Thursday, February 12, 2015

~Hypothermic Half February 2015: Race Report~

My 10th half marathon and it lived up to it's name! This was my 3rd time running this race and by far the coldest!

The two weeks leading up to the race the weather was looking fantastic! Up until even a few days before the race it looked like it was going to be around 0C which is quite comfortable, especially for a winter half marathon.

The night before the race, I checked the morning forecast so I could lay out my clothes. It said -2C, feels like -4C. A bit colder but still very comfortable and nothing to complain about! I set out my clothes and went to bed.

When I woke up on race day, I immediately checked my phone for the forecast and I couldn't believe my eyes!

-10C, feels like -18C!!!! Noooo!! Well this changed everything! I immediately had to rethink my wardrobe choice and started to get a bit nervous because that's a bit cold to be running for 2+ hours!

I made my usual smoothie for breakfast and headed to Tim Horton's to meet some of the other runners to carpool & get my race package from one of the guys who picked it up for me. We complained about the weather and headed down to Fort Calgary where the race was starting.

While I drove down my stomach started to feel off. Not sure if it was just nerves or what, but I ended up not finishing my smoothie.

I found parking pretty easily and headed inside Fort Calgary to meet the rest of my running group. We got all bundled up, took some pictures and then headed out to take some group photos just before the start.

 2:15 pacer

2:30 pacer

My goal was to finish between these two!

CHRR half marathon group

We lined up and the gun went off. It's a small race so it didn't take long for us to cross the start line. I like to wave at the paparazzi!

Penny, my half marathon instructor and I ran together, along with a couple others from our running group. We started off at a decent pace- just right behind the 2:15 pace bunny. It was so cold, I was just trying to get warm. My hands were freezing- I only wore my thin gloves. I forgot to change them for my thicker gloves after the change in temperature. I had my hands clenched in a ball, trying to warm them up and cursing myself for not bringing hand warmers or thicker gloves! Penny took off her gloves, saying her hands were too warm so I switched with her and it saved me! They warmed up right away.

The kilometres were clicking away but I had pretty low energy. I had to start taking my Gu Chomps around 3 or 4K. We were keeping up pace but it was a struggle. I'm so glad I had Penny (and the others) to keep me going or else I probably would have hailed a cab!

I wasn't really paying attention to my watch. Mentally I was struggling and we were getting a bit behind the 2:15 pace bunny. Thankfully for most of the race nothing really hurt, except my neck for a bit around 10K, but my body all over just didn't feel great. I think it was a combo of the cold, my small breakfast and not drinking enough water since my water bottles froze.

Around 7K, we spotted a couple of our running friends who were not racing. Our own personal cheerleaders!! It really cheered me up to see them!

At 8K, our own personal paparazzi, Howard, was set up taking pictures. He's a master with the camera so it was nice of him to brave the cold and take some great photos of us.

Despite the cold, the route was fairly clear, with only a few patches of ice here and there. Nothing like the treacherous 20K run we did 2 weeks prior. It's also a flat route.

Once we turned around (it's an out and back course with a few changes), it was even colder. The wind was now in our faces. So unpleasant!

The 2:15 pace bunny started to have ankle pain so we passed her. I still wasn't paying much attention to my watch, other than walking during the rest break. My body wasn't feeling any better- I had this weird pain in my stomach which I think might have been dehydration. My legs were feeling crampy too.

We passed Howard again. He was probably colder than us!

Around 16K Penny said we were within reach of 2:20. I just wanted to be done! I really felt like I was dragging my feet but we somehow managed to keep on pace, despite not feeling that great. I can't even describe how I felt. It wasn't one body part causing pain, which has happened before, but just having no energy and my legs felt like tree trunks. There was a lot of mantras and personal pep talks going on inside my head!

Penny, Carol and I powered through. We crossed over the last bridge, St. Patrick's bridge and we were in the home stretch. Penny said we were going to make our 2:20 goal if we kept on pace so that motivated me to keep going. I hadn't gone all that way to not make my goal!

As we got closer to the finish line, about 200m out, I saw that we were so close so I said to Penny "let's go!" and off we sprinted to the finish!

What a relief to be done!

Our cheerleaders were also handing out the medals at the finish line so that was pretty special to have them place them around our necks!

Official time was 2:19:44. We did it!!

Not a PR but my 2nd best half marathon time!

Some silly post race photos at the finish line!

What we were trying to get!

 Howard's version turned out much better!

After we waited for a few more of our running friends to finish, we went inside for the most delicious brunch ever! It's definitely part of the draw of training to do this race and train for a half in the unpredictable winter!


~ The signage for the race was great. The route was relatively well marked- could have used a few more signs closer to the finish since I think a few people didn't know which way to go. The markers were right on for distance. The new race director and his crew put a lot of effort into making sure the race ran smoothly, despite the hiccup of having to change the date a month before!

~ Always check the weather forecast as close to the race as possible! Calgary is known for it's quickly changing weather and this is a perfect example!

~ Next time it's this cold, i need to fill my water bottles with warm water and possibly wear my water belt under my jacket to keep them from freezing. There was one water station that we passed twice along the way (around 6K and 13K) but I could have used water around 16K. Thankfully Penny shared some with me.

~ I need to make sure I eat better the night before and have enough breakfast and water in the morning. I think this attributed to how rough I felt, way more so than the cold.

~ I'm so proud of myself for overcoming my mental wall and finishing in a good time. Despite how awful I felt, I never verbalized it to my race buddies since I knew that would only make it worse. I kept the negative self deprecating to myself and pushed on. It worked!

~ I love this race! It's hard to train during the winter but we were surprisingly lucky this year and didn't have too many cold and snowy days to train through. I like that we have a goal to work towards and keep us running since it's easy to skip a run on the days when the weather is less than stellar, which happens often during winter in Calgary!


  1. Congratulations on another half marathon! And for sticking with it when you didn't feel so hot. This is one race that I have never done...probably because I don't like the cold that much!

  2. Good for you for pushing through. I can't imagine doing a half in that weather. Yuck!

  3. Awesome job! I am not a cold weather runner at all. Maybe a few years ago but am a total wimp now ;) And cold wind right in your face?! Ack! Good for you to stick it out and even get a good time!

  4. Congratulations on your race! I was taking Peat for a walk by the turnaround and I spotted the 2:30 pacer. I must have missed you by a few minutes!

    It was really chilly out that morning so my hat is off to you for running a half marathon and running so fast! Well done!

  5. Congrats on your race. It sure was a chilly day and I had to forego my planned outfit as well. So great to hear you broke through that wall and your finishing photos are awesome - you look pumped!

  6. Great job!!!! Not a bad time for a winter race either!

    Omg - I'm so sick of the cold! It hasn't been above 0 for over a month :-( We are in another -20C as a high weekend. Tomorrow is the "Winterman" race that takes place during Winterlude - so some people will be running a marathon in -20C weather, with a windchill that is said to be approaching -40C - yikes!!

  7. Good work!!! IT was a cold one so extra congrats!! Love all the photos.


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