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.
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.
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.
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
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?
**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!