January running in N.W. Ohio can be a challenge…I think we’d all agree there. A particular race that is always scheduled around the third week in January (The Dave’s 10-miler) is said to be the race that can give you blizzard conditions or 65 and sunny…lol! I’m here to tell you that it’s very true and I’ve experienced both…several times now.
I signed up for the 10-miler, scheduled for Sunday, January, 19th this year. Mother nature was not messing around! This race starts at 2 p.m., which this year was a very good thing. We had a major storm roll through the day prior that dropped 4-5 inches of snow, which then turned to freezing rain and then rain. Temperatures steadily dropped until they reached sub-zero during the overnight (the night before the race). Winds of course had to be a factor and cranked up. This was both good, because it cleared the moisture off the road, but also bad because it kept the temperatures in the single digit range all through the run.
My lovely bride and I got to the race, picked up the bib/shirt packet and prepped for the start of my run. I was originally scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m., a full half-hour before the regular start as I’ve been doing mostly run walking and have just been working my way back up to higher mileage. 2019 was a nasty year for my body and I had concerns of not being able to finish all 10 miles. Once I had my bib in place, we headed out looking for the starting line. In true Robert Neeley fashion, I never checked inside the school to see where exactly the starting line was at. In prior years, this race was run from a different school, so it had an all new starting line. Once we realized we had no idea where the starting line was, we found a friendly runner that gave us a heads up on where to go. By the time we reached the start line, it was 10 minutes past my 1:30 p.m. start. The starting line dude gave me the choice of taking off on my own or starting at 2:00 p.m. with the regular race people. I opted for the 2:00 p.m. start so I’d have people to follow…lol!
Just walking back and forth between the car and the starting line let me know that this was going to be a serious challenge. My face quickly became numb from the cold and once again, I had doubt running through my body. Once the rest of the runners came outside and packed together for the race, I realized I had to make the best of this. Along with that, I had promised numerous friends and family members that I would represent them during this race. My Pink Warriors! Women that are currently fighting or have fought through breast cancer. This disease has plagued so many around me…I needed to get out there and do this, carry them and remember how they’re fighting.
Once I got rolling, I realized quickly that my face and eyes were going to be an issue throughout the run. My eyes watered steadily during the first mile or so due to the heavy winds. I’m one of those people that is unable to cover my mouth/nose area when I run. I so wish I could, but I tend to panic when they’re covered. Most of my body felt pretty good and I felt like I’d prepared my clothing well enough. The wind was just freezing! Thank goodness the roads were clear and not until later in the race did we get any kind of snow. The first 5 miles went pretty good. I slowed a little during mile 6 and when I reached mile 7, my knees were just cold. The joints in my body felt like they were seizing up and it was hard to keep a steady pace. I decided then to start alternating my walk/run routine. I had to be careful with the extreme cold not to let my body get too cold during the walking portion. I only allowed myself shorter walks to stay as warm as possible. I was lucky enough to have my best cheerleader (Karla) find me several times on the course and gift me with a kiss each time. By around mile 9 I was really cold and my skin felt burnt. This was again one of those moments that you have to find something inside of you that says “Don’t quit!” I once again reflected on the many women that I’d come here to run for and how much they’d been through. I truly believe that running is something that comes to you easier when you’re doing it for someone else. (Running with purpose) I pushed on, found Karla once again, walked with her for a short stretch and then ran the final 1/4 mile into the finish line. What I found waiting at the finish made everything worth while. My good friend Martha Shearman, one of the Pink Warriors was waiting there with my medal and the greatest hug you could ever ask for after running such an awful race. This made it all worth while. Thank you Martha for being an amazing person…you’re a bright spot in this world for sure!
The drive home was a cold one…lol! Karla and I had the heat cranked up and the seat warmers cranked full blast all the way! Pizza was on tap for the evening, along with some down time with family. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my day.
Remember that we all have moments of wanting to quit…don’t! Whatever the problem, give it your best! Find whatever it is inside of you that won’t let you give up and hold it tightly! When you struggle, I’ve got you!
I’m currently looking over race schedules and trying to decide what I want to take a chance on. I love the Black Swamp Festival of races in March and might give the 15K a go this year. I’m signed up for the Glass City Full Marathon and look forward to completing that for the first time ever. I’ve been going to the gym on a more regular basis and watching my food intake. So far, so good. No major issues with the body as of yet, but I’ve changed up how I train…hoping that keeps me injury free!
Don’t let the Winter stop you or slow you down. There are many things that you can doing during these months. I’m not a fan of indoor cardio but will on occasion jump on the Stairmaster…I don’t recommend it unless you enjoy torture…lmao! Getting outside and just walking on a Winter day can be just as much fun as in the warmer months. It’s just a matter of wearing the right gear. If you have questions or need tips on what I train in while walking, just shoot me a message and I’ll let you know. I find it very peaceful during the Winter…good time to reflect on life.
Thanks for following along and I’ll be sure to do another blog entry soon! As always…
I’ll see you on the road!