I've enjoyed bringing in the new year with the Polar Dash run for the past 4 years. The first few years there was only a 5K and 10K option. I always entered the 10K and then ran the course once again for a nice long road run. Plowed roads rock during MN winter!
For 2014 I was very excited to see a 14 mile race offered! Awesome! Of course I entered. I was pretty confident that my ankle would hold up since it did very well during The 25K Donut Run. I've been finding that it keeps quiet during road runs but that trail runs are a different story. It often times aches during a trail run and then swells quite badly afterward. Never mind. Road is OK for a while. I'm just happy to be out there running.
The forecast showed bitter cold for the race day morning. No matter. I have winter weather dressing down to a fine art.
Parking was my only concern. With a 5K, 10K and 14 miler I predicted parking would be tough. Team Ortho was offering bus shuttle but I really didn't want to deal with that. I knew right where I wanted to park-next door to Shriners - the race start - on the dead end street. Yup. I know it well.
I decided to leave so that I would arrive 60 minutes early. That would give me plenty of time to find my spot, go to the bathroom, add layers and decompress. As I pulled into the Minneapolis neighborhood the police were starting to put up the baricades. I was going through, baby. I pulled through just as he positioned the baricade into place and found my thought out parking place. Score!
It was cold. Below zero, howling winds. I wore a pair of Hind winter tights, Skirt Sports pants w/skirt, decided to wear my regular Kayano road shoes, tank, long sleeved thin race shirt, winter Patagonia running jacket, gloves, wind mitts, fleece hat and neck gaitor. I had my iPod, Garmin 310XT and 4 gels. Lets' go.
Because I was feeling confident after running the 25K Donut Run I wasn't too worried about cranky recovering ankle. The road was plowed with a light snow covering. I'd be fine. I didn't have any preconceived goal time. A finish was all I was looking for. Well, a finish and a few hours of fun run time.
There is just a good feeling of community as you run with 500 of your friends to bring in the New Year. A ball of humanity, running down the road. Misty eyed for sure.
As we hit the 3 mile marker I looked at my watch and realized I was running too fast. Slow down! This is 14 miles, not 5. I pulled back knew that I could run faster..might as well. So run faster I did.
I liked the course-and out and back. I enjoy being able to see everyone. I had a few friends running the 10K so it was great to hear Heidi as she ran toward me, yelling out hello!
I came to the turnaround and felt fantastic! I couldn't believe it. I was becoming warm so pulled off my wind mitts and tucked them into my pocket. I was stopping at the aid stations to guzzle down a few 5 oz cups of water or gatorade. I was sweating profusely and could taste the salt upon my skin. I felt wonderful. It felt so good to open up my stride and actually run. I was so thankful to be out running again.
As I came up to the half marathon mark I looked at my watch. 2:03. That's a PR for me. Crazy shit. I began to laugh and just enjoyed the moment. Enjoyed being with all of the other runners, enjoyed being able to run, enjoyed being in the moment.
I came into the finish line, blessed beyond belief. Cheers to 2014. I got this!