Sunday, February 14, 2016

Iowa Tough.... Red Flannel Run Recap





I have gotten so I really like dressing for a themed-race....case in point, the Red Flannel Run.

The Red Flannel Run is in its 27th year, and this was my fifth time layering on the red flannel and facing the February weather in Iowa.  This year, there were over 1,000 registered runners (and walkers), raising upwards of $30,000 for the Wellmark YMCA of Des Moines.
Barb, Dave, Eric, and myself before the race
The weather is almost always a factor. This is, after all, February and Iowa is not exactly known for tropical temps this time of year. It was a balmy 3-degrees at the start line. All the weather reports predicted wind, but, thankfully the wind was pretty much non-existent and there was intermittent sunshine.
Don't let that beautiful sunrise fool  you.....it was a cold day in Iowa!
The course is run in downtown Des Moines, but the majority of the race is on an open road (with two out-and-back segments), and the majority of the final mile is along the Des Moines River (including a turn-around on a bridge). Given the layout of the course, and projected sub-ZERO windchill conditions, I elected to wear a full puffer jacket (instead of my usual vest-themed ensemble). I had on two thermal-lined tops underneath, plus a third shirt. My legs were covered in two layers of thermal tights. I also wore a headband under my fur-enhanced hat. Spoiler Alert: all of this had me dressed much too warm for my five mile race. You read that correctly - I was over-dressed.
Almost ready to roll...just missing the puffer jacket and gloves
Already, by the second mile, I could tell I should have either gone with one (or two) less layer(s) or opted for a vest instead of the jacket. And (maybe) thinner gloves....

Despite kind of a crowded, bottle-necked start, Barb and I hung together for the first two miles or so, then she merged slightly ahead (half a block or so) before we reached the third mile.  I could feel the perspiration on my back, and I already had to slide my gloves about halfway off to give my fingers some breathing room.

It was somewhere near the start of the final mile when I had to walk briefly. Looking back, I probably shoulda/coulda gritted it out, but I was flat-out exhausted. And, as mentioned, I was over-dressed, which really had me feeling quite miserable. I wanted to take off my gloves, but with the near-ZERO temps, my sweaty skin would have probably frozen. Instead, I decided to walk and try to catch my breath. My sunglasses were also steamed up and difficult to see through.

After that, I was able to run most of the final mile. I even had enough "left in the tank" to finish the final stretch to the finish line with some long and fast (for me) strides. My watch said 45:59, but my official time posted was 45:50.

Barb finished in 43:04 (capturing the first place spot in her age group), and she later told me that we ran that first mile with an 8:24 pace! No wonder I felt like I was hit by a truck a couple miles later. I'm not sure how long I actually walked during my little "re-grouping" pitty party. I doubt I would have been able to finish as fast as Barb, but I wouldn't have been too far behind her. I'm guessing I lost (gained?) at least a couple minutes by walking....so my overall pace was pretty fast (for me) considering the weather and my state of discomfort. I placed 6th (out of 11) in my age group; had I not walked and kept going I might have been in contention for placing in the top three (the third place gal finished in 44:25). Key word: might. I'll never know for certain, and I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.The odds are pretty good that there could have been several more runners there had the weather been a little warmer, too.  My finish time was a pleasant surprise none-the-less....I was expecting it to be a couple minutes slower because it felt like it took so much effort.


Finish line selfie


And a finish line group shot.
Overall, this is a great event. The registration is $30 (with the option of a 5K or 5-mile distance), and includes a nice long-sleeved tech shirt. Most of the participants are dressed in red flannel in some capacity. There's also a great meal at the finish line...this year we were served pork burgers along with the usual water, chocolate milk, bagels, yogurt, fruit and granola bars. The course has changed  a few times in the five times I've run it, which always makes it interesting (and no pressure for a PR).

