Monday, January 27, 2014

It was a cold one...

Photo from Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce

I'm a strong believer in Violating The Comfort Zone. And that happened, big time, this past weekend.

I had heard of a nearby race, the Marshalltown Chamburrr Scurry.  It was a 5K (my least favorite distance), so it didn't really grab my attention. I do, however, have a goal of doing 14 "official " events in 2014, so I reconsidered  and discovered it took place on a cross country course . Hmmm, that might make it interesting.
A runner friend, Barb, was interested in doing it, too.  Hmmmm....

The race was this past Saturday, and Barb and I didn't start talking about until last week. Neither of us wanted to commit to it, so it wasn't until Friday evening when we (officially) agreed to do it.

Kim and Barb, all nice and warm....before the race

This was a Comfort Zone Violation on many levels.  First of all, it was the dreaded 5K distance. I am not afraid of the 5K distance, but I detest racing it. Second, I'm not a sprinter. And third, my body typically needs a couple miles to get warmed up and even then I'm not running very fast.

This also was a trail race, which I have never done on frozen terrain. I love trail running because it's different from the usual pavement I run most of my miles upon. Trails, this time of year  (especially in Iowa), are covered with snow and ice. Hmmmmm....I am familiar with the elements. Bring it!

Another comfort zone issue was the spur-of-the-moment aspect. I usually have every event registered, paid for and documented on my calendar  well in advance. I'm also mentally prepared. Registering on site would be a new adventure.

The forcasted temps for Saturday were to be in the mid-20's, which would feel like a small heat wave given the single digit/subzero temps we have been experiencing for most of 2014. Let's just say Momma N had a different agenda. The temps actually were in the high teens, but with the extreme wind felt closer to zero (or colder).

Am I really gonna run a 5K in these Artic temps?

Thankfully, this was held on a community college campus so we had indoor accommodations prior to the start of the race. Check in went very smooth.  We received bags with decent swag (navy long-sleeved shirts, stocking hat, coupons, energy chews, etc.) and timing chips (a big plus for a relatively small race). Due to the extreme weather (plentiful ice patches), they shortened the course to 2.5 miles, so we'd be finished a tiny bit sooner. Not a problem.

The first mile or so was on the cross country trail (frozen ground).  We were headed east, with the wind at our backs, so it didn't feel so cold after all.  I could feel myself going a little faster than "normal," but it felt great.  There were maybe 15 people ahead of me (and several behind me), so I tried to keep up with them.

Then we hit the turn-around.  And we were headed back to the campus. Going west.  Directly into the wind. UGH.  Almost instantly, I had that sinking feeling where I really regret starting out too fast.  Damn 5K's, why do I attempt to run them?  I always end up frustrated and deflated.

This return trip was probably the worst running experience I have ever known.  The wind was an enormous force to run against, it felt like I was running in place because it took so much effort to just keep moving forward.  The frozen ground was very rough, making it difficult to maintain my balance.  I could feel (and hear) my breathing, my eyes were a blurry mess from the cold air, and my scarf kept deflecting my labored breaths up towards my sunglasses...and they were a fogged up mess as well.

I finally allowed myself to walk briefly, I was so winded (no pun intended) and my body felt like it was about to fall over from the wind.  As soon as I hit the pavement, and the course turned and went south, I almost yelled a big scream of victory.  Instantly, my legs sprung back to life.  I could feel the sun on my face.  All was right with the world again.

The final 1/2 mile was a giant loop around some of the campus buildings.  There was another brief  stint with the wind in my face, but knowing the finish line was near made it bearable.  Finally, I crossed the mat and promptly headed inside.  It took several minutes for my breathing to return back to normal.  I didn't realize how much I had been pushing myself.  I usually finish races somewhat out of breath, but I was really out of it this time.  And my headband had pushed itself (or maybe it was from the wind) almost off my head. My hair was sticking up in a most interesting, though amusing, fashion.

My official finish time was 20:02, which translates to an 8-minute pace.  I have not run an 8-minute pace ever in my life, especially for a short race.  Damn.  I finished second in my age group, the gal ahead of me finished in 17:40, so she was never in my sight LOL.  Normally, I'd be disappointed to miss that 1st place finish, but to finish with an 8-minute pace (in the wind, cold temps, with a brief walk thrown in there) felt pretty amazing.  Barb also finished second in her age group, so it was a grand day for both of us!  Maybe 5K's aren't so bad after all.

WHEW!  We finished!


  1. Kim, that is a great recap. First, I can't stand the wind and reading that made me shiver. Secondly, CONGRATS on your super fast finish. Way to go in those conditions. Hoping 2014 gives me the chance to run with my bday buddy...maybe Cleveland??

  2. Thanks, Kim. I could not have said it better myself. It is great to know that we aren't deterred! Thanks for pushing me to a new "comfort" level.

    BTW---Just heard about a half in Mankato this fall...???