St. Patrick’s Day 5km Race Recap

18 Mar

Well, it was certainly a chilly one. The coldest race I have ever run. I think it hit -20C with the windchill. But despite that, it felt great to be racing again….and festive racing on top of it!


I haven’t run a hard race since October. Both my November and December 2012 races were more like “runs” than “races”, so I was looking forward to going all out in a race. My excitement waned a little though when I saw what the forecast had in store for race day (cold, very cold).

Pre-Race Day

Preparing for a race in this cold was key for me and so I took the time Friday night to chose the right race gear:

St. Patrick's Day

Here’s the breakdown of what I wore race day (for a race that hit -20C with windchill and needed to include some more festive items for St. Patrick’s Day):

Layer 1: Reebok tights, Lululemon short sleeve tshirt

Layer 2: Second pair of tights (Adidas), long sleeve Nike Pro Combat mock neck long sleeve

Layer 3: Green socks!! Under Armour 1/4 zip thermal, NB running touque and Lululemon running gloves

Layer 4: Green Ireland jacket

Race Day

Once Saturday morning came around, I was glad to have planned out my race gear but wasn’t sure there was much else I could have done to keep warm when it was so cold. I was, however, excited that the sun was out and I was hoping that it would provide at least a little bit of extra warmth.

My husband came out to the race with me, which was great to have someone there to cheer me on, to take some photos and of course to hold my stuff.


The race took place along a beautiful stretch of road along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Everyone was able to gather at a local high school near the canal both pre and post-race, which was fantastic for keeping warm.

The 5km race started at 9:15am and after keeping warm as long as possible in the gym, we headed outside to start the race.


There was a good crowd in the race – maybe a little surprising for the weather,but  final results say 457 participants.

I like to try to start near the front in a race this size so that I don’t have to do much weaving and passing during the first kilometer. I was able to find a spot a few rows in with a few minutes to go before the gun went off.

As expected, the beginning of the race was cold, especially on my face. Slowly, as the race progressed, my core seemed to warm up a bit but my face never did warm up  much.



I was happy to see my husband within the first 500m and gave him a quick smile for the camera.

Almost immediately I noticed how this race, albeit only a 5km, was going to be a little more painful and difficult that most of the 5km races I had done. The cold was slowing me down and the lack of consistent running didn’t help matters either.

At the half way, turn around point, I noticed someone I knew. She was maybe 50m ahead of me and I made it my goal to catch her. At about 3.5km in I had slowly caught up to her and remained ahead of her until there was about 500m of the race left, when she inched passed me again.


I didn’t want to make my final push too soon because I was feeling the pain, so I held close until I had about 200m to go. That’s when I also spotted my trusty photographer-husband and managed to squeeze out another smile for the camera (below).


With the final 200m to go,and the red finish line banners in sight, I sprinted for the finish and easily passed my friend (who was dressed very similarly to me in black tights, green striped socks, green jacket, black touque and sunglasses – on the far right inthe photo above).

To my dismay, my final glance down at my Garmin upon crossing the finish line revealed that the course was a 100m longer than 5km…something I somewhat saw coming as all the distance markers appeared to be off (and this same thing happened at this 10km race last year).

In any case, I didn’t hit a PR, and still wouldn’t have even if it was 5km, but certainly did not expect to. I finished in 24:38, good for the following finishing positions:

Age group: 8/93

Gender: 19/320

Overall: 56/457

I’m happy with this first race of the season, it was fun even with the cold!




12 Responses to “St. Patrick’s Day 5km Race Recap”

  1. Rebecca March 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    Haha – my hubby waited in the car (mostly because he didn’t want Max out in the cold – but still…).

    I just looked at all the photo’s that this one photographer took (let me know on twitter if you want the link) – ohhhh my, everyone looks SO pained in almost every picture.

    Here is hoping the next race is a bit more warm 😉

    • Mary March 18, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

      I can’t imagine it could be any colder!! But you never know with this weather…on this year last year it was 25c!

  2. Runner Girl Eats March 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    Omg I can’t imagine running in those temps! My Florida blood is freezing just thinking about it. You did great though!

    • Mary March 19, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      Thanks! Ottawa winters are too cold! I contemplate moving to Florida every winter!

  3. jupiler1060 March 19, 2013 at 3:21 am #

    Great job and major kudos, I don’t think I could run in -2 C, nevermind -20 C! 🙂

    • Mary March 19, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Thanks – sometimes I wonder how I run in cold like that!

  4. marob23 March 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Mary – good time and although I prefer cold to hot, I can’t imagine running in -20degrees. Great outfit too 🙂

    • Mary March 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

      Thanks! I like festive races. If it has been too warm maybe I wouldn’t have been able to wear my long,thick green socks!

  5. thewindykitchen March 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    WOW, good job! I’ve run in slightly below 0C +windchill and it took me close to a a mile to warm up and breathe better, but cannot imagine running when it’s that cold!

    • Mary March 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      It was so cold that after the race my mouth felt numb and I even had trouble talking for a couple moments! haha

  6. Emily March 23, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    My goodness, that’s crazy cold. Great layering (and keeping it spirited in green), and nice run!

    • Mary March 24, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      Thanks! So glad I layered in that cold!!

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