Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12/7/13 Saint Martins Jingle Bell Run 5K

I have run three races on the Saint Martins University campus, but they were small events and the last one I did was in 2006.  Last year this holiday race was started and I decided to join in the fun this year.  Pricey but we get a long sleeved T-shirt and chip (bib) timing.  Also much appreciated is the warm university gym/staging and finish area, directly next to the start/finish.  Plenty of room inside for the large number of participants.The course is two loops of 1.55 miles.  There is also a 1.55 mile walk that will start 30 minutes before the 5K race.

It is about 22 degrees and sunny.  I decide to warm up with a lap around the course.  Gelid looking volunteers are huddled together at each turn, ready to direct the walkers who will start soon.  After a half mile, I feel colder than when I started.  I have a head band around my neck and I use it to cover my nose and mouth which helps.  Now the course takes an unexpected turn onto some gravel.  This is different from how we did it in 06 and I am glad that I am doing this warm up lap.  Next it is on to a frozen field.  It is very uneven and I twist my ankle a little.  Off the field, up a wide dirt and gravel road and down a rocky path.  Then a narrow trail, out to the parking lot and a quarter mile to the finish.  With the cold and this route, I push my expectations back.  Anything under 23 minutes will be very good.

Start - With the 577 runners, and narrow course, I want to start near the front.  Five minutes to the start I am near where I want to be, but hundreds are streaming out of the gym and coming toward me.  The timing mat is still recording 1.55 miler finishers so we have to leave room for then.  Finally we are told to line up in front of the mat.  I make sure that James, Craig, Jesse, and other fast looking people are ahead of me.  We are crammed in to the start area and I am more than ready to get going when we are set off.

Mile 0.05 - Smooth enough start. As soon as we get through the balloon start/finish structure we have the other half of the road to use as well.  But somehow I am now behind four young women who are running OK, but not as fast as I would like to be going.  And they are close and side by side.  I am feeling very impatient but wait for an opportunity to get past them.  Now it is a clear path ahead.

Mile 0.5 - After previewing the course I knew that I should make the most of the pavement and be more careful on the gravel and especially the field.  I am going faster than I should, but I will relax soon on the trail.  Some one is wearing a winter hat that looks like a cupcake.

Mile 1.55 - A cold first lap but I am starting to warm up.  Pleased to see the finish clock has just hit 11:00.  I am sure that I will slow on the second lap, but sub 23 should happen.  I proceed past the finish, away from the mat as instructed and continue on to loop 2.

Mile 2.5 - After the initial sorting out, there has not been much passing or being passed.  I do catch a girl, run with her a bit then challenge her to catch me.  Pass the last place person, who is on her first lap.  Soon there will be more.  Only one person will pass me now.  I sense her coming on strong.  A look over and I can hardly believe it.  Jenny, who I only know a little, but is a very fast runner.  When I saw her before the race I did not think that she was running today.  She has a big baby belly and is due in three weeks.  Here at mile 2.5 she is all smiles, feeling great and leaving me in the frost.  I tell her to be careful on the grass and I feel a little worried for her, but I also pick up the pace and try to stay with her.  Alas she is just too strong.  Up the dirt road she gets out of reach.  Both of us are now negotiating around the slower runners.  I have to pass 8 reindeer and Santa in a wheel chair. Other clumps of walkers and slower runners all the way to the end.

Mile 2.9 - Off the narrow trail, where slower runners did stay on one side, and on to the parking lot.  Turn and sprint to the end.

Finish - 3.11 on the GPS a spot on 5K distance.  22:37 on my watch.  Same time as two weeks ago on a slightly shorter and faster course.  And with this weather I am very pleased.  Everything feels good these days, no injuries at all to report and I am so happy for that.

Inside for refreshments and music by a brass quartet.  Computers are set up to view results.  They have me at 12 minutes something and a sub 4 minute mile.  Still only good for 4th place overall.  I tell the timing person who thinks that my chip must have registered at the end of the first lap.  That would make sense if the time was right at 11 minutes.  He then learns that many runners need to have the first lap "filtered out" and I can see that this will take him some time.  I have things to do so I leave before the awards ceremony, as I suspect that might be a while.  Checking the results later on the web site, I have been corrected to a 23:20 and 46th place.  I am going to trust my watch on this one, and assuming that all the other times are correct, I should be in 39th place.  Still just out of the top three for my 40-49 age group, so whatever they have me at does not matter.  Except that when I do pay this much for a race, I expect accurate results.

I missed the Club Oly trail race today and I won't do the Reindeer Run tomorrow, so it is difficult to say for sure that I will come back next year.  Great way to spend a cold morning though.

39th of 577
Race# 312, 5K#84

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