The toughest conditions I’ve ever run in. Sigh. How do I pick just one?

There have been the runs where our makeshift balaclavas froze to our noses and the one where we ran out of water barely halfway through our trail run in the hottest of temperatures…oh yes, I have run on many a ’toughest condition’ kind of day.

But since I don’t want to bore those of your who found your way over here via the #TuesdaysontheRun linkup from MCM Mama, My No Guilt Life or Run the Great Wide Somewhere, I’ll try to stay focused on just a couple that stand out in my mind more than the others.

1. My first marathon – WDW Marathon, January 2013

Nice sweat stains, eh? Wish I could have run shirtless like that guy behind me!

Nice sweat stains, eh? Wish I could have run shirtless like that guy behind me!

I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to run a marathon but one day I got the crazy idea to sign up for the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World. I trained my heart out and the day had come – right smack dab in the middle of a Florida heat wave. Awesome.

Why it was so tough:

  • 35 deg Celsius temperatures with 100% humidity
  • Practically no shade at all on the course
  • It was my first marathon so my pace was pretty slow
  • It was like running on the surface of the sun (I feel parched just typing this)

Why it was still pretty rad anyway:

  • It was my first marathon!
  • I was running with a great friend
  • It’s hard to be down when you’re at WDW
  • WDW did a great job of adding sponge stations, sprinklers and whatever they could to help cool us down

2. My wettest marathon – Surrey Marathon, September 2013

This was actually before the REAL downpour began and when I still had some motivation left!

This was actually before the REAL downpour began and when I still had some motivation left!

My year started off with my first and hottest marathon and ended off with one of my wettest. I was beginning to think that every time I ran a marathon, I was going to encounter extreme conditions! Surrey Marathon was my third full marathon and after training through one of our hottest summers, it was a shock to find a super downpour on race day.

Why it was so tough:

  • It was raining so hard for much of the race that it felt more like swimming than running
  • It was so wet that Course Marshalls left their stations early and friends went off course
  • It was a double-loop course and that second loop was the wettest, longest and toughest loop ever

Why it was still pretty rad anyway:

  • Despite the crappy rain, tons of friends came out to cheer us on
  • It was my sister’s very first marathon and she killed it (but then she very nearly froze to death waiting for me soaking wet at the finish line!)
  • I had co-instructed a marathon clinic for this race and it was so rewarding seeing them finish their first full marathon!

3. My other wettest marathon – BMO Vancouver Marathon, May 2014

garbage bag

The BMO Vancouver Marathon is just one of those events that means the world to me. It was my first half marathon nearly 7 years ago and has become, by far, my favourite marathon course too. In 2013 it was super hot for early May which made it a tough slog but 2014 took the cake but for the opposite reason and what Vancouver is known best for – RAIN! Like crazy, pounding, relentless rain.

Why it was so tough:

  • I was soaked by the time I walked from the SkyTrain to the race start
  • I was trying really hard to make a 4:30 finish so the pace was tough to begin with but the crazy rain only made it harder
  • I somehow missed the one spectator I wanted to see most out on the course
  • As the km ticked by I swear I could feel how much heavier my clothes were getting because they had soaked up so much water
  • We were all so cold by the time we finished that everyone just wanted to get home instead of hang out

Why it was pretty rad anyway:

  • My good friend Candice was the pace bunny
  • I beat the 4:30 I was hoping for and finished in 4:18, rain and all
  • John Stanton handed me my medal at the finish line
  • It felt pretty hardcore to be able to say I PR’d in such yucky conditions

So yeah, when I think of all the racing and training I’ve done, these three races definitely stand out for having the worst, hottest/wettest/coldest, most challenging, defeating, un-motivating and toughest conditions of them all. But training your body to run long distances is only part of the intoxicating challenge of running – being able to conquer whatever conditions you find on race day is a huge part of it too. 

Those chips were hard-earned that day!

Those chips were hard-earned that day!

So while I don’t look back fondly on the conditions these particular days, I DO feel incredibly proud to have run an entire marathon under those conditions. And one thing I know for sure, I’ll take cold and rain any day over heat and humidity! 

Be sure to check out what everyone else has to say about their toughest running conditions yet by visiting the linkup!

Tuesdays on the Run


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  1. Leana    

    Oof, I remember that rain at BMO Vancouver so well. Considering it doesn’t rain that much in Calgary I was definitely not used to it! Running in the cold and snow is hard, but at least you can bundle yourself up. I think running in the rain is much tougher. Good for you for running all of those crazy wet marathons!
    Leana recently posted…Running Through My ShoesMy Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      Yeah you guys are in a whole other boat with the cold temperatures you have. I think it all really comes down to gear – rain or cold – so much better when you’re wearing the right stuff. I think that’s why hot sun is so hard. You can only wear so few clothes and then there’s not much else you can do!

  2. Jamie @ Wandering Portlander    

    Ugh. Those sound like quite the races. The heat especially would kill me…though, Portland has its share of rainy days that really make running hard.
    Jamie @ Wandering Portlander recently posted…If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…My Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      The rain used to really bug me when I first started running but as I slowly amassed a collection of good gear, it bothered me less and less. Now I kind of like it, it can be quite peaceful out on a rainy day. I’ll still take a nice cool cloudy day over rain but if you compare it to hot sun, I’ll go rain all day long! I’m hoping to get down to Portland next year for a race…

  3. April at RunTheGreatWideSomewhere    

    Wow those are some tough conditions! Great job making it happen despite the weather! Thanks for linking up with us!

    1. slowfastnik    

      Well thank you for hosting! It can be so fun to have writing prompts so thanks for always making them stuff I can relate to!

  4. Jill Duhaime    

    The WDW Marathon in 2013 was my first marathon too! I felt like I was marching through hell in that hot sun! I remember stopping and sitting down in that baseball field haha.

    1. slowfastnik    

      It was the most horrible awful set of conditions I can ever remember. I felt like I was running in a sauna! So not only was I going the longest distance I’d ever run, I was doing it in those crazy hot conditions. And yes, it was totally a march. We called it the death-march or zombie-walk because after a certain amount of time, everywhere you looked ppl were walking, nobody was running anymore… Crazy. However, it made it possible for one heck of a PR at my second marathon!

  5. MCM Mama    

    I’ve run a lot of awful half marathons, but both of my marathons were close to perfect weather. I’m totally in awe of you running a full in that rain. WTG! And thanks for joining our linkup!
    MCM Mama recently posted…5 Soups Friday!My Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      Well thank you very much for hosting it!

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