This year's shirt is lime green....my current favorite color
Have you ever ran a race and felt like you were going dreadfully slow...only to be surprised by much faster finish time than expected? What's the coldest race day temps you have enjoyed? Do you like an event to have the exact same course year after year, or do you like it when the course changes?

I'm linking up with the awesome ladies, Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from  MissSippiPiddlin  for the Weekly Wrap. Do head over and check out all the great reads!

70 comments:

  1. Wow, you are so brave racing in that weather! I bailed on a race this weekend because I was going out for a fitness test and coach knew we wouldn't get a good race in the cold - he didn't want me getting injured. Layering is also SOOO hard. I also end up overdressed and sweaty, which then makes you more cold at the end. Here's hoping that winter lets up a bit!!

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    1. Yes, I am ready for spring! The lack of wind really threw off my clothing....Had there been wind (as predicted), I probably wouldn't have been so "hot." But I would have been cursing the wind instead. ;-)

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  2. I hate when I over layer, but I also hate being miserable and cold on a run too, it's so hard to know what to do sometimes!! Great job on your race! I keep reminding myself that spring is coming!

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    1. I am so done with winter! I do so much outdoor running, I'm usually layered-up just right....but not this time LOL #humbled

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  3. Great job on that finish time! I don't know why but this cold weather really makes a runner feel like she's working hard! I feel like I was hit by a truck today. Seriously, I wasn't this sore after I ran my last marathon!

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    1. Ironically, I felt good afterwards...but I was hating life (briefly) around mile 3.5. Ugh.

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  4. Great job on that finish time! I don't know why but this cold weather really makes a runner feel like she's working hard! I feel like I was hit by a truck today. Seriously, I wasn't this sore after I ran my last marathon!

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  5. This is a nice them for a race! Cute shirt too. It's hard to imagine you could be overdressed at 3 degrees! I guess no wind makes a big difference. Great job with your finish time though. You probably didn't walk as much as you think. I can't stand when sun glasses fog up and stopped running with them. It took a while to get used to that, but now I can't--it feels wrong. Ha. My coldest race was Route 66 half marathon. It was in the low 20s with wind and it didn't warm up the entire day. We were lucky it didn't snow. That sounds balmy compared to what you run in! Thanks for linking with us Kimberly.

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    1. You're correct.....it was the lack of wind that messed up my outfit/layers. I have to have my sunglasses, though. My skin is horribly dry (#wrinkleprone) and my eyes are super sensitive to the wind and cold air. I'd rather look through blurry sunglasses than deal with tear-drenched miserable eyes LOL

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  6. I would much rather be too warm than too cold when it is cold outside! I often take things off and tie them around me as I run. Your event looks like lots of fun!

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    1. If my coat wasn't so "puffy," I would have tied it, too! Gladly, my race was "only" five miles and not any longer ;-)

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  7. WOW!! I cannot believe you ran in such conditions weather!! I am a wimp and would not make it! I do like an event to have the same course because then you know what to expect. And, if it's close you could train on it!

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    1. Actually, I have ran in worse (colder) conditions LOL I kind of like the battle of fighting the weather and not succumbing to it ;-)

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  8. You are brave. I stayed in all weekend- tooo cooold.

    I will run today and try not to over dress.

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    1. I have been over-dressed before for "moderately cold" races/runs (like when it's in the 40's or 50's).....but the lack of wind really messed with my clothing strategy!

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  9. Over dressed in 3 degrees? Oh dear! I can not even wrap my brain around that why? Because I'm getting a brain freeze just thinking about it! I do have to say you were rocking the red plaid! I'm like you I love a good themed race! Wait that's a lie I could dress up for any ol race to be honest! Thanks Kim for your continued support! Have a great week!

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    1. yes, over-dressed. Believe me, I was surprised, too! The weatherman warned us of the wind...only the wind was kind of a no-show ;-)

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  10. Themed races are great fun! I love the red flannel idea sounds perfect for the crazy cold

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    1. This race is always a lot of fun. There was a guy who passed me...wearing a red plaid "leisure suit." HA!

