It started with a math equation: 20 degree weather + 20 mile per hour freezing wind gusts = feels like -6 degrees.
Sounds like a perfect day for a run--indoors.
The steps to solve this equation require affirmative answers to the following:
1. Do you have enough clothes to keep you warm?
-Yes, thanks to my 11th hour purchase. I'm going to break the rule and race in something I've never warn before. HUGE kudos to Nicole at Fleet Feet in Spokane for her clothing recommendations; you saved me.
2. Have you done enough training to run 13.1 miles?
-Yes, enough that I won't hurt myself, nor will I run a PR. Recently, my miles have been logged on the treadmill and transitioning back to the road is more difficult.
3. Do you have a plan if the freezing air triggers your asthma?
-Yes, I will start running and if I have a minor issue I'll slow down or walk. If that doesn't fix it and my breathing worsens, then I'll go to the nearest med station and not finish the race. My ability to breath is worth more than a medal.
4. Do you have child care covered?
-The "big boys" went fishing and my amazing mother-in-law was watching my youngest. Check, check.
5. Do you have the perseverance, grit, determination, guts (or stupidity, your choice) to run a half marathon in well below freezing temperatures?
-Yes, and I think I was about to grow a real set of balls. As my friend said, "...it confirmed you are a runner."
Apparently, I had no excuses. I was going to run a half marathon in the freezing cold. I had to laugh at myself when I was happy the temperature was up to 23 degrees (before wind chill) by the time I arrived at the race. Good grief!
When I arrived, the first thing I saw was the MedStar helicopter and Whitman County ambulance waiting to assist runners if necessary. I wasn't sure if I should be relieved or concerned. Considering we were in a location without cell service (yes, those places still exist), I opted to feel relieved. Brilliant move by the race director based on potential liability reasons.
Picked up my packet and headed back to the warm pickup to enjoy my heated seats while I waited for the race to start. I was having second thoughts. "I could leave now and no one would miss me." I wasn't meeting anyone at this race. No one would be running with me or waiting for me. But instead of leaving, I joined the crowd of runners and started on my 13 mile journey.
We're off and I tell myself this is only a long, slow training run, not a race. I cover my mouth with my neck warmer and breathe through that to keep the air in my lungs warm. The wind gusts were enough to take my breath away.
Into the headwind I take a slow and steady pace; staying positive and keeping the negative chatter out of my head. It's an out and back race along the Snake River beginning and ending at Wawawai Landing.
At about mile 5, the top runners start passing me on their way back to the finish line. I see my friends Heather and Tammy and send a muffled cheer from under my mock face mask. I know they couldn't hear me, but Tammy saw me wave.
As I run I watch for my friend Andrea. I see her just before my turnaround point. She's about a quarter of a mile ahead of me and walking. Something must be wrong so I picked up the pace and caught up to her. She was taking it slow because she was feeling dizzy. Relieved to not be suffering in the cold alone anymore, I stayed with her and we walked the rest of the way back. We had a blast, chatting the whole way while wondering if we'll ever get feeling back in our fingers. Andrea, you can be my race buddy anytime!
Tammy was a happy sight to see cheering at the finish line. Thanks for staying and making sure Andrea was okay.
My final time was 2:53. That is a LONG time to be out in that cold! I did learn the trick to put Duck tape on the top of my tennis shoes to help insulate my feet. I also learned that you don't have to exfoliate your skin, the wind burn will do that for you. My face is silky smooth right now!
Despite waking up the next morning with puffy, weepy eyes, I feel like an accomplished runner. A REAL runner, not just one who writes about her running now and then. With that, my official race season has begun. I can just feel this year will be a good one!