Tag Archives: Wind chill

Race Review: Frozen Half Marathon

You know the race will be interesting when the website offers this warning:

Extreme Weather

This is a cold weather race! Temperatures have been at or below zero for this race in the past. Hypothermia could be a definite concern. Make certain that you are dressed properly for conditions on the day of the race. In case of extreme weather conditions this race could be canceled or shortened. All entry fees are nonrefundable. An accurately measured 1/4 marathon course may be used as a short course option. Check with active.com for up-to-date weather information and changes in the race schedule.

The Securian Frozen 5K and Half Marathon is a part of St Paul’s Annual Winter Carnival.  Well sadly, we had those “extreme” weather conditions and the 1,200 pre-registrants got the following e-mail from Mary Anderson, race director.

Hi All,Just a note to let you know that the half marathon course has been shortened to approximately 6.5 miles (or half of the marathon distance) for tomorrow. The start time will remain the same at 9:00am.

The 5K race will go on as scheduled and start at 9:15.

The half marathon turnaround is just East of 35E on Sheppard Road and will be at the break in the median there so that runners can go westbound on the way out and eastbound (or with traffic ) on their way back.  We will move the water stop to this point and will be serving individual bottles to the runners. This should make it easier for volunteers.

Thank you participating in the 2009 Securian Frozen 5K and Half Marathon!

A wise decision given the fact that the actual temp was officially -15 with a wind chill in the -20’s. The morning broke with a clear blue sky and lots of shining sun, so that helped make the race bearable!  There was some confusion about the actual course distance.  The e-mail clearly says 6.5 (6.55 would actually be a half of a half) but the announcements coming over the PA system in the registration area kept calling it a 10k (which is obviously 0.35 miles shorter than half of a half).  My Garmin called it 6.46.

Attire? Yes how in the world do you dress to race at those temps? Well ultimately the same as you would to run in those temps!  Unlike warmer weather where you could wear less layers, it was vital to keep everything nice and warm. I actually wore the attire mentioned here, minus the silk balaclava and adding a pair of goggles.  I wore mid-weight smart wool socks, duct-taped shoes, tights, wind breaker pants, a singlet, long-sleeve dry-fit, long-sleeve cotton, under a wind breaker jacket, gloves, an ear band, and fleece balaclava.  I got a new pair of “fog-proof” goggles, but I steamed them up within the first mile.

Pre-Race We were able to park in the Securian building’s parking lot for $2 in downtown St Paul, which was great.  Take the skyway over to another building for packet pickup and then stand around and wait. Unfortunately all of the indoor restroom facilities were closed to the public so you had to venture out to the porta-potties lined up on the street.  We did a little warm-up jog and then waited for the race to start.  The directors were nice to wait until all the runners lined up, but it was a chip race so they should have just started instead of punishing those of us who followed directions!

The Race Almost immediately you go down a hill (about 200 feet in 1/4 mile) from downtown to the river. The race is an out and back along the Mississippi River on Shepherd Road.  The first mile came up pretty quickly and I came through in 6:35.  I tried keeping my goggles on because the wind was extremely bitey at this point and hurt my face, but I couldn’t really see out of them so I shoved them up on my face.  I tried to settle into a pace that would work for the whole race and picked some people to try to stay with.  A guy was reading splits at the 5k turn around, which was a little weird but I came through mile 2 at 7:08.  The course was a little hillier than I had expected since it was on the river flat.  They weren’t anything monstrous, but definitely steep enough to tire you out a bit.  I wasn’t really cold anymore at this point although the layers were making it hard to keep up a fast pace.  I came through mile 3 at 7:23.  The turn around point came pretty quickly after mile 3 and there was the race’s only aid station.  Dedicated volunteers passed out bottles of water – caps already off.  People were taking them, I did not.  Maybe I should have, but I didn’t feel like messing with my balaclava or spilling on myself! 22:34 at the turnaround.

I was actually starting to get tired at this point.  I was also getting really hot and raised up the balaclava and un-zipped my jacket a little.  This helped regulate the temps as the wind was solidly at my back.  Sadly I don’t think the added push of the wind helped my times too much and I came through mile 4 at 7:03.  Now I was beginning to get really tired and couldn’t wait for the finish line to arrive.  I was a little disappointed when I looked at my watch and saw that we were only at 4.5, yuck 2 miles to go.  Around the 5 mile mark we saw the 5k runners.  Fortunately we were on a divided road so they weren’t in our way yet (this usually isn’t a problem due to the half-marathon being farther and the 5k starting 15 minutes after us).  I came through mile 5 at 6:58.  I tried to pick up the pace because I was tired of getting passed, but I was also plain tired!  One of the 5k runners was wearing capri tights and the bottoms of her legs were bright red, looked painful.  I actually took my gloves off because my hands were sweating, my feet too but nothing you can do about that! I came through mile 6 at 7:25.  The last bit was straight back up the hill.  We joined the 5k runners.  I stayed way off to the side so as to not get stuck behind them and passed a lot of people up the hill which was a nice feeling! I may have passed a couple of half-marathoners on the way too and finished hard into the biting wind for the finish. 3:02 for the last 0.46 miles.

