Thanks everyone for all the encouragement to get out of bed and race in the 15oF weather! You're right, now I can say that I ran in sub-freezing temperatures!
I think the most fascinating thing about running when it's that cold outside is that you're sweating but you don't realize it until you're standing in a warm place and suddenly your clothes feel damp. Ick.
Anyway, the race was well organized (cones and volunteers at every turn), but the race director felt the need to explain the course to us via a megaphone while we all stood outside at the starting line. Everyone was shivering and jumping up and down trying to stay warm.
Every race I've done has been small (fewer than 200 people) and the races in this area don't tend to bother with chips or timing mats or corrals or any of that stuff. So, you just sort of guess what part of the group at the start line to stand in. "Runners in front, walkers in back" tends to be the only direction given. I sort of envy all of you with your chips and your mats :-)
Although the weather predicted wind and snow thankfully there were neither. There were a few spots that were sort of windy but most of the course wound through the academic center of the University of Illinois and I guess the wind must have been held off by the buildings. The course was super flat (of course, being in Central Illinois it's difficult to find otherwise) and, I have to admit, kind of dull. It was two loops of the same course and didn't even take us through the Engineering section campus which I happen to think is the prettiest and most interesting part. Or perhaps I was just so focused on running that I didn't notice any of the "points of interest" the race directors thought they were including.
This was my first race of 2008 and only my third race ever. I was really hoping to come in under 28 minutes but my "unofficial" time was 28:37. Which is 50 seconds faster than my last official 5K time. I haven't been doing any speed work; I've only been working on increasing distance. I think I went out too fast considering I ran the first mile in 9:05! That's the fastest I've ever run a mile I think. Oops. I couldn't keep that pace up for the whole race, sadly. I think part of the issue is that since my lungs are not accustomed to breathing frozen air I started having a little difficulty breathing during the middle part of the race.
Overall, it was a nice, easy race. 28:37 is a race PR for me so that's nice, too. And, like many of you said, I can now tell people that I'm super hardcore because I ran a race in sub-freezing temperatures.