Race Recap: I froze my buns, my face, and everything else. {Freeze Your Buns 5K}

It has only been two months, but it seems like forever since I did a race recap! I am definitely glad that I took a little break from racing over the holidays. I ran an awful lot of them last year and my body needed a little bit of recovery time. Honestly I wasn’t really committed to anything until April, but right around New Years I started to get the racing itch again and knew that I would have to pick something to tide me over until New Jersey.

Unfortunately races are hard to come by around here in January. My run club has the 8 miler that I did last year, but it would have impacted my training plan long run too much so I decided to opt out this time. (Good thing too because it was supposed to be Sunday and ended up being cancelled.) Instead I found a nice little 5K that I had heard good things about from a couple sources.


The 2nd annual Freeze Your Buns Run is the sister event of the Maryland Polar Bear Plunge, which I would not be doing again if you paid me. The beneficiary is the same: The Maryland Special Olympics. I very much support the cause and am glad that I can run to support it rather than dunk my body in the icy Chesapeake. (I’ve plunged once and I think that was quite enough, thank you very much.)

It’s also a Charm City Run race which gets major points with me because Charm City Run is my favorite running store on the planet.

The race was on Saturday, January 17 at 10am. I was hoping the later start would mean warmer temps, but yeah…it didn’t make a difference. It was in the mid-20’s with windchill in the teens. Luckily everything was going down at a local college and the registration and packet pick up were in a nice, warm building with real bathrooms and even a Chick Fil A (not that it was open at 8:30 when I got there or I ever eat Chick Fil A or anything).

I paid my race day registration fee, was handed a shirt that is way too big for me (they were out of smalls, but hey at least I got a shirt…my fault for waiting until race day to register), and then hung around people watching and occasionally going to run around the parking lot in the hopes of acclimating myself to the temperature. I am fairly used to running in the cold, but not to pushing a 5K race pace in the cold and the air had the kind of chill to it that made my nose run immediately upon stepping outside. All in all I warmed up for about a mile and felt okay. I’ve been having some issues with my left glute and that was feeling a little sore, but nothing unmanageable.

This was a small, friendly race of about 400 people. At around 9:50 we were all instructed to line up at the start, which was conveniently located right outside the nice warm building. I found a spot near the front and got my music and Garmin queued up. Promptly at 10 the airhorn blared and we were off.

Mile 0 -.5: I felt fine.

Mile .5 – 3.1: OMG KILL ME. KILL. ME. 

I’m not even kidding. I felt alright for the first half mile of this race and then all of a sudden it was like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I had a yeti sitting on my chest. I almost stopped to walk within the first mile.

Honestly I thought I was going to DNF this 5K.

The course was rolling hills that looped drunkenly around the school and I just tried to get through it the best that I could. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the way we were running…like I found myself running diagonally through parking lots on more than one occasion. Or maybe the pain was making me see things diagonally. One of the weirdest parts was the mile markers; they were WAY off from my watch, but yet somehow the distance still ended up being a perfect 5K. As I passed the mile 1 mark, my watch read .85. Then later as I passed the marker for mile 3 (because I don’t remember seeing a marker for mile 2), I knew which way we were headed and there was definitely more like a half mile ahead of us.

Anyway, as the finish came into view so did a photographer and I managed to smile for a picture right before crossing the line. I almost want to buy the picture only because I look so happy and not at all like I was about to vomit and you can’t even see how much I was drooling all over myself. My official:


Considering the fact that I was having a near death experience, I have no idea how that time happened. Afterward a couple of people were trying to talk to me and I couldn’t even get a word out. I literally could not feel my face enough to move my mouth. I grabbed a water and ran inside to collapse on a chair and recover for a few minutes.

By then the Chick Fil A was serving coffee and hot chocolate and there were snacks out for the runners. I wanted to pour some hot chocolate over my head, but instead I ran to my car to grab my visor in the hopes that I had won something and would be able to represent for Team Nuun in my first race of the year. And I did!

photo (5)

First place in my age group (6th woman overall). They also gave awards for top fundraisers for the event and spoke with some of the Special Olympic athletes that were running in the race that day. There were some FAST young men out there and it was so inspirational to hear about their running backgrounds.

Will I do this one again? Probably no. While the event itself was fun and as well organized as Charm City races always are (AND THE CHICK FIL A COW WAS THERE!! I should have gotten a photo with him)  there was nothing fun about the way I couldn’t even catch my breath in that cold air. It was like I froze my lungs as well as my buns.


Yes. This picture again. 🙂

What is the coldest race you’ve ever run? Would you ever do a Polar Bear plunge? (Or have you!?)

