Insane? Absolutely! Especially for someone who hates being cold and for someone who is prone to bronchitis. And it is the latter weakness that which prevented me from doing it year after year.
This year was different. I have been healthier than ever and feeling strong. Hubs had done it. The big boys that I run with were doing it. This was going to be my year to dip. You know how it is: I have to keep up with the boys.
Besides, I had a little network of friends involved at the race. I had coached the daughter of one of the event organizers, The Courage Brothers; I worked with the wife. another organizer at school; Colin Mochrie, the celebrity involved with the event, was a neighbour in Toronto. This year, I really felt that I should be there.
After this morning’s treacherous 5 mile training run, though, I was ready to bail. I felt lousy the entire time. I had overdressed, I over-heated, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was picking up Hubby’s cold. Maybe going into Lake Ontario on January 1st when you’re feeling sick isn’t such a great idea.
But it takes a lot to get me to back down from something. At 1:00, the four of us – sick husband, Skipper, Little Ironman and me – went to Coronation Park so that I could go for a little dip in the lake.
Coronation Park is normally a great place to visit. The unseasonably warm temperatures and rain, though, had resulted in fields which were a mixture of grass, mud and goose-poo, making every step a careful one. The boys were wearing their winter boots; I was in socks and sandals. I couldn’t wait to get into the cold but cleaner water.
Standing in line to register was a whole new experience for me. I was surrounded by cigarette fumes, something I never have to deal with at a road race. I started to wonder what I got myself into.
Skipper was set to be my spotter. At first, he thought he was going to be able to stay with Daddy and Little Ironman and take pictures; he wasn’t too excited about being with me. Once he saw his friend, Graeme, who was waiting with the first wave to go in, Skipper started to relax a bit about his duty.
The two of us headed to the rocks, surrounded by a mish-mash of participants, including people dressed in costume, tattooed-covered men, bikini-clad women, cool dudes and an obviously more athletic group looking to have some fun. Yes, fun.
I pulled out my own little outfit to wear: my cheetah running skirt, matching blanket that Skipper used for the Santa Claus parade, and ears and tail whipped together by Supermom Katherine. I played the lost cheetah, looking for the jungle but ending up in the north.
When my wave was lining up, I couldn’t figure out where to stand. I knew I didn’t want to be at the front, and I worried about being pushed by an over-excited first-timer so I settled in close to the back of the pack. I waited and tried to stay warm by moving my legs and shaking my arms. My race face was back at home but I was ready.
And, then we all ran into the water, cold water that was only two degrees (celcius). I kept my socks and sandals on so that I could run and not worry about stepping on something, and I’m pretty sure that I had a negative split. As soon as I came out, I took off my wet socks and dried my feet; I was warm again.
Wrapped in my cheetah blanket, I headed to the tent to change out of my wet clothes and put on my layers. Wet clothes, freshly-greened socks and towel were carefully wrapped together to go straight into the laundry when we got home. And, the boys’ boots; well, they had their own dip – but in hot, hot soapy water.