Hypothermia at Mile 10

I probably should have written about this experience last weekend when it was fresh, but traumatic runs in inclement weather forever burn in my memory. I won’t forget anytime soon.


Last Sunday I had a 22 mile easy long run on the calendar. Looking at the weather the night before, I knew it was supposed to rain, however I optimistically believed it would stop shortly after I began. It also wasn’t projected to be very hard and the temperature would hoover at 39 degrees.

I actually worried I would overdress.

I began at 6:15AM in a light rain and a base layer, long spandex, a rain jacket and light gloves. The first few miles climbing up to campus and Ellis Hollow went alright. I remembered to bring nutrition so I felt confident that I set myself up well. Also with the rain, I wasn’t too worried about drinking, which was good because I didn’t bring a bottle.

At about mile 6 I had the first thought “damn I am really cold.” I told myself that if it didn’t stop by mile 10, I’d finish up inside. I still believed however that the weather would turn and I’d be fine. After I hit mile 8, I couldn’t feel my fingers or much else and I started getting a bit emotional.

This is when I know I am about to hit a danger zone body-wise. I start sobbing and catastrophizing. I told myself I was going inside no matter the weather, I just had to get to the gym, which was around 10 miles. Miles 9 and 10 were kind of sketchy. I was running into a freezing rain and wind, downhill and my legs decided they didn’t want to respond. I felt like a newborn foal trying to get off the ground.

I was so cold. Everywhere.

I made it to the gym a sobbing, wet mess and struggled for 5 minutes to get my pocket unzipped so I could get my key to go inside. I finally got the door open and then slipped on the wet stairs going down to the basement (where the gym is located). I bashed my head and based on a few bruises, my hip, butt and back. I got up, figuring nothing else could go wrong, and made it into the space.

I stripped off all my wet gear and stepped onto the treadmill figuring I’d try at least. Well, my legs still didn’t want to respond, and running 10 minute miles was a sprint. I was disoriented and it was a lot of work to stay on the treadmill.

My body was just so cold, this was it’s way of warming back up.

After 2 miles of this, I reassessed and felt a bit more “together”. Time felt like it was both slow and fast. The 12 miles I ended up running on the treadmill felt like nothing, even at my pace of 8:40 miles. That was the fastest I could go.

Easy run meant really easy I suppose.

I finished the run and at this point it’s 10AM. I had been out for almost 4 hours. I knew it was time to get home. I started walking home from the gym in my tank top, still in the freezing rain. My clothes were soaked so I putting them on was silly.

About halfway home I realized I had left my keys inside the locked gym.

So I went back. In the freezing rain. In my tank top.

Then, I laughed.

Everything was really funny.

Things really couldn’t get much worse. So I laughed.

I rested. I ate. I warmed up. I got through it.

It might have been a shit show. I probably should have stopped at mile 10 and called it. But you live and learn. I’d have spent the rest of the day wondering if I’d have been able to finish.

This run, was a chance I was willing to take.

Ellie Pell