Posted by: Karen | January 8, 2005

Nose Creek XC

Dawn has some great shots of our race adventure today.

It was particularly nasty outside for this race. It was -18C/-4F, it has been snowing off and on for the last three days, and it’s cloudy. To top it off there was a chilly wind which thankfully we only had to face for about 1/3 of the race. I heard on the radio the wind chill made it feel like -27C/-16F.

Dawn and I stayed in my van until about 10 minutes before the race started, and then ventured outside to do some kind of warm-up. Dawn and I took a few pictures and enjoyed telling masked racers to “smile”! I had inadvertently left my face-covering scarf at home and was a little apprehensive that my face was going to get chilly. Dave C. kindly offered me the use of a neon pink neck warmer and I was very grateful. Don’t ask him why he had a neon pink neck warmer in his car…

I hopped up and down with several other racers trying to keep warm and we all laughed at how crazy we were. I couldn’t hear George the Race Director’s instructions before the race, because even though the crowd quieted down, the crunch of snow under feet hopping to stay warm was too loud. George blew his whistle and we were off into the wind, at the top of a ridge.

The wind whipped right through my cloth mitts, but I had doubled them up, so my hands never got badly cold. I had to alternate having my mouth and nose covered with tucking the neck warmer under my chin, to keep my glasses from fogging up. I had rubbed some Anti-Fog goop on my glasses before leaving the house, but they still fogged up. They did clear up rather quickly though, and the fog didn’t freeze into frost on them as it has at other times. Even when the glasses weren’t fogged, the race was a big white blur, as the cloud of my breath often obscured the white, snow covered path.

I had to keep blinking to keep the ice blobs forming on my eyelashes from sticking them together. Do you think God made our tears salty to so our eyes are harder to freeze shut? One ice drop in the corner of my right eye made it to the end of the race – I plucked it out with my fingers.

This race course is a double loop. It had been shortened somewhat (from 8 to 6km) due to the extremity of the weather, saving us the trouble of climbing two huge hills I usually dread. I was very happy that I wasn’t lapped for once.

My toes felt like big ice chunks for the first while, and seemed to get worse as I repeatedly plunged my feet into the snow the first 10 minutes into the race. For a short while they didn’t feel like toes at all, just almost-numb big knobs. I told myself that if they didn’t warm up by the turn-off point for the short option that I would head straight for the clock, short course or no.

Dang it, my toes warmed up just 5 minutes before I got to the short-race option point. About a minute after I made the deal with myself, the toes started to tingle and slowly thaw. I actually stopped and did a systems check half-way through, at 20 minutes. Yep, all body parts felt present and healthily attached, so I carried on and did the darn loop all over again. The second loop was actually a little better at first, because I had finally warmed up. My hands were sweating like crazy in my mitts, and I was thankful they were breathable. Leah, a starting-over runner was right on my tail throughout the second loop, and we commiserated together over hills and along the frozen creek. I appreciated the company.

The volunteers were just amazing today. I don’t know how they were able to just stand out there in the cold and wind, but I really appreciate them being there. There were lots of flags that got trampled in the snow, and I’m glad the volunteers were there to keep us from going off course. I haven’t run that course in so much snow in a long time. The footing was quite variable, but I didn’t encounter much ice.

On the second time down a very steep hill I made it down the hill fine, but did a cheerleader’s split at the bottom. The ground just came up a bit fast. The snow was soft and I was all warmed up, so I just popped up and kept on going.

Finally in the last uphill stretch towards the finish I told Leah to go past me. The backs of my legs just didn’t want to do this any more. I was very thankful for the short course today! It felt good to have gone out and conquered the weather once again.

I yahoo’d my way into the finish, and Dawn and I headed straight to the hall to change and have soup.


  1. I think I’ll go to the basement and get on “Dready” that sounds like a cold miserable way to get a run in!! Your braver than I am.

  2. Wow, Karen. That’s some race! You are tough!!!! How will you adjust to the Florida temps for that Tampa race????

  3. Human tears ice cubes plucked from the corner of your eye!!!
    “There are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamed of…”
    I NEVER would’ve imagined something like this! ME in Calgary: I’d be like one of those folk tales…[Background for the tale: as a kid, I always cried in the snow – too cold, too wet, too miserable!].

    — The Tale of Calgarian *jeanne* —

    Out too long in the sparse winter landscape, running to train for some far-flung MMMMMMarathhhhhhhonnnnn in a mystical place of sun and sand, known only as Penguin Winter Carnival. Too cold, too wet, too miserable, I am crying and my tears run down my face in rivers, until they freeze me to the spot like a human ice sculpture…abject despair on my features as I slip into hypothermic hypnotised sleep, realizing I’m all ALONE out here…Later on, a primitive band of survivalist campers would stumble upon me. Touched by the pathos of my lone frozen death, they would make their camp around me…build a fire as a funeral homage…and I would thaw. With the morning light, I’d wake up as if I’d only been in a deep deep sleep. Thank them and let them lead back to civilization…

    And then I’d buy a plane ticket to Maui and live there in the warmth and tropical breezes ALL THE REST OF MY DAYS!


  4. […] I never thought I’d PAY to run in conditions I wouldn’t voluntarily go for a hike in (see some of my extreme-weather race reports from recent winters). I also never would have believed that I’d MISS those crazy XC races in between seasons. […]


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