Polar Dash 2014 Race Report and Review
Polar Dash 2014 took place on January 11th, 2014. It was a 14 mile out-and-back along LSD (Lake Shore Drive). I signed up to run because I wanted to do something with all the running (cross-training) I did during the winter. It was about 35 degrees, which was really nice because the week previous it had been ~7 degrees Fahrenheit, pretty cold. However, it was rainy, which I’ll talk about later. My goal for the course was an 8:00 pace, which would be a 1:45:00 half-marathon.
I don’t have much to say on the event. It was $60, including a fleece and a knit hat. I would have liked to have an option not to get the geat, but they made you buy it. It was all outdoors, which was kind of a bummer, especially b/c there were winds of 20 MPH+. No tents, even. Sufficient number of porta-potties (which is important). Bagels, chocolate, water, hot chocolate, and bananas after the race. Timing wasn’t an issue for me. Pacers at 30 second-split intervals. (i.e. 6:30 pace, 7:00 pace, 7:30 pace, etc.)
Going into the race, my strategy was to just try to stay with the 8:00 group. I didn’t want to or think I could go faster. I had stopped training in the weeks prior due to super-cold weather (I know, I know) and final exams. Mostly the weather, though. Also, mock trial.
Anyways, race started off good. Adrenaline was going crazy. My HRM said 198 but I was at an RPE of maybe 9 (of 20). Looking back at the Strava file, it shows that the first mile was 9:00 pace. We got stuck behind a lot of people who didn’t estimate their pace well at all (although shout-out to the St. Charles West girls – was fun to run with you guys!).
Anyways, pace started to settle in after we got onto LSD. Thanks to the pacers (didn’t get their name, although they were chatting away, sigh) for helping us. There were two other people in my group. A cross-country runner whose coach had signed her up and who was running her 50th mile in, like, three days. She was hardly breathing. And another guy who was huffing and puffing even more than me. It’s a shame I didn’t stay with them (oops, spoiler!) b/c I should have told myself that he was suffering just as much as me and if he could, I could.
I felt good for the first 5ish miles. I was carrying just a tube of gel (2 wet tbsp honey, 1 dry tbsp maltodextrin) and ate some before every water station (which was about every two miles). Water stations were disappointing. There were 3 (?) total and the volunteers were not spread out at all, which meant I could grab two cups max. I’m a heavy drinker, so that’s disappointing.
I stuck with the group until about a mile after the turnaround. I began to fall off the pace a few minutes after we hit the turnaround due to cramps. I stopped and gulped air and walked for a little. The way I recover from cramps is by bending over and taking huge breaths. I’m pretty sure I worried a few people…
Anyways, it was hard after that. I began to run with other people who were passing me, assuming they knew how to pace if they were pretty close to my group (8:00). I kept falling off, though, either b/c of something mental or b/c of cramps.
About mile 9/10, it got really hard b/c there wasn’t anyone near me at all and my muscles were really hurting. At that point, it was my muscles that made running difficult. Every step hurt a little bit. And my feet were hurting too. I ran through puddles and then they kind of numbed up. Then they felt like cinder blocks. Dunno if that was a good idea.
I’m not one to wax on the pain and glory of it all, so let’s skip ahead to about mile 11. At that point, I was determined to finish the half marathon ASAP. I can’t fathom why the race was a 14-miler. Their reasoning was “You can not only set a half-marathon PR but a 14-mile PR as well!” Anyways, it was about 1:40 and I was trying to get as close to 1:45 as possible. I ended up running 1:52:44. That’s fine with me. I hadn’t trained much, if at all in the weeks prior.
Anyways, running into the finish, I tried to latch onto the 8:30 guy, who was “a little bit off, like 5 minutes, because I fell.” Anyways, lost his wheel/foot and ended up finishing at 2:01:32.
Overall, I’m glad I ran the half marathon. I think it’s a good experience and I always welcome new experiences. I would have liked to hit my goals, but I realized I didn’t put in the prep necessary. I’m probably not going to run the Chicago marathon b/c this wasn’t very ‘fun’ and I can’t imagine how hard 26.2 miles would be, but we’ll see.
Thanks for reading the report. I’ll leave you with this picture and its caption that I tried to use for the #stravaproveit of the day. (And if you don’t follow me on Instagram, you totally should!)