Monday, November 23, 2015

Living History Farms Race

A week ago a couple friends of mine convinced me that running seven miles through cornfields and creeks and the woods in November in Iowa was a good idea, especially when it's with a few thousand of your closest friends.  After a little encouragement from Derek- he's great at convincing me I can do hard things when I'm waffling- I signed up for the Living History Farms race.

Then the weather forecast went to crap.

I spent much of the four days before the race harassing my friends about what to wear and obsessively checking the weather.  The only thing the forecasters could agree on was that yes, snow was coming, possibly a lot, and yes, the temperature would drop and the wind would begin to gust Saturday morning.  You know, perfect conditions for a cross-country race.

Then came the emails.

Poor Race Director Steve.  I feel like this would be a stressful race to oversee, being where it is and when it is every year.  Yes, you hope people are going to be smart about running in cold weather, but, you know, these are people we're talking about, so instead you have to send out all these increasingly panicky-sounding emails that say things like, "You need to make a decision based on your own personal safety," and "We have 30 medical and emergency personnel and they are prepared," and "PLAY SAFE.  IT'S NOT WORTH IT."

Now, because I have never run this race before, and I can be a bit of a pansy about the cold, all of this made me just the tiniest bit nervous.  Especially when this started happening Friday afternoon:

And then this is what I walked through Friday night:

And because this was the first snowfall of the season all the news outlets wet themselves in excitement and engaged in what seemed to be a strange game of one-upsmanship, where one person would predict 3-5 inches, prompting the next to say, "Oh, yeah?  I say 4 to 6 INCHES!" and ended with a top prediction of somewhere around ten inches.  

Still, I consoled myself with the fact that the snowfall was supposed to end Friday night sometime, and yes, the temperature was supposed to bottom out somewhere around 14 degrees right as the race was beginning at 9 am on Saturday, and yes, there was a frigid wind expected to be blowing right around then, too, and YES, Poor Steve was sending out even more frightful emails that said, "Don't where [sic] cotton!! Old fashioned sweat pants & shirts are cotton.  You will freeze!" and "There is nowhere warm for all of you.  Stay close to your vehicles until 8:45."  But despite all that, I was being led to the slaughter through the experience by my two loving and experienced running friends who have run this race several times before and were able to say, "Wear this instead of that, here's how to keep your toes from falling off, and tell you what, I'll just bring all kinds of extra gear for you to use."  

In the end, Poor Steve cut almost two miles off the course and eliminated most of the creek crossings for safety's sake, but it was twenty whole degrees above zero when we started, there were only around four inches of snow on the ground, and the only thing that got really wet was my feet.  

I'm the second fool from the left.

I also collected a number of brand-new experiences, such as sitting on frozen port-a-potty seats (the word of the day was "BRACING!") watching a few runners who thought it would be a kick to run in either a variety of costumes (turkeys, pilgrims, Elvis, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, scarecrows, elderly people toting walkers, oxygen tanks, and cigarettes) or almost naked, and, best of all, starting the winter running season by normalizing running in the cold and on ice and snow. 

The post-race beef stew was hot, the doughnuts were not frozen (as they apparently have been in years past), and my thirty-degree run today felt positively balmy.  Worth it. 

1 comment:

  1. Given my recent experience with running, I am cringing on your behalf. I feel that I should be singing about you as if you were Prisoner 24601=Jean Valjean, except your number 4641 only has 4 digits, so it doesn't fit into the song. (Right now you are saying, "What the HECK is she talking about?" I mean that if it were me, I would only run if I were a prisoner of the French regime and Javert forced me to run.

    But I guess you have more experience at running so maybe it's not as risky for you (aside from the Extreme Weather risks that you described). I am glad you made it through, and that the doughnuts were defrosted.


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