I finished the 2014 Polar Dash! I even got the medal to prove it:
The temperature on race day was a “balmy” -7F with a wind. I read up on Runners World how to adequately layer for the conditions and had prepared to wear for the race three layers top and bottom, two pairs of Smartwool socks (one ultralight running and one light ski sock), my Buff to use as a neck gaiter, and my Smartwool headband. The two top layers on top had built-in hoods, so I used those and the headband to keep my head warm, but allow me to regulate my body temperature so I didn’t get too hot (and too sweaty). I also utilized some of those chemical toe warmers in my duct-taped1 shoes to further keep my tootsies warm.
My husband went with me, because the race said that there would be a “warming tent” and would give him a warm place to wait for me (while holding all my crap so I didn’t have to do a bag check) while I run my insanity off outside. Also would give me a place to not freeze prior to the race.
Apparently “warming tent” was secret code for “parking ramp with kerosene heaters” and by “warm” it was “barely skirting zero.” Not only that, the race started a half hour AFTER the posted start time. That meant I stood around way longer than planned before the race – I think I was turning into a popsicle! Here I am huddled around one of the kerosene heaters – which was being blocked approximately 95% by some jerk who was hogging all the heat:
Finally, we started the race. The course was an out-and-back that was slightly uphill out and slightly downhill back. I finished in 34:00 on the nose (10:56/mi pace) and by the end of the race, I very much looked like this:
No, really! I could see the icicles on eyelashes and my Buff was frozen solid from breathing through it. I also was starting to freeze solid once I stopped running.
I hightailed it to grab my finisher medal, skipped the after race food, and made a beeline to find my husband and the rest of the clothes I was wearing prior to the race.
The rest of the day I was wiped out. A hot shower and relaxing on the couch was my remedy for the brutal morning. The weirdest thing was the next morning my muscles were so sore from the race! It’s not like an 11 min/mi is fast – it’s actually right around my non-race running pace (I tend to go faster in a group). I wonder if the fact that it was so cold taxed my muscles more than if I was working out in normal, humane temperatures? Last time I was this sore was when I had my PR for the 10k two years ago (a sub-10 min/mi) and that was an effort!
Needless to say, I will not be running this race again – unless it’s above 20F. 🙂
1 – Seriously! One of the recommendations is to put duct tape over the vents in your running shoes. The mesh at the front of your shoe is there to release heat during normal runs. But in the winter, you want to keep that heat in, so duct taping over the vents will keep heat from escaping and prevent the winter chill from getting in. It worked amazingly well!