Monday, December 23, 2013

Better late than never! Frozen Trails Runfest race report


I was really looking forward to Frozen Trails this year for several reasons. Perhaps the most important was
that I could give these socks my sister sent me some race action.


What can I say? She has great taste!
Unicorns and rainbows guarantee that any run will be magical.

I also had a chance to preview the course two weeks early. Although the weather was about 20 degrees warmer when I did that run...

Crazy as this sounds, I thought I might be able to pull off a race win for the ladies in the 9 miler. (You never know who might show up, but it was a little seed of thought anyway.)

Things were not looking so good when we got hit with some freakish arctic weather a week before the race that kept western Oregon in an icebox when we normally enjoy a comfy (but wet) 40f.

However, 2 days before the race things started to thaw on most roads, and Eugene was driveable in my 2wd the day before. So, I took it as a green light for racing. Thankfully Eugene Running Company  ( local running store) straightened me out on the right race day or I would have missed it all!

Morning of the race, I wore it all: Tights, short sleeves, arm warmers, long sleeve top over, magic socks, trail shoes, mini gloves and a new hat.

When I got to within 2 miles of the race, things got very foggy and the road went from bare to black ice. All the drivers in front of me slowed to 5MPH and I knew this might change my plans considerably.


Just getting into the parking lot was an adventure, but the staff were great and gave us parking validations for the day. I threw on my down jacket and stepped onto the ice/snow. Things had melted a bit from the previous day and refrozen. The 50k runners were already off and running... (note: this would be a tough 50k course for anyone doing it, summiting twice, and nearly summiting twice more.)

The 10 am race temp was probably around 34-35f, just slightly watery on top of the packed snow/ice. These are not conditions I normally train in, let alone race in, and I left my traction devices at home. In all honesty, even if I had them, I would have had a tough decision as to use them or not. I had no idea what to expect on the trail going up and around the mountain.

Right before the race, I shucked my jacket and changed into shorts. This was another difficult decision. I do NOT like to overheat, but tights offer a level of protection that helps on the trail.

 Photo by Jeff McKay

I made no attempt to start in the front. Going out fast just would have been silly. My PureGrits were very slippery on the wet ice. I only hoped that things would clear up on the trails. 

The first mile was uphill for quite a while and I tried to find places without ice to run on. I was a little too nervous to enjoy myself. Then we started to go downhill, and things were still icy.

I had some serious second thoughts.

Should I keep doing this? Was it even worth it to keep racing in these conditions? Could I finish without injury? That became my new race goal. It was the first time I have ever raced with hope of "just" finishing without getting hurt.

My garmin might not have read correctly, but it said 11:05 at mile 1! I worked very hard for that 11:05 mile..

The second mile was similar to the first, except that we were now on fairly level trail. I started looking forward to icy puddles because I knew I would not slip if I stepped in them. :)

At mile 3, I was warm enough to take off my long sleeve shirt and run with shorts, a short sleeve shirt and arm warmers/ glove combo. I had to let another woman I had been gaining on get ahead of me for this, but I needed the outer shirt off and I got a drink at the same time.

I scrambled over more icy trail, had a lovely (not wet) rock-hopping over a creek, two slick foot bridges to cross, and I started to pass some people. I was glad I had already gotten my drink when I got to the super-slippery mile 4 marker and hairpin turnaround. A little later I passed the the woman I was trying to catch.

Between miles 4 and 6.5 we gained about 800ft of elevation, but this was on the back side of the mountain. Things were thawed from the sun or covered enough from trees that there was no snow, just uphill with gravel or mud. I do OK on uphill with gravel /mud and took advantage passing runner after runner. I did have to walk about 10-20 yards because the grade was so steep it was impossible for me to run.

At the highest point of the elevation chart, the trail was poorly marked. Two ladies were confused about where to go and were heading the wrong direction. I was glad to shout out to them which way to run. They were only 25 yards from the right trail, but the marker was just out of their sight. I didn't know if they were my competition, but I wasn't slowing down to talk to them. :)

From this point it was all downhill to the finish line. The main trail was pretty clear on the sides and I booked it, happy to have my heart rate slower and my feet faster.

Photo by jandjhass  www.flickr.com

Almost done, with people I assumed were chasing me, and I was loving it!

Then the course meandered off the main trail to get us back to the finish, and things got really snotty again. Another solid sheet of ice was under my feet, and all I could do was brace myself, go slowly and try not to crash.

I was mostly successful.

At one point I lost control and slid off the trail on a steep crust of snow-ice, but fortunately a blackberry bush caught me. I continued my prayers, "Thank you, GOD, for not letting me get hurt too badly. Please get me to the finish line safely."

