Sunday, January 27, 2013

Run Like a Polar Bear - Week 4 (January 21-27, 2013)

Polar Bear 5K (Marietta, GA) - January 26, 2013

I first ran the Polar Bear 5K last year for my "birthday run."  The Polar Bear 5K is hosted by Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta as a fund raiser for their youth mission trips.  2013 was the 25th running of the Polar Bear 5K which is great longevity for a race.  There are 3 events in the race: the main event is the 5K and there are also a 2K and a fun run for the kids.  The start times for each event were done very well (2K at 8:00, 5K at 8:30, and fun run at 9:15).  The spacing of the events made it ideal for families to allow all members to participate since the races did not overlap.  The race typically sells out with about 2,000 participants each year with a lot of families participating.

If you have never been to JFBC it is HUGE!  There are multiple "wings" and a full gym with an indoor track.  

When racing in January, it is always great to have pre-race activities in doors especially when it is a cool morning.  I am quite thankful that JFBC has such large facilities that they can support runner registration inside!  This seems to be their standard set-up, but regardless I was happy to be warm PLUS indoor restrooms!  It is important to remember that even though you might be tempted to stay in the nice warm gym up to the last minutes before the race, you need to get outside and get your body adjusted to the cold before running.  I think many people did not do this as a lot of people came out to the start line shortly before the start.

The start line was not clearly marked - it was just a few yellow parking cones along the road.  Johnson Ferry road is multiple lanes across, however the race is only ran in the far right lane.  This poses a problem when there are about 1,500 participants all starting a once.  In addition, many participants have never taken part in a 5K, so there is a lot of confusion with the proper way to line up at the start.  The start area had a pure mix of 6:00/mile runners with casual walkers (rather than lining up according to estimated pace).  This led up to a HUGE bottle-neck for almost the entire first mile.  

Overall, the course is nice.  For the Atlanta/Marietta area it is fairly flat with some hills along the way.  I  did not do as well on my first mile as I wanted due to the bottleneck.  My first loop was fairly successful - I completed it in about 30 seconds longer than I would have liked but I figured I could make it up in the second loop since we were spread out at that point.  Well, around a quarter mile into my second loop I started feeling a horrible pain in the ball of my foot.  Every strike of my foot hurt me. I thought it might have been my shoes since I am due for new running shoes.  For the next 1.5 miles or so I just ran through the pain (big mistake probably).  I finished the race, slower than I wanted, but I finished.

The post race area was partially outside at the finish line (bananas, bagels, water, etc) and partially in the gym (awards and sponsor setups).  Once I got home, I took my shirt out of my goodie bag.  Now, I have ran probably about 75 races and I have seen all types of swag (t-shirts, technical shirts, long-sleeved, short-sleeved, hoodies).  This was the first race I have seen do a turtleneck shirt.  Don't get me wrong, it is a very nice, heavy, mock turtleneck.  This is also my first race shirt that I recall being embroidered.  The race logo was small on the left chest and "25th running" on the turtleneck part.

After getting home and taking off my shoes, I came to realize that the pain in my foot was not just the shoes.  The pain continued in the ball of my foot and top of my foot from Saturday morning until this evening still.  I cannot put weight on the ball of my foot without a lot of pain and cannot put pressure on the top of my foot.  I am beginning to think that I pinched a nerve in my foot or possibly have a stressed fracture.  I guess I will rest up the next few days and take it from there.  I am really bummed right now because I am sitting at 4 weeks out from the Disney Princess Half Marathon and I know a stress fracture would mean a 6 week rest period.....

Race Pros:
Indoor pre and post race activities
Good spacing between events

Race Cons:

Not a well-marked/organized start
HUGE bottlenecks for the first mile
Turtleneck shirts?

Overall race rating: B

Question of the Week: 
What running injuries have you suffered?

Time to Run,

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