My February marathon was tough, but it’s done. In case you missed it, you can read about the details here.
Sunday February 14, 2016. Iowa City, IA. 7 am. cloudy, snowing, cold, 18-20 degrees, 3-5 degrees with the windchill.
The conditions were not favorable, but when I decided on this weekend the forecast was calling for snow starting in the evening. It also works out well with timing from my last marathon and the next marathon.
It was Valentines Day, and I had my number one valentine starting the race next to me, Josh. We had layered in all the clothes and the race was underway. 2 participants, no National Anthem, no starting gun. I said “you ready?”
The first few miles were good, at one point Josh said “my toes are cold” To be fair, it’s hard to run in thick socks or multiple socks and be comfortable.
Mile 2- the snow started to pick up, and the flakes were getting bigger. I thought I should had brought a head lamp. I was happy I was wearing neon pink, so we were visible to drivers.
We chatted, and the miles were going by, at around mile 5, Josh had to use the restroom. GASP! There were none provided by the race! Ok, calm down, the route took us by many gas stations. So he picked up the pace and hit the Hy-Vee gas restroom, I forged ahead.
I was getting worried as I had run about a mile or so without Josh, I was expecting him to join back up with me. My right hand was also cold. I was wearing my heavy winter gloves with a mitten over top. I rearranged my hand into a ball, and it started to warm back up. Josh also reappeared, and I think we saw our first snow plow.
We were now near the Foster Rd hill, UGH! We watched a small pick up truck struggle to make it to the top, I could relate.
The snow was also thicker under our feet, very light and powdery, not heavy and wet. We first felt how fluffy it was, when we hit an underpass and there was no snow on the ground, just pavement. It was the strangest feeling, like our legs had went to jell-o. I originally thought I was getting light headed, but it was just the change of surface.
I was looking forward to the next part of the race. Dave and Shannon had agreed to participate in the fun. Dave would be crewing us for a short while, while Shannon would run 5-7 miles with us. Dave also had snacks and non frozen hydration. We were also meeting them at the Water Works park entrance, where I could use the port-a-potty.
Once we saw D & S, we grabbed some G2 and I used the bathroom. What a strange experience, my ass was numb. I was dressed in my 2Xu thermal tights and an outer wind pant. I guess it was freakin cold!
In addition to non frozen liquids, I checked on my Orange Mud water bottle, it wasn’t frozen, but ice was forming on the nozzle. We had some of the snacks on board- nutter butter cookies. Then we were back at it, this time with the fresh legs (&mind) of Shannon.
At this point the snow was heavy and the wind was cranked, it was strongest from the SE, so any time we were headed in that direction was the worst. We hadn’t even ran 100 yards and there was a snow plow, we paused to turn our backs to not get “plowed” and carried on.
I am not sure how I (we) will ever repay Dave and Shannon, but having someone support you in what you love to do is awesome. Having a fresh mind to talk to was welcomed, we learned about her recent half marathon, with an AG finish, and her next race, then just like that, we saw Dave again.
He was there with his real camera and his phone. Wahoo, the race had an official photographer!! The next part we were running was a hilly “trail” near the Kate Wickham school, he had warned us of some ice which was hidden under the snow. We were tackling the hills, when we came upon a herd of deer. The area is some what protected from the elements, it was kinda spooky to see the deer seeking cover in the woods.
We made it through the area, and were closing in on the halfway point. We met up with Dave again, and he offered the non frozen drinks. Josh’s bottles, small Nathan bottles, were frozen, not good. This section we were headed south, the wind was brutal.
We were on 12th Ave in Coralville, the snow was even starting to drift, so some spots were a little deeper than others. It was anywhere from no snow to 4″-5″.
It was nice once we turned on 10th St and headed west, no wind in our face. I don’t mind running in these conditions, it really changes the run and your effort, builds muscle and character. However, Josh was struggling, he trains to be fast, so he doesn’t train in crappy weather, he will hit the treadmill. We took a walk break, and I busted out some fruit snacks. I also know he drinks a lot of Gatorade on long runs, and his was all froze up.
We snaked through this area of Coralville, I had never run here, but remembered it from my map. We eventually ended up turning back east, it was BRUTAL!!! At one point, I looked at Shannon, she had no skin exposed, her scarf was up to her glasses. She asked “Doesn’t that pelting snow hurt your eyes?” I was like I can’t see or open them wide enough to know, the flakes had built up enough frost on my eyelashes. It was funny.
