I woke up at 7am and for some reason I didn’t hear my alarm. It was Rocky who got me up. I slept only okay and was feeling a little like my butt was dragging. I was also starting to get nervous so I had this tired anxious deal going on.
I took Rocky outside and holy crap it was cold. I was surprised because it wasn’t supposed to be that cold. I quickly checked the temp and at 7am it was 1F. Piss. I knew it wouldn’t be 30 or even close to 30 for the race. I was drinking my coffee when Scott informed me that Google maps estimated the time to the race to take 30minutes. Holy! I got moving pretty quickly after that. I ate as much oatmeal as I could and as my stomach would allow. Plus a little more because I knew I needed the fuel.
I dressed warmly and brought an extra pair of socks to change into after the race. Scott dressed super warm since he was going to be standing around in the cold as a spectator.
We set off for the race and it didn’t take us quite 30 minutes to get there. However, even though we didn’t travel too far we were in “the sticks”. I know this because we came across a “Bait & Grocery Shop”. And this shop had two pop vending machines outside and also a live bait vending machine. I so wish I had a picture! That was a first for me and I’m from the sticks! Scott said these sticks were a little more high tech than where I come from. :p
We get to the park and find a parking spot. I see lots of people mingling around and some with numbers on their backs so I knew we were at the right spot. I had never been here before so I’m looking around to see where the trail is and don’t see anything. Odd. I walk up to check in and everything is really sort of just covered in ice.
Scott used the port-a-potty and upon leaving told me if I can hold it or wait, that would probably be best. Ewww. It was cold! So we decided to wait in the car for a bit till the race started.
I saw people starting to group over on the left side of the parking lot. I figured I should head out and join them. I was hopping around trying to keep warm and get blood flowing through my limbs. I had on:
- Cold-weather running pants
- Knee socks
- Turtleneck wicking running shirt
- Long sleeved shirt
- Cold-weather running jacket
- 2 pairs of gloves
- Yaktrax on shoes
It was cold cold. I’m still not sure at this point where the course is. I’m just sort of looking around and talking to folks but all the people I talked to had never done it before so I wasn’t getting any sort of info.
Good luck kisses right before they called us over for the start. Then a racer walked by and asked if he was just there to watch. We said yes and the guy said his wife told him to forget it, she wasn’t going. That stinks, I mean jeeze dress warm and you’re not out for too long.
We’re all sort of standing on this mound of snow as the guy explains the course to us.
As he’s explaining everything I’m totally lost. I don’t see anything but snow and am not seeing the land markers he’s telling us about. And I didn’t think that was the start. I thought we were just gathered there for the explanation and then we would walk over to the start somewhere.
I was wrong.
That was the starting point. And we had to run through 6inches of snow. Now that might not seem like a big deal but I’m here to tell you that it sucks.
I read the description of the race and knew it was going to be a trail race on pea gravel and then through a wooded section. They warned that there might be snow and the trail would not be cleared. I thought no big deal. You all know I run in snow and cold anyway, so I thought this was going to be nothing. For some reason it didn’t occur to me it would be as bad as it was. I figured it would be packed down snow, nothing worse than what I run on typically.
Wow. It was not like that at all. We were the first to touch this snow.
Coming up on the first pass by Scott. In order to make this a 5K, we had to do several loops. I’m really frustrated by this point. Running on this kind of snow is hard even with my yaktrax on. It’s hard to get a stable footing and there were several times throughout the race where I slipped and lost my balance. I did not fall, just slipped. There was no good alternative in terms of running paths. If you picked an area where no one ran, you’d be running through the entire 6inches of snow, so your feet got more wet along with your legs. Running where someone already ran was hard because of all the different kinds of impressions in the snow from previous people. You never had flat footing.
Passed Scott and heading into what would be the hardest part of this race. As the guy explained the course he called this the woods of death. Lovely, no? By this point, and this was still pretty much the beginning, I was very frustrated. I thought I would be knocking out this easy 5K. Instead I’m working at a very slow pace, slower than a normal run. There was no sure footing, my thighs were killing me because when running in snow you have to lift your legs higher as opposed to just running a nice stride. My left hip was starting to fatigue a bit, I must have been putting more weight or pressure on it. And I have no idea where the end was. This was the spot where some people quit and walked off. Scott said a lot of people were frustrated and swearing and really angry. That was all news to me because I only knew what was in front of me and that was snow.
