Well, I ran my first 7K on Saturday. I'd been working hard for the past couple months to be ready for the race and was really looking forward to it. Then the day got closer and closer and the forecast kept changing (and NOT for the better) and I got more and more worried. I can run in the cold. And I have. But I don't like it too much! I also don't enjoy running on ice or when it's windy. Anyway, turns out the air temperature on Saturday morning was about 20 and the winds were cold and gusty. (I think the wind chills were probably in the low teens). It had snowed over night and was icy.
I had planned to run it with my friend Nicole. The start time was 9 o'clock and we don't like to be rushed or late, so we wanted to be there about 8. So she picked me up and we got downtown and parked the car and were excited and ready to run by a little after 8. I had run many times in similar temps and knew that it was pretty chilly, but that once I got running I'd be fine. What I hadn't thought through was that we'd be standing around in the freezing cold outside from the time we got there until the race started.
Now would be a good time to mention that there were over 10,000 people registered to run the Get Lucky 7K. That's a lot of people! (turns out 9,797 of them actually showed up to run -- the smarter ones stayed in their warm beds -- making it the largest number of finishers in a road race in Minnesota ever. Pretty cool). So, as it turns out when there are that many runners, you line up by pace (there were HUGE flags with pace times on them and you were supposed to line up near the flag that noted your pace) and you start in waves. We didn't even cross the starting line until 9:18 (and I heard that the last runners didn't cross the starting line until nearly 10 o'clock :: half the people were already done running by then!). So, if you didn't do the math yet, that means we stood around in the freezing cold for more than an hour before we actually started running. That part was not so fun!
I had just passed by the flag announcing that we had already run 5K when I finally had the feeling back in my feet. When we started running I couldn't feel them at all, and then they slowly started coming back to life, but felt more like bricks or 2x4s than feet. It was really a weird feeling! My fingers were pretty cold too. I'm fairly certain we had some mild frostbite. I kept saying to Nicole, "Can you feel your feet yet?", "My fingers are still numb!", "I am freezing!". It was one of the crazier things I've done and I'm so very thankful that I still have all my fingers and toes! The running part was fine, it was all that standing around before hand that was the killer!
Also, they had done the best possible job they could of getting the race route cleared of snow and ice, but it had just snowed overnight and the temps were low, so they had their work cut out for them. There were still quite a few icy, slick spots on the route. Running on ice and running on dry ground are two completely different things. They use different muscles. Your gait changes. It's not super easy and you really need to concentrate if you want to stay upright (and, let me tell you, I really wanted to stay upright!)
I had a personal goal for myself. I wanted to run the race in less than 45 minutes. I had been consistently running about a 10/10:30-minute mile for the past month or so and 7Ks is about 4.35 miles, so I figured that was a very reasonable goal and a nice round number. My official chip time was 45 minutes and 53 seconds, BUT I'm gonna say I still met my goal since about 20 feet from the finish line I (almost literally) ran into a WALL of people at a dead stop. There was a bottleneck at the finish since all the runners had to run through a slightly narrower area to finish than the streets we had been running on were. When you combine that with the fact that some people came to a stop to greet their non-running friends who were waiting for them at the finish line and then you multiply that my even a small percentage of the nearly 10,000 runners, you get a big mess. So I was very close to the finish line before 45 minutes, but my foot (where my fancy chip timer was laced onto my shoe) hadn't crossed the little finish line pad, so my time just kept ticking on until I could finally actually cross the finish line. I'm not a super competitive person, but after all I'd already been through in the race, I will admit I was not a happy camper coming to a standstill within feet of the finish line! I don't know how many seconds all that took, but I'm considering it a goal attained -- even though my official time says I missed it by 54 seconds. So there!
Well, that's my race in greater detail than you wanted, I'm sure. Thanks for sticking it out to the end. Here's a post-race picture of Nicole and me to reward you for reading all of that other stuff. We're sporting our race sweatshirts and medals (and it just so happens that we have the exact same hat too, so we really were twinsies!).