It has been bitterly cold here on the ice planet Hoth, also known as the midwest, so I was happy to see that the weather on Saturday was going to be a relatively balmy 25 degrees - it would be a shame if the "Frostbite" in the Frostbite Footrace turned out to be literal.
This was a new race for me, which is always an exciting thing. I love that I live in an area where there are actually a few races available in the winter months - it really shows that we have a dedicated running community. It was also a new distance, an 8K, which we all know means an automatic PR.
The race was held at Scott County Park, the same place where I ran the Governor's Cross Country Race in the fall. So, I knew that I could expect a beautiful setting... and lots of hills. Although I haven't done any focused hill training lately, I have been making sure to include hills in most of my runs, so I felt semi-prepared for it.
After I got my race packet, I did a short warm-up run. I never used to warm up before races, but I have started doing so, and it really seems to improve my performance. And on a cold day, the warm-up also served as an opportunity to check what I was wearing. I started the warm up with a pair of tights under a pair of fleece pants, a long sleeved technical shirt, a windbreaker, a vest, and a hat and gloves, with my buff around my neck as an option to pull it over my face. I'm glad I did the layer check, because I ended up ditching the vest - if it felt a tad warm running just half a mile or so, it would be a mistake for the race. The other layers stayed, and I felt fine.
I was chatting with some friends at the starting line when all of a sudden, the gun went off! Oh, all right then - I guess it's time to start running! A minute or so later, I remembered to start my Garmin. Race results haven't been posted yet, so my final time is a bit off. I'll have to update later.
The course had been semi-cleared. That is, there was no ice and no real danger, but much of the road was covered in packed grey snow. It is much harder to run on uneven terrain like that - I really notice a difference in my effort. I tried to run in the clearest parts of the road whenever possible, even if that meant a bit of weaving.
As I expected, the course was very hilly. Most of the hills were longer, gradual slopes, but around the 3 mile mark, we went through a big dip. I heard pretty much every runner around me groan in anticipation of that hill. I tried to focus on the positive - that although it was steep, it wasn't too long, and that I was over halfway finished with the race.
The weather was not too bad, especially compared to what we've had for the past week or so. As always, once I started running, I wasn't cold at all. The wind posed more of a problem. In the middle miles, there were some cross winds that blew snow on us. It looked really beautiful, actually, like sand blowing in the desert. I resisted the urge to find another runner to use as a human shield.
The hardest part of the race was the last half mile or so. It was uphill, and a wicked headwind arrived just in time to make a hard hill even harder. I ducked my head to drive into it and played my "I love hills" mental game. I told myself, "You're really strong on hills. The other runners are struggling right now, so this is your chance to pass them. They're tired, but you are strong." (Whether or not any of this is true is really beside the point.) I also invoked the spirits of Frayed Laces and The Running Laminator, telling myself, "DDYA: Don't Deny Your Awesomeness."
My awesomeness allowed me to kick past another runner, chicking him into the finish chute.
After a short walk to catch my breath, I went inside to drink some hot cider, which was fantastic, then swapped my base layers for dry ones. I am also happy to report that my efforts were good enough for third place in my age group!
Paula Garmin gives me a finishing time of 42:25, with an average pace of 8:47/mile, which is awesome, albeit a tad inaccurate. Again, I'll update when I have my official finishing time.
Hilly challenging course at a time of year that guarantees lousy weather? I'll be there again next year.