Race Review: Polar Dash Half Marathon – Penguins and Powerade Slushies
January 1 brought a bright and frigid introduction to the new year – Team Ortho’s Polar Dash. I was looking forward to this because I love starting the year with a race. The fact that this race occurs in Minneapolis in January will always bring weather related challenges.
Despite sunny blue skies, I found myself huddled in a warming tent for 45 minutes until the start of the race. The air temperature was -6º F… yes, that is really cold.
On my phone app there is a “feels like” temperature reading, and this morning it said, “feels like: -15º.” It should have said, “feels like: you should still be in a warm bed.” Nevertheless, with my toes and fingers tingly with cold, I made my way to the start line with two simple goals:
- Try not to get frostbite.
- Do not get beat by a penguin.
Although my race result was not what I had hoped for – I accomplished my first goal, but not my second – I did learn three lessons about running.
Slushies counteract the effectiveness of lip balm
This lesson came to me at the first aide station, which gave us a choice of water or Powerade. At -6º F, I did not think about what the temperature would do to the Powerade.
Running through the aide station, I reached out and grabbed the cup. Raising the cup to my mouth I was greeted not with fluid, but a face-full of blue Powerade slushy. Instead of sipping sugary goodness, I found myself chewing blue Powerade.
With this first frozen blast of blue Powerade slushy against my face, my lip balm was immediately destabilized. As a runner, you know that eery feeling as you feel your lips getting chapped while running. As I write this, 2 days after the race, my lips still sting.
Pacing is Good
Team Ortho’s Polar Dash provides a wonderful service to its racers: penguin pacers. These are runners dressed in full penguin outfits leading a group of runners at a specific pace.
Today my goal was to simply stay ahead of the 1:30 penguin. I ran at a pace that kept me ahead of him… for a while. Then as my pace decreased, I ran just ahead of them.
Then my pace was to simply run with a penguin. Then, (you see it coming), my pace was keeping up with the penguin. The penguin helped me run a faster pace than I would have without them. Pacing is good, it helps both our performance and enjoyment of the race.
Context is a Difference Maker
Penguins in the right context are cute and adorable. My daughter has a penguin stuffed animal on her bed. Yes it is cute seeing runners dressed in a penguin costume serving as a pacer.
It can also be amusingly frustrating when this aforementioned penguin is running a half marathon at a 6:40 pace. In this context, the penguin was cute, fast and helped pace me to the finish line (thank you fast running penguin).
I could not hold back my chapped lip smile every time I heard people loudly cheer, “Run penguin, run!” Or, “Go Penguin! You can do it!” In this frozen context, a running penguin provides another unexpectedly fun element to Team Ortho’s great race experience.
Thank you Team Ortho for an amazing Polar Dash 2013 race and a wonderful beginning to a season of racing – year after year.