Behind every great race are amazing volunteers. Those people who hand you cups of Powerade at the water stops? Volunteers. The medical personnel that treat your blisters, cramped calves, and chafed nipples? Volunteers. The incredibly helpful and happy people at packet pick up that make sure you get your chip, t-shirt, and that all you have to do on race day is show up and run/walk? Yep, they’re likely volunteers as well. Having run numerous races, I’ve come to realize just how important volunteers are when it comes to having great race experience.
Yesterday evening was spent in Minneapolis at the packet pick up for the Get Lucky 7k and 21k (half marathon). There’s just something about a race expo that gets me all pumped up to go out and run. I love meeting other fellow runners, whether this is their first or 50th race. Since this will be my first year not running the half marathon since it started, I love reminiscing about races of years past, like last year when we were running in shorts and tank tops thanks to record heat (seriously, it was 80 deg on St. Patty’s day last year. In Minnesota. I shit you not). This year looks to be a little more winter like with snow predicted into tonight and temps in the 20s for race time. Brrr!!!!
Put on by Team Ortho, over 10,000 runners are signed up to take to the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul tomorrow morning in their greenest St. Patrick’s Day running gear. I will be volunteering at the finish line med tent for the half marathon (21k) tomorrow morning. While I love chatting with other runners, I really really really hope not to see any of you there tomorrow, unless it’s grabbing a pint of Finnegans at the post race party!
For more information on how to become a volunteer for future Team Ortho events, click here. They offer great incentives, like bones to collect and use on race entries and awesome gear, as well as free gear like the awesome t-shirt I snagged that I plan on wearing Sunday when I get my BodyShred instructor certification. And ladies, the men of Women Rock are usually at the packet pick ups, providing lots of shirtless eye candy for your viewing pleasure at the Women Rock 10k and half marathon, which I ran last year.
What do Mexican pain killers, an eagle, 6 foot tall penguins, a women’s semi-pro football team,and the letters P & R have in common?
The 2012 Polar Dash Half Marathon!!!!!!
I decided to kick off the new year by running my first of what I hope to be many half marathons this year. When I registered way back in October, it really did sound like a good idea. I mean, after last year’s Polar Dash 5k with the -20 windchills, how bad could it really be? First look at today’s forecast looked great for running. Temps in the upper 20s to low 30s, no snow, no wind. That’s about as good as it gets up here in the great white north this time of year. I was doing a little happy dance. But anyone that has ever spent a winter in Minnesota knows that Mother Nature is a dirty whore. That semi-tropical forecast all of a sudden turned to temps in the low 20s with 30-40 mph winds, and a fresh couple of inches of ice and snow thrown in for fun. In the words of the great Ralphie Parker, “Oh FFFFFudge!!!”
Last night, the race emailed all of the half marathon runners, letting us know that due to the possibility of really shitty running conditions, we had the option of switching to the 10k. Part of me wanted to grab another glass of wine or six and pray that my alarm went off in the morning. Then there was my inner running coach, who looks kind of like the love child of Jillian Michaels and Mickey from Rocky, yelling at me to suck it up and not be such a freaking baby. I needed to go out there, see what the roads were like, and if the conditions were borderline suicidal, then I could opt for the shorter race. I’d have 6.2 miles to make up my mind.
My quad had been bugging me some all week. Aleve wasn’t cutting it, and the bottle of Advil I swore I put in the medicine cabinet was nowhere to be found. While dropping off my daughter at my parent’s house, I decided to raid their medicine cabinet to see what they had in the way of NSAIDS. After much digging, I finally found a bottle that looked promising. 800mg tablets of Ibuprofeno. That’s right, Mexican Advil. Common sense told me that Mexican pain killers were probably a bad idea, but I’m pretty sure that all common sense got thrown out the window as soon as I signed my sanity away on that registration form 2 months ago. And 13.1 miles would probably be a lot more fun to run if you were being chased by oversized gummy bears the whole way. So I downed my Mexican horse pill and prayed that if I started to hallucinate, it happened after I had safely arrived at the big yellow limo pick up lot.
I arrived at race village unscathed only to hand over my gear bag to a 6 foot tall penguin. I’m pretty sure he was real, but it may have been the Ibuprofeno kicking it. Either way, if you can’t trust a giant penguin, then who can you trust. After silently swearing at myself for forgetting to grab the garmin and my gu out of my bag, I found my pacer in the starting chute. I was gunning for a 1:50. I hadn’t trained, it was cold, it was icy, I just wanted to make it out alive. As if on cue, a bald eagle circled the start area a few times during the national anthem. That was my omen that today was going to be an awesome race and I needed to leave the negative attitude right there at the starting line. I had this.
For once, I was impressed with the city of Minneapolis on their fine road clearing abilities. I relished that fact, because the chances of them actually plowing and salting a road by race time again are about the same as snowstorm in hell. There were a few patches where I was glad to have the yak trax on. Especially when I met up with the 5k walkers as I was nearing the finish line for the 10k race. I’m pretty sure I ended up throwing a small child out of my way. By this time, I had left the 1:50 pacer behind and was chasing down the 1:45 guy. He was much better looking, and I felt like a superhero in all the spandex I was sporting. Spanx have nothing on 2 pairs of compression pants. As I neared the point of no return, I was feeling great. I had this. Another loop of the 10k route and as I passed the turn around for the 10k runners, I knew I was in the home stretch. Grabbed a cup of water from a very large women’s semi-pro football player, pulled up the face mask to brace myself against the wind, and off I went. 10 miles, 11 miles. There was the 5k turn around. One of the volunteers was yelling that I was on 1:45 pace. A wha-wha-wah?!?!? I did 1:46 in October. No runs longer than 10.5 miles since then, diet was crap from Thanksgiving until now. How was I on pace to run a PR? In less than ideal racing conditions to boot? Mile 12 – the wind picked up. Head down, one foot in front of the other, you’re almost there, you’ve got this. I started to hear the announcers at the finish line. All of a sudden I hear “And the half marathoners are starting to finish.” Wait a gosh darn second here, you mean that I’m part of the lead pack?!?! You’re shitting me right? Then I see the clock. 1:42, 1:43. Gave the camera man a big smile and a wave. Thought about giving him the Fonz double thumbs up, but that was just a little too cheezy even for me. I had a PR to catch.
Clock time was 1:43 something. A new PR!!! First thing out of my mouth as I crossed the finish line: “Holy Shit!” Pretty epic words if I do say so myself. Stopped to exchange some war stories with the fellow crazies. Rumor had it there was hot chocolate. Forget that I just ran 13.1 miles. I was a woman on a mission. Got stopped by some random guy because he wanted to give me a fist bump. Poor guy had been staring at my backside for much of the race. He gladly took my pic with my medal next to one of the flags and then it was off to find the big yellow limos to take me back to my car. I used the bus ride back to shamelessly gloat about my awesomeness on my FB status. The race was done, I was doing 80 most of the way back to my parents. Had I gotten pulled over, I would have been like “Officer, you don’t know how fast I really am.” Probably a good thing the cops were all sleeping off last night’s drunk fest.