And He did.

A few minutes later I emerged 2nd female, much relieved to be done. I never saw the winner on the course. (She must be an ice-beast though!) And as odd as this sounds, I had a great time!! Not sure I would say the same thing if I face-planted on ice, though.

Here are the splits for whoever likes that kind of data. Keep in mind that the GPS probably acted up in the trees and the fog. And trail races are known to be goofy with paces.

TypeDistance Split settingsDurationTotal DurationPace
 AVG     HRNotes
1Interval1 mi11:05.4911:05.4911:06147189   very unlikely
2Interval1 mi7:58.7819:04.277:59153200   very unlikely - way above my max
3Interval1 mi9:47.8528:52.129:48158171   still coming down from a cold HRM
4Interval1 mi8:53.8037:45.928:54155161   HRM probably warm enough to work
5Interval1 mi9:55.2547:41.179:56158162
6Interval1 mi11:22.2559:03.4211:23160163 almost 5k pace heart rate
7Interval1 mi10:00.651:09:04.0710:01158163
8Interval0.87 mi6:42.901:15:46.977:44153159

Have you ever raced on ice or in snow? 


What's something you have done recently that pushed your limits?

Thanks for reading! 
MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

42 comments:

  1. WOW, great job, you rock! Reminds me of the 1992 Omaha marathon, the night before the race we had a ice/snow storm and they reduced the race to half because the entire course was ice and snow. Very nerve wracking.

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    1. Thanks Bruce! That would be a scary race too.
      Wishing a Merry Christmas to you!!

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  2. I've never raced on ice or in snow, but I know I'd slow down. Since you placed 2nd female, I doubt you did much slowing! Congrats!

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    1. Merry Christmas, Tina! I ran my best "negative split by effort" race ever. :) Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday week!

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  3. Oh wow those conditions look like dreck. Thank heavens for blackberry bushes and magic socks! I DNS'd a frozen fanny trail race last January. It was zero and pure ice. Merry Christmas to you and yours Raina!

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    1. Thanks Marcia! I almost did the DNS. Almost did the DNF. Next time I will bring some ice spikes or not at all! - Merry Christmas to you!!

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  4. Oh my, those socks are awesome! The picture of the runners with the cloud is beautiful. Congrats on the second place finish!! Sounds like a tough, icy course! Well done! :)

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    1. Thanks EB! Good socks definitely power the MIND :)
      Hope you have a spectacular Christmas!!

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  5. Nice blog post :) you wanna know a secret? If you wanna see a winner, I suggest you look in mirror :) it doesn't matter if anyone pass you or anyone wins, because in the end, I am sure you will be happy about the distance that you ran :)

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    1. Thank you, Tushar!! I hope you know how encouraging you are.
      Have a great Christmas!!

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  6. Love those socks! Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family. May the joy of the season be with you throughout the new year.
    x0x0x0x

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    1. Thank you Keeley!! Merry Christmas to you! ♥ Joy and Love to you and yours too :)

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  7. Well, I'm one that reads blogs on Christmas Eve :).

    I've run many trails on the ice and snow - it definitely slows you down, but I learned a long time ago training for Pb that you throw the watch out the window, it doesn't mean that much on the trails. It's all about the fun, and being an intrinsic part of nature. Love it!

    Congratulations on a well-run race and an awesome finish. Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!

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    1. Good to hear from you Jill! I mostly posted the stats for shock value :D The GPS is so funny on trails. At least I end up with a sort-of-usable map after a run with it!
      I sure hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas- lots of love, joy and cookies!

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  8. Congrats on the 2nd OA, and I LOVE the socks!!

    You need a pair of Yaktrax, and then you'd kick the 1st OA women's booty!

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks Kristy! I thought about the yaktrax, but then I think they might have held on to the mud on some stretches. Who knows!? Next time!
      Merry Christmas to you!!

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  9. Awesome and congrats Raina! Love those "magic socks" of unicorns and rainbows:) I have never raced in ice or snow and actually backed out of a race for the first time because of it. The day of the race the snow was coming down 14 degree temps and I just couldn't stomach the 2 hour drive. Disappointed with myself to say the least. I have a race next month and odds are pretty good in Michigan that there will be something on the road. I WILL do it!