Josh on the other had was done! This last section was rough, just crazy really. Shannon also said her fingers were really cold. At this point it was time to re-evaluate the goal. Dave was at this intersection, near a Donut store I may add.
I knew the next few miles were on a “trail” that was not headed into the wind, and it was somewhat protected in the woods, I am also more acclimated to running in the conditions. However, Josh was already back to the car, that was it. 15.76 brutal miles! Shannon was cold, and since I didn’t think it was safe to proceed alone for at least the next 3 ish miles, I hopped into the car too. Dave and Shannon also had done enough, for MY goal, no need to expect them to wait on me at the next check point.
I checked my phone for the weather information. It was 18 degrees with a wind chill of 3, yes 3 degrees! My pack had lots of things store in it, I also was making a video diary with the gopro.
I was finishing this run at the gym, on the treadmill.
This was going to be the difficult part for me. I was really cold and needed to transition. We were given a ride home and I kept moving, if I spent too much time at home, I wouldn’t get to the gym. I took off all my outdoor clothes and layers, and put on dry layers. Grabbed a water bottle, bottle of G2, starbursts, a perfect bar and more nutter butters. It’s so easy to get dehydrated in the winter. Luckily I had a brand new pair of shoes, my others were caked in snow.
I had run at the gym 2 times this winter prior to this. I had 10.44 miles to accomplish, no big deal…well unless you already ran 15.76 in the awesome winter conditions. Also being acclimated to the winter temps, running in the heat at the gym was the biggest obstacle. I am not sure how no one passes out from heat exhaustion there. I would guess it was 75 degrees in there, a small change from a 3 degree windchill.
If you are wondering what happened to the crew; Josh had to get to his day, there was an Iowa men’s basketball game that evening and he also shoveled the walk. (hands off ladies, he’s all mine) Dave and Shannon had some errands to tackle. I hope they all know how much I appreciate them helping me out.
So, I was at the gym, my quads, hips and hammies were tired and sore, so I started off slow. If you have run on the treadmill, running slow seems sooooo much longer than outdoors. I tried finding something on the TV, but the glare from outside was bad. I just continued to listen to my tunes and took breaks posting on Instagram. Which was great, cuz I saw so many encouraging posts.
I was also running based on my Garmin distance. While there is a setting for indoor run, it is way different than the treadmill. I am not sure if it is based on cadence or my arm swing. I did do some extra arm swinging to make the miles tick off quicker. The treadmill and my watch were so far off, the treadmill had more miles. So who knows maybe I ran an ultra.
It came to a point where the heat was frying me, hey I am not used to running in heat. I changed the plan to run .75 miles, walk .25 mile according to the distance on the treadmill. The running was at a faster pace than I had been trotting. I would just make sure my watch said 10.44 when I was done. This plan lasted for about 3 miles. I think I was halfway done with the 10, and I was toast…I ended up doing lots of walking.
Then it got to 3 miles left, I picked up the running again, then there was walking, then there was social media…then I started searching for the songs I wanted to hear. When the Garmin said 9 miles, I was ready to run the rest. I found Eminem’s “til I collapse” and it was game on!
Also as a side note, I had rested the entire day before, for this. My back had been bothering me, and I still have yet to figure out what is the cause. I shoveled our football stadium last fall, and about a month ago I fell down the stairs. I ran a couple mile shakeout on Saturday and was in pain! I stretched, iced, TENS’d, sat all day, and even slept in another bed. When it came time to run Sunday, I felt ok. The pain would come and go, but it became less bothersome the more miles I logged. When I was done, I had no back pain…maybe cuz the pain in my legs over shadowed it, lol
Ok… back to the race. I was done! There was no one to high five, no one to give me a medal. I took a selfie and posted to Instagram.
I had completed the distance in around 5:51.
Josh had a taco pizza from Happy Joe’s waiting for me when I returned home, and a heart shaped sugar cookie. I grabbed a donut after the Hawkeyes beat Minnesota at that basketball game, and washed it down with a beer. I also slipped into my 2Xu MCS compression tights.
This may seem silly, or crazy to you, but I am not one to shy away from a challenge or quit on something I set out to do. This run puts me at 2 marathons for 2016. I am 1/6th of the way to completing my goal.
My next marathon is in Newport News, VA on March 13, it is the One City Marathon. I am searching for one to run in April and May. Hope you will continue to cheer me on.
THANK YOU DAVE, SHANNON and JOSH, my number one Valentine.