Race Report: Brainfreeze Half Marathon

This past weekend I ran my first race of the year, the Saskatoon Brainsport’s Brainfreeze half marathon. It is organized by the U of S Huskie Cross-country team, which part of the entry goes to. It is a great cause and it is a great winter race. All that being said, it was a brain freeze, indeed!

All week leading up to the race, my friends and I kept checking the weather. “What’s the forecast now?” “What’s the wind like?” The forecast changed almost every day between -17 and -18C. In Saskatchewan, we are pretty famous for our prairie wind and we can get a pretty nasty windchill. So we knew that if it was -18, it was going to be more like -25C. The day of the race was pretty much as predicted: a beautiful sunny Saskatoon day at -18 plus an 11km/hr NE wind making it -25C. The out and back ran pretty much exactly the way the wind blew. Out to the north-east with a head-wind and back with a tail wind.

My bff and I headed to the race together and we were both kind of freaking out about the weather. We tried to “warm up,” but decided to stay inside where it was warm before we had to head out. I stuffed some hand warmers in my pants pockets to try to keep my thighs warm, took a gel, and got Beck ready to rock on my iPod. It was pretty impressive how many people didn’t back out. We are a hardy group here in Saskatchewan, about 170 did the 10km and 21km races. Pretty amazing.

So the race. What can I say? I’m alive. I survived. It was rough going out. My legs kind of felt like blocks of ice, but it was a bright sunny day and I tried not to think about it. Like, REALLY tried not to think about it. Earlier this winter I got frost nip on my thighs and was really not looking forward to that again. I know if that happens again soon that it will be closer to frost bite than just a nip. Luckily, I was dressed smarter on Sunday and somehow managed to make it 18km before my legs really started seizing. Actually, coming back was way faster (not really surprising considering the wind) and I was stoked to almost be done. Then at 18-km I hit a wall. It was the “no way am I taking another step” wall. It is very difficult to put one foot in front of the other when they feel dead. Also, I had some stomach issues due to some womanly fun I had going on. Oh yeah, it was a great day for a half marathon.

My time was atrocious! So so bad. 2:35:44 bad (my 21km personal best is 2:10). It was a similar time to last year when I did this race after not running for months. However, last year it was +2C and it was a bright sunny spring day. I wonder if the wind and warmth affects a time that much? I’m thinking of changing the marathon goal for May into a half marathon instead. I’m not sure if a marathon is a good idea for me yet. I think I’ll be lucky to be in shape for a marathon in August, let alone in May. Sticking to the 21km seems like it might be the better plan.

It was definitely a good wake-up call. I mean, I’m not doing too badly with DOMS. I’m a little stiff and my IT-bands are pretty tight on both legs, but all things considered I’m alive. I didn’t get hypothermia, I didn’t freeze my legs, and I have another race down. Looking forward to the next one!

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