Lets start with a nice photo.
Well, it was an awful day to race. Now let me be clear, this is no fault of the race organizers, staff and volunteers. These folks were excellent and as in years past, put on a heck of race and should be commended. However, it is Old Man Winter’s fault and someone needs to have a serious talk with him and let him know that April Fool’s Day was a few days ago.
This race could have been held any day last week and been great, but unfortunately it was held on the only day where a horrible winter storm came into town and wrecked havoc on the race course. The storm came in late the night before the race and left about 1-2 inches on the road, and only got worse as the race began. There were stretches of the course where you could not see because the hail was so strong that it was a whiteout. By mid-race, there was roughly 2-4 inches of snow and slush on the road. For those that finished the race later in the morning, the hills became iced over due to the 30-45 mph winds that were constantly blowing, forcing runners of all calibers to walk up the hills for safety. All runner’s finished looking like human icicles with eyebrows, eye lids, beards, nostrils and clothes frozen solid. When Jen finished, her ponytail was a solid block of ice.
To put into perspective how awful a morning it was, the event organizers announced that out of the 5,000+ entries, just over 3,700 began the race. The rest decided to take the day off. We don’t blame them. We may have even considered the same course of action. But alas we did not, so how did our races go:
Jen: Today definitely didn’t go the way I thought it was going to or wanted it to go. After watching the weather all week I knew it was going to be a tough one, but wanted to hold onto hope of hitting my goals. On Saturday, I picked up a pair of running pants to add an additional layer over my winter running tights, and had 4 layers on top as well as 2 pairs of gloves, a headband and a hat. I also threw in a hood for good measure. The first miles started out alright and I even found myself getting a little too toasty, so I unzipped a little, and removed the hood, my hat and one pair of gloves. This was my first mistake of the day.
Early on the road conditions weren’t great, but they were manageable through some pretty steep hills and the wind wasn’t awful either. I opted out of partaking in some free beer at mile 2 (possibly my second mistake of the day?). After the 5K mark was where things started to get a little dicey. The wind was starting to pick up and snow was flying along with it. By the time I hit the hill at 4.5ish there was whiteout hail coming down and my eyelids were freezing shut. This is where my first mistake came back to bite me. I tried to put my hood back on to shield some of the hail but it was frozen to the vest that I was wearing. I tried sunglasses to shield my eyes a bit, but they were just steaming up and weren’t helping my vision. The roads were starting to get slippery at this point and I saw several people fall trying to make it up the hill. I also saw a whole group opt to get on the bus at this point and part of me really wanted to follow suit. I had whiteout conditions until about 7.5 where it leveled off for a few minutes before the gusts of wind really picked up speed at around 8.5.
I decided that it was time to let go of my goals for the day and focus on putting one foot in front of the other while attempting to stay upright. Somewhere around mile 9 I hit a slush filled pothole and ended up falling, landing on my right hip. After a quick assessment I determined I was okay and continued on, though the final miles were definitely more walking than they were running. At mile 10 the winds got even worse and we found ourselves in whiteout conditions again. Each time a gust of wind would come you could hear a collective groan from everyone around.
I ended up running a 2:51:50, 21 minutes beyond my goal. While I can’t say that I’m not disappointed I know that this race does not reflect the training that I have done over the last couple of months. I have decided to let it go, learn from it and shift my focus to Buffalo in May. Hopefully there won’t be a blizzard for that one…
So there really isn’t much else to add after Jen’s story. I went outside, it was miserable, I ran. While I would like to leave it at that, Jen says I have to add more. My race transpired mostly the same, the exception being that I was at a different spot on the course when the whiteouts occurred. I was fortunate to have finished before the second whiteout that claimed many runners. The hardest part for me personally, was running in the inches of snow on the road, while trying to maintain a decent pace. How the first 100 finishers did it so well I will never know. I found it hard to get traction and “push off.” It felt like you were constantly running while balancing on a Bosu ball. Does that make sense?
I knew coming in that there was no way to get a PR, so I had set my goal on a new personal course record. I was able to manage a course record by 1:30 (min:sec) finishing in 1:36:42. Now one observation – my pace today (7:19) would translate to a 3:11:50 marathon. That’s pretty close to where I want to be, and considering I did that in a blizzard, I’ll take it. Now it’s back to daily runs, beginning with a 20 mile monster next weekend. Here’s to Buffalo!