Jingle Bell 5k for Arthritis has been held in Huntsville, I have had a team to run it. We are the Red-nosed Runners, and the first year the race was so small that my team was in the top 5 for money raised. Now the race is much bigger so the corporate teams raise a lot more money than I can, but I suppose that is a good problem to have when raising money for a cause.
In previous years I've had hot chocolate and cookies at my house afterward, but this year I did not offer that. With the home improvements we've been doing, Thanksgiving just around the corner, and our small group Bible study that night, I left it up to my teammates to do their own thing before and after the race. Good thing too, because I almost missed it.
Around 1:00p.m. I was mopping my hallway when the phone rang. It was my friend, Katie who was on her way to the race and did not know where exactly it was. I thought the race started at 3:00p.m. so I asked her why she was already heading over there. "The race starts at 2:00, " she said. I pulled up the website to help her with directions and sure enough, the race did, in fact start at 2:00. I had to call Mom and pronto.
Mom was driving down from Fayetteville to run the race. She was going to come to my house and we were going to ride together and grab a coffee afterward. I told her the race started at 2:00 and gave her directions to get there. Then I changed into my running digs, hopped in the car and drove to the race (I wasn't exactly sure where it was either, but I had a general idea).
I found Mom driving around Research Park and motioned for her to follow me. We eventually found the entrance, parked and made a dash for packet pick-up. The start line was a good distance away, so we stashed our bags in the Sportsmed tent, pinned our numbers on crookedly, made a quick run to a port-a-potty and got to the start line about half a minute before they said, "Go!"
I took off. Or tried to. I had it in my mind that I was going to try for (and achieve) a 5k PR. The race was in the afternoon and my body was warmed up. I'd eaten and my legs were itching to go since I had not run yet that day, so I figured I'd be able to push. The problem was that I'd jumped into the crowd at the first open spot, and when the announcer started the race, I could hardly move forward. I weaved back and forth as I tried to get around walkers and runners. It was fun to see several of my friends on my way out of the crowd, however, and I cheered for as many as I saw.
My first mile was 7:07 despite the slow start. That was right where I wanted to be. The second mile however, was 7:21. I knew a PR was still within my reach if I pushed hard and held on. I fixed my eyes on a girl in a running skirt a good distance ahead of me and told myself I could do it.
I did eventually catch and pass her, but not quickly enough for a PR. I was 10 seconds over it, finishing in 22:50. I was slightly disappointed but not overly so. I turned and jogged back along the course, cheering for all the friends and teammates I saw. I felt really good, like I could keep going forever. After Mom ran through, we walked a bit and then headed to Barnes & Noble for the first peppermint mocha of the season. MMMMMM.
I think I've hit a plateau with the 5k distance. I'm sort of interested in training to improve, but I really prefer the longer distances at a slightly slower pace. So maybe one day... Maybe one day soon. If everything is just right I think it is possible. I'll probably double check the actual start of the race next time too. That may help.