There was a timed race going on at Quaker Steak and Lube, and as an added benefit, some of the proceeds go toward Autism research.
I arrived early since I hadn't signed up in advance. In fact I wasn't going to go at all unless the temp was over 25F, and is was just that. The day before I bought some underarmour. So I slapped that on, put my running shoes on and got on over there.
I was dressed like pretty much everyone else - gloves, hat, underarmour, etc. There were prizes for the fastest runners, and those guys (and girls) were in the front. This race also was a points race for the Madison Area Running Series. I saw people from the UW track team, many high school track teams, and some funny dressed New Years revelers were there as well. And the race made the paper. There was even a guy in a chicken suit, the mascot from the host of the event. This is the guy:The distance was five miles, and that was perfect for me, as that is my usual treadmill distance. I usually kill that distance in under 40 minutes, and that includes a bit of warmup so that was my target time.
We all had timing chips strapped to our wrists - everyone would be officially timed. And the clock started as soon as the starting gun was fired.
Mile one was easy. Us non-competitive types shuffled and walked for a minute or so before we could get spread out on the course. The guy with the chicken costume was right ahead of me.
Mile two was not fun. It was uphill, into the nasty wind. I would guess that the winds were 15-20 miles per hour in the 25 degree weather, making things very miserable on the face. The rest of my body did pretty well - the heat I was creating was keeping me warm - even my feet and hands. Just the face was hurting. Chicken guy still ahead of me after mile 2.
The course was very bad in places, especially in miles 2 and 3. There were times where I was literally sliding on the ice and trying not to fall. Several occasions had me almost stopping so I could make corners. The course was a combination of streets and bike paths - the paths were much worse than the roads, as far as ice and snow goes.. After mile 3 the chicken guy is ahead of me and pulling away.
Mile 4 wasn't so bad, but mile five was dead into the wind, and it felt like the wind had picked up. It was miserable. I saw chicken guy falling apart a bit up ahead, and decided that I had no business losing to that son of a b1tch. So I didn't. I passed him in the last half mile - that guy would have had blown me away without the chicken suit on, of this I am quite sure. I was very happy to see the finish. I heard a loud beep as I passed the line, and that was my chip registering my time.
Each participant got a free pint glass with his or her favorite beer inside, so I took them up on that, after another job well done. I was very happy that I made it, but really wondered what my time was. I ordered some wings to go and got them and left.
On the way out I noticed a giant RACE TIMER next to the finish line - some people were just finishing up - wish I wasn't wanting to finish so bad and was paying attention to the race timer. Meh, next time I know. So, what was my time?
Don't know. I have looked and emailed several people but can't seem to find my time. I see that the chicken clocked in at 38.53, and I beat him by a good thirty seconds or a minute, putting my average mile at somewhere between 7.5 and 8 minutes! I am ecstatic with this time in the adverse conditions. It also tells me that my treadmill at home is probably giving me slow times - I lost a lot of time on the course with all the ice, snow, and at the start with the walking. In other words an 8 minute mile on my treadmill is probably 7.5 minutes in reality.
I noticed a few weeks ago during a business trip to Chicago that after five miles on the hotel treadmill, I wasn't as tired as usual. This combined with my time in the race tell me that I am probably training faster than I thought on my treadmill at home. But the course I ran on New Years Day probably isn't exactly five miles either. There is one way to really figure this out. When Spring comes, I will go to a local high school that has a 400 meter track and time myself with a stopwatch. That way the distance will be as exact as I can get it and the conditions somewhat controlled. Each lap of the track is .248 mile, so I need to do just over 20 laps to get five miles. I think I will do that when everything thaws out a bit.
I really liked the race, and will be sure to do more this spring and summer. Maybe a half marathon. Who knows?