Happy Tuesday, all!




79 thoughts on “Race Recap: I froze my buns, my face, and everything else. {Freeze Your Buns 5K}

  1. afastpacedlife says:

    Awesome blossom!!! You look great repping Nuun (and our now defunct Swirlgear).

    The coldest race i did was the Chanukkah Chalf in 2013. It had winds going 20 mph and was insanely cold. The race director cancelled the award ceremony so we would all go directly home after the race. He emailed all the winners later. I thought i was going to freeze and die.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I am so darn sad about the Swirlgear!!!!
      That is one thing that I am so thankful for on Saturday…NO WIND. It would have been a total dealbreaker. We were supposed to have it and it didn’t happen. Oh my goodness it must have been beyond freezing for them to cancel everything afterward! I’m glad you made it out alive. 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you! That pic was taken after I had thawed out a little bit and my face was working well enough for smiles. (Plus medals always make me smile, frozen face or not.)

  2. Shawna says:

    bahhhh i love your breakdown of the mileage. your “near death experience” 5K time is something i dream about, soooo, i’d say you’re killing it no matter how you feel. great job, mama!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I wish I had more interesting things to report over those three miles, but it was literally “KILL ME KILL ME KILL ME” in my head the whole time. 🙂 Thank you so much!

  3. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine says:

    A few weeks ago I was considering doing this race but based on how I have felt over the past few weeks Im glad I didnt! The coldest 5k I did was around 30 degrees and that felt hard! You barely have enough time to warm up in the 20+ minutes you’re running! I wish there were more winter race options but I guess not many people would do them!
    Great job especially for feeling like you were gonna die the whole time!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you! Yeah you would not have enjoyed anything about that race. I think I’m done with January racing unless I’m in a warmer part of the country. You’re so right…there’s like no warm up time! I don’t think I warmed up until I was in my car on the way home.

  4. Kathryn @ Dancing to Running says:

    I love that this race was appropriately “Freeze Your Buns.” Kudos to you for running a race on such a cold day! The coldest race I’ve ever run was a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. I think it took half the race for me to feel my feet again, and it was only 3 miles!

  5. Chaitali says:

    Wow, that photo turned out great and it doesn’t at all look like you’re feeling sick. Way to pull out the smile for the camera 🙂 That’s great that you placed 1st in your age group even when you were feeling so badly. The cold air really wrecks my breathing too.

  6. samantha couch says:

    you look fantastic in this picture and not at all like you almost died. 🙂 we have a “polar bear grand prix” race series here in december/january/february and the December race was the same for me. I felt like I was going to DIE the entire time, and I think it’s just the cold air screwing with my lungs. I could hardly breathe and thought I was going down! But you pulled it off with much more speed and grace than I ever could. Congrats, lady! As always, you kicked ass. OH! and i guess being in the south, the chick fil a cow is always at our races. he makes me so happy – always giving high fives right before the finish line.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks haha I was definitely smiling through the pain. 🙂
      The Chick Fil A cow was awesome. He was dressed in pajamas. It was so funny because the emcee was talking about him before awards were given out and he was creeping up behind him…I don’t think the guy knew he was there and it was hilarious.

  7. sarahdudek80 says:

    You are amazing! Congrats on a hard fought race! I haven’t had Chik-Fil-A in almost 20 years but I remember their grilled chicken and fries being awesome. I always tell my husband that and he jokes that I might be disappointed now! Really great work girl!

  8. SuzLyfe says:

    Chick fil a is awesome, almost as awesome as you 😀 I definitely wouldn’t have known you were dying by that picture, so well played, my lady.

    I would never do a polar bear plunge. Ever. I won’t even take true ice baths.

    • runsaltrun says:

      YOU are awesome. 😀 I am a really good actress I guess. Just like when I had my pic taken at Chuck 12 and I thought I was going to die there too, but instead I’m all smiling like oh no big deal. I won’t take a true ice bath either. The plunge was as much of an ice bath that I would ever need in my lifetime.

  9. DarlinRae says:

    My coldest race was my last half on Nov 2, and it was in the 30’s with a windchill in the low twenties, so I feel your pain. Congratulations on busting out such an amazing time even though you wanted to die!

  10. charissarunning says:

    Way to go! Major props to you for racing a 5k in the freezing cold! Congrats on your age group award too! Seriously, that’s no time at all to even warm up. My coldest race was the New Year’s Day 5k I did just a few weeks ago. It was in the 20’s I believe, but the windchill wasn’t so bad. The race held a warm-up routine before it started as well to keep everyone’s blood pumping – it was definitely helpful!

