They had me at pancakes.
When looking at the race application for the Polar Bear 5K I noticed that the post race festivities included a pancake breakfast.
Yes, I know that many would have preferred beer. But pancakes? I was so in.
The Polar Bear 5K is held in Olcott and on Sunday, that meant lake effect snow squalls from Lake Ontario.
The gimmick of this race involves a guy dressed in a polar bear suit who runs the race. The t-shirt you receive at the end of the race either proclaimes "I beat the bear" or "I can't believe the bear beat me."
I was pretty sure I would not be beating the bear. He looked pretty fast -- and he took his head off not a quarter mile into the race. I think that could have been a disqualification, but I'm not up on my USA Track and Field regulations that apply to polar bears.
The first mile of the race was a breeze -- literally. The strong wind was at my back pushing to a rather speedy 8:40 clip.
Then came the turn ... into the wind, with snow showers and a low but gradual incline.
I had convinced a friend to run this race with me. I was pretty sure he was cursing me out at this point in the race.
With no real goal in mind other than to finish and get to the pancakes, I kept steady and passed two women.
In the final mile, I passed another guy.
A check of my watch and it seemed that I might actually finish with a good time, so I pushed it a bit. Why not? I felt OK, though I certainly was running hard. It felt like ages since I had run a 5K, so I ran based on feel.
The finish line was just ahead and I glanced at my watch. My shot at breaking 28 minutes had passed, but not by much.
Final time: 28:15.
It was good enough for first in my age group and, upon inspection on my return home, a personal record.
Seriously? A PR? On a cold, windy, snowy day? On a day when I wasn't exactly in a race mood and had just been told by my coach that next week was a recovery week?
I'm not saying that the race was easy or that I didn't run hard. The race was difficult and I certainly ran hard.
But the less I think about times and paces, the better I seem to get. The more I put in the work, the more I reap the rewards without much consternation on my part. It took a year of consistent training to be able to pull off this 5K for myself.
Oh, and the pancakes were definitely worth the effort.