Monday, February 12, 2018

Red Flannel Run 2018


As many of you know, I had a terrible (no exaggeration!) dilemma on my mind last Friday.

As with many difficult things, what does a runner do when they're faced with a potential crisis (again, no exaggeration!)? They seek out the advice, counsel, and support from fellow runners. And, as usual, the runner friends came through (full details are on last Friday's post, Should I Stay, or Should I Go?).

The 29th Red Flannel Run happened on Saturday, February 10th, and (thankfully!) I was there to take part in the festivities. I first ran this in 2011, then returned in 2012 and 2013, I had to take a pass in 2014 (due to a scheduling conflict), but returned in 2015, 2016, and 2017. I have always run the 5-mile race, but there is also 5K.


To say that I LOVE this race would be a mere understatement. Granted, with the February date (it's always held near Valentine's Day), and it's location  (Des Moines, IA), it's a given it's gonna be a chilly endeavor. This year was one of the colder years...temps were in the low single digits and there was a fresh layer of snow on the streets.

A fun feature of this event is the theme...it's called the Red Flannel Run, after all. The majority of racers are clad in red flannel in some capacity. Red just happens to be one of my favorite colors, so I have always dressed for the occasion in full fashion.

I met up with a local friend, Dave, for the race. We didn't plan to run the race together, but it's always fun to see a friendly face.

Even though the temps are always cold, it's always tricky nailing the proper layers. Sometimes, the tall buildings provide somewhat of a wind shelter, other times (depending on the wind direction), the wind feels like a suction tunnel. This year, the wind wasn't really a factor. I had triple layers on top, double layers of tights, and two pairs of gloves. My hands felt cold for the first mile or so, after that I was fine.

The race course has changed a few times in the years that I have run it. The current course had us running for about a 1/2 mile on the city streets before the 5K and 5-mile routes split. The 5-milers had an out and back (headed west, then turning and heading back east) on MLK, Jr Parkway. After the out and back segment, the 5-milers rejoined the 5K runners for the remainder of the race. We continued east on MLK, crossing the Des Moines River before working our way north and crossing the Riverwalk Bridge en route back to the Wellmark YMCA, the race's staging area.

By far, the biggest challenge was the thick snow on the city streets. The stretch along MLK was pretty clear, but the first 1/2 mile or so and the final couple miles were tough. I didn't notice any ice, but it was tough to get solid traction while running through the snow. I caught my feet sliding a few times, but not enough to take me down.

It's been awhile since I've run in that kind of snow. Des Moines has already received over 11 inches of accumulated snow this month, and the bulk of that happened just in the days prior to the race. A good thing about thick snow-covered streets? It's a great equalizer! Running in what feels like quick sand (usually) alters everyone's pace (in other words, everyone has to battle the tough conditions).

Overall, I felt good the entire race. I didn't notice any mile markers on the course, so I had to glance at my watch a few times to check on the mile marks. By the final mile, my hips were feeling tired from the extra effort it was taking to keep my feet moving. I crossed the finish line in 44:19 (official time), though my Garmin showed 44:24. Although it was a 5-mile race, my Garmin showed 4.61, so the course ran a little short...no big whoop because I was glad to be done (my hips were shot LOL).

My paces tell the story:
Mile 1---9:12 (easy downhill start)
Mile 2---9:24 (on MLK)
Mile 3---9:26 (approaching the thick snow)
Mile 4---10:05 (all kinds of snow)
Mile 5 (final .61m)---6:18

Official stats showed I finished 5th (out of 12) in my age group, 21st (of the 61 females), and 82nd (out of the 155 participants in the 5-mile). No doubt, the cold weather (and overnight snow fall) kept a lot of people away. The 5K event had a total of 253 participants (runners and some walkers).

Bottom line, this a great event that benefits the Wellmark YMCA in downtown Des Moines. The registration is very reasonable (I paid $30 for the early bird price), the swag includes a long-sleeved tech shirt, and there is a nice spread of food afterwards (served INSIDE). I've run this race seven times in the past eight years, and I plan to return many times in future years. Care to join me?

Have you ever ran a repeat race, even in extreme weather? Ever done a winter-themed event? Would you have run in the thick snow and cold temps, or taken a DNS?


**I'm  linking up with Marcia and Patty and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.  In the spirit of Valentine's Day, we're talking about love (in terms of running). Join the conversation!

**I'm also linking this with Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner.


31 comments:

  1. Glad you were able to do the race! Running through quick sand sounds pretty awful- no wonder your hips were shot! Awesome job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha ha...my feet kept wanting to slide sideways.

      Delete
  2. I think if I am to be honest I would have taken a DNS! LOL! Well done - I love that you keep coming back every year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a fun race with so many people dressed in the red flannel! What's not to love?

      Delete
  3. Sounds like a fun little race! congrats on running in those conditions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It definitely was a great lower-body workout!

      Delete
  4. Wow, this really shows how much you love running because my rear would have stayed inside! Congrats and love the red flannel theme!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've run through snow plenty of times, and it really does make you change things up. If the weather was that extreme though, I probably would've stayed home. I've delayed runs before with bad weather. I know I have to take race conditions as is, but I do like training runs to be perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Originally, we were supposed to get a lot more snow, and have snow falling during the race...so, we really were pretty lucky!

      Delete
  6. That snow looks tough! It sounds like you still had a good time though :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should have tried to get actual pics from the race course of the snow, but I left my phone back at the rally site because I feared the battery would die in the cold weather. It still was a fun race1

      Delete
  7. What a fun theme for a winter race! February is so dicey for racing in the Midwest. Glad you got to run this one and are none the worse for wear with that snow. We have a local "Love Dash" 10k I've done a couple of times but the course was a sheet of ice the last time I ran it so now I skip it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The weather is definitely dicey in the Midwest. Par for the course, right?

      Delete
  8. Good job. Glad there was no falling. Love your outfit.

    As long it is not icy, I’m out there

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a fun challenge...I had my layers perfect, so it was alright.

      Delete
  9. I am glad that the weather cooperated and that you were able to run the race!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I probably wouldn't have raced it. Although now with my screw shoes . . . maybe. I'm super impressed with your time considering the conditions!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My hips were on fire at the finish from all the sliding feet movements...

      Delete
  11. I applaud you for getting out there to run a race in such challenging conditions. I am sure they would have cancelled it around here! I do love the whole red flannel idea! Nice job

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This race is always a fun time, even with the crazy weather we usually have for it.

      Delete
  12. Thick snow is rough for running - those are some good paces! The most "extreme race I have run was -2 degrees at the start - but with no wind and sunny, I have to say it felt less extreme than some rainy, chilly races I have done.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow that's some grit to race in those conditions! Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Nice job! You look so cute! I just can’t imagine running in those conditions.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Those are some pretty impressive paces in thick snow! Congrats. I'm glad you decided to run it!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would have no idea how to even begin to run in weather like that. I've raced in torrential downpours, but that's about it. I think I would have shown up to run if it was clear, and just figured it out as I went. I'm not afraid of the adventure!

    Congratulations on a great race!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nice work! I could never manage that in the snow!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I wondered if you'd make it there. You are a trooper!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great race at those conditions! I dislike running in the snow because I am afraid of falling.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes, I want to run this race next year! It always seems to sneak up on me and then I have a conflict. Remind me! :)

    ReplyDelete