Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Polar Dash 15 mile 2015 Race Review

I welcomed the New Year with a 15 mile run for Polar DashRace. I registered on a whim. I was not sure how our New Year’s Eve would be; what time I would go to bed; things like that. But the regular facebook updates were too tempting and I gave in, like it was a sale. After that I planned a relaxed NYEve and went to bed at regular time.

Packet pickup was different. They had scheduled it at 4 different weekends in 4 different SPA stores. Because I registered last minute, I went to the one in St Paul on 31st Dec. That rush alone is good reminder for future, to register early. Bib, chip, Fleece jacket & woolen Penguin hat – good quality. I also checked out route to start point at Shriner Hospital and a car-park location since the road around it would be closed next day for the event.

Predicted temp for the day of race was around 15F. But it was 20F on average for the duration of the race. I wore:
1.       Columbia puff jacket to shield the wind, full-sleeve technical shirt, half sleeve technical shirt and racer sports bra.
2.       Good thing I skipped a fleece shirt below the wind-jacket. It would have been needed for temps around 10F & below. After a few miles did not miss it at all.
3.       My head was covered in Skimask & neck gaiter. Ski mask – it turned out too warm for me after an hour. And kept my stiff from moving turning my head around. Next time, I will use my cap, headband and neck-gaiter.
4.       I did not need sun-glasses because it was cloudy, not sunny and not windy.
5.       My hands were covered in thin woolen gloves and thick mittens. After a few miles when it grew warmer, I could discard the gloves and keep the mittens alone, which I took off & put on when needed. Next time I will wear it till starting point and pack it in my check-in bag.
6.       Lower half was protected by C9 compression pants and track pants.
7.       Shoes were usual running shoes with thick soles and tread patterns which prevented any slipping. I did not use Yak-track because the roads were clear and there was no ice.

I was in the same clothes while I walked from my car parking spot to the Start area, which was almost a mile walk. The snow and my anxiety froze my toes on the way. Thankfully they had a warming area with fire. It was a blessing to defrost my toes and other extremities. Warming area was in the Shriner car park, along with bag check and other stalls. Along with bag check were changing tents. It is crucial to get out of the sweat-drench clothes immediately after the run in these winter conditions.

Start point was Shriner hospital and the 15 mile race was 2 loops of E River Parkway.
Volunteers at every point were superb. Inspite of the dreaded winter, there were numerous volunteers at every water stops, medical stops, turnarounds and milestone, cheering the runner at every stop. Many rode the snow bikes carrying medical help. 

There were frequent water-stops with water & powerade. Since it was an average of 20F that day, water only froze a tad bit. I am always too anxious, so I fill-up at every water stop. This usually slows me down, with the extra water sloshing inside. But I refuse to learn and I would rather over-drink then be dry. I need to work on this area; try & learn how far I can run without water.

The race course planning was meticulously done. Same route was used by 10K runners and 5K runners, but at different hours. Finish point had usual supply of food and hot chocolate.

Only aspect the organizers seem to be lacking, is in their internet communications:
1.       Website does not mention their race time-limits
2.       Website did not share the PDF of the course map. It’s just a tiny image which does not show the route clearly. Google map link shows the start point location. And the course-map link goes to a page which either needs a login or technical expertise to decode.
3.       Photo-upload and race results uploads where done immediately on the day of the race. But it was partial. After that the organizers have not done the remaining updates. I can see other runners asking the same question on facebook, but even after a week I am yet to see any response

There is this interesting thing, that happens to me every single race. In the last 1-2 mile of every race, when I am just dying to get it done and even crawl if needed, some or more senior ladies creep-up and steadily overtake me. As much I admire these badass ladies, I can only but suffer from benign-envy at that very moment. I try to increase my speed, then slip into walk mode cause that’s how the situation at end mile is. Meanwhile they continue at their steady pace, have conversations. Hubby calls it the hare-tortoise situation.

When I rolled to the finish point, the 5K race had just started and the clock showed 3:07:15. It’s nothing to be proud of. But it’s my first long run for the spring marathon training. So I am happy to get it out of my way. Plus it was on the New Year’s morning, in Minnesota winter. So well ,  now I have earned Bragging rights !

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