I don't want to be too lengthy in my descriptions of the difficulties of running with numb feet, or trying to open energy gel packets on the go with lobster claws where hands should be. Neither am I going to overly stress how tricky it is to drink water from a squeeze bottle when you can't feel your lips. Or hands. (Meaning, no squeeze.) Well, then you can always drink the water provided at the water stations, right? You just need to remove the ice layer floating in the cups first. And then swallow the freezing liquid. When you're already numb from cold, everywhere.
Then, as you eventually cross the finishing line and someone hands you a power bar (which you can't get out of the box without help - lobster claws, remember?) and a water bottle (whose cap there is no chance whatsoever you will be able to unscrew), it's a little problematic to hold on to the aluminum foil blanket they hung over your shoulders, so you lose it immediately but are too stiff to bend down and get it so you leave it. You then limp all the way to the bus stop in wet, sweaty clothes, carefully cradling the water and energy bar you so badly need but can't uncork/unwrap. When you get there, the bus is waiting at the stop but your legs just won't move fast enough so you inevitably have to see it leave right before you get to it. When the next one shows up about 15 minutes later you almost cry of joy, and then you almost cry for other reasons as you try to enter the vehicle. The bus driver sees your struggle to lift one leg after the other in some sort of organized manner, and loudly exclamates OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH!!! so that everyone in the entire bus stares at you as you not-so-elegantely flop down on a seat. Then you almost cry again as an older gentleman solemnly applauds your effort (because you're still in marathon gear; bib, medal and all).
Finally, when you get off the bus (not very elegantely either) your entire body has started shaking uncontrollably to the point where you're nearly incapable of getting the house key into the lock. (Again, lobster hands are not helping.) Once inside, you see yourself in the mirror and get a slight shock. What the heck have you been eating, and how did you get it all over your mouth? It almost looks like dirt! You're confused, until you realize that it's neither dirt nor food: your face has become blue from the cold.
At this point, only one thing matters: to get warm. So you do the only right thing: fill your bathtub with hot (!) water, bring a cup of hot (!) tea to the tub, plus the power bar and water bottle you still haven't been able to get to. When the water gets too cold, you empty the tub and continue with a hot (!) shower. To hell with global warming; all that matters is that your icy bone marrow melts.
So... Without going in too deep into detail of my endeavours (I really don't want to bore you) I'll just conclude that running marathons in negative Celsius is not my thing. But damn, did I do well! 03:35:55, ladies and gentlemen.
Pre-race mirror selfie. (Yes, I look a little tense, because I was a little tense.)
A closer look at the result.
I'm now sitting in my little Christmas-decorated place, happy and proud, and still full from the late brunch that David and Amelia treated me to after I regained some color to my face (anything but blue).
Perhaps I should try a summer run next time...? (Hah.)
Thank you all, for encouragement, thoughtful comments and happy cheer! It means the world to know that you've all got my back, and that I can share my happiness with you. Extra gratitude goes to Paprik, for excellent long-distance coaching (in dual sense).
Love to all!