Stephen and I woke up early on this cold, drizzly morning to participate in El Paso’s Jingle Bell 5k.
I’ve done a holiday race before, but for this one everyone got to wear bells! We all sang Jingle Bells at the starting line! People dressed as Santa complete with bags full of presents! It thawed out my icy Grinch heart just a little. My strategy going into the race was “run fast.” Sophisticated, right?
After shivering at the starting line for 10 minutes, the race started, and I took off as fast as my little legs would go.
Mile 1: 8:26
I kept my eyes on Stephen for the first mile. I knew I couldn’t keep up with him (dude is fast), but if he was in my sights, it must mean I was going fast, too. I did the best that I could, but the hills were killer! We came across the first uphill a quarter-mile into the race, and I knew I was in for a challenge. I don’t do uphill. I just kept thinking how thankful I was that my goal race is mostly downhill followed by miles of flat flat flat.
We ran up, up, up (with a little down mixed in) through the residential neighborhood’s on El Paso’s west side. Before I made it to the 1st mile marker, the leaders were already heading back toward the finish line. (The winner came in at 16:27! Talk about a competitive field!)
Mile 2: 8:21
Before I hit mile two, I’d already lost Stephen. I shifted my focus from trying to stay on him to trying to pass as many women as possible. (That’s the Christmas spirit!) I’d muscle my way uphill and then sprint like the dickens downhill. I even started to warm up, unzipping my outer layer a little bit. They say (and I’m happy to repeat it every cold day), “it’s not cold if you’re running.”
Mile 3: 8:21
I’d managed two fast miles, but I wasn’t sure if I could hold out for a third. Some doubtful thoughts crept into my head. Things like, “You’re running out of gas! Just walk.” Then some other part of my mind would chime in, “No! Don’t walk!” This internal tug-of-war is totally normal during a race, at least for me. (Tell me you do this too!) There were a few women still ahead of me within striking range. I started to spin a narrative in my mind. “They hear your bells. They know you’re hot on their heels. They’re scared! They’ve got nothing left!” Well, of the four women ahead of me, I only managed to pass one, but I still like to think the strategy worked. If I’d have gone any faster, I felt like I was going to puke. I’ll gladly skip the puking if it means getting beat.
Stephen jingled his bells and cheered me in at the finish line. (He finished in 24:01!)
- 3.1 mile finish time: 25:38
- Average pace: 8:22 per mile
More than a minute slower than my 5k PR, but that’s still a finish time that I’m proud of.
We hung around a while after we finished to eat and shop at Up & Running. Stephen ended up with a much-needed new pair of running shoes, and I picked out some new gu flavors to try. Eventually we were too cold and too shopped out to linger any more. We hit up the Taco Cabana drive-thru (bean and cheese tacos!) and headed home.
That wraps up the 2013 racing season for this chickadee. I only ran 4 races, but they were 4 good ones. Bring on 2014!