Jingle Bell 5k Recap

I know you've all wondered what rock I crawled under, but it's the holidays.  I have no other excuses... and I still have one more event to hostess - my Sunday School Christmas party tonight.  But after tonight, things should get mostly back to normal... I hope!

I found out a couple weeks ago that my sister-in-law and my nephew (age 8) were going to run the Jingle Bell Run 5k, which was in downtown Dallas at 7pm on Wednesday the 22nd.  I didn't want to be left out, so obviously I begged to tag along. 

Pre-race conditions were anything but ideal.  I hadn't gotten much running in, as my body just doesn't feel back up to par post-marathon, and I figured it just needed rest.  It had been a week since I had ran at all.  There also wasn't much in the house to eat, and I had ordered pizza for the kids and babysitter, so you guessed it - my pre-race meal was two slices of pizza.  Seriously, I do not suggest this folks.  I was not feeling great, but whatever... I still wanted to push.  I felt like my confidence needed a good run, so I hoped to push, but keep my mind very aware of my body so that I didn't injure myself.

My brother, sister-in-law, and nephews picked me up at 5:30pm, and we were off.  It was already super-crowded when we arrived, and it was a maze to find packet pick-up, but I found it.  I got my chip and jingle bells on my shoe, and my bib onto my race belt, then took a quick run to the bathroom (where I saw Elaine, ever so briefly). 

Then off to the start.  Angelia (sister-in-law) and Julian (nephew) were untimed, so they held to the back of the pack.  I inched my way within 5 people-rows of the front, knowing that many were just doing this for fun.  It was a bit of a lonely wait (I'm used to starting with friends), but I was ready to go.  I was just slightly irritated that there were hoards of kids in the first 5 rows of people (and actually worried they would get run over), and a little more irritated that the couple that lined up in front of me had on jeans and backpacks.  Really?  You needed to be at the front, eh?  Not that I'm super-speedy, but I wanted a good clean start.  I knew if I was going to try for a good time, it would be very very close.  I was hoping to PR by a few seconds.

I got out of the gate pretty good, and didn't have to do a lot of weaving.  I was pushing hard, but also let a lot of people pass me.  I wasn't looking at my watch.  I just wanted to go.  I found a couple that was pushing about my pace, and I told them I was going to pace with them, but within a quarter of a mile, the guy fell back and said he couldn't keep up.  (Yes, I had a twinge of confidence boost.)  First mile ticked, and I was feeling winded, but wanted to keep moving.

Mile 1 - 8:35

What?  Woooo.  During my last PR 5k, my first mile was right around there, but then I drasticly fell off and dropped to 9:30ish.  So I wondered if I could really keep this up, but I was going to try.  Mile 2 was hard.  It was totally flat, I didn't have to do a lot of weaving, but it was just me and the road... in many portions it was pitch black darkness.  Keeping this pace was hard... so the self-chanting started - "You ran a marathon, this is 3.1 miles, just GO!"  "Come on Lesley, suck it up!"  "Just 15 more minutes of pain."  Constantly yelling at myself that surely I could push for 15 more minutes.

Mile 2 - 8:55

Wow.  I had never ever run two sub-9 miles in a row ever.  My legs weren't hurting, but they felt like bricks, but I didn't care.  Just one more mile.  Surely, surely, I could do this right?  Then I started doing the ridiculous calculations in my head.  I could run a 10 minute mile and still PR.  Yeah, I can slow down!  But wait, would that make me feel good about the PR?  Nah, keep pushing.  Seriously on the verge of puking this entire run.  Pre-race pizza, no bueno.  No running for a week prior, no bueno.  Pushing to the serious edge of my speed capibility, way cool, but very painful.  I was wheezing, my legs were bricks, and I wanted to puke.  (I remembered why I dislike 5ks.) 

Mile 3 - 8:48

I could see the finish, and I didn't have much left to sprint.  But I pushed a little bit harder with every ounce I had left (although it was very distracting because many untimed participants would just stop when they saw their family without ever crossing the finish line).  Then I looked up and saw the time clock.  It said 26:57.  In a split second, I had two thoughts - "WHAT?  How did I do that?" and "Oh no, that time clock will NOT flip to 27 before I cross."  Sucked it up, pushed in...

I crossed at 26:59.  Official chip time... 26:54.  Average pace 8:41.

Seriously?  My last PR was a 9:10 pace, and I thought I was going to die.  I haven't done any speedwork.  I've felt post-marathon sluggish all month.  Where in the world did I pull a full 29 second/mile improvement out of???  This definitely re-iterates my need for speedwork.  If I could do it on a normal basis, I know I could significantly improve my half-marathon times.  In fact, based on that 5k pace, the Runner's World SmartCoach thinks I should run a 2:05 half marathon.  Hmmmmm, maybe some day.  Really?

So just to be complete in my recap, I should let you know that afterwards, I could hardly see straight.  I had to lie down in the grass, and I could not stop coughing (I sounded like I had been smoking for 50 years).  I thought I was going to puke, but never did, thankfully.  And the next day, my right leg felt like it had been run over by an 18-wheeler.  But hey, it's the price we pay for a PR, right?  I was pretty proud of myself for tolerating the pain and not giving in.

The after-party had the potential to be really hopping, but we had my two young nephews, and I just didn't have the energy to enjoy it anyhow.  It was in the huge lobby area of the Anatole in Downtown Dallas.  There was pizza, a bar, a band, and a ton of other stuff.  But we just headed home.

Congrats also to my sister-in-law, Angelia, on her PR!