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The Ho Ho Run! (freaking cold edition)

The Ho Ho Run! (freaking cold edition)

on Dec 8, 2013

coldstartSo, back in October, when weather was warm, zombies were running amok and we were all excited about 5k’s we decided to sign up for the Ho Ho 5k.  At the time it seemed like a great idea.  It was in December, it was holiday themed and we would get free hot cider and Ho Ho’s, why wouldn’t we do it.

Today we learned about running in the cold.  Typically we are used to temperatures in the 30’s – 40’s being cold but this winter it has been especially brutally cold and this morning the temperature was a whopping 17 degrees fahrenheit.  Suddenly running a 5k seemed like a less great idea.

Unfortunately we are a stubborn people and had already paid for the Ho Ho 5k and didn’t want to be seen as weak and namby pamby so we put on as much thermal clothing as we could find and hopped in the car and headed out.

It’s interesting when you are preparing for a race that is going to be run in 17 degrees.  You have to calculate how you are going to layer and how much.  You don’t want to wear too little and be cold the whole time but you know once you get moving you are going to warm up.  This is good, because being warm is good… until you sweat, then the sweat cools down and you get chilled and… well that has been known to kill people.  Most people don’t want to dye, especially from something stupid like sweating.

I decided to wear my new Pearl Izumi fleece lined thermal tights I got for cycling in the cold and my running shorts, wool socks, my Nike Combat Gear base layer and my Columbia Thermal Shirt and my no name not sure what the material is jacket.  I also added my cycling gloves and my favorite tuque for good measure.  This worked well for me.  I was unpleasantly cold for most of the standing around time and then nice and warm while running but not too warm that I was sweating buckets, and then mildly unpleasantly cold once again I stopped running.  I have decided that at this point being slightly unpleasant is really the goal over being miserable.

As we drove to the race Heisenbaker got a text from her friend The Vegan saying that if we weren’t doing the race this morning she would probably back out and stay home because it was stupid cold.  My comment was that it wasn’t too late to just find a nice warm coffee shop somewhere, get a nice hot cup of coffee and enjoy two of my favorite things on a stupid cold morning… you know… warmth and coffee.  I was quickly shot down and we continued on to the race.

Once we got there, we checked in, got our bibs, got a free decal (because if I am going to freeze my ass off I am at least going to get something for free!) and waited for The Vegan to join us.  Once she got there it was about time for the race to start so we lined up at the start line.  At this point I was chilly but not miserable.  Standing around wasn’t helping keep me warm but my strategic layering seemed to be working fairly well.  I was very happy with my smartwool socks and my tuque as my feet and my head were nice and toasty warm.  Heisenbaker and The Vegan were not as fortunate as me to have good socks and had lost feeling in their feet at this point.


As you can see in the picture, many people dressed up in holiday themed attire, mostly Santa suits. (You can see Heisenbaker all bundled up there in front of me.)  My race mates were talking about next year and how they were going to dress up.  I stood there and shivered.  Behind us we noticed a small child freaking out.  The Vegan said he is a small child and really didn’t look happy.  I informed her that I was an adult and wasn’t particularly happy at the moment.  I shivered some more.

Finally the race announcer guy welcomed us and gave us instructions that none of us could hear over our chattering teeth and shivering.  I did catch something about Santa and his “sleighbaru”.  I wasn’t sure what this meant until we saw Santa drive up in a Subaru Outback.  I would have rolled my eyes if they hadn’t been frozen in place in their sockets.

The race started and we were off!  The course started up a hill.  I was displeased but at this point didn’t really care too much because I was moving and I knew that would get me warm soon.  The first mile took us through a nice neighborhood in Tigard.  We ran through the streets with reckless abandon.  The fast people of course took off and the little speed groups formed.  I was right there with a surly guy dressed in a Santa outfit.  He had an animal skin water bottle that I am sure had some form of liquid for warming him up that most likely wasn’t water.

As we went through the neighborhood I noticed that while everyone else was turning left to go around a block, Surly Santa continued straight, taking himself a little shortcut.  Apparently there were only naughty kids on that part of the course so he felt he could skip it.

I quickly caught back up with Surly Santa just in time for him to stop to let a car turn in front of him.  The car seemed hesitant and Surly Santa actually got a bit surlier insisting that the car turn.  The car finally went and Surly Santa thanked him with a “took ya long enough!” for good measure.

Finally we got to the trail section of our 5k.  We were just over a mile in and the “sleighbaru” and Santa (not Surly Santa) was there directing us down a trail along the Tualatin River.  At this point the trail was very steep and running ceased for a moment.  I had a brief thought that they should have hosed that section down and given us all sleds to go down the hill.  It would have been fun… a lot more fun than running it.


As we continued on the trail I realized that I was finally warm.  I actually unzipped my jacket a small bit.  A very small bit.  As we ran up and down the little hills I was nice and warm and actually enjoying the race.  I was on a trail, even though it was paved and I would rather run on a non-paved trail, I was pretty warm, I was feeling good.  That was all about to change, as the planners of the course were evil people.

Unless I am miserable I have made it a goal not to look at my watch to see how far I have gone and how far I have left.  This helps me enjoy the race more because I am just running and not worrying about times or distance.  This being said as we came out of the woods and back into the park area where the race started we ran past our cars.  I was thinking, you know… I could hop in the car and warm up some more, maybe go get a coffee real quick, come back and finish the race.  Nobody would need to know.  Instead, I ran past the cars and continued on the course.  I could see the finish line in the distance.

As we neared the finish line I started to get excited.  Soon this cold run would be over and I would be enjoying a nice hot cup of apple cider and eating a Ho Ho.  Then the course turned slightly right and back into the woods.  I was running away from the finish line.  This couldn’t be right, so I looked down at my watch.  I still had a mile left to go.  I was annoyed.  What kind of evil race planner has you run past the finish line with a mile left?


I fortunately soon forgot about this as we had turned onto a dirt trail.  I love running on dirt trails.  They are much more pleasant than pavement and usually have nicer scenery around them.  I did realize that as cold as it was, the ground was just as hard as pavement, but I didn’t care.  I was on a trail, I was happy.

Eventually the dirt trail ran out and met back up with a parking area.  Part of the course was where you had to run around a bench and then onto the paved path to the parking area.  A girl in front of me cut the corner and her friend protested that she was cheating.  I chimed in and told her she would have to start the race over and do it right this time.  She laughed and as we were running a loop around the parking lot she stated that this course required “too much integrity.”

As we all ran up the hill, chatting about how it was evil for the course to take us past our cars and then past the finish line.  We caught back up to Surly Santa and he cheered us on and we rounded the corner to see the finish line!  We were almost there!  We were almost done!  Hot apple cider and Ho Ho’s were in my near future.  There was the lady that takes your picture as you run to the finish line!

We ran past the finish line… again!  What the hell!  These people are evil.  There was still another 1/8 a mile or so as we had to run down to another loop and come back.  At this point I didn’t care!  I just wanted my damn apple cider and Ho Ho’s!  I pushed through and made it to the end.

After we all finished we all stuck around for the raffle drawings and won nothing and then got cold again and decided to leave.  It was a great race.  Even in the cold a 5k is fun!  Heisenbaker and The Vegan are already talking about running again next year and dressing up.  I will probably be talked back into it.

As our last race of 2013 it was a great way to finish.  We all had a great time; we didn’t get frostbite or hypothermia and had hot apple cider and Ho Ho’s.  We have already started our plans for 2014 and I will probably be posting a list on the site soon if people would like to join us.

Remember, you don’t have to be fast, or good, just get out there and have fun!