Monday, February 17, 2020

Polar Pug Half Marathon 2020 {race recap}

I ran my first trail half this past weekend!

Happy to finish, happy to run on trails! photo: Edge Athletic Lounge

A few weeks ago I knew I would have  the opportunity to run the inaugural Polar Pug race. So I immediately bought some trail shoes (Altra Superior), a hydration vest,  and some gaiters. I broke the trail shoes in on Friday before the race when I walked Ze to and from school. They had good traction on the snow. 

Race morning: team MRC carpooled down to Country Lane Woods and sat in the car for a while. It was cold- around 20. We picked up our bibs and then sat in the car until 5 min before the race start.

We didn’t really know what to expect as all of us are generally road runners. I pictured the trail to be muddy. (Why I have no idea- since it snowed Wednesday and was super cold Thursday/Friday) Not enough warmth to have the snow melt and refreeze. I also talked myself into believing there would be snow but not ice due to it not melting/refreezing. I had no idea it would be so deep.

Soon it was go time and I got a selfie with fellow MRC’er/ badass/future winner of the Polar Pug/all around great person, MH.

We took off and I felt like I was running through thick loose beach sand. It was cold but not terrible.

We completed the first out and back and whew, That was challenging. The hills + snow were a solid effort. I felt like I tweaked my ankle 1.5 miles in and was worried about the rest of the race. 
Photo from Edge athletic lounge. 

I was having a lot of fun.

Giving side fives to our club members was awesome on the out n back.

Then we continued on towards the loop which we would repeat 3x. More snow, more hills and gah it was just so peaceful.

All I could hear were the planes heading to midway and the wind in the trees. (And the water in my hydration pack sloshing around)

MH passed me on my second Loop lap - she was first woman and killing it!

Hearing birds chirping, the wind, the planes, and the crunch of the snow under my shoes was so relaxing.

It was tough to run through the snow- feet would slip a little and ankle would become very unstable. I kept worrying that I would hurt my right ankle after the initial tweak in the early part of the race.  

I would walk up the hills because I would get so out of breath trying to run up them.

Luckily my ankles were ok- but with about 5k to go I felt like I had huge blisters on my feet. This is what I get for never wearing these shoes before. But I powered through to the finish.

I was so happy to be done. I enjoyed running on the trails so much.

I was so happy I did this race. It was tough, relaxing, fun, everything.

We got super cute hats for participating. 

MH won first and her trophy was everything. So adorable!

We went to Open Outcry Brewing to celebrate our achievements. The beer was really good. But being able to celebrate with these fabulous people was great.

So many good beers.

A pizza with fries!!

Post run bath beer.

At the beginning of the year I had decided I wanted to run trails this year- I always have the desire to get off the lakefront, but hadn’t made it happen. After this race, I’ll definitely make time to head out of the city to enjoy nature more. Ze would totally enjoy trail running too. 

Thoughts and housekeeping:
  • The line to my hydration pack froze in the first 4-5 miles so it was essentially useless. 
  • Took a Maurten around mile 3.2
  • The gaiters definitely helped keep snow out of my shoes and kept my feet pretty dry
  • The blisters were probably from my feet sliding around due to the uneven footing. 

  • I wore capris + compression socks. Nike hyperwarm long sleeve, MRC Shirt, Nike Shield jacket. MRC buff + fleece buff, Manzella gloves, headband + shamrock hat. Overall I felt like I dressed appropriately. I did feel hot and wanted to take my jacket + gloves off but I didn’t. 
  • The Polar Pug, Tank
  • Trail running is so much fun and I can’t wait to discover more trails. This race was only about 20 miles outside of the city. 
  • My entry was comped and all opinions are my own. Many photos from Edge Athletic Lounge. 
  • The race was extremely well organized and volunteers were amazing. 
  • 100% would run another trail race. 
  • Currently looking at Canicross events so Ze can get involved. 
  • Trail running is so much more low key than road races. Everyone was so friendly- saying “good job” to each other or high fives. 
What’s next?
Hustle up the 875 {Hancock} stair climb
Take the bridge 
Atlanta 13.1
Shamrock Shuffle 

Yeah, things are busy on the “racing” front. 


  1. Love all of this!!!! Great job, babe! (And glad your ankles are ok!)

  2. Congrats! I’m so glad you had a good time and your ankle is okay. I hope your blisters heal fast. Running in the snow is HARD! I’m glad it wasn’t super icy or muddy.

    Congrats to MH! That medal is so cool.

    I have an insulated tube and holder for my bladder for the winter. Let me know if you want the link for that! If you don’t have that your line will freeze and your water gets so damn cold (and that bothers my stomach).

    You’re welcome to run the trails up here anytime with me! <3