I am happy to tell you all about Polar Plunge weekend. I have said it before, and I'll say it again: Hands down my favorite weekend of the year!
There tends to be a little confusion when I tell people that there is a 5K race and a Plunge. The immediate question is: Do you run into the water after the run? Well you can, but the events are on two separate days. The 5K is on Saturday and the Plunge is on Sunday. They both take place at 1pm.
I got down to Dad's a little late on Friday night. I was beat and just wanted to go to bed. I had things to do so I got up a little early on Saturday. The race started at 1, but packet pick up started at 11am. And believe me, you get there early. It may be February at the beach, but parking during Polar Plunge weekend feels like it's July.
So now factor in there that I still need to eat lunch.
Dad came with me and dropped me off to pick up my packet. While I was in the tent I noticed that once again the course was being altered due to ice on the boardwalk. Well that was no surprise. They had gotten a ton of snow the week before. I got my packet and went to look for some food. I think I have race day amnesia. My head says "There's a Subway", but it seems to forget that it is closed for the season. My lunch has to be quick so I can't go to a place with waitstaff. So my options are: Grottos pizza, Five Guys Burgers, or Thrashers French Fries. Um...I had this problem last year too. I opted for the Five Guys Burgers. Simply put: I love Grottos pizza, but I don't trust that it won't run through me during the race...sorry. I get the small burger with steak sauce and skip fries. So I munch on peanuts while I wait for my food and for Dad.
I am over dressed. The sun is shining and the wind is light. There may be snow on the ground, but the temperatures are in the 50's. So I drop my pants right there while I wait for my food. haha. Relax, I had sweatpants over my running leggings. I also had my sweatshirt on over my running shirt. I brought my jacket to wear during the race. There is a chance that I won't need it, but it's been frigid so I take no chances.
That leads me to my plan for the day. I was flip flopping like crazy. On one hand, I love walking with the walkers who are there year after year. On the other hand, I need a good run in to get a gauge on where I stand for next month's race. If I walk, I will definitely need the jacket when we are closer to the ocean. If I run, I will probably overheat.
Okay, so I got my food and Dad arrived and placed his order. If you go to Five Guys you know what it's like when you order fries. Just order a small. You get a large portion. So I had a few of dad's but we were getting closer to start time and I didn't want more in my belly. I don't ever run right after lunch so this is always a little tough of my body. The other issue is that I didn't drink that much water. I drank some, but not enough...only construction porta pottys on the route (which by the way I'm pretty sure the same house has been doing construction for 3 years).
I got my text that my Plunge team was at the start line so we headed out. It was mobbed. Sooo many people were participating. It warms my heart. I found my non-running team, but it was too mobbed to find the runners. They would out pace me anyway so it was ok. I would see them after.
The race started and off we went. I started running. I still had time to talk to people for the rest of the weekend. I really needed to see where my body was. It wasn't long before I got the dehydration cramp...argh. I had my bottle of water with me and so I made sure to finish it during the race. Once I got the cramp under control the burps started...oh yeah, I remember this from last year...gotta plan ahead next time. Save the Five Guys for AFTER the race. I will pack a lunch next time.
I think we know how inspired I am by the Special Olympians. I've gotten to know several from these years. I saw my buddy Richard again. He's so positive and fun to talk to. And for the past two years I noticed a young lady who just smoked me. This year I was able to keep up with her and stayed with her and her running buddies. Her name is Liz. She had a running coach and a buddy named Preston. They totally motivated me to keep moving even though I wanted to heave my burger. We cheered each other on for a mile and then I started to feel better. I took off, but they were not far behind me.
About halfway through I wanted to take all of my clothes off. How could it be so hot when we were practically Eskimos a couple days ago. So I pulled over and took my jacket off. I seriously would have taken my shirt off and just run in a sports bra, but I'm not that brave yet...as my girls sometimes pop out.
The burps returned with half a mile to go and I was feeling nauseous. I just wanted to stop and walk the rest of the way. I allowed myself a minute walk just to calm my stomache, but then I got going again...Let's See How Far We've Come came on...it always comes on when I need it most. And so I ran.
My time was okay. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't what I had hoped. But, I know why. I know it had to do with water and lunch. I can fix that.
Dad and I headed to the boardwalk to head over for food. We noticed a bunch of people going in the water. I was so hot I wanted to jump in with them.
Before we got to the refreshment tent we ran into my Plunge team. So we visited for a little bit, but I was starving. The best part of this race is the vodka penne pasta after the race...and the salt water taffey.
While I was sitting and eating my body temp started to cool and I immediately had to put layers back on. I was sweaty and getting chilly. Plunge packet pick up wasn't for another 2 hours. We could find somewhere to hang until then or we could go back to the house and I could shower and come back. The shower won out.
I had to make it quick though. There was a BIG Syracuse Hoops game on at 6:30. I showered and drove back to the beach. I didn't want to drive around looking for a parking spot so I pretty much took the first one I saw. My first stop: Hot Chocolate! I have two favorite places: Cafe a Go Go (which we discovered at Thanksgiving) and The Coffee Mill. The first is closed for the season so I went to the Coffee Mill...and got one of my favorites: German Chocolate Hot Chocolate. Basically it's hot chocolate with coconut...uh YUM!
