A couple of weeks ago a friend mentioned that she was running a local four mile race on New Year’s Eve, and wondered if I wanted to join her. I immediately said yes, because my running hasn’t really had much direction lately, and a race will always get my competitive juices flowing and make me push myself. Plus, the weather had been really mild in Michigan for the month of December. I was excited and ready to race!
And then yesterday I woke up to the following forecast: Snow along with gusty winds at times. High 19F. Winds WSW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of snow 60%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
And my excitement quickly turned to dread. I’m not a cold weather runner. I have a mild touch of exercise induced asthma that typically only bothers me when I try to run very fast in very cold conditions, which was exactly what I was about to do.
But my two running buddies and I shuffled to the starting line, trying to stay warm as best as we could. I ran close to a mile just to “warm up” though I don’t know if it helped. I was still absolutely freezing when we started. My friends were planning to race, but not go “all out” because they were going to run an additional seven after our race to get in their first long run for Boston training. Parenthetically, I may be feeling a wee bit sorry for myself that several good friends and bloggers are all beginning to train for Boston and I have to wait another year before I (hopefully) will dive into my own Boston training!
I wasn’t sure what my race goals were, but when the gun went off, I went out hard. We started in the middle of the pack, and I quickly began passing people left and right, trying to find some space. The roads were pretty dry, but the winds were fierce. I was absolutely shocked to see my first mile clock in at 6:46. I had no idea I was managing to go that fast, but it felt like a pace I could hang onto, so I went with it.
The second mile was pretty similar, but the course began to get a bit hilly. The uphills were okay, but going downhill was a bit of a challenge because there were some slick spots underneath the snowy areas, and I remember thinking that if I hit an icy patch, I was going to go down and go down hard! I backed off just a little. Mile two was 7:10.
The third mile got a little tough, my lungs were hurting just a touch. And most of this mile was run in a little less than an inch of snow, and felt a little like running in sand. I couldn’t push off without slipping. But I was still picking people off one at a time, slowly but steadily advancing and keeping a pretty even pace. Mile three was 6:55.
The final mile was kind of a blur. I’ve run the course we were on a number of times (it was basically a loop around a local lake) and I knew exactly where I was and how far I had to go the whole time. I was battling it out with another guy, and we pushed each other to the finish. He ended up passing me in the final 50 yards, which bummed me out a little, but my final mile came in at 6:46.
My official time was 27:37. I’d never run a four mile race before, so it was an automatic PR. That’s always fun! And honestly, I was quite surprised at how fast I was able to run given the conditions, and the fact that I haven’t stepped foot on a track to attempt speed work since my marathon training concluded. I’m giving some credit to all the plyometrics and intense interval training that my kickboxing classes provide, and am excited that I still have some speed in me even though my runs lately have been, well, less than speedy.
I ended up finishing second in my age group, and awarded a medal (the top five finishers in each age group received one). Not a bad run to end 2014! Hoping for a great and healthy year ahead!