For the ninth time in the last 11 years, I started my New Year’s Day by running the Resolution Run 5K at Seattle’s Magnuson Park. For the ninth time also, I avoided doing the optional Polar Bear Dive into Lake Washington near the end of the run.
While two out of every three Resolution Run participants chose to romp through the icy cold lake waters for the chills and thrills, I did not. Why? Let’s just say I’ve always feared the worst — that I would further damage my ankle, or worse, have a heart attack from the dramatic change in body temperature. I also don’t like that you don’t have a designated place (besides your car) to change into dry clothes.
So what’s the big deal? Well, I’m starting to consider doing it. This year, for the first time, I went down after I was done running to take pictures of runners (and walkers) frolicking in the water as part of their Polar Bear Dive. And I found that it does not look all that terrifying. (I also found a runner who ran in only a Speedo and running shoes; I got a picture of him after he finished.) So I am closer to doing it in 2016. We’ll see.
In the Resolution Run, all runners start at the same time and run 90 percent of the event together. Just around the three-mile mark of the 3.1-mile race, the “dry” event runners veer right and head to the finish line. Meanwhile, the Polar Bear Dive participants go left and head straight into the water. After about a 15-second dip through some 50 feet of shallow water, they turn around and come back to the course to finish, crossing the same finish line as their dry counterparts.
Yes, they are soaking wet and shivering, but exhilarated, as they cross the finish line and then sprint somewhere to change clothes. Some find bathrooms at the park to do that; many change clothes in their cars. Then, in the finishers’ area, most everyone warms up with a free, delicious bowl of chili. The free chili is a great tradition.
I enjoy this event very much, even just doing the dry run. I’ll see if I can scope out a bathroom in one of the Magnuson Park buildings as a changing spot for next year. Again, we’ll see.
Beat 2014 time by nine seconds
So how did my race go? Minor detail. My only goal was to beat my 2014 time of 35:55 (11:36 per mile), which was then my post-surgery 5K best. I did so, barely, finishing in 35:46, which is 11:32 per mile. I finished 295th out of 499 runners in the dry event. Full results are here.
The weather was dry, with temperatures in the 40s — not icy cold like the recent 12Ks of Christmas 12K, but cold enough. On January 1 of any year, it’s never going to be very enticing to dive into Lake Washington. But I’m going to have to do it anyway, one of these years.
Also worth noting:
- Turnout dips from a year ago: Some 1,523 people finished the wet and dry races this year, down from 1,836 a year ago. It wasn’t because of the weather — the temperatures were about the same each year.
- My time really dips from 10 years ago: I first did this race in 2005, and finished in 25:30. My best time was 24:59 in 2007. The course has changed since then, though it remains relatively flat. In those days, the finish line was inside a warehouse building you entered at the end, at Magnuson Park’s north end. Today, you finish on the south side of the 350-acre park.
- Congrats: Microsoft friend Jen Gaudette finished fourth in her age group in the Polar Bear Dive, running a fine 7:55 per mile pace. Congrats, Jen!
What’s next? My ankle has been abnormally sore in recent days after the run, so I’ve been just walking. But I’ve signed up for the Valentine’s Day Dash 5K on Feb. 14 at Seattle’s Green Lake Park. Also, I am planning to do my fourth straight Chilly Hilly bike ride Feb. 22 on Bainbridge Island. So I must get back on a bike soon.
Thanks for reading! Till next time.