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  11. I like having the same course year after year. Mostly just because it helps me pick & choose races to make my goal race. If I want a new course to run I just find a new to me race.

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    1. I like it both ways....it's nice to have a tried-and-true course that you're familiar with, but it's also fun to test out a new course as well ;-)

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  12. Sounds like a fun race - I don't think I've ever had so much food after a race! I do love post-race chocolate milk.

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    1. It was a major spread of food! I agree...chocolate milk rocks!!!

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  13. Great job with a cold race!! You look adorable!!

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    1. ha ha! Thanks ;-) It's fun getting in the spirit and dressing for the theme!

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  14. Brr....really..the coldest I've run in is 19. I can't believe you over dressed. :)

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    1. Ha! I was surprised to be over-dressed, too! The lack of wind messed up my race day layering-strategy ;-)

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  15. Not going to lie, I'm pretty disappointed that the race tech shirt isn't actually red flannel, haha ;) :)

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    1. Some of the shirts (from earlier years)were red with black trim (and vice-versa) with a red plaid scarf logo....they changed the logo this year (and the color!)Yes, an actual flannel shirt would have been sweet!

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  16. We were as cold here Saturday, but it WAS insanely windy.

    I think about 10 or so is the coldest race I've done. Somewhere around that.

    It's really hard to believe you had all those layers on because you still look pretty darn thin! I'd look like a marshmallow with all those layers (oh wait, I often do!).

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    1. haha...I probably look thin because the bottom layers were very fitted...and my jacket is very fluffy!

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  17. This sounds like a fun race! And I say, better to overdress than underdress! You can always shed a layer, right?

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    1. yes, usually I can lose a layer...except when the puffer coat is too "puffy" to tie around my waist LOL #ohwell ;-)

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  18. Its always difficult to find that balance between wearing enough layers and not over layering. But I'm glad to hear that the run went better than you thought it had. Its always nice to get that nice surprise when you're finished.

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    1. The layering is always a challenge. Just when I think I have it mastered...well, it's unusually windy (or unusually calm). Yes, I love those surprise finish times...totally made my day ;-)

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  19. I always try to run with layers that I can either remove easily or at least unzip. And I take my gloves off in ridiculously cold weather - my hands just seem to overheat easily. Sounds like a fun race though.

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    1. I did unzip my jacket some, and loosened up my scarf. Losing the jacket wasn't an option, though, and it was definitely too bulky to tie around my waist. Glad it wasn't any longer than five miles, though!

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  20. Over-dressed...that sounds so crazy in the temps but I know it happens. I am always so afraid of not having enough layers on!

    Yeah for the speedy unexpected finish! That is always nice for sure!

    Pork sandwiches at the finish...I don't eat pork but dang that sounds good!!!

    -Tamieka@fitballingrunningmom

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    1. I'm still shaking my head at the whole idea that I was over-dressed LOL The lack of wind kind of messed up my layering strategy ;-)

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  21. Congrats on your race, you did great! I've had a couple of runs lately where I overdressed, man is it frustrating, but when it's so cold it's a really tricky balance.

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    1. It really is tricky layering...I think the wind is the deciding factor.. It will make or break you!

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  22. I love themed races, so this sounds awesome! Great job on pushing through the simultaneous heat and cold!

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    1. Ha...it was simultaneous heat and cold! Crazy! The red flannel theme is always a lot of fun ;-)

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  23. Way to get after it!! You rock for running in those cold temps and it looks like you guys had a blast!! Congrats!! :)

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    1. Thanks! Despite the temporary agony (??) of the over-dressed situation, it was a lot of fun.

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  24. Great job, I do not miss running in the cold!!! I have run a few races where I felt super slow
    Only to
    Discover I was a actually super
    Fast!

