Monday, February 1, 2010

2010 5k Frostbite River Run

I actually managed to get suited up and run outside in -24C weather.

Anybody who knows my running habits knows that I abhor running outside when it's cold. Up until I bought my treadmill last winter, I was basically confined to the couch. Now, I'm confined to watching episodes of Judge Judy while grinding away the miles on the hamster wheel.

And yet, for some strange reason, I thought it would be fun to sign up for a 5k race in January. I think I was feeling delusional that the weather would be nice, since our winter has been much milder than normal up until a few weeks ago. Alas, this was not the case yesterday, as the mercury dipped far below what we Winnipeggers call "normal". But this didn't deter me, I put on as much clothing as I could muster and headed on over to The Forks.

It took me a long time to decide exactly what to have on. On my legs, I wore an UnderArmor compression long johns with a pair of nylon pants to cut the wind. On my torso, it was an UA compression shirt with a soft shell jacket and nylon shell. My footwear consisted of my trusty Wright socks, trail runners, and Yaktrax. Waiting at the starting line for the race to get underway, I was freezing.

My training up until this point has been mediocre at best, so I positioned myself somewhere near the back. I figured the usual thing would happen, where everybody would take off like bats out of hell and I would be plodding along taking forever to warm up and get moving. I was shocked to discover that this was not the case! After realizing that I had positioned myself right behind two walkers, I dodged and weaved past masses of people that seemed to be going much slower than I would have liked.

The entire race, I was not passed once. I just kept passing people, and thinking to myself: "Am I going too fast? Am I pacing myself correctly? Will I gas myself out on the way back?" These questions were answered when I reached the turnaround point and realized that my muscles were still loosening up and I could speed up some more. I felt absolutely terrific! The only issue I found was that near the end of the race, the cold dry air was making my throat constrict a bit. But with less than half a mile to go, I wasn't going to let something small like hypoxia stop me.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 24:38. That was good enough to take 13th place overall, and second in my age group. Of course, I should be fair and admit that my age group consisted of exactly two people, so even if I had crabwalked the entire way, I still would have found myself in second. In any case, I believe this to be a fairly respectable time for me, and one that I can use as a PR (this being my first ever 5k race and all). The ice we were running on was a far cry from running on pavement, so I could probably do better come summer time.

And now for the kicker... At the end of this month, I'm signed up for a winter half marathon! The 2010 Hypothermic Half. I just hope it isn't anywhere near as cold as it was for the Frostbite, as I don't think I could manage to stay alive for another hour and a half in that frigid hell.

If things go really well, I may sign up for the Polar Bear run. It is a race from Gimli on the west shore of lake Winnipeg, to Grand Marais on the east shore. A roughly 30k distance in total. Nothing but ice and snow on that one. The adventure value for it is almost too much for me to resist. But the race is being run in the middle of March, so I will have to see what happens with Christine's due date before I can commit to that one.

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