The forecast for the Saturday morning of the NewYearathon (a new Uberthons race) called for temperatures in the 30s with even lower windchills but no rain or snow. It’s hard to complain, though, when much of the rest of the American population — i.e., everyone in the Midwest and Northeast — is enduring arctic conditions. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait to see the Green Bay Packers-San Francisco 49ers football game, knowing that it would be played outdoors in -4 degree (-50 degree windchill) weather. BRRRRR!!! Compared to that, 30ish with clouds and sun sounds almost balmy.
I was pretty excited about the NewYearathon because it offered not one, but two races in the same venue. Of course, if you really wanted to race multiple times in one day, the Uberthons events at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club have been offering three races. But those are spread out over a half day or whole day. With the NewYearathon, you had the choice of a 1-mile race, or a 5K, or both . . . with only 30 minutes separating the start times.
Originally, this was going to be a low-frills race at the bargain price of $8 for one event or $15 for both. However, Uberthons got really fancy with race medals in 2013, and in response to requests for a medal for this race, Uberthons designed a new medal and raised the race price to a still reasonable $25 for two events.
I signed up for both events and then wondered about whether I should go all out for the mile and then lollygag the 5K, or vice versa, or put in even effort on both races. I wasn’t sure whether 20+ minutes would be long enough recovery to manage a decent 5K if I wanted to go max effort on both.
Anyway, on race day, at 7:30 a.m., I shut off my alarm and washed up. I had set out my running clothes the night before, after checking the weather report one last time. Yep, still cold. I don’t have a lot of ultra cold-weather running gear. I’m a cold-weather wimp, so if it’s too cold out, I just head to the gym and treadmill. (It’s hard to believe that I lived in Iowa for seven years before moving to Oregon, but all the cold resistance I built up in the Midwest faded away after just one year here.) But this wasn’t so cold. Running tights, shorts, longsleeve mock turtleneck tech shirt, short sleeve Uberthons tech shirt over that, ear muffs, and thin REI gloves were enough. Or so I thought.
It looked foggy outside when I peeked out the window, but by the time I got in the car, it wasn’t so bad. I arrived at Cook Park in Tigard around 8:10 a.m., 20 minutes before the start of the mile race. Normally, both parking lots at Cook Park are available, but today, the larger left lot was blocked off. I turned into the right lot, only to discover that all of the non-handicapped spaces were taken. Like the car in front of me, I ended up parking on the side of the road.
Okay, then. A good number of runners were huddled under the standing canoply and around the portable space heaters. Maybe it was pre-race anxiety or something, but I didn’t feel that cold at that moment. I was kind of eager to get started. I was hoping for a good run; the cold that I’d picked up on vacation was still bothering me but it seemed to have abated a bit.
With about five minutes to go, race director Alan Rasmussen called the milers over to the start of the course.
There were just under 50 of us running the mile, so we all just went out with the starting bell. Although I had positioned myself close to the front, I still ended up stuck behind what seemed like a wall of runners, and it took a bit of weaving to get clear. The usual Uberthons route through Cook Park starts out in a easterly direction, but the one mile route was headed the other way. Think of it like a heart-shape that fell over on its left side:
Just over the first half of the race was on pavement, and then when we hit the left side of the heart (if it were upright), we were on a trail for a short stretch. A trail with a slight rise. Not a big hill, but on a route this short, it was definitely noticeable. The weird thing about the mile as a race distance is that it’s short enough that it feels like it should just be a sprint, but in fact, it’s not a true sprint. I don’t really train for a mile that much, and it showed in my splits, where my first half pace was a minute/mile faster than my second half pace.
I tried to gun it in the last quarter mile, but between my cold, and the cold, I didn’t have that much left in the tank. It was enough that my last 0.05 miles were somewhere around what had been my goal pace, but I ended up missing my overall goal by about 10-15 seconds. (When all else fails, blame the course! After all, I noticed that fellow Run Oregon blogger Brian Bernier also missed his goal time by about the same amount. . . .)
With event #1 in the books, I grabbed some water and walked around a bit so as not to get tight. My stomach started to feel not so good at this point, somewhere on the spectrum (but not there yet) toward wanting to throw up. And while my torso felt reasonably warm, my hands felt frozen. Very odd and a little disconcerting. I moved over to the space heaters and held my gloved hands up, trying to warm them up.
