Monday, September 9, 2013

how to recover from Friday

When I woke up in the morning, I had the vague sense that I had committed to do something that day that was going to be important to remember. What was it?

 We had stayed up late the night before, talking to folks at the Elks Lodge.  There were all sorts of random folks out that night: a reporter from my favourite magazine, scientists, staff employees of a private super-yacht belonging to the super-rich co-founder of Microsoft (the largest expedition yacht is not something to be sneezed at), a young birthday girl, and a dark-haired guy who claimed to often be mistaken for Jake Doyle back in St. John's. The night had begun with karaoke, and wrapped up with the birthday girl and her cousin performing throat-singing to an unusually hushed audience.  Cambridge Bay in all its glory.  By the time I went to bed, I had friends who were waking up for their early Saturday morning activities.

Now I was squinting into my alarm clock wondering why eleven-thirty had been etched into my brain by Friday Night Gloria as a significant time to be remembered by Saturday Morning Gloria.  I was supposed to be somewhere by 11:30. But where?

Oh crap. I said I'd jump into the Arctic ocean again.

Why did I promise to do that?  Why does Friday Night Gloria make such promises about Saturday Morning Gloria?  Maybe nobody would remember I had said that I would do that.  But then the text messages and online messages reminding me to be at the dock told me otherwise. Everybody remembered.

I think this is how the conversation started. Some science-types guys at the Elks were doing some work, setting up cameras in the waters to track the fish in the ocean. They were diving in wetsuits.  One of the local residents may or may not have teased them that they have not really lived until they felt the chill of the Arctic Ocean directly on their bare skin, and if tonight's your last night in town, why don't you try doing it tomorrow morning at eleven-thirty before your plane leaves? And so they found themselves committing to this crazy deed.

crazy people getting ready to do crazy things

Actually, that doesn't explain at all how I got involved. I don't remember how I got roped into it.  All I knew was I was going to be there, pouring tea into a thermos bottle at the docks, ready for a whole world of pain.

It was 1°C that morning with a wind chill of -4°C. The Arctic Ocean itself was 3°C.  Some readers may remember that I had already done the Polar Bear Dip this summer as part of a fundraiser. But this was under different circumstances.  At that time, it was the warmest day of the year, and there were paramedics waiting at the side of the road in case anything happened, and also there was hot coffee being poured for us after we came out of the water.  Now, it was starting to turn towards winter, since we had already gotten our first snowfall, and there was nobody around except this one Inuk man in his pickup truck, laughing at us.


Oh, but we did it anyway.



And it was cold, and it was painful. We didn't linger very long in the ocean. You couldn't blame us. It was the Arctic Ocean.  We did it on what was basically a drunken dare. But hey, we did it.  Probably won't do it again. This year, anyway.

Jumping into the Arctic Ocean is one way to clear your groggy head after a lively Friday. Another creative solution I tried was going for a brisk run.  I had forgotten that I was planning to do the Northwest Run for Diabetes. Had I remembered that this was scheduled for the same Saturday, I might have eased up a bit the Friday night before and gone to bed earlier.  And heck, I might not have also committed to an Arctic swim hours before.  But I am not a quitter. Groggy head aside, i was going to do the run.

Participants warm up for their run. Parka hoods are one great way to warm up

Lots of the local kids participated

These runs are different in the North than the marathon races that you see in the South. For one thing, as I mentioned, it was -4°C with the windchill that day, so you have to dress appropriately and consider that you might not be able to run for as long as, say, if you were running in temperature above zero. Also, this run was less about raising money for those living with diabetes, and more about promoting awareness about diabetes to encourage a healthy lifestyle, to target the folks that were primarily at risk of diabetes.  The kids in particular really enjoyed it, and despite all the factors that took away from this run having optimal conditions (the cold weather, the groggy head, the pre-run swim), I was glad I took part.


Took this obligatory selfie with my participation medal, and then napped for the rest of the afternoon