Sunday, February 16, 2014

Frozen Heart Trail Race recap

Edited to add: Although it was secret at the time, now I can admit that Dalton joined me for this race! I was 8 weeks pregnant while on this crazy, cold, snowy adventure!

Trail races are never easy, and as I've learned this winter, one thing that makes them extra challenging is snow. Running in snow is like running in sand. To add another layer of difficulty, when temperatures get above freezing, it becomes like alternately running through sand, mud, a slushy from 7/11, and then like swimming when you get to the particularly deep water.

I'm ashamed to admit I almost bailed on the race because those conditions didn't sound appealing. That was coupled with the fact that I'd get home from work around 10pm Friday night, and need to be up at 4am Saturday.

But, as it often does, craziness took over, and I wanted to get my money's worth on last month's Yak Trax purchase. So I found myself on the road before 5am wearing running clothes. Even with a significant amount of caffeine, the two hour drive was rough.

You can see the excitement as I picked up my bib.

At least the view at sunrise didn't suck.

My frown turned upside down pretty quickly though. I don't know if it's rare to have a race organized and put on by runners, but this race was and it showed. This was the inaugural race held by Kara's running club, but it was so well organized you never would have known. Major racing companies could learn from them, I've seen some major first time race debacles. They had everything a runner could want, from hand warmers to a warming tent at the finish with three kinds of nice, hot soup.

Logan and I planned to run together, which was a huge motivating factor in even going to the race. Something about the woods, in snow, thanks.

After a short pre-race briefing, we were off.

As you may have noticed, my life has not been exciting enough lately to warrant photographs. Logan, Kara, and some race volunteers got a ton of great photos yesterday, so I'll make up for my text filled posts with a complete photo overkill this time.

I'd run these trails before, but it was nearly three years ago, back when I first decided to try out this "hey, this random internet stranger commented on my blog, maybe they'll be my friend, I'll go meet them in the woods!" lifestyle. (Side note - my friend asked me recently how many people I'd met through blogging, and I couldn't even figure it out/count that high.) Anyway, the point is, I'd forgotten that they are fairly hilly.

Probably a hill. Whatever. They don't photograph well. Just trust me.
As I said, the terrain kept us on our toes. One minute you'd be trekking through deep mud.

Taken during one of my particularly fast portions.

Then a few inches of snow.

Then doing that weird skip/jump/sort of running thing to avoid water.

There was really no avoiding it.

Then getting to deep water and realizing your options are getting your feet soaked, or developing Katniss Everdeen skills and setting up shop in the woods.


Then you'd be back to just wet leaves and it was like any other trail run.

Or, sometimes, the road, apparently.

The watery parts really weren't so bad, although they were fairly constant. Trail shoes/smart wool socks "dry" pretty quickly, or at least wicked away enough water so that you didn't feel the way you did when you wore your sneakers on the log flume and then had to keep them on the rest of the day around the amusement park. For the most part, the water wasn't super cold. Only the shin-deep mini rivers were icy.

I was having so much fun chatting with Logan it was run of those runs where every time I'd look at my Garmin I'd be like "woah! ______ miles already?". Such a rare gem, those runs.

How did I run before blogging buddies again?
There was an aid station at the five mile point.

See those Cheez-Its? Kara got them JUST FOR ME.

After that, Logan and I ran with my friend Kathleen and her running buddy Deb for a few miles (maybe? I was still really into the conversation. Such a dedicated runner.). This was also during the shin deep water, more like wading than running portion of the race.

I tend to not really believe this when I read it, but before I knew it, we were at the finish line. 

10.7 miles, 2 hours 33 minutes.

The medals were bags of Valentines candy. Edible is always better.

They even had cookies with custom M&Ms! How cute are these?
You had the option of doing 1, 2, or 3 loops. As much as I enjoyed the race, I knew early on that I'd be stopping at 1. My feet were utterly soaked, and I was exhausted, plus I had to go straight to work, without even stopping at home for a nap. (Actually, I did nap in my car for like 10 minutes). People that did 20 or 30 miles on this course have ALL MY RESPECT.

Yeah, I think I picked up enough mud on 1 loop.

Overall, this race was fantastic. Do yourself a favor and sign up in 2015.

What's your least favorite terrain to run in? I'm sticking with snow. It's like 100 times harder than normal running.


  1. I think I hate really slippery mud worse than snow, although its close. Great job on the run and yay for Cheezits and internet blogging friends.

  2. The picture of that aid station is making me hungry for second breakfast or maybe just a can of coke.

    Nice job on the race! I'm seriously impressed and definitely would have bailed in favor of sleep.

  3. You should work on your Katniss Everdeen skills just in case the weather conditions are similar in next year's mid-February race! And make sure you have someone along to get pictures.

    Right now my least favorite terrain to run on is frozen mud. I recently did a long run on trails where the mud was frozen, but had a million foot prints in it. I'd take regular, unfrozen mud over frozen mud. But then again, I also tend to live in the moment, so if I was running in unfrozen mud I'd probably tell you that was my least favorite...

  4. My favorite part of this recap were all the whootie running pictures.

    It was funny seeing runners come out of the woods and stop at the aid station and steam was rising off of them. I've never seen people do that, only horses. We should have a horseback option for next year. Yes, I'm on drugs right now. I'd do the horseback option. Can ultra running on horseback be a thing?

  5. I live for the live action racing shots of you. Also, that aid station looks amazing but I still would never run any distance to earn those treats in my life.

  6. I love your recap of the Frozen Heart run! I linked it to my post because you have way more pictures than I do! What's my least favorite surface for running? I always thought it was soft, unpacked sand, but I'm no longer sure. Running through sand and snow are similar workouts, but squishing through mud--I lost a shoe at one point on Saturday--turns out to be much worse.

  7. Reading your and Logan's blogs makes me want to start running trails. And maybe run an ultra. And then I remember that I live in the middle of the stupid plains and there are no trails here. So I will keep living vicariously through you. (That means you can't ever stop blogging.)

  8. Congrats! I'm super impressed that you ran on those trails. I would have totally eaten dirt multiple times in that slick mud.

    Least favorite running surface? ICE. It's everywhere right now. And evil.

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