My official time was 45:31 (7:02 pace) [the website said 7:21 pace, but my Garmin and weblog both said 7:02] and good enough for 96th out of 661.  (Official results)  Evidently the 5k isn’t scored so I don’t know what the total turnout was.

Post-Race I hadn’t heard my teammates cheering me into the finish and I didn’t immediately see them so I wandered back into the buildings to get my post-race food and finisher’s mug! Then I wandered back out and got some pictures of people, including this great one of Mark Deters! I finally caught up with Nathan and we headed home.

A pretty crazy race day!!  Did you run it, what were your thoughts?

Local  News pieces:

Pioneer Press

[tags] Half Marathon, Race Review, Securian, Winter Carnival, St Paul, Frozen 5k [/tags]

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Running at -21

I captured this image after my run on January 16, 2009.

After some bad experiences last year, every morning I roll over and check the weather on my phone before going for a run.  So what do you do when you roll over and see -22 as the actual air temperature?  I see three options:

1) Roll back over and snuggle under the blanket until the absolute last minute until its time to go to work.

2) Visit your local gym, assuming you have a membership, or any indoor running facility.

3) Jump out of bed with eager excitement and begin putting on every piece of running attire you own.

I recently had this experience and while many of you from the more southern regions of our country would say I’m insane for choosing number 3 2x’s this week, I was not alone.  No I saw plenty of bicyclists commuting to work and plenty of footprints in the snow indicating both runners and people walking their dogs.

How do you survive when the air temperature is below zero? Or below freezing for that matter? Layers and more layers. Honestly, it is amazing how much of a difference the wind chill can make though.  In these cases Joe’s Temperature Guide (xls) probably won’t help too much.  In 2007, I offered 9 winter running tips, but they don’t specifically address how to dress.

So here is my attempt to reconstruct how I survived running below zero (from the ground up):

Shoes – I wear my regular trainers and I actually don’t wear Yak-trax or put screws in my shoes. Since my (and most) running shoes are made of mesh I put strips of duct tape on the mesh parts.  I suggest using smaller strips so that the shoe can still flex properly. I actually wrapped some tape all the way around my toe box (including on the sole) which actually helped me loose traction!

Socks– I recommend Smart Wool Socks they are the excellent at keeping your feet warm without adding several layers. The taller the sock the better. I was given a hard time last year because all the socks I wore didn’t come over the ankle! You can always go with a liner sock underneath a wool sock, but that might be overkill.

Pants – Our legs are an important part of the running machine.  On these extreme temperature days I make sure to wear two layers.  Between 32 and 0 I might only wear one, depending on the wind chill.  I always wear running shorts underneath my tights, so I guess it is a triple layer over the most important stuff. I wore a pair of running tights.  On top of that I wear some type of windbreaker-type pant with insulation.  This obviously helps cut down on the wind while adding a bit of warmth.  The problem is that the more you wear on your legs the harder it is for you to actually run.

Upper-Body/Chest – This area has the largest surface area and represent where you’ll feel the most pain if not dressed appropriately.  I like to start with a short-sleeve thermal underwear shirt but also have worn a nice singlet.  I think that one additional little layer isn’t hugely vital, but I want to keep the core warm.  Over top of that I wear some-type of long-sleeve technical or dry-fit shirt.  I would prefer not to have any sweat on my skin if I can help it so this shirt helps wick it away into the cotton long-sleeve shirt.  Many people will probably protest this item but it has served me well.  Yes the cotton absorbs the water and gets a little heavier but it provides a little more insulation than a second technical shirt would.  Again depending on the actual temp or wind chill I might just wear a fleece vest, but on the extreme days I wear an insulated windbreaker jacket.  I actually still have my warm-up suit from college (although I try to avoid wearing both the pants and jacket at the same time because they are both purple).  The jacket again is insulated and help stop a lot of the wind from hitting my skin.

Hands – These things are hard to regulate.  You definitely want gloves, but there are so many options.  During my latest runs I wore a pair of 40 gram Thinsulate gloves that did an excellent job of blocking the wind and keeping my hands toasty – actually a little too toasty.  I have a variety of other options but none seem to do the trick like these for the extreme temperatures.  My recommendation would be some type of glove that changes into a mitten at the top so you can regulate the temp a little better.

