Last year, my best friend Heather got married. It was a chilly (sometimes rainy) October day in New Jersey. The bride decided she wanted to take some pictures outside at the start of the reception, which was totally understandable considering how pretty the venue was. However, it was quite cold, and as her co-maid of honor (her sister, Jen, was her other attendant), I was wearing a knee-length halter dress and strappy shoes on my bare feet.
I was trying not to let my teeth chatter as the photographer snapped away when Jen leaned over and whispered to me, “Just keep thinking to yourself – ‘I’m a warm bear. I’m a warm bear. I’m a warm bear.'” It was totally silly and it did the trick. I was giggling too hard to think too much about how cold I was.
Well, today I polished off the “I’m a warm bear” mantra as I took to the starting line at the Polar Bear 5k at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA. It was 28 degrees (brrrr!), but I was dressed warmly in my new Nike tights (love them!). This was my first race since the 2010 Peachtree Road Race and since my injury sidelined me in August.
I’ve run the Polar Bear 5k for the last three years. It is a nice race (I believe it benefits the church’s youth group) – low key but very well run with really, really nice and helpful volunteers. An added perk – the church is open so you can wait inside in the warm right up until the start, if you want.
I only have two beefs with this race. First, for reasons beyond my understanding, they don’t use start mats. Many races use start mats so the “clock” doesn’t start for you until you actually cross the start line. The sensor in the mats picks up the electronic tag you are wearing (either in your race number or in a loop you fasten around your shoelace) and then picks it up again when you cross the finish line – resulting in a very accurate personal time. This is great, because in most races of any reasonable size, depending on where you line up, it could take you anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to actually cross the start line after the gun is fired. Because this race doesn’t use them, my real time was probably about 30 seconds faster than the official, clock time.
But, I find the ugliness kind of endearing, so I’ll let that go!
So how did the race go? Pretty good. I forced myself outside about 15 minutes before the start so I could warm up for a bit. During the race itself, I felt good and kept a pretty steady pace throughout. I finished about two minutes slower than last year’s PR, but that’s okay. I know I’m nowhere near where I was, fitness-wise, at this time last year. Nevertheless, I was happy with my performance and felt that the race gave me a good base on which to build throughout the upcoming season. I finished in 26.32 – 8th in my age group (out of 90), 78th out of 776 total women, and 295th out of 1,398 total finishers (men and women). I’m pretty happy with that for today. And I’m a warm (polar) bear.
Miles today: 4 (3.1 for the race and close to a mile warm-up). Total miles total for the year: 32.22.