Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Road Race 2013

Last Monday as I was sitting at the myograph in the lab, browsing the internet while running experiments, I spontaneously signed myself up (last minute) for the St. Partick's Day 10km Road Race. Although I haven't been doing a tonne of running lately, I thought I'd have no problem with 10km. The weather had been beautiful for the last week, it felt like spring was on the way and I thought, why not.

The second I finished registering, and payed for it, Nature decided to screw me over. The beautiful spring weather began heading out of town, and by Saturday night I was wondering what I had been thinking.

This was the weather I woke up to, at 7am Sunday morning. Feels like -22'C (that's -7.6'F), with gusting winds and tonnes of snow. Needless to say, the race I had happy-go-lucky signed up for, was turning out to be one I'd not forget.

I don't do a lot of winter running outside. Correction I really don't do any. Living here in Calgary, it's possible to run sporadically outside in winter only during chinooks when the sun is out, the paths are clear and it's relatively quite warm. I have never run in actual snow. So I made the choice and decided I'd rather over dress for the race than underdress!

Bundled up in 3 pairs of pants (lulu leggings, a pair of loose pj's, lulu track pants). 3 shirts (underarmour cold gear, and two long sleeve lulu's) 2 pairs of socks (regular and soccer socks) a wind breaker and a poofy vest, plus running gloves, a big pair of mittens and a thin cotton scarf, I was ready to brave the cold. By the end of the race I'd be carrying an extra 9.2lbs of cloths, sweat and snow with me (I know because I weighed myself with and without as soon as I got home)!

Trying to keep warm before the race, runner's were invited to dress up for St. Pats, I opted in favour of dressing only to keep warm. As for the run itself, by the end of the first kilometer I had a real idea of how much more effort running on loose snow is. Despite the beautiful route along the Elbow River reservoir, I spent little of the race enjoying the scenery. You had to constantly watch your footfalls for hidden black ice under the 2 inches of snow. Also my glasses were fogged over from my breath for most of the run.

This was also my first time running with music. Normally I hate being distracted by earbuds popping out and the cords bouncing around, but I figured with the headband to keep em in place, and the cords run down under my vest, maybe it be worth a little musical motivation.

Me after crossing the finish line. Your can see the ice frozen to my face, there's nothing like having to constantly wipe snot-icicles away. This photo, courtesy of Neil Zeller Photography, you can see the rest of his race day photos here.

All in all, Sunday was certainly not a personal best time for me, however it may be one of my proudest runs. Sure I've done some crazy stuff in winter before, jumping through the ice in the annual Bon Soo Polar Bear Swim, is just one of them. But I was truly proud for not quitting, for getting out there and running, by myself and despite the stupid weather. Also, I was only 7 minutes slower than my 10km personal best; pretty good considering I haven't run more than 7km distances in months, and of course the weather. It's a great feeling to know that the level of personal fitness I am at is sufficient to get up and run 10km, with really no preparation, and to feel good afterwards. Of course maybe all that really means is it's time to start getting serious about that looming half marathon goal.

What have you done recently that you are proud of? What goals do you have set for the next couple months?


  1. That looked seriously cold and good for you for braving it! I ran on Saturday and thought it was bad....nothing compared to that!

  2. Hey fellow PhD Student! Glad I found your blog.

    You are brave. I won't even leave my house in the winter...and you did all that!

    You should be proud. Good work!

  3. Well that doesn't look fun at all! Well done for getting through it!