  11. Sun says:

    Congrats on what sounds like an incredibly tough race! You ran a great time and placed so well considering the conditions. Brrr!

    That is super weird about the mile markers in the race. And kind of annoying for runners. Can you imagine if you saw the mile 3 marker and launched a sprint kick to the finish – only to find out you still have half a mile to go? Yikes 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks!! I saw that someone mentioned below that it could have seemed off due to the fact that it was a really windy course. That makes sense to me, but it still doesn’t make it any less confusing! I’m glad I knew where I was when I passed mile 3 or else I would have been pushing toward a finish line that was really not there yet!

  12. Sam @ The Running Graduate says:

    Congrats on the awesome job! You perfectly wrote how I feel during every run outside lately. I think the coldest race I have done was 17 degrees.
    My mom does the polar plunge each year! She is a coach for Special Olympics so loves the cause. I’ll donate but you’ll also never catch me jumping in the ocean in the winter!

    • runsaltrun says:

      And I know it’s even colder where you are. Spring now, please!
      That is SO AWESOME about your mom! I was actually considering taking Betty down there to watch on Saturday if it’s not too miserable out. A lot of my friends will be plunging this year and she might like to be part of the party. 🙂

  13. Anna @ Piper's Run says:

    I was hoping to run the Hypothermic Half March 1st but with my hamstring injured it went out the door fast. I really want to do a winter run since I train in the winter and colder temps. Congrats on your 1st place!

  14. Corinne says:

    Was this run at A-squared C-squared? Because I feel like that’s the closest place to where the Polar Bear Plunge takes place that would have a Chik-fil-a….unless they moved the Plunge….and if that’s the case, sad face! I always feel weird about the creep factor when I ask these questions, but I’m curious and living vicariously through you! I still think it’s funny that we lived in the same apartment complex but never spoke. And I will tell you that every time I think of it!

    ANYWHO…..the coldest race I’ve ever done was this past November at the Columbus Turkey Trot. Temps were in the high teens at start time. It was awful!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Yes ma’am it was! The Plunge is still at Sandy Point (and probably will be forever!) You are definitely not creepy…I love that you know where all this stuff is!
      NO THANK YOU for temps in the teens. I am pretty much done with this winter!

      • Corinne says:

        LOL glad you don’t find it creepy 😉 I went to one of the two middle schools that’s practically right across the street from there, and even went to high school at Broadneck (on the left as you drive up College Parkway towards Sandy Point). I know that area quite well, almost as well as I know Baltimore!

  15. bobbyjessica2319 says:

    The mile makers probably seemed so off because of the loopyness of the course. Good job.! Imagine if you would have felt great.?! 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      You know…you’re probably right. It just didn’t make sense then because I was so busy trying to stay upright. 🙂 I’m just happy I made it though and really I was NOT expecting to do that well! Thank you!

  16. Lauren @ ihadabiglunch says:

    Hahaha this sounds like such a funny combination of fun and misery. Thank the lord that there was coffee and hot chocolate at the end…although pouring it on your head would probably have been a little counter-intuitive 😉 they say that runners are crazy, and races like this definitely prove that point haha.

  17. SaltlifeClemson says:

    Coldest I’ve done is around 30 at race start. It was a 5k. I’m not a big fan of cold weather running. I’d rather run in the heat. Good job on a tough run. And I love the Chik-fil-A cow.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I would MUCH rather run in the heat! I wish I could hibernate inside all winter on the treadmill, but I know I’ll train better if I get out there as much as possible.

  18. Annie at TheLittleGSP.com says:

    Congrats on still putting down an awesome time despite the cold weather!! I also ran a 5K at 10AM on Sunday (finishing about 2 minutes slower than you!) but the Philly weather was warm on Sunday compared to a 5K that I ran in January ’14. It was 10° at the start of that race and I hadn’t yet figured out how to dress for winter running. My feet were basically numb ice blocks for the entire race. Now I wear a ridiculous number of layers (2 prs gloves, neck gaiter, headband, vest, jacket, etc…) so Sunday’s weather didn’t seem too bad in comparison! 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you!! Sunday was MUCH warmer in the afternoon than it was on Saturday morning, but of course we had all that ice to start off! (And it was 40 today…holy heatwave!!)

