Race Recap: The Big Chill 5k

Part two of the weekend double came on Sunday morning with The Big Chill 5k.

The Big Chill is a part of the Winter Run Series from Lighthouse Racing in Wisconsin, and you may remember them from when I ran Run Into the New Year.

The 2019 edition of the race certainly lived up to it’s name, with the air temperature rising (yes, you read that right) to -7 by the start of the race. And yes, there was some wind as well, but more on that in a minute.

When I arrived at Hartford Union HS, the start of the race, I met up with a few other PRO Team members as we prepared for the race. We chatted about the cold, how bad the Pettit went for me, and how I didn’t envy the fact that most of them had signed up for the 10k.

Thirteen miles on a track at the Pettit left my legs, and specifically my quads and hips, yearning for a day off. I mentioned to my Dad that this might’ve been one of the first races I was hoping for some hills. Using different muscles would help negate the soreness from the Pettit.

I got out and did some warmups before the race, but shortened them up a little because it was super cold. Others were also lining up, and I wanted to make sure I got a spot nearish to the start.

While walking to the front, I passed PRO Teammates Tony and Anna and simply left them with the comment of “This is stupid.”

And just like that we were off. We headed out of the high school parking lot and took an almost immediate left down the road. A gradual uphill, tired legs, and going into the wind made me wonder what I was doing.

The course is one loop for the 5k, and two for the 10k, but with both races starting at once, you really don’t know who is actually your competition.

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Broke out the OG PRO Team shirt

As we made the first turn into the neighborhood, I was still able to stay in touch, or at least eyesight, of the leaders at this point, and through most of the race.

As we hit Mile 1, I was just in back of the chase pack which featured a few runners who were comfortably ahead of me at the Run Into the New Year. I didn’t check my watch once during this race, figuring after the Pettit, in the cold, and in the snow time was irrelevant. Mostly, I figured if I could see these dudes, I was in good shape.

Shortly after, PRO Teammate Liz re-passed me. Knowing that Liz was in the 10k, and aiming for the PRO Team elite standard in the 10k, I again figured sticking close would be my best bet in terms of a solid pace.

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Just me, or do these two look colder than I do?

Quickly in Mile 2, we were passed by another runner who came absolutely flying past us on the one significant downhill in the race. On the downhill I lost touch a little with the group, not so much because of the packed snow (shoutout to the Saucony Freedom for having amazing grip), but because a steepish downhill reminded my quads how sore they were.

After rounding a corner, we hit the second Mile marker, and began ascending the largest hill on the course. As we ascended, I noticed that the running immediately in front of me was slowing, and consistently looking behind him. Any competitor knows that this is a giveaway that he was tiring, and I knew I could make the pass.

As we rounded the turn out of the neighborhood, we got back onto the road we started on. So it was a strightshot back to the parking lot, a left turn, and about 150m to the finish. I noticed I was gaining on the runner who had made the pass way back in the early stages of Mile 2.

I made an effort to get past him, but when he didn’t try to come with me, I assumed he was in the 10k. Fine by me.

At the turn back to the HS, the 10k was told to go to the right to head out on their second loop, while the 5k made the turn to the finish. As I drifted to the left side of the road, I noticed the shadow of the runner I had just passed do the same. Dude was in the 5k. Eff.

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By a step!

As we turned, I was the clock read 18 and change. What?! I didn’t think there was any way I was hammering down a sub 19 5k. I knew if I pushed, I could sneak under that 19 threshold. As added motivation, I could hear the runner in back of me making a final push. I was NOT about to get out-kicked for the finish. Or as Anna put it when we were talking after the race “Not today, Satan.”

I slid in with an official finish time of 18:56, and much to my surprise, a 3rd place overall finish as well. In short, The Big Chill went WAY better than the Pettit did.

The results did make me reflect on a few things. One is that I’ve doubled a few times in a weekend; sometimes with long runs then a race, other times with two races. I almost always do better with the second part of the double.

More interesting, I thought, is my success running 5ks in the winter. Since High School, I’ve run under 19 only four times. Twice in a January race, once in a February race, and once on a 30 degree day in April. Apparently the cold brings out the best in my 5k racing.

If you read the Pettit recap, you already read this. But now I have no races until the Flannel 5k at the end of February, and no big ones until the MCTU in March. And I’m super excited about that.

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