A couple of weeks ago I was on the fence about trying to squeak one more race in this year. It’s getting cold here in the mid-Atlantic and running in cold weather when you are an asthmatic is a huge NO NO. During a conversation with Army brother, though, he told me about this mask that the guys wear in Alaska called a Cold Avenger. He said it worked wonders for his guys in Alaska being able to PT outside when it was cold. I ordered one from REI hoping that it would allow me to keep running outside when it was cold. Not only because I hate the treadmill, but also because I’m starting my next round of marathon training and I really don’t want to wind up cooped up inside for the next several months especially during my long run days. I think I’ll go crazy. So, what better way to test out whether it works or not then to actually sign up for a race; The 12Ks of Christmas. Go big or go to the hospital, right?!
Race day came and it was a balmy 26 degrees. This truly was going to be uncharted territory for me. This particular race dressing up in a Christmas theme is encouraged. Given my dislike for all things Christmas I had decided to go as the Grinch. I even had the mom of a friend of mine make me a Grinch inspired hat. Oh and since I was going to need a green tutu for the Shamrock Half Marathon in March I might as well order my custom green tutu from Glam Runner. I know, twist my arm, right? I had even found Grinch pj pants that I was going to leave at the start line to wear over my running tights just until the race started. The mask kind of made me look even more dorky than I already did, but the mask was the only reason why I was actually able to be there.
Several friends of mine had also signed up to do this race. Bourbon’s Mom signed up for the 5K with several of her friends. CrossFit gal who did the Across the Bay 10k run and Bella’s Mom had signed up to do the 12k with me. It was really nice having company again. Even better, this time I had someone cheering me in at the finish line since the 5k went first!
Many things went well during this race. First, the Cold Avenger worked like a dream. Not only was I able to breathe warm air, but I felt no ill effects of running with it on. There was no degradation in my breathing at all. CrossFit gal said it looked like I was running with one of those VO2 masks on. My only complaints are that it went up and over my ears making me a little TOO warm and that since I mouth breathe I was pushing and pulling a great deal of water into the warming chamber. But hey, I was out running on a 26 degree day! I’ll take it!
Second, I had heard about this app called RaceJoy. If a runner signs up to be tracked then your friends and family can sign up to track you (for 99 cents) and send your cheers. It worked great! Bourbon’s Mom signed up to track me and my other friends so that they knew when to be at the finish line waiting. They were so confident they were able to go to Georgetown Cupcake while they were waiting for us. It also allowed for me to get cheers along the race course which were really helpful in poking me in the hiney when I started to sag. My only complaint is that only people who have smart phones can use this company. I’d like to see them be able to integrate regular computers so that my parents who don’t have a smart phone (as well as some of my friends) could also have the option to cheer me on and watch my progress.
The race itself was a mixed bag. I ran well-ish. My time was down about a minute per mile over all from my half marathon time, but not as well as I would have liked it to have been. I wound up finishing in 1:40 which is not a fantastic time given the folks that were running the race, but I was pleased. That being said, the logistics of the race were not exactly what I would call wonderful. While there was water at the 2 mile mark there was no other water. When CrossFit gal (who’s very broken and was walking) and Bella’s Mom got to the water station they weren’t able to get any water. On the way back (which would have been the 5 mile mark) there was no water at all. The turn around point was just a spray painted mark on the ground and was easily missed (which it was by both of them). They wound up doing almost 8 miles vice the 7.45. Not to mention the communications by the race were almost non-existent. The only good thing I have to say is that they did get out prizes to both the first finishers and the last finishers. Finishing for both of those girls was incredibly hard. Getting a reward for finishing at all is HUGE.
I finished before either of them did. Bourbon’s Mom was watching them approach the finish line via RaceJoy. I was able to keep texting them both to tell them how much further. I was also able to text them and keep encouraging them along. As soon as they popped around the final corner and we could see them I jogged half way out to encourage them in. I was dancing and making a fool of myself to get them to smile and finish strong. (Not to mention the upside of getting warm again.) When Bella’s mom reached me I encouraged her to finish strong and run it to the finish line. I was so proud of them both. They did a great job! I’m sure they are both cursing my name today, but they did an amazing job and should be proud of themselves.
I’m not 100% certain I will do this particular race again, but there were several good things I got out of it. Sometimes you just have to take the good things out of an experience and move forward. Onward to Shamrock Half Marathon training!!