My First Half – Hypothermic Half 2015

(finally.. one year late.. A review.)

In July 2014 I was  perusing the Running Room website when I noticed the info for the Hypothermic Half in February 2015 and immediately knew that I wanted to do it.   I had already committed to doing my first 5k at CIBC Run for the Cure in October and my first 10k three weeks later at Legs for Literacy. So why not do a Half Marathon in February?  My logic was.. if I can run 5k, then I can run 10k and if I can do 10k I can do 21k.  Makes sense, right?

First things first… get the 5k and the 10k done before starting training for the Hypo. Both races went well.    Several hundred people crossed the finish line before me, but a couple of hundred were behind me too.

Half Marathon Training  began in November.   I was doing this mostly solo with some advice from a few buddies and my good friend Google.   The training program that I used was Toronto Woman’s Run Series Program. I chose this because it made the most sense to me.   It was easy to stick to the program…. until January.  Ice storms and freezing temperatures made training a challenge and I had to skip some of the speed training sessions and just focus on covering the distance.  Two weeks before the event I managed to run 21k on a training run and it was a relief to know that I could do it.   I was ready.. or so I thought.

Temperature was between -18c and -25c during the run.  The streets were lined with high snowbanks but the pavement was mostly bare.  I had given careful consideration to my wardrobe and I got the layers just right, though the hat was too warm. With two other layers underneath , my funky pants were perfect.  My water bottle froze and I ended up discarding it but then the empty hydration belt provided some unnecessary bulk underneath my jacket.

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My biggest mistake at my first Half was my lack of Fuel strategy.  At the time I thought that running was simply about putting one foot in front of the other.. over and over again.   I didn’t carb load prior to the race.. I didn’t fuel my body during the race… and I Bonked somewhere between 17k and 21k.   My memory is very hazy but I remember feeling lethargic and nauseous and I just didn’t care how long it took me to get to the finish line. But I somehow managed to finish without dying and there are pictures of me smiling so I must have been happy but I really don’t remember it. Or maybe it’s a grimace?

Since then I have become educated about glucose and carbs and will not make that mistake again.  Coincidentally ( or not?)  I became very sick within a few days of the race and wonder if I might have compromised my immune system by allowing my glucose levels to become completely depleted. ? Or maybe I just caught a nasty flu bug from someone and couldn’t kick it.

And.. oh… the Day After!  I could barely walk. Thank goodness I had booked the day off work.  It was about day 65 of my Run Streak and the Streak would have ended then if I hadn’t been so damned stubborn.  I knew that I had to at least try so I laced up my running shoes and walked ever-so-slowly for 10 or 15 minutes.  Surprisingly the muscles started to loosen up a bit and I ran a gentle mile before slowing to a walk again.  This was my first experience with Active Recovery and it made me a believer.

Why was I so sore?   A couple of reasons… first, I did not stretch afterwards.  Yes, I walked around but didn’t do any cool down stretches. I think I was just so relieved to finish that I just wanted to go home. Since then I have learned to stretch.. and stretch good!  … after every run.  Secondly.. I think  I pushed myself beyond a comfortable pace early in the race.  At the time I was running naked ( no Garmin) so I don’t know what my splits were but I’ll bet they weren’t negative.  My average pace was 7:05 even though I walked / crawled the last 3 km.  This is much faster than I was running at the time so I know that my pace early in the race was too fast.  Pacing is so important.

It was a great accomplishment for me to train for and finish this race.  I love the distance.. it was tough but very achievable.  And Winter Racing is so Bad Ass! This is definitely a race that will part of my annual race schedule.

Hats off to the organizers and volunteers who made this race possible.  Running in cold temperatures is not so bad… but standing around marshaling runners or manning water stations…. that has to be cold.  Well done, folks.

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