If it’s Sunday it must be race day!! Or at least lately. When I found out there was a Hot Chocolate race in St Louis, I knew I had to do it. I really enjoyed the Seattle race.
All week we had been under a threat of potential snow. The closer we got to the end of the week the more dire the predictions were for the weekend. Would my race get cancelled again? Fortunately no, it was not cancelled. They did issue cold weather warnings and as part of the warnings they indicated that anyone slower than 13 minutes per mile would be directed to the 5K course (rather than the 15K) to lessen the time runners and volunteers would be exposed to the elements. Well snap. I used to be a fairly comfortable 12:30 minutes per mile runner but as of late its been a lot closer to 13:30. I decided not to worry about the potential for being swept to the 5K course.
Packet pickup was very painless and I picked up my packet (and several cold weather items as mine are still in a box somewhere).
While I decided not to worry, worries kept creeping into my head about the 13 minute pace requirement. But really, what could I do? If they pull me from the course, they pull me from the course.
I woke up Sunday morning and immediate flipped on the TV. The weather was holding around 20-ish degrees (real feel 12-ish degrees) but no precipitation. I bundled up (two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, 2 shirts, and a jacket plus a hat and a handkerchief) and set off for the race.
In my car, I had quite the conversation with myself and came to a few conclusions. If the roads were ice, I would take it easy and opt for the 5K. If the wind was ridiculous, I would drop down to the 5K. If the cold got to be unbearable or if I had problems breathing due to the cold, I would opt for the 5K. And if I got swept so be it. I was feeling more at peace.
I parked and was able to use the real bathroom in the hotel before rushing to the start line. I made it with maybe a minute or two to spare.
They had combined several waves into one to eliminate the amount of time people were standing around before the start which made getting into the corrals slightly difficult, but I found an opening and wedged myself in.
Go!! I was actually really impressed with the conditions of the road. They were mostly clear and only a few slick spots. And while I was cold, I soon warmed up as I started running.
Of the races I’ve participated in that have started in downtown St Louis, most started on the same street but have different routes. It’s fun to see which way we’ll go and if I’ll see familiar spots. The first few miles actually passed fairly quickly. We were coming up on the 5K split and I was feeling decent. I was set to go for the 15K, but would they let me?
The majority of the people split off for the 5K but there was a handful of people taking the 15K split. I could see one of the race officials talking into a walkie talked and I immediately got nervous and sped up through the cut off. The volunteers confirmed we wanted to do the 15K but made no move to direct us to the 5K side. Whew!! I made it!! Now I just had to run the remaining 10K!!
It was hard running by the finish area and not finishing but soon we were leaving the downtown area and heading towards Soulard. Somewhere between mile 4 and 5, I had just started a walk interval when another runner tapped me on the shoulder and said let’s jog for a while. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was just on a walk interval and so I started jogging with her, matching her pace. We continued together for maybe half a mile or so before I lost her. It was nice having someone pushing me on. I’m so used to intervals at this point that I forget I can run longer than 2 minutes at a time! 🙂
Around Lafayette Square we ran. I was really wishing it wasn’t so cold so I could take a picture but trying to de-glove and take a picture was going to be way more trouble than it was worth. There are some beautiful houses in Lafayette Square and a lot of them had Christmas decorations up. Add in the snow and it was a gorgeous picture.
I hit 7 miles and instead of being a little over half way done, I only had 2 miles left!! I looked at my watch and tried to do race math. Race math and I don’t always get along but I thought I had a chance to PR (especially since this is only my second race at this distance and the last time I was under the weather).
The last two miles slowly ticked by and soon the finish line was in sight!! Done!! And with an almost 3 minute PR at 1:57.28! A PR to end the year is A-OK in my book.
I got my finisher’s mug and quickly walked back to my car as the cold set in and I was FREEZING!!!