Friday, February 28, 2014

Racing through the cold

As you can tell, I've been behind on blogging.  I'm trying to play catch up. 

Racing season is typically in the spring and fall. These are generally the best temperatures and conditions for running, so that's when the majority of races take place. But, there are crazy people (ahem, like me) who like to run races in the winter. I tend to get a little bored without races, so I am willing to sign up for ones even in the middle of winter. My problem is that I am entirely too optimistic. I think, surely it won't be too cold, or too snowy, or too icy. Surely not.

Now, sometimes this optimism pans out. Sometimes not.

This winter, I ran five races. The first was the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma in November. I've done this race multiple times, including the full back in 2010. But, now they sucker me in with an awesome Half Fanatic special medal. Me, Anne, Kelli and her husband, John, road-tripped together. It was also John and Kelli's wedding anniversary, so Anne and I were the third and fourth wheels.

Kelli and John toasting to their anniversary at lunch the day before the race.

Anne and I at the same lunch.
Luckily, the hotel we stayed in was super close to the starting line. So, we pretty much had to get out of bed and roll down to the start. This is the same hotel we stayed in last year when we had someone walk in our room at 2am. This time, I put on the bolt.

Posing inside the hotel.
Right after the above picture was taken, two guys wearing Marathon Maniacs shirts came up to us and asked us what our Half Fanatic numbers were. Anne and I were clueless and made some joke about how we should probably know that. Hahahaha. Well, then they said numbers were 1 and 2. They were the founders of the organization. We felt like complete idiots. But, oh my gosh, we laughed at ourselves.

Now, the problem for this race was that it was FREEZING. Like, absolutely, beyond a doubt cold. And, we had to get out early enough to take this picture with all the other Half Fanatics.

There are a ton of us.
We tried huddling in a tent with about 100 other people to keep warm from body heat. That didn't really do too much, though. My feet and hands were numb.

Everyone's hands were shaking so much that we couldn't get a clear picture.
The first 3 miles of the race, I couldn't feel my feet. Really. They felt like lead blocks. And, this was with wool socks on. I don't really remember too much of the race. We did run for a while by an Australian guy in a Superman costume. That was fun because we got some great cheers. We kept up a fairly good pace, I think because we were so cold that we just wanted to finish.

Kelli ran the full distance, but we couldn't wait around for her to finish. Pretty much as soon as we were done, we went back to the hotel. We tried to go to the Half Fanatic tent, but I couldn't move my fingers and the food wasn't as awesome as last year. When we got back to the hotel, I ran my fingers under scalding hot water for probably 5 minutes until I could feel them again.

Finally warm. And, yes, we look like we're in a ski lodge, not Oklahoma.
But, we got cool medals!

The next race was the Thanksgiving Day 5K. I guess neither of these races were technically in winter, but it's my recap, so it's close enough.

My little brother William and his girlfriend, Lauren, were coming in town for Thanksgiving this year, in addition to my sister-in-law Amber and her boyfriend, Tom. It was going to be a whole family affair for this race.

Plus, the race was on my actual birthday. Yup. On Thanksgiving. What better way to spend your birthday than running with your family, then eating with them?

The whole running crew.
Charlotte had said she wanted to run the 5K with my dad, but she wimped out pretty fast. Molly, when asked, said, "I already ran a 5K."  But, they both ran the kids' race, of which, unfortunately, I have no pictures.

Little Miss Diva aka Molly.

Charlotte, Amber and Molly.

William and Lauren. We love these guys!

Me with my girls on my birthday!

Tom, Molly and Amber. Sorry your eyes are closed, Amber. It's the only one I have!
I love this race tradition!

The third race was a couple days after Christmas. Anne found a race that had a marathon relay aspect to it. And, it was close. It was the Operation Jack race in Shawnee Mission Park. Problem was, it had been super snowy and icy. So, a lot of the trail was covered in ice. Plus, I'm pretty sure our 5-person team was the only marathon relay team involved. So, they weren't sure how to get us to different relay points. Specifically, they weren't sure how to get me to the relay point to do the last 6 miles. So, what to do? Well, I just decided to run with Jackie and we both completed 13.1, which included her leg and my leg.

