Frozen Everything

Tuesday morning after a long weekend can be a tough one. Throw in the worst blizzard of the winter, and the office quickly becomes a ghost town. As I waited to use the coffee machine, my co-workers exchanged Family Day Weekend stories. Netflix binging, painting the living room, a game of Scrabble by the fire. All of the typical winter long weekend activities.

"How about you, Jason? Do anything fun this weekend?"

"I ran 30km at the cottage yesterday." I replied.

Silence and blank stares. Until one application developer who I've never heard speak peered his eyes at me and uttered "Whyyyyyyyy....."

"Because I'm crazy."

I tell people I'm crazy all the time. Maybe I am. Or maybe I'm just really passionate about running. Maybe it's both. 

But it's true. On the coldest weekend of the year, where the temperatures were as low at -47C, I went out there in the early morning and ran 30km. To be fair, by Monday morning the temperatures had risen to -32C, so I'm not full-blown crazy. Just a little bit.

Listen, if you can run 30 km in that kind of weather, you sure as hell can giver in a marathon. That's the point. Training tests you. It's not just the long distances. It's the cold. It's overcoming your own doubts. Going out there and doing it, even when everyone else at the cottage is in their PJ's drinking coffee, while you're putting on your running shoes and tights. They may not all fully understand, but my god they love me and support me. That's all I can ask.

So off I went at 8AM in the sub -30 degree weather to run the country roads somewhere between Apsley and Coe Hill. One thing I love about the cottage roads is that they are very hilly. Rolling hills, one after the next. Don't get me wrong, it's a pain in the ass, but they're perfect for marathon training.

About 7km in, I went to take a sip of water from my oh-so-dorky and fashionably taboo "fuelling belt", which holds four 250mL bottles of water. Uh oh. My water had frozen. All four of them. That seriously sucks. Running without water can be pretty dangerous. Yes, you can get dehydrated in the winter, especially if you are running 30 km.

At 11km, I went to take my first Gu power gel. With about 100 calories and 23 grams of carbs, these little pockets of gel are essential on any long run. Frozen. Both packs. As I shoved the Gu back into my pocket, I noticed that my outer glove (yes, I was wearing two sets of gloves) had completely frozen over. Rock solid. Soon after, both my hands began to feel a horrible, cold, sharp pain. It was brutal. Wiggling fingers and bunching my hands up into a fist inside the glove did nothing. I had another 18 kilmotres or so to go, and I had completely frozen hands. 

Next were the eyelashes. Frozen solid. Then the beard. I buckled down and just tried not to think about it. I put my mind elsewhere. I thought a lot about Boston, and all of the training I've done over the past couple of years. I thought about Katie and our upcoming wedding. The sunny beaches of our honeymoon in St. Martin. I laughed to myself as I thought of the ridiculous antics my buddies have planned for my upcoming bachelor party. Anything to lighten my spirits and to take my mind off my hands. It was honestly the coldest feeling I can ever remember. 

Note to self: When it's colder than -25, wear your Gortex snowboard gloves.

As I reached the crest of final (and steepest) hill, Katie's Dad, John, and my dog were waiting for me at the top of the driveway. "How was it?" John asked me with a bit of hesitation, probably worried that it was absolutely miserable based on the fact that I probably looked like a malnourished Yeti.

"Cold." I replied. "Cold." It's all I could think about. As I entered the cottage, I couldn't decide what I needed first - to drink all of the water in the world, or to shove my hands directly in the wood stove. I did both. (Not actually).

All in all, it was a good run. Physically, 30km is totally doable for me now, even with all the cold pain. My fitness felt great. The frozen water thing was a drag, but there's not much I can do about that. The hands thing - I felt silly. I had better gloves. I should have worn them. As I emerged from the bathroom after my 20 minute scolding shower, my lovely future mother in law presented me with the best gift a marathon runner could ask for. A massive, hearty breakfast plate full of eggs, potatoes, and bacon. Thanks, Karen.

61 Days until Boston. Stay warm, my friends.