Head – Every one says the head is the most important part, so who am I to disagree? I like to keep my head nice and warm!  I wore a ear band.  This doesn’t do a lot but keeps the ears from getting frostbite! On top of that I wore a Silk Balaclava. Silk makes a nice base layer because it traps the heat inside and slowly releases the heat while also wicking away sweat. On top of this I wear a fleece balaclava.  Fleece is also a good wicking fabric that is very warm, although it doesn’t protect very well from the wind. I actually sweat underneath these layers and don’t usually get cold, except for in the worst wind on my exposed flesh.  You see the other day I started out wearing glasses (which are highly recommended to protect your eyes and the exposed skin that the balaclava doesn’t cover) but they fogged up really bad and then the steam froze on them.  They were completely useless at that point, so I stuffed them in a pocket.  NO HEADPHONES! I decided that I didn’t really want them freezing into my ear so I left them at home, plus who knows how the mp3 player might react to the temps.

There you have it a very long look at how to survive running in -20 temps!  I’d love to hear what you wear out  there on the cold days. You can also take a look at Blaine’s Tips for Winter Running Apparel. You can also check out this guy who bike commutes across a frozen lake at 20 below (HT The Deets).

Week in Review

Where does time go? It seems like time flies by.  It is almost Christmas and almost a new year. 2008 has flown by with lots of great stuff happening.  This week was no exception.  It is a busy time at work as we prepare for “winter break” and the students start getting antsy.

Monday was my requisite day off of running.  I sadly failed part way through my Week 5 Day 1 of the hunderd push-up challenge. I got 82 of 145 done before I couldn’t squeeze out another one and collapsed to the ground. After recovering a little I did my Prehab: Core, Hip, and Elasticity workouts. I also biked to work in the snowy slush.  It was fine except that the bike I planned to use for the winter didn’t workout too well because the suspension system on it made the bike too small for me.

On Tuesday I did 5 miles along the Greenway doing an out and back heading west.  It was pretty uneventful but it is interesting to point out that the Greenway was plowed better than the road next to my house! I did it 38:41. It was about 16 with a wind chill of 0.

Wednesday I took my new video camera along for a 3.5 mile run at Powderhorn Park.  I took some video of the snowy park which helped make the run longer! The snow also made the run a little more difficult because only some of the sidewalks around the park had actually been plowed.  I’m still trying to edit the video to make it right but you can see a rough edit here.  It was about 2 degrees without a significant wind chill. Since I failed on the push ups I went back to Week 4 Day 2 and did the 3rd column (last week I did the 2nd) which is a little harder as a result I did 140 push ups.   I also worked out on the Physioball.

Thursday I did a newer 3 mile loop which goes along the Greenway heading East and then takes the Hiawatha LRT trail north to the 24th St bridge and then head home.  It is a nice change of pace that I did in 24:00. It was about 9 and sunny which felt nice. I did my Prehab Core, Hip and Elasticity.

I had planned to run on Friday but woke up pretty tired and unmotivated. So I decided not to.  I then looked at the weather and realized it was -1 outside (air temp) and was glad of my decision.  So I did my push ups getting most of the way through Day 3 of Week 4. I didn’t finish but I didn’t write down how many I got. I think I was a little frustrated at myself. I was so wrapped up in editing that stupid video that I forgot to post a Foto Friday!

Saturday was a very nice morning. It was sunny and 28 without any major wind.  The Polar Bear group met at Lake Harriet Bandshell and we ran around Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake, and Lake of the Isles.  It was about 9.4 miles and as usually happens with this group we went out pretty fast.  A small group of us settled into a comfortable pace and let the rest of them go out.  We never got too far behind but just enough that it was impossible to catch back up easily.  It was a gorgeous day to be running and a good workout.

Sunday on the other hand wasn’t too pleasant.  It was 36 with freezing rain when I woke up. I almost didn’t go but decided I couldn’t take another day off this week and the weather was only going to be getting worse. Our group met at Minnehaha Falls and ran to Fort Snelling over the 5 bridge backup the East River Parkway crossing the Ford Bridge.  It was just under 6 miles.  I was wearing shorts and felt fairly comfortable for most of the run.  The rain wasn’t too hard but was noticable throughout the run.

Weekly Mileage:

Running – 26.3 miles

Biking – 3.5 miles


I ran 5 miles, biked 16.5 indoors, swam 400 yards, and did the elliptical, stair climber, and rower! I posted a guest review of the St Jude Marathon and shared about a 12 Days of Christmas give-a-way program which ended up being a huge marketing gimmick. I also posted 9 winter running tips and of course a hilarious Foto Friday.

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