Every year on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday, Running Fit puts on a 5K race. Outdoors. The only thing crazier than a race in this kind of weather is the number of people who show up for it, and the Novi Civic Center was packed with close to 2,000 runners.
Last year’s race had temps in the single digits, with a wind chill somewhere between frozen Hell and absolute zero, and people were getting numb just walking to the starting line. This year was also uncomfortably cold, but a bit warmer. To make up for that, there was more ice on the roads. With heavy snow the day before, it promised to be (and was) a slippery affair.
So – freezing cold, icy roads, and running my butt off, all to get a finisher’s pint glass with “Super 5K” printed on it. You could be excused for asking why the hell I was out there.
Well, I’ll tell you. First, this race is one of my annual traditions. There’s something about being a part of an event like this – something I can tell my grandkids, if I ever have any. And second, I was on a mission.
This was my only regular 5K where I hadn’t yet finished in the top five of my age group. It wasn’t for lack of effort. No, actually, it was just that. Each year I would show up telling myself I would run hard, and then find some excuse to talk myself out of it. It’s too cold. It’s icy, I might slip (I never did). I’m getting on a plane later today, and don’t want to be too sore. And so forth, with the predictable results; finishing just outside the awards. This year would be different.
What to wear was a challenge, but I settled on my Heater Hog (acquired at the Bigfoot Snowshoe Race) as my only top layer, with my medium wind jacket over it. It worked like a charm, keeping me warm at 15 degrees with no worries of overheating. For shoes, I reluctantly set aside my lightweight Sauconys and used the thick Hoka One Ones, as they offered the best grip and stability on the snow and ice. Some people put sheet metal screws in their soles, and some used Yaktrax, but I had never used either of those, and a race is not the time to try something new.
I lined up in the front group; getting caught in a crowd had cost me serious time in previous years. As we took off and charged down Taft Road, I glanced at my watch to make sure I hadn’t started too fast. Not hardly – to my surprise and annoyance, my pace was nearly a minute slower than usual. I was running hard and in balance, but the slippery roads made it difficult to get enough traction to push off. Oh, well, everyone else had the same problem.
The main road wasn’t too bad, but conditions deteriorated as we headed into the subdivision. I figured this was actually an advantage for me, as the Hokas plowed through the slush. And indeed, I began to pass other runners, and kept doing so the rest of the way.
I crossed the finish line in just under 23:00, over two minutes slower than my usual 5K time. But in terms of effort, it was one of the hardest 5K I’ve ever run. And it was good for second in my age group. Mission accomplished!
It was a good time, and the Running Fit Events crew did their usual outstanding job organizing everything and making it run smoothly. My only suggestion would be to improve the post-race food. Hot dogs, meatballs, and cookies? Really? With everyone headed to Super Bowl parties later that day? How about some oatmeal with fruit, or omelets, or even just some scrambled eggs. (That said, the meatballs were actually pretty tasty.)
And hold onto those pint glasses, people – the (at least) three of you who dropped them on the Civic Center floor. You’d never see Peyton Manning do anything like that, now would you?