Saturday, December 31, 2011

Polar Bear Dip & Dash 2011

Today was the first race I've done since I have started this blog.  While I'm a little disappointed with my time I'm hoping that it will be a nice benchmark for all future races.

The Race
This was the Polar Bear Dip and Dash hosted by the NRCM (Natural Resources Council of Maine).  The race was in Portland, ME right on the water.  You can see the course here:

With better weather I'm sure this would have been a beautiful race; more on that later though.

So this is a 5K put on to raise money for clean energy support and global warming awareness.  I thought it was certainly a worthy cause and was happy to sign up.

Compared to other races that I've done the turnout was small, just over 100 runners, most of whom took the splash afterward.

Weather Conditions
Well at least it wasn't snowing?  I don't know, maybe snow would have been better.  The morning greeted all of us on the Seacoast with a healthy amount of freezing rain.  As we were driving up to Portland and I had the wipers on full blast I started to get cold just thinking about it.  Bad, BAD Ju Ju!

The first 2-3K of the race took place on a trail that hugs the bay.  Unfortunately most of that trail was covered with ice or slush.  As I wasn't wearing my spikes and instead had worn my Vibram Five Fingers (VFF's) that are best on pavement or smooth trails, I had to keep to the grass and the street on either side of the trail to keep from ending up arse-over-tea-kettle.  

The trail changed to a mostly paved trail and while there were still some patches of very slippery stuff it was mostly okay.

During the race the rain eased off to a constant light drizzle; much better than a driving rain, but still very damp and dreary.  It was that wet cold that just sinks into your joints and makes you feel more like starting a fire and drinking cocoa, not running around like a loon.

So here are the fine details on the weather which will directly relate to the next paragraph:
Air Temp: 31°F or -0.5°C
Wind: 5MPH
Humidity: 78%
Ground conditions: Mostly wet with patches of ice or sleet
Precipitation: Light drizzle

This may be useful for anybody considering running in similar weather:
Jacket: Columbia Titanium - this is a soft shell running/sporting jacket that is fairly weather proof, good for wind and light rain or light snow protection
Shirt: Generic short sleeve compression shirt
Hat: Eastern Mountain Sports nylon ball cap - this hat is great for keeping the water off my head but not over heating me like a knit skull cap
Gloves: Generic light weight running gloves - picked up some light weight gloves at Target a while back
Pants: No frills Adidas track pants
Shoes: VFF Komodo Sport with Injinji toe socks

Even though it was right around the freezing point, most of my gear was very light.  The only thing I would have changed out of all of it is my shoes and socks.  I would have chosen my VFF Trek Sports (better on changing terrains) and my wool Injinji toe socks.  My feet got very wet and the cool thing about wool is that even when it gets wet it still keeps you warm; at least warmer than cotton or synthetics.

By the end of the 5k I had taken off my hat (due to heat) and pushed up my sleeves on my jacket a bit.

So finishing 40th out of 111 isn't too bad, but I've done better with time on similar distances.  28:52 was my time.  Maybe I could have done better had I been working my core muscles during all the Christmas festivities rather than eating sugary treats...but that didn't happen.

Also, I got to the race without much time to spare so I didn't get much a chance to do any warming up.  My last race I had a decent warm-up and my time results greatly improved.

The Dip
In case anybody out there wanted to know.  The North Atlantic on December 31st is cold.  VERY cold.  Not unbearable (for a few seconds), but certainly cold.  I hope that this resolves any curiosity that anybody may have about this subject.

After the race, I took off my gear and put on my board shorts and waited for the count-down.  At that point a whole bunch of us ran into the water like complete idiots.  In the video that my wife shot, I noticed that a few people ran down TO the water and crouched real low to get themselves damp.  When I noticed this I was originally thinking "You wimps!  Seriously, I grew up in Antigua and I'm here jumping head-first into this."  After a few moments of rational thought I realized that these folks are probably a WHOLE lot smarter than me (but they're still wimps).

Enjoy the videos! I'm definitely going to be signing up for this one next year!

1 comment:

  1. Looks refreshing, Alex. I can't wait to try it myself some day!