Running in the snow

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How about that Nor’easter that blew through the NE overnight.  In fact, over 100 million people have been affected by the storm.  States of emergency, roads closed, windy and blustery, bitter cold.  Wind chills below zero, much below zero.  What is a runner to do?

I used to live in NY, so I am well aware of this type of weather.  Luckily, as I sit on my couch down here in the south, the sun is out, and no snow fell overnight.  It is currently 32 degrees, so right at the freezing mark.  I was going to go for a short run this morning, but opted for an extra cup of coffee, and watching coverage of the storm on CNN.  Sitting here with my little one’s, who hate the cold.

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I guess when I think about it, I would rather run in chilly conditions versus hot conditions, but when the temperatures drop to freezing or below, I find it a little difficult to bundle up and head out the door.  What are all of those runners going to do up north today?  I bet many of them can’t get there cars out onto the closed roads, and schools and offices are closed.  Runners will want to run.  So, be careful, bundle up, and run.  I hope at least the sidewalks have been plowed so that you can get out there and get your exercise.

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If you must, run.  Be careful of ice!  Most of all, be careful of frostbite.  Dress in layers, and keep those extremities layered.  Gloves, double up those socks, keep your face covered.  It only takes 10 minutes out there in the negative temps with windchill to get frostbite.

As for me, I just don’t miss the snow.  I grew up with it, and had more than my fair share.  It does get cold here in NC in the winter.  It can be below freezing, and occasionally snows.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates in two weeks, as I head to the coast of South Carolina for the Charleston Marathon.  I’ve run races in less than ideal conditions.  Last years Asheville Marathon was run on the coldest day of the year in that area.  It was 8 degrees with wind hills at times, and made the running conditions very difficult.  I’m hopeful for a sunny, windless 50 degrees on race day.

As for today, run or no run, if you live in the Northeast, at least take in the beautiful scenery.

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I’m a Half Marathon Pacer!!!

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I received some great news yesterday afternoon!  I volunteered for, and was chosen to be a pacer in the Half Marathon I’m running in this weekend.  This throws such an interesting curveball into my race plan, but I couldn’t be happier about it.  So many reasons come to mind…..

First off, I have been wanting to volunteer at a race for quite some time now, but haven’t.  Reason being, I work most weekends, and don’t get a lot of time off.  Normally, if I request a day off at work, or take a vacation day, it is to actually run a race, not volunteer at one.  Being a pacer allows me to run the race, but also “give back” to the race, and to other runners.  Why didn’t I think of this before now?  Well, I guess being a pacer requires some confidence, and being a fairly new competitive runner (three years now), I didn’t have a lot of confidence that I could go the distance as required, and be held accountable, if you will, to a given pace.  I really have the confidence now, so why not give back, and help others.

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I have been chosen to be the Pacer for the 8 minute per mile group at the Bull City Race Fest Half!  Yes, this means coming in at just under 1:45:00 finish time.  This I can do, and feel confident about.  I have now run 17 Half Marathons, and my average pace is well below that.  Yes, I have run in races where I actually tried to run with pacers to better my time, and sometimes it has worked and other times it has not.  I have been on a course and caught up to and passed pacers that I was trying to beat, and other times, sadly, I have been overtaken by a pacer late in a race.  This all changes this Sunday on race day.  I am the pacer!

Secondly, I have to run a race now that is different from how I normally race.  I have to pace myself from beginning to end, at the same pace.  This I look at as a challenge, and have been wanting to do for quite some time now.  I have tried this in training, and have been very successful, but never at a race.  This will be my challenge, and I look forward to it.  I am usually the runner that goes out quite fast, and gently, over the mid section of a race, finds a slower, more balanced pace for me, and then finishes strong.  On Sunday, I have to start out at goal pace! and maintain it.  This is very important, as I will have runners of different abilities trying to stay with me, so going out at a 7 minute pace or faster is not an option this time.

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Thirdly, there is the whole camaraderie aspect.  This will be the first race where I will be the one doing the guiding, the leading, the pacing.  Others will be looking to me for support.  I am not used to this, but have to do my best.  I am not usually a talker while I race.  The occasional “thank you” to aid station volunteers, or the timely shout outs like “looking good” or ” keep it up”, to other runners near me during a race, is about my norm.  I am not shy, but I just don’t talk a whole lot, or strike up conversations with random runners during a race.  I will have to be more vocal this time.

I look forward to this Sunday, being a pacer.  Now, I may love it, and I may hate it and never do it again.  Time will tell.  I just know that this is a great way to give back, and support the race and other runners.  I will certainly report back with how this all plays out this weekend.  I’ve taken on a new challenge, let’s see how this goes.

Question for you….  Have you ever been a pacer for a race?  If so, how did it go, and what did you think of it?  Any advice for me this weekend?

NCRC Invitational Half Marathon Recap

ImageWake up call came early today!  3:45 am.  The second race in the new Raleigh Triple Crown Series was taking place at 7am this morning.  Those who run three half marathons in the Spring in and around Raleigh are treated to a special medal to commemorate supporting local races at 39.3 miles.  I ran the RunRaleigh Half on 4/14, the Invitational today, and am signed up to run the Midtown Race Series Lookout Capital Half on 6/1.

Today’s race was tough!  Hills, trails, and 100% humidity.  I was drenched by mile 2.  It was very draining right from the get go.  There are several challenging hills all along this course, which is mostly run in a very beautiful State Park close to home.  Umstead State Park is a great place to run, and train.  Unfortunately I have never run there, so today’s race course was a complete unknown for me.  I did look into an elevation chart, but it was completely useless.  It shouldn’t be a problem for me anyway, right?  I mean, I just ran the Blue Ridge Marathon a month ago, so this would be mole hills compared to that.  Wrong!  The weather today was tough!  Climbing those hills while sweating profusely was ridiculous.  I slowed down a bit at mile 4, and then again at mile 9.  I was aware, and tried to make up time on some of the downhills.  The important thing for me today was to stay hydrated, and I stopped at every hydration station except the last one.  Having had a heat stroke during a 10k race a few years ago, I am ultra sensitive to my hydration during longer runs.  This was not the day to skip stations, it was a day to replace my liquids that I was losing every second.  I probably lost two minutes or more, but that was ok.

About 10 miles into the race the pace runner for the 1:45 pace group passed me.  What?  I don’t think so.  It took me two miles to catch up, but I did, having a very good finishing three miles.  I sort of had a second wind, knowing that I was about to be done.  I talked with the pacer and we ran side by side about a half mile before I passed her.  My strong finish felt good.  I crossed the line in 1:45:54 gun time.  Chip time has still not been posted.  I came in 7th in my Age Group.  Overall results have not been posted yet either.  Will update this post when the final results are available.  Overall I am pleased with my run today.  Not a PR by any stretch, but happy considering the course and conditions.  Next time I run this event, I will order up cooler weather and no humidity, and also a slight breeze that can penetrate the canopy of trees in the park.  I would have done better today if the conditions were more favorable.

Next race is Lookout Capital Half on 6/1, and already looking forward to it.