Race Recap: Downtown Jingle 5K

What a fun race! Christmas music to pump you up at the start and finish, and thousands of bells to accompany you while you run 3.1 miles. Volunteers singing Christmas carols as they cheer you on and keep you on course, and random pedestrians being startled, and then smiling, when they're suddenly descended upon by 1400 people in Christmas colours. Ahh, it was a really fun race!

Since it was put on by the same people as the Monster Dash, and followed the exact same course, I knew what to expect. I remembered where the mile markers were, the water station, and the one hill and smaller inclines. I was prepared. I was ready to dominate this race.

I have semi-strict race preparation the day before a race, and that all fell to pieces yesterday. As early as possible, I bike to wherever packet pick-up is to get my stuff. Then I bike home. Then I do as little as possible all day. I keep an eye on what I eat [neither too little nor too much], I do some gentle stretching, but I mostly stay in bed, let my body rest, and entertain myself with a book or netflix.

Not yesterday. Yesterday, I actually got up at 6am to make an 8am WW meeting, since I had to work at the library during my normal meeting time. But there was snow on the roads [and still falling], and I don't bike in the snow here [winter biking is very dangerous here, especially compared to Chicago], so I went back to sleep until 8. Then I had to work at the library 10am-3pm. I was on my feet for a good part of that, although it was a slow day due to the weather so I also got to do a bit more sitting than I usually do. Then, packet pick-up was 10am to 4pm so I only had an hour after that to get to Providence and retrieve my stuff. I biked down there… and got a flat about a quarter mile before getting to the running store. Argh! So after getting my stuff [and stopping at Whole Foods, which is right next door, for dinner since I hadn't eaten since breakfast at 8am], I had a nice 4 mile walk back home. Yeah… not really doing a good job on resting my legs.
But I did get my tech shirt and jingle bells!
My legs were TIRED when I finally got home at 6:30, and then I still had to get together my race stuff [I had no idea what I was going to wear!] and pack for New York. A couple hours of that, then dyeing my hair. I still managed to get to sleep by midnight and, with an 8am wakeup, get a solid eight hours of sleep. But I was worried about how far I'd walked that day. I woke up this morning, though, and felt fine. I was excited for the race, and excited for my trip. After triple-checking that I had everything I needed for the next four days, I snapped a picture of me in my race gear and headed out when my mom arrived.

Before the 5K, there was a kids ["elves"] 1K fun run. It's always adorable to watch the littlest ones confusedly make their way down the street. And! A girl won the entire thing this time! That was really exciting! It was actually two girls battling it out towards the finish line.
The one on the left one.
We watched the stragglers come in, and then danced to some Christmas music, and then I headed to the start to line up for the 5K [my mom, once again, wasn't running but was instead on official camera duty]. They again didn't have us line up by pace but I at least knew to expect that this time [thanks to running the Halloween 5K]. I went a lot closer to the start than last time, and actually a lot closer than I thought I should be, but it worked out fine. After the National Anthem, Bruce Springsteen got us pumped up with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" [via recording, obviously, he didn't actually come to sing at our little 5K!] and then we were off!

Despite feeling like I might be lined up with people too fast, I kept pace with everyone around me for the first half mile or so. And then… well, then I started to feel the effects of yesterday's 4 mile walk. My legs *were* tired. Damn. Still, I tried to power through. No sense in stopping until I really couldn't run any more, right? Before I knew it, I had passed the 1 mile marker-- and under 10 minutes, too! I kept going, and then finally decided on a one minute walk break at about 1.25 miles in. I had wanted this to be the first race where I ran the entire thing… and I could have… if yesterday hadn't gone completely off plan. Argh! Well, I guess that's one more thing to look forward to in 2013. Anyway, that one minute of walking gave me a nice break and boosted my energy when I did start running again. They had the water station right after the 1.5 mile mark, and I walked while I drank my water too [I tried running, but I choked, so I figured walking for ten or fifteen seconds was better!], and went strong to the 2 mile mark. I took another walking break after that, just for another minute, and then again at about 2.75 because I was starting to lag and wanted to come down the finish strong. Despite not wanting to walk at all during this race, those walking breaks did really help and I think were a great tactic to keep my overall pace up.

I crossed the finish line just seconds before the gun time said 34 minutes, and then I met up with my mom, grabbed my stuff, and walked around the block to the bus stop [so convenient!]. I didn't have time for a cool down walk, or stretches, or anything, so I expect I'll feel them later. I hopped on the bus, someone commented on all my bells and was like, "Did you just… run a race? And then immediately get on the bus?" haha. I tried to do as much stretching as I could in my seat, and refueled with a peanut butter sandwich I had packed, and then I finally changed out of my running gear. And now I'm almost to New York, where I will spend a few days seeing friends, the Monkees, and Christmas-y things before returning home on Wednesday!

As of the time of writing, I don't know my official results yet. Since I had to hop on a bus pretty much immediately after I crossed the finish line, I couldn't wait around for the results to be posted. I do know that RunKeeper tells me my time was 32:46, but also I crossed the finish line closer to 34 minutes [gun time], and I doubt that it took me a full minute or even close to that to cross the start line. So I don't know [did I accidentally pause it somewhere for a bit?]. I'll be skeptical about what RunKeeper says and wait until I see the official results. No matter what, however, it looks like I beat October's finishing time. It's not my PR, but it's my PR for the past 5 years so I'll take it.

It was a really fun race, and I look forward to doing it again next year [when it will hopefully not be 55 degrees out!], and I do wish I could've hung around after I finished to see some of the outfits I might've missed and to listen to more Christmas music… and to get that post-5K banana I always look forward to! But oh well, getting on the bus was more important. Next year!

As far as this year goes, this is the last 5K for me [I thought of doing one for New Year's because I don't have any other plans, but there don't seem to be any around here]. I didn't beat my PR from 2007 but I did consistently improve with each race. Considering where I started out the year [45 pounds heavier, completely sedentary, in such bad shape that even thinking about running was hilarious], I'm really proud of myself. I actually don't think I'm going to run any 5Ks until March [the Tour de Patrick, 3 5Ks in 8 days] but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop running between now and then! Bring on winter running! And also… ice skating! Gosh, I love winter.

[And yes, I'm still on the bus and still antsy to get somewhere with wifi so I can check the race results!]

Update: It's 11pm and I can finally update the race results! My official time was 33:28, which is 12 seconds faster than the last race [which was, actually, 13 seconds faster than the previous one]. So I'm steadily improving!

One last, unrelated picture: my night tonight, why I got on a bus right after the race: