On Saturday, February 27th, I participated in the Lethbridge Edition of the the Hypothermic Half. This event is put on by The Running Room and held nationwide. I participated in the Lethbridge event in 2013, then the Calgary version in 2015. I wrote about those events here (Lethbridge 2013) and here (Calgary 2015)…and as you can see, they were completely different experiences. Going into this event, I had an idea of what to expect, and I was disappointed. But that doesn’t mean it was an amazing race experience.
I don’t like being negative on here, especially about races. But when an event needs some improvement, I will share my two-cents. I signed up for this local event knowing it would probably be low-attendance. In comparing the Lethbridge 2013 run to the Calgary 2015, the first thing one would notice is turnout. The Calgary Running Room in Eau Claire Market downtown seems to do quite a bit more promotion and draws more runners. That event was chip timed. It was a bigger deal. The Lethbridge event, yet again, was not chip-timed had only about 40 or so runners (tops) and was a mish-mash to say the least.
Packet pickup was both the Thursday and Friday before the event. This was nice as I could not make it Friday (would have been tight on time). However, I went to packet pickup and they couldn’t confirm race start. It would either be 8 am or 9 am. I had to write down my email so they could let me know. They also had no details on the brunch. Now, while I did receive an email late Friday afternoon, that is very odd to me that a race did not have these details for participants less than 48 hours before the event. Especially when it’s an event being put on by a national store.
In 2013 the race swag was a duffle bag (Dan uses it from time to time). Last year. I received a buff-like head gear piece and black mittens (which I actually use). This year, they decided to have everyone receive a flimsy orange backpack (I like the Colour but I is destined to tear if I put anything bigger than a pair of shoes in it) and a toque that doesn’t fit over my Afro. I like it when races change up the swag, but for the registration price, this is so-so. For the record, early bird registration was $65 up until October 1, $70 until Jan 1st, and $80 until race day. I believe I did the $70 one, knowing you get an item other than a shirt. This also includes a post-race brunch…which I’ll talk about later. Really, Running Room is making a killing because this is the same cost for the 5km or 10km, which they hold that same morning. I, just really confused on this pricing tier, as since it’s a nationwide event and all race sites have the same swag and medals, it’s all ordered in masses. Anyways, onto the race.
Race did start at 9 am, which was what I had thought was the original start time anyway, so that was good. I signed up for this race knowing I would have a long training run this weekend, and it timed out to be the weekend I needed to do 18 miles for my Boston Training. I got up early and did a 5.5 mile “warmup” to get my legs going. The warmup miles felt good, but I was already going faster than I normally had been going on my long runs…not faster than the pace I should be going, but I was averaging 8:21 a mile. I made it to my car, drove down to the river bottom, and was at the start line with about three minutes to spare. Way to cut it close!
The route was a familiar one, as it went out past the nature centre to the metal gate, turn around, loop adjacent to the Oldman River and under Whoop Up Drive, past the water treatment plant and down to the loop right before the country club. Then head back to the start…and do it again. As a local runner, I know the segments of this route like the back of my hand…all the turns, dips, climbs, bridges, etc. But with the event having such a low number of people, keeping motivated would be tough as often I felt alone, yet still wanted to push to keep my goal pace for the race. I had in my mind I wanted to pace for an 8:00 minute/mile, as that is in the faster end of my “long run” pace, but exactly what I want for my goal pace in Boston (gives me a 3:30 full). Even though the race start didn’t have the traditional excitement I am used to at the start of a half marathon (maybe part of it was that I was still tying my left shoe when they said GO) I got fired up during that first mile. It felt GREAT to be in a race again. And to feel in shape. I did my first mile too fast, in a 7:22. I hope that I can remember what that felt like, as that is my goal half pace. I held close to that last year when I ran my 1:35.41 personal best. I have a half marathon on April 2nd in Wisconsin, and if I haven’t eaten too much cheese or drank too much beer the week leading up to it, I plan on going for that.
Back to Lethbridge. First half of the half went with a 7:22, 7:56, 8:04, 8:02, 8:05, 8:16, 8:01. It was around here while heading past the nature centre a second time I came across some tool walking his dog not on the leash. The dog was a huge Great Dane/boxer mix (maybe?) and came up to my hip. It was running in the side brush and onto the trail, and as I got closer it decided to run right toward me. It didn’t bite, but it nudged it’s damn head at my hip so I, naturally, turned my head back at the guy and yelled “THIS ISNT AN OFF LEASH PARK! YOU CAN GET A FUCKING FINE”. Then, I ran off the pavement a bit, and promptly ran into a rock. For real. And I hit it with my right foot. The one with the bone spur. Yeah, I jacked my foot into the rock, but caught myself and then kept running. The idiot owner was saying he was sorry….but yeah. That happened.
Regained myself and did the second loop with 8:16, 7:56, 8:02, 8:07, 8:12 and then the last 0.75 miles in 5:50, to finish with 1:42.15. My total distance was 12.75 miles, and I think I was so under due to the fact I really did run the tangents and hug all the curves, as I am so familiar with the route. The route did have a Garmin Connect map online that clocked it as the true 13.1 miles, but that would being on the outside curves the whole time. At 5km, for instance, I looked and was at 3.06 miles instead of 3.11…and then the gap just slowly grew. I was very happy with my finish, as my pace was a solid 8:01 minute/mile. Pretty much exactly what I wanted for the day!
I finished and got my medal, which is sweet. I do like the abominable snowman/Sasquatch/The Bumble that is on it, so that is a plus. I got my layers in and waited for my friend Aimee and her friend Zita to finish, and then we headed to the brunch at Lethbridge Lodge. Now, I didn’t go to the brunch in 2013 for some reason, but I did in Calgary last year when it was at Fort Calgary and it was awesome. Tons of food, fantastic scramblers…lots of juice, coffee, beverages. Filled with people. This one…was…interesting.
Got to the ballroom in the Lodge it was at, and it was basically empty. I think there were about 12 people in there, and no one was checking our race bibs to actually see if we paid to eat. The buffet line up was scrambled eggs, ham, plain cubed potatoes, and some Danishes. Then some poorly made coffee and questionable orange juice. Additional brunch tickets were sold online for $30 a piece…this was a $9.99 buffet. Thankfully, the company of Aimee, Zita and her husband made it worth it, as the food was a joke.
Would I recommend this race? Not the Lethbridge one. Would I do it again? Probably not anytime soon. But if it lined up in a training plan, I’ll probably throw my credit card number down and try to give it another chance, but the only be left to complain yet again. Memories! 7 weeks til Boston ya’ll!