Race Recap: Winterlaufe 8k 2019

Wow guys. I must be busy… since I just noticed that I never wrote a recap for the Winterlaufe 8k that happened at the beginning of the month! Geez.

Winter finally decided to hit Michigan hard towards the end of January and into February. It seems like every week we have a new crazy winter storm warning. Near the end of February just before Winterlaufe, it was a dumping of snow followed by a polar vortex, making for perfect wintry conditions race day.

I can’t be entirely negative about the weather – a slight warm up was predicted for race weekend, but we weren’t entirely sure how it would affect the conditions on the roads we’d be running on. The night before the race when I went to packet pickup we took a drive on those roads and they were pretty slick – full of nice slushy gray snow-mud. We didn’t go down one of the roads that is difficult to traverse by foot, let alone car, but looking at it from the other road I was pretty sure it would be a nice snowy and icy mess, as it usually is. I decided to wear my Yak Trax for the race.

I knew I wasn’t going to be getting a PR on the course this year, but I did hope that I could pull off a faster time than the year before, and run the whole race (in 2018 I ended up walking a little bit). Race morning was warmer in comparison to the days before it, temps coming in at about 21 degrees Fahrenheit at race start. I met up with all of my running friends, prepared to tackle the hills and snow head on. We all ran our own races as we all had different goals and training and thanks to an out and back course we were able to cheer each other on.

As the race started, I was already questioning wearing Yak Trax. The roads were significantly clearer than they had been the night before. It’s amazing what a little sunlight and warmer temperatures will do! I hit my first and second miles at a consistent pace of 11:00 and 11:03 per mile. When we made the turn onto Beyer Rd, I was grateful for my Yak Trax, although I’m not sure how much they helped. It was snowy and slick, just as I figured it would be. It was kind of like running on sand at some points and at others you were trying to stay upright as you glided over ice. I tried to maintain a consistent and even pace, while still saying safe, but I could feel the energy just draining from my legs. As I approached the 3 mile mark where we would turn back onto the main roads, I thought, “My legs are toast. How am I going to make it up and down all of those hills again??”

I even got to run this part with Gumby! People kept saying “Great job Gumby! Hey Gumby!” And I had no idea what they were talking about until he eventually passed me.

My third mile was 11:30 pace, which I was quite impressed with considering the terrain I had dealt with. I somehow dragged myself up and down those hills, putting in an 11:23 pace for my 4th mile. I hit my last mile and thought to myself, “The worst of the hills are over. I can do this! I can keep running!” It was also around that time that I realized by Yak Trax on my right foot had slipped off the bottom of my foot and were now on the top. It wasn’t exactly the most comfortable feeling, and I debated stopping to take the Yak Trax off, but I wanted to keep running. If I stopped I didn’t know if I would get the momentum back to finish strong.

I pushed through that final mile, which fortunately ends in a downhill – boy, do I love races that finish with a downhill rather than an uphill! So many races have a hill right near or at the end and it’s like, really? You just really want to push us that much more, huh? I sprinted to the finish line and had an official time of 56:00 minutes, beating my 2018 time by just over a minute. It wasn’t an overall PR, or even a course PR. I felt really good about my consistent pace and especially not losing much speed on Beyer Rd. We waited for a few others to finish and then Paula and I headed out for a fun girls day out on the town.

While the race recap ends there, the weekend of running did not end after Winterlaufe. After spending a fun day together catching up and shopping, Paula and I decided the next day to go for a long run together. She had 12 miles on her plan, and I was only supposed to have done the race. I decided I would do my miles for the following weekend to “get ahead” just in case I had any hiccups in training (and I am glad that I did, because boy have there been hiccups since then!).

The day after Winterlaufe was even warmer – 45 degrees when we did our run, to be exact! Paula went out for 3 miles on her own. When she got back and I asked her how the run was, she said it kinda sucked! She was dodging puddles and ice but ended up finding a neighborhood to run in the road and did okay with that. We headed out to do 9 miles together and attempted to make it to the trail, thinking maybe it had been cleared. Dodging more ice and puddles and climbing mountains of snow we soon discovered that no, the trail was not clear. We ended up stomping in so many icy cold puddles, our feet were soaked, and we were miserable. We tried so many different routes and ended up finding ourselves more and more soaked and miserable. I make it sound like it was awful – and believe me, it really was – but fortunately we had each other and kept on trodding along. We both acknowledged several times that if the other person wasn’t with us we would’ve given up long ago. We decided that we were really a special kind of stupid and that this run definitely was testing our willpower. We also learned to never trust a puddle!

After 5 miles we stopped at my house to change our shoes and socks – luckily Paula had brought two pairs of shoes and I had plenty of socks to share. I also changed into my capris because this girl gets warm SUPER fast, and regular running leggings and a long sleeve shit were baking me! We headed a different direction for the last 4 miles and ended up finding routes that were much less full of snow and ice. We said, “Why didn’t we come this way in the first place!?” But overall like I said – the run tested our willpower, our mental strength to keep going, and we definitely got in lots of laughs with each other. We kept ourselves going, laughing, and turned what most people would think of as a completely miserable run into a fun time. We rewarded ourselves when we were done with pizza, cheesy bread and cider – after warm showers and warm clothes were put on, of course!

Since Winterlaufe, February has still had some dodgy weather. There has been more snow, ice, rain, and currently we’re dealing with a nice wind storm. I’ve been very grateful for the campus of Saginaw Valley State University having nicely treated, safe, clean trails for us to run on and for Freeland SportsZone for having a nice indoor track to run on. I can’t believe that my next big race is only 3 weeks from today!

Speaking of my next big race – I figure it is time for me to put my goals out in the open if I haven’t already. I have two half marathons planned in the next couple of months, the first being the Yeungling Shamrock Half Marathon on 3/17/2019. My performance at that race will determine my goals for my next half marathon 6 weeks later at the Owens Corning Half Marathon at Glass City Marathon weekend.

My main goal for Shamrock is to run the half marathon without intervals. I have never done this before. If I end up getting a time PR, that’s great! If not, I’ll be getting a PR by running a distance I have never run before without intervals (currently the furthest I’ve run without intervals is 10 miles with only one stop a little over 4 miles in for water and Gu). So running the half without intervals is my C goal.

My B goal is to get a PR. My current half marathon PR is 2:37:11 / 12:00/mi. My A goal is to run a 2:30 or better. I’m focused on my C goal for Shamrock, knowing that if I can accomplish that, then I have more of a chance of hitting my B or A goals at Glass City. My training for this race has been pretty darn good so far, even with a couple of hiccups recently due to illness. Hopefully I will be much healthier by the time race day comes and I will conquer my goals!

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