What comes to mind when you sign up for a race titled “Spring Forward”? For me, it was that scene from the first Shrek movie where Fiona and Shrek are running through a field of daisies (of were they sunflowers?) at a leisurely pace. Time seems to have slowed down, it looks to be about 65 degrees and the sun is shining.
The Spring Forward Distance 15K was the exact antithesis of that vision. It was a day I will never forget.
My sister and I signed up to do this race three days before the event. I was telling her about my race last weekend and she said she was still worried about the half marathon she signed up for next month. What a better way to get her in the racing spirit than a shorter race a couple weeks before? On a whim, we both signed up and our fates were left up to the weather.
The morning of Saturday, March 28 was chilly. Ithaca hadn’t gotten much snow during the night and so I was not worrying about the weather like I had last weekend. I picked my sister up and we proceeded to Rochester, NY and Mendon Ponds Park, where the race was to begin.
It took some getting there because the roads again were terrible. As we got closer to Rochester, the worse they got. When we reached the starting “area” there were multiple lots reserved for parking. The only problem was that they were about a half mile from the race start and the shuttles that were promised to give rides did not show up. That’s right…they NEVER SHOWED! My sister and I parked in a snow covered patch to the side of one of a parking lot, and realized that we had ten minutes to the beginning of the race. So we started to run.
We had to pick up our numbers from the finish line of the race, and then run back to the start. By the time we reached the starting line (fully warmed up by this point, we had to have ran over a mile from the car to the finish and then to the start) we were two minutes behind everyone else. Oh well, it was time to go.
We lost each other once we caught up to everyone else and so I was on my own. I did not listen to music and tried to enjoy the scenery…let me describe that. It had snowed all night, it was on and off snowing throughout the whole race and there were two inches of slush on the road. The course was also relatively hilly. I say that as a pretty seasoned Ithaca hill runner. My sister thought they were mountains. She’ll learn eventually 🙂
I started out at a good clip, but realized that if I maintained that pace, I would wipe out. It was too slippery and slushy and I wore my road shoes so I had no traction. Around mile 4, my shoe laces came untied and I bent down to tie them unsuccessfully as my fingers were too numb to move. It was so cold! I don’t know if it was colder than last weekend temperature wise, but the added elements of snow and sleet made it feel a bit worse.
I started counting the mile markers and zoned out as much as I could. I knew I was going for experience rather than racing time here. I slowed down, and battled the mental giant in my head that always comes with slower paces. I thought about my sister and hoped she was ok. I thought about how I should learn how to tie my shoes better. I thought about how many burritos I could eat if I paced myself well. Mostly, I prayed that my car would not be buried under snow.
I finished in 1:15:39 with a pace of 8:09 per mile. I was very happy to have finished. In regard to placing, I was 83rd overall and took 1st in my age group. My sister took 3rd in her age group. She was a BOSS!
The BEST PART of the race happened afterwards. My sister and I, both frozen to the bone were starting to trek back to mile to our car. I saw a big black vehicle coming toward us and a stroke of genius hit me. I flagged him down and asked for a ride to the parking lot. HE SAID YES! He even apologized for the look of the inside of his car. I did not care. It was beautiful to me. He was a Godsend. We were so tired and cold, it was the greatest thing that could have happened.
I spent the rest of the day relaxing, eating and taking care of my feet. I got a pretty huge blister from my wet socks after driving home.
Race Take-Aways and Tidbits:
1.) Shuttles: the bus company did not show and the race directors were very apologetic sending an email immediately after the race explaining the situation.
2.) Packet Pick-up: There was no bag check, so my sister and I had to wear our tee-shirts for the race. That would have been worse if it was a hot day.
3.) Volunteers: Again these people are amazing! They stood outside in the blizzard to hand us water and make sure we were ok.
4.) Weather: The weather and hills on this race actually would prepare anyone well for trail running. It forced me to go slow and use mental strategies.
5.) Post-race Food: Everything was frozen and since I was also frozen, it was hard to get anything down. I know the venue is outside, but there must be a way to have not frozen bananas and water. Oh well, I can’t usually eat until an hour or two after a race anyway.
Would I do it again? Yes. Next year there better be shuttles!