Don’t be fooled by those pretty blue skies!
WOW! It was cold out there today! Windchill temperatures were at -39 during the race. My guess would be it was colder than that where we were because of the wind coming off the Ottawa River. Parts of the route were cleared but there were a lot of snowy, slippery, slushy parts too. No matter what your distance or time, this would be a race to brag about.
The boys placed in 3rd and 4th in the men’s category of the 3k, and they were 2nd and 3rd in the under 13’s. Little brother is getting closer to big brother’s times, that could make an interesting situation in the future.
My husband impressively placed 2nd in his age category for the 5k, leaving it down to me to complete the family lanyard collection but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I had the option of turning my 10k race (a double 5k loop) into a 5k run. You didn’t have to decide before the race, everyone was told to just cross the finish line if they felt they needed to because of the temperatures. I had managed the 5k somewhat comfortably and in fact was feeling pretty good just before I had to decide whether to go right to continue or go left to finish. I decided that since this was a training run and I need to maintain some mileage that I might as well go for a second trip around. That good feeling lasted about 500m, at which point I seriously questioned my sanity. It had been windy enough on the first trip out, but the second time was even worse. Of course now that the race had spread out and the 5k runners were finished, there were no groups of people you could hide behind to try to avoid the gusts. I ran one part with my eyes closed, though come to think of it maybe they had just frozen together. It was the first winter run where my face warmed up for the first half but then just got colder and colder as I went on. At times I had my hand up to my face trying to block the wind. My neck/face warmer by this time was frozen solid and certainly no providing any warmth. That said, when you weren’t being hit by the wind it really wasn’t all that bad. I’m not making that up, there were times when I felt pretty good out there.
This is also not a flat course, so there were some elevation changes to deal with. No major hills but when you are climbing even a relatively simple hill while fighting wind gusts (I think I heard between 40 and 60 km) it can be a little tough. I unfortunately found myself walking a couple of times during the 6th and 7th kms, something I really don’t usually do in a 10k. The breaks helped me pick up a little in the last 3k, in fact the final km was one of my fastest, but overall it was my slowest 10k race. I knew I would be nowhere near my PB of 53 minutes but I was hoping for a comfortable 56 minutes, maybe even a 55. Instead I was over 58 minutes. To be honest it was a disappointing time for me and slow enough to put me in 4th for my age group when I usually manage to place in the top three in these smaller races. (Note, I am the first to admit it is because they are smaller races that I can place!). It would have been fun for all four of us to get age group lanyards but we will have to aim for a family takeover next time.
Despite the disappointing time, you can’t finish a race like this one and not feel a little special. Most people didn’t head outside today much less go running. I think a large number of people who had registered didn’t bother coming out this morning, which is a shame. It really was pretty amazing to see a few hundred people line up outside the War Museum knowing full well they were heading into some of the worst possible running conditions and still – for the most part – have smiles on their faces. As race director Christine McKinty noted at the beginning of the race, there was to be no complaining about the cold since all of us huddled at the start line were probably creating the warmest spot in Ottawa.
It crossed my mind at about the 8k mark that this race was probably harder than any half marathon I have done. While there were times I felt good, there were other times when my legs just felt wobbly (not sure if that was from the slippery road or from the 11k I ran less than 48 hours prior to the race). There were also several times when I was consciously thinking about the possibility of frostbite. I was envying my kids who wore ski goggles and full face covers so that they had no exposed skin. At times their distance of 3k also was worthy of some envy. Luke said he wasn’t too cold or too hot but was “just right” during his 3k. Evan felt good except for cold legs. He was wishing he had used a third layer to help break the wind.
The kids bundled up alongside the Winterlude mascot.
While I wish the course had been a little more protected from the wind, you can’t ask for a better place than the War Museum for an indoor space before and after the race. The large lobby had lots of room for runners, a small auditorium provided space for awards and massages and timing chips were picked up in a space surrounded by tanks and a fighter jet. Needless to say, indoor washrooms were more than appreciated given the temperature. A large cannon was even used for the starting gun, which I think made most runners leap to a start since we didn’t know when it was going to go off.
After the race we toured the museum. My husband’s military past means he can get three of the four of us in for free, plus a free parking voucher so we didn’t have to pay for our underground parking, and I can tell you that warm parking area was a bonus when we arrived at the race just before 7:30 this morning. He even received a cafeteria voucher for $11, so you can guess where we had lunch after the race. It was my first time seeing the exhibits, and I highly recommend visiting the War Museum, though maybe not right after running a race in Arctic like temperatures. We were all fading towards the end so decided another trip back will be needed to fully appreciate everything on display.
My2013, 2014 and 2015 Winterman medals – one of my favourite medal designs each year.
Will I sign up for Winterman next year? Absolutely. You can’t live in this city and not do a real winter race. Actually, I guess many runners do skip the winter races, but they are missing out. Finishing a race like today’s is a whole different experience than racing at any other, more sane time of year. I also love the snowflake medal made of runners. The only change I might consider for next year… maybe just the 5k!
Side note: about 15 people completed the marathon today. What can I say but “Wow!”
A family of Salomon runners. The extra traction was definitely needed today.