Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wild Goose Chase 2013

It was late February, which meant it was time to head to the Wild Goose Chase in Delta, Utah. The 5K/10K race is held as part of the Snow Goose Festival, which celebrates the migrating snow geese. The snow geese really like to eat in the fields around Delta and then spend some time hanging out on local water bodies. 

I've done the race many times, including in 2011, when we drove through a blizzard to get there, and in 2012, when conditions were much better. For 2013, the forecast was 50% chance of snow. I groaned. It wasn't pleasant running in 2011. But we needed groceries and had other errands, so we decided to go for the race, along with seven other runners from our valley and a few spectators.

The drive there was easy, no snow. But we could see the storm coming. When we got there we saw big chunks of ice on the shoreline. Where did they come from?

From the large excavator, making a hole in the lake so that the participants of the Dunk-Dunk-Goose could go get wet. How crazy! We saw snow geese in fields on the way to the race, but none were on the thick ice.

Desert Boy and Desert Girl tested the water and decided it was cold. Brrr! The wind started getting stronger, and we bundled them up in snow pants and coats. Then our friend Beth watched them while my husband and I lined up to run. (Thanks, Beth!)

We were glad when it was time to go, because that meant we could generate more heat. I don't think I've ever run with more layers on than I did in that race. I had on a wool long-sleeve performance shirt, the Wild Goose technical race shirt from two years ago, and a windbreaker. I was still cold! The other runners from our valley took off fast (including my husband!) and I settled in to a pace I could maintain for 10k (6 miles). But then the wind really started blowing. And it started snowing. And then about mile One I fell on an icy patch and banged my knee really hard and scraped my palm (I had taken my gloves off for a little bit because I had started to generate some heat). I stuffed my hand into my glove so I wouldn't look at the blood. Another runner helped me get up, and I limped forward, assessing the damage. My knee did not feel good. I wasn't sure if I could finish the 5k race, much less the 10k. Slowly the blood circulated, and I started a ponderous jog. Gradually I increased my speed to my regular measured speed. Of course, with the gusts of wind, it was not easy going. I tried different strategies of charging into the wind or hunkering low. Nothing seemed to work well. We were running along the reservoir, so there weren't any places to go hide out in. If this race had been in a city, I might have dashed into a store and not reemerged.

For the third mile, an 11-year old girl played leapfrog with me. She would run fast and pass me, then walk and I would pass her, then she ran fast and passed me, and so on. Finally she started just running at the same pace as me and I congratulated her on running so well. She said this was her first 5k ever, and she went on to win her age group. I still had another 5k to go. And it was not fun. Alas, I did finish. My time was two minutes slower than I wanted, but considering the weather conditions, I didn't feel bad about it.
It turned out I came in second in my age group and was the fourth woman overall in the 10k. Yippee! The other runners from our valley did even better, including a 1st and 3rd finish overall in the 10k and a 1st and 2nd finish overall in the 5k.

My husband did great! His only training was a short run the week before. Nevertheless, he had an impressive time. At the finishing line, the wind had blown all the plastic off the warming pavilion and the heat lamp wasn't working. Once I finished, the sweat I had worked up now chilled me, and I felt really cold. But we couldn't leave, Desert Boy was signed up to run the 1/4 mile race. He joined a few other kids.
He was wearing snow pants and his winter coat. I was getting mildly hypothermic, so I gave the camera to my husband and went with Beth and Desert Girl to the van to try and warm up.
Desert Boy started the race with a smile. Go, Desert Boy!

Unfortunately he was running right into the wind and quickly got chilled. He finished, but was near the end. He was crying because he was so cold. Poor kid! Next year if the forecast is for snow, we're not going. Sorry, Wild Goose Chase, as much fun as you are, you're just not enough fun in bad weather.

Not everyone would agree with me. While sitting in the car with the heater on, I watched the crazies run into the reservoir, around those blocks of ice. Brrr! I got cold all over again just watching. They even paid to do that. Are they nuts or what?

Desert Girl watched too, and told me she wanted to get in the icy water. I told her no way, later that day we'd go swimming in the warm indoor swimming pool. She told me again a couple times she wanted to get in the icy water. When she's 18, she can go right ahead and do that!

We saw a few snow geese flying overhead as we drove away. They were still present despite the weather. I guess they're getting ready to face the Canadian weather as they continue their migration northward. They are amazing birds, and I guess I should remember that running in a little bad weather isn't much compared to the feat they're accomplishing as they migrate 3,000 miles through all types of weather.

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