By the time Alan Rasmussen told the 160+ of us running the 5K to line up, I was feeling better, except for my still-frozen hands. My stomach had stopped sending me those strange feelings of discomfort, and my cardio system seemed more or less recovered. I found myself lined up with my friends Brent and Eileen, and we chatted a bit about winter break and kids as we waited for the countdown. As Eileen put it, “Now it was time for the 5K cool down.” Ha ha! I’m not sure there was any need for a cool down, but the sun was coming out.
The course was the usual Uberthons’ 5K route through Cook Park, which I’ve described before as looking something like a snake:
Today’s route was slightly different, though, as the snake apparently didn’t have a rat stuck in its throat — that little bit jutting out on the left side was trimmed from the route, with the distance made up elsewhere.
Again, there was a traffic jam at the start of the race that took about a tenth of a mile to get through. I managed to do that before the route turned and narrowed on to the walking trail that connects Cook Park to Durham City Park. The first aid and water station was there at the 0.5 mile mark, just as the route made a 90 degree left turn to parallel the edge of Durham City Park. At the three-quarter mile mark, the trail veered into a forested area for a short half mile loop that included a 40 foot elevation gain followed by a descent steep enough that I found it necessary to slow down. (Don’t you hate having to slow down when you’re going downhill? It just doesn’t seem fair!)
I found myself drafting behind another runner for much of this race, and at the same time, starting around mile 2 or so, heard someone close behind me. Around 2 1/4 miles, the runner behind me finally made his move to pass me, and I saw that it was Brent. “I figured it was you,” I gasped.
The last stretch of the route was what I think of as the snake’s tail. Because it had a slight curve and trees along the side, it was hard to gauge exactly how far you were from the turnaround point, although you might have some idea judging by the faster runners on their return. The volunteers manning that point had helpfully arranged the race cones in a tight little half-circle. (Many of the race volunteers, by the way, were members of the cross-country team at Liberty High School. Thanks, Falcons!)
When my trusty companion, Ms. RunKeeper (I think of the app as “Ms.” because the audio cue voice is female), announced that I had gone 2.75 miles, I figured it was time to see what kind of kick I could mount. My right Achilles tendon had been nagging me for much of the race, which was odd because it’s usually my left Achilles that aches, and my legs were still reminding me that they had given me a lot of effort in the mile race earlier. It wasn’t much of a kick, but I managed enough of a surge to pass the guy I’d been drafting behind and hold on to that lead.
Upon crossing the finish line, I gratefully accepted the race medal and went back to the space heater to warm up my still-frozen hands. Long story short, they eventually did warm up.
I cheered some more runners on as they finished, and then a male runner with his daughter approached me and asked, “Are you the guy who writes the ‘fortysomething runner’ column for Run Oregon?”
We get readers!
“Yep,” I said, and it turned out that we had some mutual acquaintance and also vocational similarities. (We lawyers are everywhere! Well, except I’m not a lawyer in Oregon; I just train more of them.) Anyway, it was quite pleasant to be approached by a Run Oregon reader to chat about the site.
Uberthons puts on really good races, and this was no exception. I would’ve preferred the wave starts that they usually do, with 10-20 runners starting at a time, but it wasn’t a big deal not to have that. Everything else, from bib pick-up to immediate race results, was exactly what you’d want from a race.
Oh, and the race medal? Check it out:
* * *
For full results of the NewYearathon 5K, click here.
* denotes Masters runner
1. Ross Crowley*, 19:04 (6:08 pace)
2. Jeffrey Alberghini, 19:24 (6:14 pace)
3. Justin Dunlap, 19:55 (6:24 pace)
1. Keeley Tillotson, 20:21 (6:33 pace)
2. Gail Moebius*, 22:55 (7:22 pace)
3. Susan Brainard*, 23:18 (7:29 pace)
1. Tung Yin, 22:14 (7:09 pace)
2. Peter Rhodes, 22:25 (7:12 pace)
3. Jay Woika, 25:55 (8:20 pace)
1. Jackie Groah, 24:13 (7:47 pace)
2. Brigitte Byers, 24:59 (8:02 pace)
3. Julie Alves, 27:28 (8:50 pace)