Friday, January 25, 2013

Not quite frozen gizzard

It's only January and I already have two races done and another planned in just over two weeks. Crazy!

Last weekend was the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run in International Falls. I think I've mentioned that I've wanted to do this race since high school but just hadn't gotten up there yet. They have a 5K and a 10K and they start them an hour apart so that it's feasible to do both.

The weather forecast had been promising super cold weather (below zero and then wind chill) but that got pushed off a couple of days and race morning was actually quite pleasant: 14 degrees when I checked the temperature to decide what to wear! As per usual, I brought every possible thing I might want to race in but I did an okay job of figuring out the layers. Spot on, actually, since I was warm but not too hot. Go me! The temperatures did drop by the second race but still, MUCH warmer than I originally thought. The main problem came with the two or three inches of snow that fell Friday/Friday night and hadn't really gotten plowed or packed down by race morning. Though, they DID make an effort to sand the shoulders we'd be running on. It didn't help at all, but the effort was nice. I did my warmup outside and quickly realized that it would not be a good racing day. Ah well, still fun, right?

Not so right. The 5K was very little fun, actually. The footing was just so horrible that there wasn't much rhythm to be found. Not much else to say, really! I found a good pace for a while and then lost my decent footing and slowed way down. I didn't really race at all and stayed content with just hanging out. I don't think I got too frustrated, just didn't try to fight the footing or push the pace. There seemed to be a lot of people in the race and they all seemed to be bopping by me then, though I managed to fight back and pass SOME people, at least. There was even a woman right in front of me heading into the finish and while I did speed up some, I decided it wasn't worth hurting myself to beat her since I still had another race coming. Of course, she ended up being third woman leaving me with fourth . . . but I did still get third in my age group so I guess I can't complain too much. I'm not telling you my time, though. If you want so bad to know, you can look it up! Let's just say that my 10K pace was faster. In fact, my marathon pace is generally faster. So. Moving on... :)

I finished the 5K and didn't hang around the finish much, just cheering for a couple friends who finished close by. Then I moved quickly back inside to keep moving and keep warm. I went with a group back to the cafeteria where the main area was (we're all contained in a community college, which is SUPER nice since it's nice and warm and spacious). I took off my top layers so they could dry out a bit but decided not to actually change layers since I wasn't too wet. Before I knew it, it was time to head back outside for the 10K start.

Brrrr. It sure seemed much colder this time around. And more windy. Suddenly, this didn't seem like a stellar idea, but there we were anyway. The first part was so much colder than I remember the 5K being. The wind was strong from our sides and had gotten much stronger since the 5K. My right hand was frozen. The temperature had also dropped some, but before long I had my jacket zipped part way down and everything was quite comfy, even after we turned back into the wind.

Overall, I really enjoyed the 10K so maybe I was just finally warmed up The footing seemed a TON better or else I had finally gotten a good hang of how to get through it. There was still loose snow but it was more packed or more of a type to get a grip on, I'm not sure. There were a decent number of people in the 10K (101 as it turns out. 201 in the 5K) but I was generally on my own for the race. I saw a one mile marker and then nothing until mile 4 and then nothing again until the end (though others saw regular mile markers, so I just missed them). For once, I actually kind of liked not knowing exactly where I was at. I hadn't taken a real good look at the map so I knew I was somewhere around halfway on the stretch I found mile 4 at and it was nice to find out I was further along than I thought. The last couple of miles were a bit less lonely as I had been steadily gaining on the woman in front of me and I passed her somewhere between miles 4 and 5.

Another thing that helped a lot in the 10K, especially by the last mile and a half, was that the 10Kers were not content to run down the coned off shoulder with had a few inches of gross loose snow the way the 5Kers were. No, no, instead they seemed to creep into the traffic lane and hey, if the people in front of me are doing it, it must be okay, right? There was about a mile stretch where we were moving back and forth from road to crappy shoulder when cars came by. By the last part, though, the road had two lanes coming our direction and the runners stayed in the lane the whole time. It was sooooooooo fabulous to have something solid to run on. I remember looking at the shoulder we had run on for the 5K and being both amused that EVERY runner was ignoring it and annoyed that we had to run through it for the 5K. And happy that the traffic seemed to hold no malice towards these runners forcing them over a lane. I was really feeling good at this point and was able to bring it in strong, despite being all by my lonesome. 3rd woman overall, 3rd in my age group (man, wasn't I supposed to leave some speedies behind when I turned 30?).

I hung around for a while at the finish this time but of course, at that point, I'm ready for more running! And getting cold FAST so I opted for warming down inside the community college. It's set up as a circle so four laps of the college is just over a mile. A mile of circles and weaving through crowds was about what I could handle, though, so I called it a day after that.

So I'm glad I went - it was a good race and I'd do it again. I saw a friend from high school (well, she went to International Falls but we were similar speeds all through middle/high school so became friend) and promptly spilled hot cider all over her . . . I also saw two other friends I wasn't expecting so that was fun, too. All in all, I recommend the trip. And remember - if you're heading up there, you might as well do both races!

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