Monday, December 06, 2010

Jingle Bell 5K and Sweet Sixteen

This was a weekend on the run, in the most literal sense! Both Saturday and Sunday were notable, for different reasons. We'll start with the RACE!

I woke up Saturday morning feeling refreshed and energetic, and ready to run the annual Jingle Bell 5K in downtown Nacogdoches. After a bagel with peanut butter, a cup of coffee, and some running blogs to psych me up, I rode my scooter downtown to the start line and nervously chatted with friends and other runners. Last year, I ran this race with Amy. It was 19 degrees and I managed to PR - probably because frozen bodies feel no pain. This year, I was running alone, it was 55 degrees, and I had a time to beat - 25:17.

Now, the 5K may "only" be 3.1 miles long, but it's a hard race! The distance is short, yes, but that means you're pushing yourself the whole time. There's no settling into a pace you can maintain for 2-5 hours. No transitions, no bikes or swims, no water stations! Just you, the course, and as fast as you can run until you cross the finish line. When I finish a half marathon, I feel tired and woozy, but walking around for five minutes and sipping water brings me back to normal. When I finish a 5K, I want to puke and then die. (In a good way, of course!) 

The Jingle Bell 5K started at 8:30am. We began by running up a small hill, crossing the square on Main Street, and then running through the neighborhoods. The course was familiar - I run those roads all the time - so I knew where all the hills and dips where located. My Garmin chirped for mile one and I glanced down - 7:50! Way too fast, but that's typical for me. I don't know how to hold back in a 5K, and figure I'll slow down at the end no matter what. Might as well put some seconds in the bank while I can.

 I slowed down a bit on the second mile - 8:32 - but still pretty fast, and still within reach of breaking my PR. As we neared the finish line, I kept glancing down at my Garmin. When I saw that there was less than a quarter of a mile left, I dug in and ran as fast as I could. I crossed the finish line, breathless and pukey, and was pretty sure I PR'ed, but by how much? Officially? I had to wait for the awards ceremony to see the chip times.

Final result: 25:08. A PR by nine seconds, and sixth in my age group! I really want to break 25 minutes for a 5K and while I didn't do that on Saturday, I am moving ever closer. Soon! Until then, I will revel in my new PR and congratulate my legs on a race well run!

The rest of Saturday was filled with yoga newsletter writing, grocery shopping, and then a second trip downtown, this time to the Christmas parade. We saw some interesting floats and drank wine out of water bottles, then headed to Ruby's for some more good cheer.

The next morning, I woke up bright and early. Same drill as Saturday: bagel with peanut butter, coffee, Garmin. I added an iPod shuffle, a bottle of water, a package of Clif Shot Blocks and an extra layer, because this time I was headed out for a 16 mile training run!

The next three weeks of marathon training are my favorite. My Sunday long runs are 16 miles, 18 miles and 20 miles, consecutively. I don't know why I love that little series, but I do! I was excited to kick it off.

Long runs are not as exciting to recount as races. There was a lot of running - two hours and thirty-eight minutes of it, to be exact. Yes, that's right - I ran 16 miles at a 9:53 average. I never felt tired or in pain, except for the bottoms of my feet, and even that wasn't too bad. I didn't have to refill my water, and I only ate half my shot blocks, and not until mile 11. Basically, I was like a machine, a robot designed for running. I say this all not to brag, but because I'm still amazed at the whole thing. Training actually pays off! If you stick with things, they DO get easier! Crazy!

This morning, I feel great. I'm not sore or creaky, and while I'm a little tired I think that has more to do with the wine and Mario Kart party we had last night, and less to do with all the running. I'm taking a rest day anyway, and tomorrow it's back to the training plan. I can't wait!