Hypothermic Half Marathon.

First of all, I SURVIVED. Considering this was my main goal for this race, I think I did a pretty good job. 

I got up nice and early, watched the mens Canadian gold medal hockey game, and enjoyed my favourite pre-race breakfast of a bagel with peanut butter and banana. I checked the weather forecast, freaked myself out a little more, and then began getting ready. It took a solid 20 minutes to assemble all of my layers. My mom and her friend from British Columbia drove me to the starting line. The sky was unbelievably blue and all of the flags we drove past weren’t moving which is quite a rare thing in Alberta. After one last trip to pee (because you needed to know that), everyone headed out into the cold and lined up at the start. 

I don’t know why I was closing my eyes… I was likely trying to focus on not being cold. I only started the race with the neck warmer on, but I couldn’t actually breathe with it over my mouth and/or nose, and breathing is kind of important when running, so it settled around my neck for the race. 

We didn’t have to stand for long and before I knew it, we were off! The course was a double loop course which I always have doubts about because running past the finish line and not getting to stop is kind of annoying, but for this race it was great. I felt awesome knowing where I was going for the second loops and knowing exactly how far I had left. There was one aid station on the course which we ran by 4 times. I didn’t grab water once. Oops.

For the first few miles I wondered why it was so quiet. I had bundled up in the morning and put my earbuds in my ears, layering my toque AND headband on top so they would stay in place, but didn’t turn my iPod on, anticipating turning my music on just before we went outside to start the race. I forgot. No wonder it was so quiet, so I took off my mitten layer and fumbled around in my iPod pocket trying to turn it on. I finally got it started but couldn’t change it to my running playlist with gloves on and had no intentions of taking my gloves off, so “All songs” was what I got to listen to. There were far too many slow songs but at least I got some “Blurred Lines” and “Anything” during the last few miles.

It took my legs about 7 miles to warm-up. The first loop (~10km) felt harder than the second loop. I finally got warm and ready to run after over half of the race was over. Oh well. My hands were really hot and sweaty after a couple miles so I took off my mittens for about 7 miles and then put them back on at the end when my hands started getting cold again. I may have overdressed but not by much, and I think I would rather be too warm than too cold. 

Being a double loop course, with start times of 8:00 am (walkers), 9:00 am (early bird runners, like ME), and 10:00 am… there were always people around. Whether you were passing them after running behind them and chasing them, or passing them running the other way, there was a ton of spirit on the course. It was funny to see everyone’s frost covered faces! I put Vaseline on my cheeks and nose and I think it really helped. I didn’t escape the face-frost completely though! I really enjoyed the slight downhill to the finish line.

No matter how many times I said “Oh, I don’t have a goal for this race,” fellow runners will know that obviously, I had a goal. I honestly didn’t know how hard it would be to run in -25 degrees Celsius so I didn’t want to create an insane PR-goal or anything but I decided I would try and maintain my goal marathon pace (8:00 min/mile) for this half marathon. I did pretty well and my average pace was 7:51 min/mile for a time of 1:42:29 (according to my Garmin). 

Happy to be done! No frostbite… just frost 😉 These dudes are really speedy… and can apparently run crazy fast in this cold weather! 

After cooling down a bit (which takes about 47 seconds when you stop running and realize it is actually freezing cold outside), we headed inside to eat our well-earned brunch that is included in the registration for this race. I am so glad I brought another shirt to change into after the race because when I got inside, all of the frost melted on my clothes and they were soaking wet. I was also probably sweating with all of my layers so there’s that 😉 There was tons of food and it was all delicious! I enjoyed coffee, water, tons of fruit, some scrambled eggs, and potato hash browns. 

My mom had registered for this race when I did, but due to injury and her fear of the cold (hmm, I wonder where I get it from), she decided not to do this race. She is a hard-core marathon walker and had her layers of clothes all ready to go last night but decided it wasn’t worth the risk of injury/frostbite to race today. BUT one race bib = one brunch. It doesn’t matter whether you walked or ran 13.1 miles or drove a warm car to Starbucks to get a mocha, you still get the brunch 😉

She was happy with her choice of not racing after seeing tons of people run by with frost all over their faces and the insane amount of poor running form due to frozen legs and stiff bodies. I think she is a little jealous of my gorgeous medal though. I plan on wearing it every day for the next week by the way. 

The brunch was awesome, but of course, I made my dad go with me to Starbucks after the race for some post-race reward coffee. We went to a Starbucks in Chapters to look around at some books and such. I always end up in the same section… weird. 

It was a great race and despite my major fear of being cold and frostbitten, the sun was shining, and once I got running, it was fabulous. My Garmin tells me that it was -25 (feels like -32). If I can run sub-8:00 min/mile in that then I can run it in anything! I accomplished my main goal of surviving the race, and my hopeful time-goal of sub-1:45 with a 1:42:29 half marathon. 

I considered this my long run for the week, so here is a look at how marathon training, week two, went!

 My eyelashes may have been frozen for the entire race but I had fun, wasn’t cold, and it was a great “training run” 🙂 I can’t wait for training week number three!


  1. Great finish to a great week of training! Loved the frosty pics and also loved the pics where you were actually AIRBORNE! Awesome re-cap, Kris, and congrats on the race result, especially considering the conditions!

  2. Wow, Awesome job on your 1/2!!! Your frosty pics look really bad ass. 😉 My Hypo half is next Sunday and I’m really hoping it isn’t that cold here. I love post-race coffee and brunch 😀

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