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Race Report: Polar Bear 5K

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.

Oh goodie!

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.

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