Notice that doesn't say "race report". That is not an error. I wanted to do this run to celebrate the start of the new year in a fun way doing one of my favorite things: going to a race. Also, there is the polar bear plunge at the end that feels so good and invigorating that, coupled with the exercise, you can't help but start the year off on the right foot. I also didn't intend on racing it because I knew I had an eight-miler on the schedule for the next day and the last time I really raced a race my quads were sore for two days. So this was just a "run and enjoy the beautiful morning and the exercise" kind of run.
Temperatures at race time were 26 degrees. I wore oodles of layers and stood facing the sun so it didn't feel too cold standing around for the start. This race has grown quite a bit since I ran it back in 2007 and that became really evident once the gun went off. The paths were probably too narrow for the volume of runners in the best of times but with large icy patches throughout the course it made it even worse. At times we had to slow to a walk and twice even come to a dead stop while we maneuvered off course to avoid the ice. Even if I wanted to post a good time it wasn't happening here.
The course winds its way around Magnuson Park before diverting near the finish line. If you were just running the race and weren't going to go in the lake (i.e. you were a big wuss) you stayed to the right and went to the finish. If you were doing the polar bear plunge you kept going straight and ran down a boat ramp right into the 41 degree Lake Washington, dunked your head (rules state it doesn't count it you don't submerge) and then ran up the ramp and then another 50 yards-ish to the finish line. Here lies another problem. Soaking wet runners dripping all over the freezing pavement makes for.........? If you said ice all the way from the ramp to the finish line you would be correct. So there was no finishing kick but merely a gingerly half-run, half-waddle to the finish line hoping I didn't break an ankle and ruin my marathon training in the first week.
All in all it was a good time. The water actually feels really good in a bizarre sort of way. Bracing and invigorating and refreshing and I firmly believe everyone should try it at least once. I did it back in 2007 and thought it would be horrible but loved every icy second of it. Of course, there was no way in hell I would stay in for longer than I had to. I'm Finnish but not insane. Sadly, my usual race photographer stayed in bed to both avoid the cold and nurse his so I don't have any photographs to share.
Here are the (just for fun) splits:
Mile 1: 11:03 ( this was one of the dead stop parts of the course)
Mile 2: 10:34
Mile 3: 10:10
Mile .19 12:47 (included the plunge portion of the event)
Also, I discovered that freezing cold lake water and a slightly full bladder leads to involuntary urination. Sorry people who plunged right after me.