Since this was the first time I’ve run this race, I thought I’d post a little breakdown of how the race went.
The Weather: After pretty much an entire winter of beautiful weather- very little snow and Sunday runs that ranged in temperature from -5 to +5 degrees- the weather decided to take a miserable turn for the worse on race day. The temperature with the windchill was about -22 degrees with a 30kph NE wind. It had also snowed most of the week prior and also the night before, so despite the organizers’ valiant grooming attempts, slippery, powdery snow had blown and drifted all over the course making it really hard to keep your footing. A friend of mine wiped out in Assiniboine Park, luckily I was wearing my YakTrax so I had a little extra grip.
The Course: This would be a pretty beautiful course were I able to see most of it through all the snow. Could’ve done without the hills, they weren’t huge, but there was one that you covered both ways and you hit it the second time after about 11.5 miles. Ouch. But on a nicer day, it would be almost an ideal course to run. I see that the distance wasn’t certified, but according to my Garmin (which measured over-distance, as usual), I’d guess it was pretty dead-on.
A mile-by-mile breakdown of the race comes after the jump!
The Start: You get to wait inside (thank God) before the start. There were people from the earlier waves who had already finished and started eating. I was immediately jealous of them. Jerks. We went to lineup outside about 2 minutes before the start and it wasn’t as bad standing around out there as I thought it would be. When the bullhorn went off, it took about 10 seconds to cross the start line as it was a relatively small wave (about 165 people).
Mile One: Already sort of regretting this. Hit the parking lot and got blasted by the wind. Most of this mile was isolated in the trees. Saw some neat tipis on the grounds. Climbed a smallish hill and passed a woman who appeared to be wearing a full snowsuit. How she was running in ski pants, I have no idea.
Mile Two: Grargh! Why is this in an open prairie field? It looked endless. I ran this mile too fast in an effort to get out of the wind. I spend some time during this the mile cursing my friend Dana for convincing me to do this.
Mile Three: What’s up with this giant hill? We live in Winnipeg, dammit! Why didn’t they just route the course around it, it wouldn’t have been hard to do that? A pacer passes me and tells me to keep my shoulders down, they’ve already been riding up high and tense from the cold. His advice helps me relax a bit though.
Mile Four: A fairly uneventful mile through the trees. One small hill and quite a few twists and turns. Pretty. Until…
Miles Four & Five: Grant Avenue. Oh. My. God. This was a almost a 1/2 mile up one side of the street, than crossing and running back up the other side. Which meant ice pellets whipping one side of your face, then ice pellets whipping the other side of your face. At this point I almost said “Fuck this,” and wandered off the course to somewhere warm, but I didn’t have any money, so I was kind of stuck finishing this damn race.
Mile Six: Back in the trees and onto Assiniboine Park. Not so bad. Not feeling like I want to end it all, the way I did a mile ago. At this point, I notice that my lips are numb, like ‘At the Dentist’ numb and hope I don’t have frostbite on my face. Start holding my gloved hands up to my cheek and mouth every couple minutes.
Mile Seven: Fairly uneventful. Felt reasonably strong here and passed someone. A race photographer told me he liked my jacket. I amused myself by thinking about how much my friend Shannon would hate this race (so cold!).
Mile Eight: Part of this ran through the Park parking lot, which was pretty covered in snow. I ended up running off the beaten path here a bit, as the fresh snow gripped better than the mushed up snow from previous runners.
Mile Nine: I forgo yet another aid station (didn’t stop at all this race) in order to keep up my speed. Choose to instead draw sustenance from the snot that’s dripping directly from my nose into my mouth. Snot is the body’s own Gatorade apparently.
Mile Ten: I get back on Grant Avenue here (it’s mainly an out-and-back course) and so much snow has drifted onto the sidewalk in the last hour or so that I say, “Screw it,” and walk about 30 seconds to give my legs a rest. Then I run the rest of the mile because I want to get out of the heinous wind as fast as possible.
Mile Eleven: Uneventful. Getting majorly fatigued, but other than a short walk I managed to keep up the pace here.
Mile Twelve: That stupid hill again! Ended up walking up it and just burning up the trail on the way down to make up the time. After which I once again faced The Endless Field of Endlessness. Managed to pour it on a bit, surprisingly.
Mile Thirteen + Point One: Back in the forest, feeling a bit better after a quick walk. I walked only to conserve my energy for the final hill, only to realize that the last part of the race actually routes around it. Wasted time, dang! At some point, the 2:15 pacer sprints past me and I think, “Aww, I’ve blown it again,” (as this happened at the end of the Vegas Half as well). I notice there’s no one with him though and it looks like the rest of his group dropped off so he decided to just gun it to the finish. I decide to follow his lead and manage to get myself a 2:14 for my troubles.
So all in all, a 2:14 in those conditions ain’t half bad! It’s a 7 minute personal best and improvement from December’s half marathon in Vegas. In better weather, I think I could’ve dropped another few minutes, but my legs were really tired and my mental state was… not so great. My ambitious goal is to get really close to 2 hours in the Police Half in May. It’s on my home turf, so hopefully that will present an advantage!