      • Annie at TheLittleGSP.com says:

        Oh wait, I meant that I also ran a 5K on Saturday, whoops! (That would have been some feat to run one in that insane ice storm on Sunday!!) I’m at a trade show for work right now (“working” on my lap top in the corner) so my brain is frazzled from the long hours and jet lag. The up side is that it’s 60° and sunny here in Vegas so I got to run in shorts yesterday!! 🙂

  19. FLRunnerBoy says:

    Drool … are you cereal Salt. Well, that’s a crazy fast time for not feeling your best and that’s one cool looking medal 🙂 coldest race I’ve ever run had temps of 32 degrees with 15-20 mile per winds coming off the water. That was also my one and only marathon in Jacksonville, FL.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks!! Betty loves that it has a bear on it. 🙂 32 degrees isn’t too bad, but that wind…NO THANK YOU. I will sooner run in single digit temps than crazy wind!! I can’t believe you did a whole marathon that way! (Beastmode!)

  20. Hailey @ Striding Strong says:

    You represented Nuun well in your first race of the year, despite it being a super chilly one! It was like 43 degrees at the start of my race in December and I thought I wasn’t dressed warm enough in arm warmers and a tank top haha, but in all fairness it was a super drastic drop from the temps we had been having ;).

    • runsaltrun says:

      If you asked me in the summertime to run in arm warmers and a tank, I’d say no way. But now 43 degrees sounds like spring. 🙂 You guys have been having some crazy weather this year anyway! Helly keeps posting up these temps in the 20’s!

  21. kilax says:

    Fantastic time! So sucky that you felt like death from .5 on! I typically get that for the last mile of the 5K. You totally killed it for feeling so meh. Congrats on your AG placement!

    Not cool to have the mile markers off on a 5K! That happened at a race I did once and I knew the course and thought it was long and slowed down – it wasn’t long – the marker was just in the wrong spot. Wish I would have kept trucking!

    I haven’t done a plunge! Super cool you have! I think my coldest race was 13 degrees last year! That same race this weekend will be MUCH warmer! 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you! I certainly didn’t feel like I was killing it all while I was on the course. 🙂
      I hope you have a MUCH warmer race this weekend. 13 degrees sounds terrible! The plunge was a REALLY fun time, but so so so cold. The year I did it it snowed and there were chunks of ice in the bay. They actually ended up calling off the last plunge of the day because it was too dangerous. For a great cause though!

  22. Jennifer says:

    Way to go! I need to check out some of the Charm City races. Coldest race was probably my DNF couple weekends ago (Al Lewis 10 Miler), coldest completed race was the LOVE Half Marathon last spring (13.1 miles in the rain).

    • runsaltrun says:

      YES YOU DO! They are always fun. (This one probably would have been a lot more fun if it wasn’t so darn freezing. Not their fault.) I can’t imagine running 10 miles in this. No thank you!

  23. Ange @ Cowgirl Runs (@cowgirlruns) says:

    Way to kill it in the cold!!
    I won’t sign up for a run January/February unless I can register on race day. Our weather here is so ridiculous, I refuse to pay $50 for a race to wish I had stayed home because the weather was crap 🙂
    Ha. I’m so positive about winter running.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Hey you’re just being honest and that’s about how I feel about it too. I had no idea what the weather was going to do this weekend so I waited until race day too. I think that’s the smart way to do it! 😉

  24. Kristen says:

    You did so great! Someday… I will be able to run as awesomely as you (despite the elements)! Living in Upstate New York for the past two years… I have had my fare share of cold runs. Since I’m in the Army, we do physical fitness tests that include a 2 mile run. 2 mile run for time + temperatures in the teens + wind chill dropping into the temperatures even lower = misery! I feel ya!

    • runsaltrun says:

      YIKES that sounds terrible and I feel bad for complaining about my cold. I know you guys have it much rougher up there! You know exactly how I was feeling the other morning. 🙂 Thank you so much!!

  25. littlegreenrunningshoes says:

    Yikes! No thank you! Since we moved last year, I have become a complete wimp when it comes to running in the cold. I’m now officially a fair weather runner and only slightly embarassed to admit it. Good for you for finishing strong regardless!

  26. ambertherunner says:

    Eek – I can’t imagine racing a 5k in temps that feel like teens. I definitely think the faster you go in cold weather, the more your lungs burn.
    And running through parking lots? Not my idea of a fun course.
    Congrats on the AG win 🙂
    To answer your Polar Bear plunge question: I cannot fathom ever doing that in my life. Ever ever.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I never really thought too much about it, but now I think you’re exactly right!
      And no. The course was really not fun. Aside from “kill me” I was also thinking “where the heck are we running now!?” Thank you. ❤

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks! I am pretty much distraught over it. The gear I have is some of my favorite pieces in my closet! I really wish those ladies all the best. It was such a great company.

  27. kristenk says:

    Congrats! I’m the worst at racing in extreme cold and heat, so I have to give you props for an age group win! Clearly the key to winning is unbearable pain for 20ish minutes!

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