I was stalking the Weather Network for days - watching with ever-increasing dread the doomsday predictions of 25-30cm of snow, 45+ km/hour winds and a temperature of -10C with the windchill. Boxing Day was not shaping up to be a very nice day for a ten-mile race.
Running 16 kilometres, a huge chunk of which goes along Hamilton Harbour (which empties into nearby Lake Ontario), with winds howling off the lake and snow accumulating with every step was not exactly how I wanted to spend Boxing Day.
But we signed up, I had trained (well, sorta) and a whole bunch of us were committed - including my Israeli brother-in-law who had never before run in temperatures below +10C. If he could do it, so could I.
By the time race day had arrived, the predictions dropped to 15-20cm of snow and 35km/hour winds - which seemed rather trivial in comparison. The race started at noon and snow was not supposed to start until the late afternoon. The wind, however, was whipping at 7am when we woke up and showed no signs of stopping.
It was hard to know how to dress. Minus ten isn't that cold for a run but with high winds like we were having, I didn't want to underdress...or overdress.
I settled on running tights (not lined), short little socks that left my ankles exposed (the only kind I ever wear), a thin, long-sleeved shirt, a thick, windproof, long sleeved shirt and a thin jacket. I wore a running toque (as opposed to a wool one) and my gloves that have a wicked mitt that you can pull overtop in the dire cold and pull back when you get too warm.
Oh, and lots of lipgloss and face cream.
Running at noon means that there is plenty of time to hydrate (a big bonus the day after Christmas) but it also means that I have to make up my blood sugar routine as I go since I normally run before breakfast rather than midday.
I got up at 7am and my blood sugar was 7.0. I had cereal and a banana with a full bolus at 7:30am. By 9:45am I was 10.0 which was pretty good and figured I would drop back to 6 or 7 by race time.
At 10:30am (an hour and a half before the race, I dropped my basal to 60%).
At 11am, I was 12.2 (dammit!). I wanted a date and a gel before the race or I would be starving. I didn't want any insulin in my system if I could help it. I obviously couldn't help it so I bolused one unit at 11am and crossed my fingers that I wasn't making a big mistake.
At 11:30am I was 10.0 (dropping fast!). I had a date and had my gel at 11:50. The race began ten minutes later.
Five minutes in, I began to regret my decision to wear three layers as I was already overheating. Ten minutes in, we turned a corner and were hit face on by the wind from the lake. Regret turned to gratitude and I immediately hoped that my brother-in-law, who started farther back in the pack, didn't start crying in despair when he felt the full force of the wind. Never having run in a Canadian winter before, he was in for a pretty intense initiation.
Fifteen minutes in, I was now used to the wind and the cold and I began to have fun. We ran along Hamilton Harbour for several kilometres and the waves were crashing something fierce. Gulls were trying to fly but were struggling simply to hold their position. Flocks of geese were landing and taking off and, every few minutes, we passed a hardy spectator who cheered us on. The sky was wild with clouds and I was suddenly very grateful to be a Canadian and to be able to run in all weather. Not much makes one feel more alive than being part of a weather experience like that.
The race went quite well - despite the weather, my lack of training and my pre-race blood sugars. I drank a small glass of gatorade at all three water stops and, at 12k, my blood sugar was 8.2. I ran well other than the short walk at the top of the nasty hill and I finished with a blood sugar of 8.0 and a PB of 1:43:40.
My brother-in-law came roaring in a few minutes later, looking strong and totally Canadian in his toque and winter running gear. He finished with a huge grin and proudly got his snowman finisher medal.
Sadly, there are no photos to post because the regular race photographers were all running and no one other than my crazy sister in her parka even waited for us at the finish line. Too cold!
So you'll have to trust me when I say that the Boxing Day Ten Miler was bitterly cold, horribly windy and an absolute blast.