do the whole 5k this time round, but I couldn’t, so just after 4k I stopped to walk again. I didn’t feel like a lack of energy or wall or anything like that, my legs just started to feel tired. I think it was the snow, it does take more effort to run through snow than tarmac. I did not feel weak, food-wise, I didn’t regret not having GUs with me, in fact I was glad not to have had to have them. I did however have the electrolyte drinks (Nuun) at the second and third water stops! I don’t think it helped or hindered though.
Note: I just looked up the nutrition content for Nuun Hydration and there website states they use less than 1g of Carbohydrate in their formula – that pleases me!
My Garmin captured the route and as you may notice my total distance was closer to 22 km in all! There was no real timing mat to speak of – I couldnt see one anyway – so I think that even though it was chip timed, it was more clock time than your actual time! Or may be that is just me being optimistic. I am proud of what I did, even with my official time being 3:05:09 – but I still want to say my Garmin clocked the 21.1 km at 2:57:29 ! 🙂
Here’s me looking frosted 🙂
And here is what I ran for! It’s a cool medal, and the snowflake spins around too!
At the end of the race after receiving our medals, the golf club allowed us to use their facilities for their showers and locker rooms etc.
We were also able to partake in an all you can eat buffet brunch! There was ample food to go round, consisting of eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, toast, orange juice and coffee. My no carbs went out the window at that point – as I said to myself that I had earned it – and it would be burned off straight away 🙂
The organisers had to do it all over again, as the was a morning run (mine at 9am) and an afternoon run at 1 pm!
All in all it was a great day! And I would recommend this race to anyone. Do not be afraid of the cold!