Race: Snowman Shuffle 4 Miler
Place: Cherokee Park, Louisville, KY
Date: February 4, 2012
Yes…finally! After about a month off from having a race on my calendar, my second race of the year finally arrived. I had been out running every day prior to this, tapering the week of the race to keep my legs in shape, but rested at the same time, and mentally preparing myself for the hilly wonder that is Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky. I swear, that last mile and a half is always straight up hill.
As I mentioned yesterday, I wasn’t feeling the usual bit of excitement that preludes a race. I don’t know if it was other things going on in life, or the usual grumpiness from not being able to clock the miles that I normally would, but I was down. Like, down and out down. So, when the alarm clock went off this morning, I shut it off and had to have a pep talk with myself to get out of bed, get dressed in my running gear, and down a light breakfast.
But, I managed. And, as I had heard that we were likely to get rain today, I thought to wear my older pair of running shoes instead of the new ones. My old pair have seen me through many, many, many wet races. What was one more, right? But, at the moment, no rain was falling. In fact, it was rather dry outside.
Until I polished off my bowl of Cinnamon Chex with a splash of almond/coconut milk.
Then, as if on cue, the running gods joined forces with Mother Nature to make sure that they made up for the gorgeous weather we got to run in back in January for the Frostbite 5K (or race #2 of the Polar Bear Grand Prix). Today, the Snowman Shuffle 4 Miler (the third and final race of the Polar Bear Grand Prix) would be run…in the cold, pouring rain.
Oh well. This is second hat for me.
I decided (thankfully) to wear my running jacket over the tech shirt I had on. I didn’t think it was going to be that cold, so I had on a pair of my shorts. Wow…was I ever surprised. So, if my legs were going to be frozen blocks of ice, at least my torso and arms would be warm. Oh…no gloves either today.
Call me unprepared.
The entire drive to the park, I keep hoping the rain will let up. But it didn’t. So, it was going to be a wet, cold race today. Four miles wasn’t too bad though, so I sucked it up, went and got my bib number and the backpack we got as swag, then hurried back to the car to keep warm for a little bit.
Stretching commenced about twenty minutes before the actual race kicked off. I limbered up and then went to head out to line up at the start with the few runners who ventured that way. As the race got closer to kicking off, the stream of the rest of them joined in. There were a total of 650 finishers at this race. It was one of the smaller ones, probably due to weather.
The race kicked off right on time, and I started off slow. I finally got to a point where I could break away from the pack of runners that were all crowded together and find a good pace. I had my iPod going on my running mix and as I came up on the half mile mark, U2’s “Beautiful Day” began to play. Given that it was in the low 40s and raining, it made me smile. And it really lifted my spirits. I don’t dislike running in the rain. Most of my best times have been accomplished in such weather. I just don’t like doing it if I don’t have to.
Mile 1 ticked off fast. I couldn’t hear my time as I ran by, but I didn’t care. The rain was splashing all over me. The wind was starting to pick up, but I was off and running. Coming up on Mile 2, my hood came down and I just let the rain pour all over me. I was feeling great. And then…the hills hit.
Cherokee Park…your hills will always hinder me until I get more accustomed to running them. (Note to self: Run more hills!) This did slow my pace some as the last 2 miles are pretty much a steady climb. Up. Up. Up. Mile 3 passes. You start to wonder if or when it will ever level off. And you keep thinking…eventually you have to go back down. And then you reach the peak…you see the fountain where the race kicked off. You can see the finish line just ahead. And finally, the terrain levels. I sprinted as fast as I could manage then to the finish line.
And totally blasted my previous 4 mile time by a full 3 minutes 26 seconds! How is that for an improvement?
So, despite the rain, despite the cold, and despite my attitude the day prior…I ran the hell out of this race and I had a lot of fun doing it. Yes…even the dreaded hills.
My roommate met me at the finish line with a towel (bless her!) and my dry hoodie. I got out of my very heavy, very soaked running jacket and hunkered down into the warm (yes, warm…she ran them under the hand driers in the park bathroom) towel and hoodie until I got back to the car.
We went to the local running store, Blue Mile, where they were kind enough to let me use their dressing room to change into dry clothes for the rest of the day. Thank you awesome people at Blue Mile.
I really think all the hard work, dedication, and joy that I find and put into running is really paying off. I am definitely improving speed-wise. I know there will be bad races and bad running days, but I also know that I can overcome them and press on. And, in the end, I’m there to run. That simple!
Thank you, Polar Bear Grand Prix. I had a blast doing my first ever winter runs! See you next year!