Jumping into a hole in the ice when temps are hovering around 0F and windchills are even colder… sounds crazy, right?? Walking more than 3 miles before jumping into that lake in the bitter cold sounds just as crazy, right? Well, in both situations, you’re right! Yet, given the insanity of it all, this is exactly what happened last weekend!
Our team of 9 was to meet at Lake Calhoun for the Polar Bear Plunge and 5K to benefit the Special Olympics of MN. We parked in the wrong parking lot, and had to walk just over a mile and a half extra in the super cold morning. Not exactly the way to start out the day. It’s hard to believe how tight your muscles can feel, even just while walking, when it’s that cold outside.
By the time we met up with our team, we had a very short amount of time to get everyone their bibs, etc. We had time to get hand warmers, and a quick group shot. We headed back out into the bitter cold to walk around the lake. Good thing we had great company! It helped us feel a bit warmer than we actually were.
We had originally intended to run at least part of the 5K. The ice and uneven road made walking difficult. The two boys managed to run some (in between slipping, sliding, and climbing snowbanks). We let them go ahead of us. They were having fun! As a group, we finished in just over an hour.
When we got to the warming tent, we met up with the husband of one of our team mates. He took my two kids (the girl and younger boy), and went over to the beach to video tape our plunge into the icy cold water. The remaining 7 of us headed into the changing tents to prepare to jump. As we walked to the lake, I think we all started to question why we were doing this on such a frigid morning.
I’m not sure I can capture the thoughts that were going through my head as I stood under that giant inflatable bear, staring into the water below. I was cold, but I wasn’t even thinking about that. I was trying to prepare myself for the shock that I was sure was to come as soon as we hit the water. Thank goodness the emcee reminded us that we were jumping in support of the Special Olympics. My thoughts went to my friend Lizzy (a Special Olympics athlete) just as I jumped.
So… there was this myth that I heard that said since the water was 32 degrees, and the air temp was well below that, the water would feel like bath water. This myth is FALSE!! The water was cold. In fact, it was shockingly cold!! It almost took your breath away as soon as you were in. I was not brave enough to go under water. Since I’ve been sick since about December, I thought it wise not to push it. It didn’t matter. It was still freezing cold. As soon as I started climbing the steps to get out of the water, I’m pretty sure everything that was wet started to freeze. I mean literally freeze, like, turn into ice. I went as quickly as I could back to the changing tents (I’m not sure if I actually ran or not, since I felt like a snowman). The tunnel taking us back was supposed to be heated. It certainly didn’t feel very warm!
Trying to get changed back into our dry clothes proved to be a challenge. I couldn’t feel anything from my hips down. My butt and legs were completely numb, and my fingers were very stiff from the cold. Peeling off wet (and partially frozen) clothes in those conditions is more than a little tricky. Eventually, we all managed to get dry clothes on, and headed back to the warming tent. I welcomed the free coffee Caribou was serving, and didn’t even care there was no creamer!
So, why did we go through all this madness? To raise money for a good cause! Our team raised almost $2300 (and that’s not including the kids who weren’t registered online). Thank you to all of our donors!! While we didn’t get my husband a unicorn tattoo, we raised a very respectable amount to support Special Olympics and their programs. We appreciate everyone who cheered us on, supported us, tweeted or shared our links, etc. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
People keep asking me if I will do it again. At this point, I’m unsure if I will take the plunge again… we’ll see.
Related link: Jumping in an Ice Cold Lake for a Cause