Sunday, February 28, 2010

Polar Plunge

Did I mention that becoming the president of my running club has made me officially a crazy person? Before I became a runner, I always thought runners were stupid or crazy. Now that I'm a runner, I can tell you that we're actually both. For some stupid and crazy reason I think I can run a marathon now (I'll let you know how that goes in October, after 10/10/10 in Victoria, British Columbia.) And for some stupid and crazy reason I've become the leader of a group that does things like annual underwear runs and polar dips. This year I skipped out of the underwear run (I wasn't president yet so I didn't feel the need to prove myself.) However, I was president by the time the annual polar dip rolled around and I felt compelled to participate!

I'm sure you've seen polar dippers on the news before. A lot of them jump into very cold water around New Year's Day. Well, our running group has an annual run every January that is followed by a jump into Puget Sound. When I was asked if I would participate this year I emphatically said "No Way!" I said I would do the run, but I would not be jumping into the freezing water, I'd be watching the polar dippers and laughing at them instead. I was told that it was my duty as president to jump. I again said "NO!" I explained that I am a warm water girl. I grew up swimming in the Gulf of Mexico where the water feels warmer than the bathtub. This cold water up here in the Pacific Northwest is not up my alley. (Do you remember this summer when it was unseasonably hot and Robb and I went to natural swimming holes up in the mountains? It was all I could do to put my feet in the water. I couldn't imagine getting into that water when it was 90 degrees outside! How would it be possible for me to jump into Puget Sound in the middle of winter?)

But, as my friends in the running club often do, they just plant a seed in my mind and I start thinking it over and it starts to grow. I started to gradually think about doing the jump. I thought how cool it would be to say that I did it, especially because I'm a warm water girl. I thought about the fact that very few women have participated in this club ritual, and it might be fun to carry the torch (or icicle if you will) for my gender. I thought about how participating in a polar plunge would be a real Pacific Northwest-y thing to do. I thought about how moving to Washington without a job, without knowing a soul, and without looking back 2.5 years ago was a pivotal point in my life that allowed me to prove that I could take on adventures I never dreamed possible before. I thought that in 50 years I want to look back on my life and be proud of the opportunities I took and the experiences I had. So I decided to take the plunge. And I started telling people I would do it so I wouldn't back out!

The day of the run was a cool January day. It started out raining and miserable, but by that afternoon the sun was shining. We ran 5 miles to a little bridge in Gig Harbor, WA that is the perfect place to jump. Arriving there though we discovered that we arrived at very, very, very low tide. If we were to jump off that bridge, the fall and landing into the shallow water would probably maim us (if not kill us.) I was relieved and disappointed at the same time that my polar plunge wouldn't happen. But a couple of brave souls decided that instead of jumping we should just run into the water instead. So, the plungers (all men and me!) changed our shoes, took a few before pictures, and then ran in! It was cold, but I went all the way, dunked my head and entire body under water, and ran out as fast as I could. You know, it wasn't as cold as I thought it would be!

We've learned our lesson and next year will be timing the run and jump with the tides. I'm actually glad that the tides were low and we ran in this year, because the jump off the bridge would have been very scary for me. But, now I have a whole year to anticipate a polar plunge in January that involves a jump off that bridge. It will be another experience I have to try!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

You are amazing! Good luck on that marathon - it's on my birthday 10/10/10 so I know you will do great!!! =)