Though my running has gone to shit in the course of November and December madness, I still needed to finish out my year of registered races. Over the weekend, I ran my 45th race–the Jingle Bell 5K.
Last year, I definitely enjoyed the YMCA fall series offered in our city; however, this year, I have been fully seduced by it. I deeply enjoyed the Creepy Crawl, Turket Trot, and Jingle Bell 5Ks. (I don’t think I even bothered to write a post about the utterly frozen and icy Turkey Trot that I wogged this year.) The staff and the management for the series are superb and very responsive. I feel like my race fees are actually going towards something more than just the event itself and profit. The routes are enjoyable. And the shirts are my absolute favorite long sleeve tech shirts.
I think part of the reason I so relished the series this year is that my daughter participated in the kid race for each. I adore being able to share running with her, watch her enjoy it, have her there with me at a hobby where I spend so much time and effort. I also think she will have quite the aptitude for it as she grows older.
She did well yet again, despite the biting cold that had her complaining about her nose. My poor child has no body fat or insulation to stand up against winter temperatures, no matter how many layers I put on her. She fled to the indoors when it was time for me to run the 5K.
I had been concerned about running a race after my routine had so effectively crumbled. Thankfully, my performance ended up being what I would consider average. I ran the fastest 5K I have in a long time, nearly flirting with my normal time before having my son. I still have a lot of work to get to where I want to be, but I definitely was not disappointed in myself.
The race took a new route this year. Instead of winding through residential streets then delving into a small park, this time, the route began within a park and looped back onto a creekside trail. The first two miles were blissfully (Colorado) flat(ish). At first, I felt relative spry and motivated. I experienced a float before crossing the second mile mark. Knowing myself and my usually delayed float, I knew this was a trap, so I tempered my excitement and leaned on my pace.
I welcomed the cold temperatures (as soon as I was running). As I weaved through the trees, a few wayward flakes floated through the air. I have been itching for snow since October, so I will take any tiny manifestation of it that I can get. The real flakes held off until after the finish, which was probably for the best.
The second mile drew out long. The false float dropped away, as I knew it would, and I had to work harder. I was fortunate enough to be beside a father training his son who consistently spouted out the pace and the mileage. Usually, I keep myself in the dark until the end, but it was nice and even motivating to hear. The second mile spilled downhill, and I knew the return mile would be more difficult.
For the past few months, I have been experiencing a series of stomach issues. The most notable being relentless nausea, likened to that I experienced during my rather unpleasant last pregnancy. I have been to doctors and specialists and had a regiment of tests with no answers. I had a bout of nausea prior to the race as I attempted to put down oatmeal for breakfast. The acidic bubble below my breathing returned with the exertion to complete the race. With Trisha jogging beside me, I felt the cold sweat on top of my own heat, the tense flex in the bottom of my jaw. It seemed to stupid to stop so close to the end though.
I ran to my edge, to where I felt the vomit teasing at my throat. I wanted to flat out sprint at the end, like I always do, but I could not manage it. I dry heaved as the volunteer cut the timing chip off my shoe and knew that I had pushed as hard as I could.
Trisha crossed the finish line with me. For years now, we have run together, perpetually trying to sync up our paces. It appears that we may have finally succeeded. I have not been completely in stride with a running mate since my very first. It is a nice feeling again. It may not last, as our running will continue to change or go in different directions, but I will enjoy it while it lasts.
My nausea crawled back down from between my molars as we walked back for Michelle. Michelle has been training hard to leave intervals behind and run a full 5K. Her goal, when we separated at the start, was to run the first 2 miles straight. We found her well after the two mile sign still jogging.
And she kept jogging. Up the small, yet daunting final hill. Around the last curve. She huffed and puffed through the pain and managed to keep a run in her stride across the finish line. As we approached, Santa stood at the finish line and cheered his heart out for her. His excitement and encouragement were truly awesome.
We made it across the finish, and Michelle tossed herself in the grass. I recognized the gasping and pink cheeks of being utterly wasted. But she had run her fastest 5K to date and made a huge leap toward running the entire distance. I felt only one thing: proud.
All in all, it was a simple race and a good race. I left it feeling good–about myself, my running mates, my daughter–which made it the perfect way to close out the running year. After travel and the holidays, I will return to running with the passion I usually sustain. I have plans to return to my routine and goals to move me back in the direction of where I used to be. It will be nice to start fresh again and see progress.
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