Another problem? It was super cold to start, but warmed up quickly. So, I wore way too much clothes. I had to roll up my pants about halfway into my run. And, the ice was super tricky to run on. I could definitely feel it in all my different muscles the next day.

The whole relay team: Jackie, Kelli, Anne, Bryan and Me.

Jackie and me heading into the finish.

Anne and Kelli had to leave before the finish, so it was just me, Bryan and Jackie at the end.

You gotta admit, the medal is super cool.

And, guess what? We totally won 1st place in the marathon relay category. (Um, don't mention that we were the only team, okay? Thanks.)

The fourth winter race I ran this year was the Battle of the Bean 5K in January.  This is the race that pits Team Cocoa against Team Coffee. I'm always on Team Cocoa. This race also has the Jelly Bean Kids' Run. How cute is that name? So, of course they girls were going to do it. My dad even came out to run, which meant my mom could watch the girls so Cory and I could both run.

Molly hanging out with Papa before the race.

Charlotte wanted up, too.

Playing a little tag for a warm-up. That's one way to do it, right?

Love running races and having friends there. Marsha, Kelli, Me, Carla and Sheila. Love these ladies.
The family of runners.
So, I lined up in the starting line and happened to be standing next to my super-fast friend Sheila. Without anything spoken between us, we both just started running together. I totally give her props because she helped push me when I wanted to back off. (Although, the girl in front of us with a long scarf and giant key ring in her hand also pushed me. I still can't believe she beat me!) 

We ran and ran, and I ended up finishing with almost my PR. Only 2 seconds off (21:59), but good enough for a second place medal! Yay!

Family picture with Cory and his girls with our medals and/or ribbons.

My 2nd place medal. 
This is just a fun race all around. Especially if it's not too cold. Last year, it was something like 5 degrees, so this year, in the low 30s felt awesome.

The last of the winter races I did, which did not feel awesome, was the Chocolate Rush Half Marathon. I ran this race last year and really liked it because it was on the trails that I've run on before. And, when I was planning Charlotte's 4th birthday and realized it was going to be a Chocolate-themed party, I knew I had to do the race because it was on the same day! How could I not do it?

Well  ... Do you know what happened a lot this winter? Snow. Yeah, and a lot of it happened in February. So, there were almost 12 inches of snow on the ground the week before the trail marathon was to take place. The organizers tried their best to clear off the trail, but unfortunately, there wasn't anything they could do to make the conditions great. They cleared some of the trail, but we ended up having to run on icy, slightly snow-packed trails. And, since they could only clear about three miles, we had to just keep circling back. And back. And back. And back. We passed the finish line something like five times before we actually got to finish. It was brutal for the body and the brain.

I don't think I'm actually in this starting-line picture, but this is so you can get an idea of what it looked like.

The more you ran on the same area, the slicker it got. I only fell a couple times, but one was a doozy. We're talking flat-out on my butt smacking my head as I went down. Holy icicles that hurt. Luckily, my running friend Bryan was also running it (weirdly, none of my other running friends were as stupid, crazy, insane, ridiculous as we were.). Bryan was with me when I fell and stayed with me through the rest of the race. At that point, my time wasn't even important. I was just hoping to finish without earning a concussion.

Not my best time, but probably the medal for which I worked the hardest. 
I finally finished, ate some chocolate, then headed home to get ready for Charlotte's party. That. Same. Day. Oh, my butt hurt all day long. Yeah, I definitely earned that medal.

So, that's my update of winter races. Springtime means even more races, and I can't be happier to pack away all my gloves, hats, ear warmers and layers and layers of winter running clothes. As Charlotte says, "Why can't it just be summer? Mommy and I don't like winter!" Well said, my dear, well said.

No comments:

Post a Comment