Frozen Feet 2018

It's like all of a sudden this turned into a running blog. Three consecutive running-related posts? I don't even know who I am anymore.

Though two out of my three brothers consider my racing endeavors excessive if not flat out ridiculous (to be fair, probably all three agree with the excessive part), they somehow chose significant others who are more on my page. Kristy was actually the instigator of my first 5K, and Katie has run all kinds of half marathons. That gave us a ready-made little running group.

Though complicated by busy schedules (and my resistance to early-morning runs), we've managed to hit the trails on a weekly basis since September. While that doesn't sound like much, it effectively doubled my weekly running rate.  Once such run came after Katie had gone out of town to meet friends for a race, only to have most of the group drop down to the 5K. A 7 hour round trip for a 3-mile race was hardly worth it, especially when you've been looking forward to longer miles with friends, and she was a little salty about it when she got home.

"We should pick out a half marathon," I heard myself saying. "I'll run it with you."

And that's how I found myself at LaSalle Middle School on January 20, waiting until the very last minute to head out to the starting line. In fact, because I'd misjudged when our wave would start, we actually crossed the parking lot just in time to see the final group of runners take off. We reached the start as the few race volunteers and spectators were heading back into the school. "Just go ahead," one of them muttered as we slunk by.

Frozen feet half
Thanks to my friend Dave for showing up pre-race to hang out with us and get this picture of our start.
While this was hardly the first time I missed my starting wave, it was the first time I've missed all of them. I wasn't even bummed. When you literally start last, there's pretty much nowhere to go but up. We quickly caught the walkers, and then a few runners.

Our first mile was in the 10:15 minute mile range, but we reined that in a bit as we hit the Al Foster trail. I'd worn my Garmin but mostly ignored it, running by feel and whatever Katie wanted to do. Well, unless she wanted to quietly listen to her music. She'd mentioned having her ipod charged for the race, but we kept up a steady conversation instead. This isn't the hashtag race report, but #sorrynotsorry. It's so rare that my training partners are close enough to talk to that I savored every chatty moment.

The temperature was just below freezing at the start and warmed to about 50 by the end of the day, so it was perfect running weather. Trail conditions, other than the frozen ruts on the mile of singletrack, were really good, and the paved trail was clear of ice. We passed mile 4, and a dark shadow of a thought passed over me -- 9 miles left...9 miles sounds like a really long way -- before I pushed it aside and committed to no more math until mile 10 or so.

Frozen feet half
When you're at the back of the pack, there's plenty of time to get selfies and few people to block while you're posing.
The climb up the paved Rock Hollow trail was as long and annoying as ever, but at least it's pretty and I was able to point out lots of points of (debatable) interest from December's Castlewood AR. I always endure the climb with daydreams of how lovely the descent will be, only to remember on the way back down how not fun running downhill with sore knees is. On the other hand, by the bottom we had less than three miles left, and that was a nice consolation prize.

I'd done a much better job of eating and drinking than at Little Woods, so while my feet and knees were sore from the unaccustomed mileage, I felt pretty good overall. We plodded out the remaining miles, still doing a combination of running and walking until we reached the final stretch. One runner stood between us and the finish line.

"Let's catch him," I told Katie, " The distance between us began to shrink. "I think we can do it!"

"I'm trying not to throw up," she hissed in reply, to which I helpfully suggested that the finish line wasn't that far away and would be a great place to throw up or fall over, though hopefully not in the same spot.

As we closed in on him it was quite apparent that we could indeed catch him. Because he was walking.

When we made the pass, I glanced over to say something friendly, either hello or nice job. Tall and thin, he looked considerably older than my mom and was startled to see us. Breaking into a jog, he said, "You aren't going to beat an old man, are you?"

"We're certainly going to try," I replied.

He picked up the pace, crossed the finish line just ahead of us, and walked proudly away. We let him savor the moment. What he didn't know can't hurt him, but as I whispered to Katie, "We totally beat him. He started way ahead of us."

In truth, I thought he was awesome. I hope I'm outsprinting runners 30 years younger than me when I hit my 70's, but for the time being I'll savor my tiny victories where they come.

Frozen feet half
Finishers! And while the clock behind us doesn't reflect our actual time since we started in (after) a late wave, our finishing time was a personal worst for us both. But not a bad day of training at all!


  1. You clearly beat the 70 year old. Credit where credit is due!


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