We circled around and were running parallel to the woods. I thought if this was the woods of death it’s not any worse than what we were doing already. That’s when I noticed the chick standing ahead of me and directing people. She was directing us into the woods.
I turned to go in and there was a dropoff before it leveled out and that dropoff had more snow. When I stepped down the snow came up to my thighs. Awesome. It finally evened out but there was more snow in the woods than outside. Maybe another 2 inches?
The woods was the hardest part of the whole race. I’m not going to lie either, I had to walk that part. The path to run on was narrower and with more snow it was even harder to maintain balance. It was very twisty and turning in a different direction almost every third step, I just couldn’t run it. I was so pissed off. So I walked it. I tried to quicken my pace but only lost my balance. I didn’t want to risk twisting my ankle so I just walked it the best and as fast as I could safely.
Once I was out of the woods, we were back on that same first loop we made. We ended up running this one loop twice. First at the start and then twice coming the other way. What sucks? Is when you’re doing this loop and people are passing you who are on the last loop and on their way to the finish line. Motivation killer right there.
I got to a point where I just had to tell myself to keep going. There were two people behind me and my impression was that we were dead last. I was sort of irritated by that as well because I really didn’t want to come in dead last in my first race. But I didn’t let myself think about that too much or else I would just feel defeated. I was doing it and I was going to finish. I just had to keep going.
Man I was tired. I thought for sure that the end had to be close. I had been running forever! We had to be getting near the end. And then I came up the mile marker saying we just finished two miles.
Frack! That meant I had another mile to go! I may have cried a bit at this point but if I did, it didn’t last long. Just do it. Just do it, is what I kept telling myself. Get through it and get done. I’m not quitting my first race. But I will say it was at this point I knew I wouldn’t be running Sunday morning.
I never got lost because there were people directing us on where to go and there were markers all over the place. Truthfully my eyes were looking down most of the time at the path in front of me and so I could watch where I placed my foot.
I coming up on the final loop and the guy told me to head in towards the finish. I saw people coming out of the woods and thought I might have to do this loop again and that about killed me. I asked him that and he said no, I was almost done, to head towards the stands. I figured those other people must have been running to just run.
The two people behind me, a guy and a chick, we were together the whole race. Which was nice because I didn’t feel quite so alone but I still figured we were the last to finish. I felt bad for all the workers standing around waiting on us so they could wrap everything up.
My official time was 51:59 when I finished the race. And to my surprise we were not last. That group I saw coming out of the woods? They were the last group. I didn’t even know there were people behind us.
Me having my first box of CS. I was so thirsty! Those gloves? That’s my second pair that I wear when it’s super cold because they are the softest on my nose when I have to wipe it. Aren’t you glad you know that now?
You may have to click the picture to see better, but the course caused havoc on my yaktrax. It was the woods, they made my yaktrax slip off and slide on my shoes. That’s a pretty big deal because if you’ve ever seen them or worn them, you know they are super tight on your shoes. For the whole reason to provide support. So the fact that these are moved and on the sides of my shoes sort of proves how tough the course was.
On the way to the pavilion where the other racers are waiting to hear the results. Honestly I stuck around to be polite. I knew I didn’t win anything and I really just wanted to go home. I was freezing cold and so tired.
I still can’t get over my time, 51 minutes to run this 5K when under normal circumstances it should have taken me 30some minutes. Dang!
When I got home I took a hot bath with some epsom salts and soaked in that for a bit. I needed to get warm and help my leg muscles to relax. And then I stuffed my face with food because I was starving.
I had no idea I was going to be so wrecked. The race totally zapped all energy. We had dinner plans and had to cancel because I just didn’t have the energy to go out. That race was hard and there’s no other way to describe it.
Plus the cold, we were in single digits with a negative windchill temp. I’m done and I’m glad I finished but would I run this race again? No, no, no.
It can only get better, right? My next races can only get better than this!