Am I allergic to cold weather racing?

I’m sure I’m not the only runner on the planet this happens to, but sometimes it feels that way: Why is it that my sinuses get so destroyed after cold weather races?

I was psyched to try a new trail run on Saturday, the Fox Island Turkey Trot 5K. (Well, new to me. The race itself has been around for at least 20 years.) I’d done a sprint triathlon at the nature preserve a couple of times, but never run the trails there before.


Getting ready to enter the trail. That’s me on the far left.

I went out easy, thinking I’d just enjoy experiencing a new trail. About half a mile in I started picking up the pace, passing people at a pretty steady clip, and by the time we got to the lake I was pretty much into the spirit of the race, picking out people to follow and pick off. There were a few hills in the middle mile, but the course didn’t require any tricky footwork. We mostly ran over either grass or dirt, with very few roots or rocks to contend with.


I finally tried out my new trail shoes at this race. They felt awesome!

My time was about what I expected, given the slow start: 31:56, a 10:18 pace. My sister and I often run at that pace on our “home” trail (though we went slower on Sunday in the snow).

And yet the rest of the day after Saturday’s race I was pretty much debilitated by flooded sinuses. Am I allergic to cold weather 5Ks?

Three Thanksgivings in a row I spent welded to a Kleenex box before I realized the common link might’ve been going all-out in that morning’s Galloping Gobbler. The next year I took it easy jogging and walking with our youngest and didn’t have any problems.

Longer cold-weather races like the HUFF 50K don’t seem to bother me, probably because the slower pace doesn’t send cold air rushing through my nasal passages.

I suppose what happened on the Turkey Trot was that my average pace was deceptive. I did go pretty hard in some parts of the race, caught up in the fun of the chase, but my overall time didn’t reflect that because I started out at little more than a jog.

After several hours of misery it occurred to me to try the Flonase our son had used during a recent sinus infection. That seemed to help. So maybe next time I’ll make sure to squirt some of that OTC steroid spray in my nose right after I cross the finish line.


Luckily I felt much better on Sunday’s run in the snow. It was crazy how the snow was weighting down tree limbs hanging over the path!


Traci and her daughter Madison at one of the downed trees across the trail on Sunday.

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