I signed up for Polar Dash way back while picking up my packet for Monster Dash at the Chicago Half Marathon Expo. Initially I wasn't going to do it, but they were giving out penguin hats and fleece jackets. With all the half marathons that I ran last year, that distance did cross my mind, but with the race coming on my birthday weekend I figured a 10K would be long enough. I guess it was smart I did that since they decided to change the half to a 14 miler and with all the time I took off, along with holiday weight gain, I was in no shape to complete the 14 miler - especially on just 4 aid stations carrying only water.
|Mizuno Wave Ascend 8 won at RRS Xmas Party|
Once it was time to start the race, all the slush and mud made it very difficult to get into the corrals. We had to go through the start line and walk back towards the right pace area. The race officials had a lot of trouble clearing spectators off the path so we could run. I'm guessing that a lot of people gave up on getting back to their proper pace area because I wound up having a lot of slow runners in front of me and it made the early part of the race miserable. On top of the slow runners, the race came to a practical standstill just a quarter mile in as the sidewalk was completely flooded in shin deep water and people were trying to tiptoe up the snow banks on the side trying to stay dry. There just wasn't room to run unless you went straight through the water and I wasn't prepared to do that just yet. There were a couple more flooded spots in the first mile. This wound up being by far my slowest mile of the day at 10:20. I had planned on easing back into things, but I didn't expect to go that slow.
I soon found a groove and picked up steam. It helped that the course became a bit more cleared up and there weren't any further traffic jams for awhile. I wound up running behind a couple girls for most the race who were chatting away. They stayed a pretty consistent 8:45 pace. This pace didn't feel easy, but also wasn't overdoing it for the fitness level I'm currently at. I noticed I was passing runners during the race... a lot of runners. The neat thing that Team Ortho does with its results is tell you your pace between checkpoints, runners passed, etc. I wound up passing 118 runners between when I started the race and when I finished. There were definitely a lot of slower runners lined up front that contributed to that. I was passed by 27 runners during the race. For the last 0.9 miles - especially during the last half mile where I finally sped up a bit I managed to pass 13 runners and had just 1 pass me.
By the end of the race my feet were pretty much soaked so I plowed through some of the puddles I had avoided earlier. The course was now choked with slow 5K runners as well as people who finished and were using the course to leave the area. This was a bit of a logistical mess. I did my best to just get through it and finish the race. My overall time of 57:08 is my slowest 10K, but not by much. I'm happy with it considering course conditions and the fact that I'm just starting to get back into the running routine after time off. My knee was fine during the race, but got a little sore later in the day.