    As a new runner, so many runs seem to "push my limits", but I would say the weekend before the race a friend and I met for a run. It was my first one in the cold - a 13 degree and windy kind of cold. As a newbie, I had not dressed properly (apparently my summer running leggings were not enough!). Lesson learned. It was a run (lots of stopping) full of leg cramps, but we did it and I was really proud of us for simply being out there with the handful of die hard runners speeding past us:)

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    1. Yikes!! You have faced some serious weather conditions, Kristen! 13F in light tights and wind would be brutal. I am interested in how you will dress for your upcoming race. Thanks for commenting♥
      Merry Christmas :)

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  10. Unicorns and rainbows, you can't go wrong! How awesome was this race? Congrats on doing amazing!! ( and not slipping and getting injured!)
    Looks like a lot of fun. No snow in AZ, but I did run this morning in my new Christmas sock today! 43 degrees. Also received my first pair of arm warmers from Santa! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Carri~A Running bee

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    1. Sounds like a super Christmas run to me! And arm warmers are GREAT. Love them! Excellent for those temps!
      I hope your Christmas was perfect, Carri!

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  11. You did amazing in the ice and snow! I use Montrail trail shoes which have really good grip but I am sure in those conditions even trail shoes aren't quite enough grip.

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  12. oh and I forgot tell you those are the greatest socks ever :)

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    1. I might have to try out the Montrails! My shoes have great grip, just not on ice. :/
      I hope you had a wonderful Christmas :)

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  13. Congrats on 2nd! Those are tough trail conditions when you don't know what kind of traction you will get on each step. I ran on similar conditions in a non-race situation recently so I kind of know the feeling, but I was much more cautious. Merry Christmas!

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    1. I saw your pics :) Those were great!
      Merry Christmas to you and yours also, Mike!!

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  14. Merry Christmas Raina. It's the day after down here so a little blog catching up after watching some of the boxing day test (cricket) and family stuff.

    Raced on ice and snow? What's ice and snow? A beautiful 66F this morning for my jog. What's pushed my limits lately is trying to stay injury-free during this comeback. Glad you survived that race. The awesome socks and grippy shoes would have helped. Catch up with you in 2014!

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    1. Thanks for rubbing it in, Ewen!! 65F sounds lovely for running. A bit warm for a race though ;) Hope you and your family are enjoying an extended break. Get that leg better!

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  15. Great job! What a race. Sounds crazy and the photos are beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Jodi! Merry Christmas to you and your family ♥

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  16. Oh my HEAVENS! What in the WORLD???? That races sounds out of CONTROL. Haha, and I was just feeling sorry for my little trail race. Yours sounded brutal. You definitely get a honey badger card on that one, and congrats on 2nd female! Woot woot!

    And.. I have to have those sock. Have to have them. PLEASE ask your sis where she got them.

    Thanks and Merry Christmas!

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    1. I will take that Honey Badger card and proudly display it at my next race sign-up. :) Out of control, but gladly only one (very minor) injury!
      If you want a pair of those socks, I think she got them here ►www.sockittome.com :) But I will warn you that I have not been able to get the mud out, even with spray n' wash, so be careful what you wear them for!

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  17. Look at you! Wow! I'm so happy to see you finding your groove in this crazy hard core trail running world! This sounds intense! Congrats on 2nd female Raina!

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    1. Thanks Amanda! It's a whole lot of fun. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas :)

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  18. I'm glad mine isn't the only HR monitor that has to "warm up." Congratulations on a great race that seems to have held your attention the entire time you were running it. You always rock the finishing times/places. :^)

    Merry Christmas, Raina!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Terzah! Yes, about the HRM, I have started to get used to it. I have abandoned speedwork before because the numbers were so off, but I should probably clean it and change the battery.
      Merry Christmas to you and yours :)!!!

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  19. can't say I've raced through ice or snow given I'm a Texan, but I've had my fair share of oddities, including torrential downpour in 09! way to power through and rock some sweet sox! congrats and keep up your progress-I love reading abt it:)

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    1. Thanks, Adrienne!! I know you've seen your share. :)
      So glad to hear from you. Hope you had a merry Christmas!

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  20. That sounds like so much fun! I've never run in snowy or icy conditions, but I wouldn't mind trying someday! These holidays have been super busy for me, especially since I started training for Western States! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and have a fabulous New Year!

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  21. Wahoo!!! WSER here he comes!! You are going to have an epic adventure. I can't wait to hear about your training for it. Congrats, John! Merry Christmas to you and your family :)

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  22. I can only remember races under the hot sun! Unbelievable how you can run so fast on such icy path. Congrats for the 2nd place.
    Happy New Year Raina.

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    1. :) I wish for some hot sun these days, Stefano. ☼ Hope you have a wonderful New Year also!

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  23. Amazing socks! Hee, those are something!

    So glad you didn't get hurt when you fell. There are a couple of races here which go down a very steep mtb trail with a serious cliff, and I'm always nervous running down that.

    I am not a fan of ice OR mud. Daintiest trail runner ever, that's me!

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