Monday, January 13, 2014

First medal of 2014: Polar Dash 5k recap

2013 Polar Dash with Abby & Johnny
Chicago weather is tricky.  From Monday to Saturday there was a 50 degree jump in temperature which as you can imagine lead to some difficulties on race day for the Polar Dash.  The course was riddled with puddles and mud, I guess it was sort of my introduction to trail running in a way.  It doesn't help that I was in no condition to be running Saturday morning, but my pride wouldn't let me sit this one out.  The night before the race was the wedding of two very close friends of mine.  In fact, I ran last year's Polar Dash with both of them, making it our first of many races together.

Sam and I, post race
Last year, this was my first Team Ortho race and it had a few problems then as well.  First of all the weather turned out to be 50 and balmy that day so we were all terribly overdressed.  Once on the course there weren't clear markings or course marshalls to direct runners along the correct path so some runners did a 7k while others only did a 3k for what should have been a 5k race.  I had my reservations about signing up for this years Polar Dash, but luckily I had saved up enough Team Ortho points to register for the entire series without paying anything additional out of pocket.

Pre-race Wampa goodness
My Midwest Vikings Family :)
Fast forward to this year.  Thankfully the weather warmed up a bit so it wasn't completely intolerable to run in.   The only problem with this Chicago "heat wave" was that it melted a good portion of the snow build up and made some giant water obstacles.  Not far into the race we were faced with one such puddle that was impassable, giving runners only one option which was to climb over some snow and run through the mud.  There wasn't really anywhere along this course that I was able to pick up any speed.  Between dodging puddles, climbing through snow and trying to pass slower runners there just wasn't an opportunity to break into my pace.  For the most part I was able to stay dry, but I still got caught in a few puddles and by the time I finished the race my feet were freezing.  With the course as narrow as it was, having traffic move in both directions was close to impossible.  On the bright side I saw some of my favorites at the race.  Before the race started Eric and I took a picture in our matching wampa hats, I chatted with his friend Jennifer before lining up, along the course I ran into some of my fellow Midwest Vikings and while waiting for some friends to finish the 14 miler I got to catch up with Sam and discuss future races.  It seems like the more I run, the more friends I make who help keep me motivated.

I'm still signed up for the remaining races in the series but I'm not sure I'll take any of them on again next year.  Even if they do include some pretty sweet swag...

The swag

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