Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Polar Dash 2014

Love the duct tape shoes?
Well as usual, here I am saying "Oh it's been a long time since I've posted anything…."  Today I did the 5k at the Team Ortho Polar Dash in Minneapolis, MN.  I went so far out of my own comfort zone, I don't think I can ever go back to the person I was yesterday.  She is forever gone and a part of my past. And that is a good thing.

I was no nervous last night, and learned so much today, that I wanted to write it all down right away so that I don't forget and that I learn from my mistakes and triumphs.  The first thing I need to remember is to settle down the night before.  I got myself so worked up worrying about the weather, not being with Rico (he had to work), the parking, what to wear, catching the bus and everything that was so unknown, that I made myself sick.  I was literally SICK this morning and for awhile thought that I might not even be able to leave the house.  But, now that I know vaguely how this works, it will be better next time.  

The drive was good, the roads were good, but I arrived too early.  I arrived at the parking lots about 1 hour and 15 minutes before the race because I thought there was a "warming house". Warming house implies that something is warm.  Nope.  It was an underground garage, and while there were a few patio heaters around, there was nothing warm about it.  I learned that I hate winter.  Oh wait, I already knew that.  When I did my first 5k back in October of 2013, I thought it was cold that day.  I really truly did.  Man, was I dumb.  It was about 40 degrees that day.  Today?  Actual temps were around -5 with the wind making it feel about -10.  And I was miserable.  

I had a hard time deciding what to wear since this was my first actual cold weather race, so I scoured the Polar Dash Facebook page looking for veteran advice and found lots.  (Runners really are the nicest most helpful people in the world I think!   Honestly, out of 5,000 some odd people today, I cannot recall one rude one!)  What I decided on:

Top: sports bra, wicking tank, Under Armour cold gear turtleneck, stride long sleeve long shirt, and Polar Dash fleece jacket.  This was a PERFECT combination.  Not too hot, not too cold.  I wore a big old parka until right before the race too and then left it at bag check.  Bag check is AWESOME.  It was very well organized with extremely nice volunteers.

My amazing friends!!
Bottom:  wind gear tights and another pair of running tights.  This was NOT enough.  I should have worn another pair of pants.  I had worn just the wind gear tights at the Gobble Wobble in November, and was too cool, so thought that one extra pair would work well without being too much.  I was wrong.  During the race, my muscles in my thighs were cold and cramping and by the end, waiting for the buses, I was outright miserable because my thighs were so cold.  Lesson learned!

Feet:  compression socks and smart wool socks.  I also wore plastic BAGGIES over my socks, and then wore my older running shoes, and put duct tape over the outside of the toes.  Before the race, I was pretty miserable, and my feet were too cold.  I had wanted to wear another pair of thick wool socks, but there just was not enough room in my shoes.  If I did this race again in these temps, (which I will) I think I will get a larger pair of shoes and go with the three pairs of socks.  The first mile or the race, my feet started to warm up and it was ok, but before and after the race, it was pretty awful and I would have been happier with warmer feet.  But, the duct tape was a nice tip that I think helped keep things warmer.  

Frozen Finger!  
Hands:  epic fail.  I wore a pair of thin rubber gloves under my regular workout gloves, and a pair of wool mittens over that.  And I had disposable hand warmers.  Again, I arrived too soon, and there was no where to stay warm and I have problems with my right index finger getting number and cold when it's below 60 anyway.  So it went from bad to awful pretty quick.  I need better warmer mittens!  When the race started, I was already feeling pain in my right hand.  As the race went on, it got better, and I warmed up fine.  However after, I got cold VERY quickly, and then waiting in line for the buses, and this is what my hand looked like by the time I got to the car.  My entire index finger was yellow, I could not move it at all, and I honestly thought about going to a hospital, but I didn't know how to find one, and I just wanted to go home.  I ended up body heat warming it under my arm.  Fun driving, let me tell you.  LOL!  It took about an hour, but my fingers finally went back to normal.  It was really scary for a bit though.  They didn't just feel cold, it was like dead.  I felt NOTHING.  Hurt like a bitch as it warmed up too.  Yikes.  I think I may have a little problem called Renaud's, but that's for another day.

Head:  baclava and Polar Dash hat.  Perfect combination.  The baclava I just adjusted as I ran and uncovered my face or not, and it was just right.  I did end up having to take off my sunglasses though because they fogged up.  It was cloudy out though, so it was ok.  

All in all, not too bad for my first Polar Dash on the clothing choices.  A few minor adjustments, and I'm good.  

Overall, the race was WONDERFUL!  Being cold sucked, being there in a strange place with so many strangers (not my cup of tea) was very rough, BUT, I did it.  I did have to walk for a little tiny bit, but I think it was because I had my face mask off for too long, and the air was just too tricking cold that it gave me a horrible stitch in my side.  There were the usual wonderful people along the sides ringing cowbells and cheering.  I wish I could communicate to those lovely people how very wonderful and helpful that is for me.  They have NO idea!  My eyelashes and face did frost up, which was very odd - I've honestly never had that happen before.  I wasn't able to get a picture of it because it was so cold that my phone kept shutting off.  LOL!

Best hot chocolate ever!
This wasn't an official timed race, and I started my Runkeeper too soon and forgot to turn it off, but I think I had a similar time to what I had at the Mankato Marathon 5k.  The only problem, per se, was I wish walkers would have stayed to one side.  They all just sort of plopped right down the middle with no awareness of people around them, and I felt like I did a lot of "Frogger" style moves trying to get around people.  I am not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but I did want to run, and it was difficult just due to the sheer number of people there.  Had the walkers stayed off to one side, it would have been easier I think.  

At the end, when the very sweet volunteer handed me my medal, I started to cry.  She was cold and standing there and could have looked miserable but she smiled at me and said, "first one?"  I couldn't even answer her.  I know it's just a little piece of metal, but to me, it symbolizes everything I've worked for the last six months and everywhere I want to go with the rest of my life.  2014 started out with me healthier than ever.  I've lost almost 70 pounds, and feel amazing.  My depression I used to battle with is no longer an issue.  Turns out losing 70 pounds, getting closer with your husband via a shared hobby, and the awesomeness of running just trump the shit out of depression.  ;)

So, next stop, The Get Lucky 7k in March.  Rico will be running that race with me, so already it's a better situation from the get go.  My wonderful girlfriends will be there with me too.  It's going to be warmer too.  I just know it.  :)

That white stuff on my scarf
and arms is FROST from my breath,
and it's hard to tell in the pic,
but my eyelashes were all icy. SO WEIRD!

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