The line was a little long to pick up my packet but that's ok. So many people raising money and having fun. Every time there is someone who raised more than $2000 they shot off a confetti gun and made an announcement. While I was there they did it 3 times. Gotta love it.
After I got my stuff I went to look at the souvenirs. There was a shirt that I liked that morning but they didn't have all of the sizes. They only had a small...it fits. I got it. :-)
So now I had to make one more stop. My hair dryer died and I needed a new one. I could stop at CVS, but I had checked my bag and I did not have a safety "1 piece" to wear for the Plunge. When you are running and people are taking video and pictures you need to know that you are not going to pop out. So I headed towards Walmart.
Right past it was Aeropostale. So I ran there first. They had a couple pairs of 6 short. Grabbed em without even trying them on. I was on a time crunch. And BONUS one of them was on sale for $6.50...SCORE!
Then I ran to Walmart. They had a small selection on one pieces. Most were um...not supportive as they were still missing most of the sides and a couple were too supportive as if I was in competitive swimming. I did find a pretty black tankini top that had some support in it. So I got it. I already had bottoms so I would be okay. I think.
So I rushed home and got there just in time for Tip Off. My Boys were taking on Duke. This was a HUGE game. To me it was bigger than the Super Bowl happening the next night. We are talking HUGE. So we watched the first half and then bolted to Tequila Mockingbird for dinner to watch the second half.
I was anxious over the game and totally not paying attention. It wasn't until my salad came (without the tortilla shell) that I realized I had just munched on chips and salsa for about 10 minutes straight...I can't even think about the water retention and the bathing suit the next day. UGH.
The game was awesome..and so exciting. It was dubbed an instant Classic. I was so into it that I didn't even order a margarita...I just was not paying attention. haha.
Sunday morning I got up and went to church for the early service. I would just be cutting it too close if I went to the later one. I had a small breakfast thinking I would have something a little later before the Plunge.
Plunge time was 1pm, but again you have to get there early. I needed to find my team and use the ladies room. We arrived at noon and it took us 30 minutes to park and walk down the boardwalk. I'm not kidding when I say it's crowded.
I came prepared for the cold this year. The experienced Plunger wears a robe to keep warm. It makes sense. So I made my robe my Plunge road. I haven't used it in forever so it was perfect. Under the robe I had my bathing suit and Polar bear fleece pj bottoms. I usually wear my fake uggs, but this time I just carried them and wore my flip flops. It was so warm that I was overheating under the robe. Say what???
It came off for part of the walk...and then we hit a spot with with a crosswind and it cooled down considerably. Robe back on!
My first order of business was to run to the ladies room...the line is always super long. I don't get why people choose to change there. You know where you are going. Put your bathing suit on before you come. Luckily it moves fast.
When I was done I met my group. My dad and Stepmom went on the hunt for some food. I'm hungry! I got my group sweatshirt and t-shirt. This is new. We had a corp sponsor this year. This was on top of the Plunge sweatshirt. YEAH! I heart them both. And then I went on a hunt. Every year there is a gentleman who collects cash and then matches the total for the day. His son participates in the Special Olympics and he wants to do anything he can to support them. There were bins and collections all over for him. So I made sure to get out some cash the day before and go find him. They announced that he collected $18,000 and matched it this year. I heart him!
It was a beautiful, but it was clear the temperature did drop. It had dropped 9 degrees in a half hour. WHAT??? I mean it was still somewhat warm, but goodness. I made sure to go get my complimentary hot chocolate before we went on the beach. When we started walking down there the Air Temperature was 49 degrees and the water Temperature was 34. Um...this would be my first plunge in which the water was colder than the air. Usually it's the reverse...(air 39 and water 47)...um...this was going to be cold.
We took our group photo and headed down to the Party on the sand (the dj was playing beach themed music....although I'm pretty sure "Hot Hot Hot" didn't apply). The um walk down the opening to the beach was a bit fun...it was half muddy sand and half frozen sand, but we made it.
Normally I am dreading the moment when we disrobe to bathing suit. I held it off to til the last possible moment the last two years. This year it was not a problem. Even the sand wasn't that cold. How is this possible???
Our team had a young lad with us. AJ is 2 yrs old and making his first plunge. So we held back after the countdown to the plunge. We waited to most people went in before we ran down. Not gonna lie, it was cold! The tankini top worked out...but um...the bottoms started to fall of. How did I miss that? They are fine for walking and laying down, but get them wet and start running and I was moments away from mooning (or sunning) thousands of people.
When we got back to our area to dry off. I was refreshed. And then someone asked AJs sister if she had fun and wanted to do it again. She said yes. So we dropped our towels and ran back down. Again, almost lost my bottoms...um...new plan for next year: I envision a Baywatch red one piece.
This time while we were drying off I started to feel chilled. My legs were a little cold. There was no hurry to get dressed though. I was thoroughly enjoying the moment. And so was everyone else. So many people were hanging on the beach.
When we made it back to the boardwalk it was pizza time...YEAH! I was STARVING...but there was no way I was stuffing my face before plunge. I had two small slices.
This year Plunge weekend raised $750,000. I could not be prouder and CANNOT wait until next year.
Have a Blessed Night
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If you feel like you are alone on your journey and you just need some encouragement I am here for you! Shoot me an email and I will do my best to check in on you or give you the words of support you need several times a week. The journey is so much easier if you have support.