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    1. The finish line surprise really made my day. I'm usually around 8:30-9:00 pace...but that's under ideal conditions. It felt like I was moving much slower and,especially with the walking, I was expecting a much slower finish time. I love happy endings ;-)

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  25. Awesome time! Well done. I love the race shirt :)
    My last half I felt I slowed a lot, and I was so pleasantly surprised that my walk break up a hill had not hurt me as much as I thought.

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    1. I hate having to walk, but more often than not, it doesn't affect my pace much. I usually can make up the "lost time" once I resume the running because I have my energy back ;-)

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  26. Great job! I am not a fan of cold weather running or layiering... way to get it done! :)

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    1. Thanks! I don't love cold weather, but I have learned to deal with it (it's what we have in Iowa LOL). The wind is usually the trump card...and the lack of it kind of messed with my layers.

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  27. OH man, how fun is a flannel run! That's so great!
    Dressing for races in the cold is so stressful. I hate being cold, but I also don't want to overheat.

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    1. It really is a challenge to get the layers right...and the wind is usually the deal breaker for me. I was prepared for it...and it no-showed LOL Ha! #humbled #again

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  28. So cute! I love that you dress the part of the race!

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    1. Thanks!! It's fun to dress for the theme....especially for an event like this where I typically don't stand a chance of placing. I'd rather dress up and have fun than obsess over my splits or stats ;-)

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  29. I am such a wimp and you make it sound so easy!!! It looks like you had a blast!!!

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    1. It was fun.....easy? Well, not so much at mile 3.5 LOL

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  30. You are a total trooper for racing through that weather! :O It sucks when the weather decides to throw you a curveball and eff with your calculated layering!!

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    1. Yes, the weather totally threw me a curve ball! Momma N (Mother Nature) doesn't always play nice LOL

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  31. Perfect theme to layer up. I definitely don't miss those temps. I lived in Wisconsin for 3 years and hate cold weather because of it.

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    1. I don't hate the cold, but some days are definitely a lot less desirable than others. The wind is almost always the deal-breaker.

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  32. It was cool to read your recap because now I feel as if though I've run a really cold race! I have been seeing all these cold weather runners and realize that I am a big old wimp! I did once have a super cold windy race. It was the RnR in Dallas in 2014. It was 42 degrees out BUT we also had 24 mph winds! What?! I was miserable but only at the start and the finish. During the race was fine AND it was my 2nd best finishing time ever! Maybe I should try running the cold again?! Well, I am glad your survived and I still say better overdressed than under!! You had a great finish time! Congratulations!!! Stay warm out there!!! Happy Running :)

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    1. I agree, it is better to be over-dressed than the opposite. Usually, I can just shed a layer and tie it around my waist...usually. The puffer jacket is way too bulky for that option LOL

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  33. Looks like you had a blast! The Polar Dash I did a couple years ago was probably my coldest (and last winter race) race EVER LOL!

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    1. The weather on Saturday really didn't feel that cold...amazing what a difference the wind (or lack of it) makes. ;-)

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  34. I had almost a ditto run at my local Y Saturday! So so so thankful for the error on the wind speed. It was cold but not as windy as predicted! I'll take that! The only hard part is waiting the three or four minutes to start. It took so long to get warmed up and going. When it's cold I like to just get out of the car ands start running. I tried to get to the line just as the race started but got the three for four minute thanks for running speech! Seriously? Save it for the awards. I know it's for a good cause and all but its hard to run when your already cold. Brrr

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    1. I wasn't cold until I finished...my friends and I waited for our last person to cross the finish line, and we were right in a direct "wind tunnel" with no sunshine #brrr

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  35. Nice work at the race! I love all the flannel and so wish we had more themed races near me! The flannel probably helped you to stay toasty!

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    1. ha ha ha...the only place I was actually wearing flannel was around my neck, and it was a wet mess when I finished! Well, I guess my flannel pajama cut-offs count, too...but they weren't directly against my skin ;-)

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  36. OMG it looks so cold ! I always have a tendency to overdress but I prefer that to being underdressed. Once I am cold there is no warming up...

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