Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My last two races of 2016 were back-to-back weekends, which isn't usually something I can pull off on a shift-worker's schedule. These were my 24th and 25th races, and the second and third races I've run accompanied by Lucky. Both of them were called the Jingle Bell Run; I suppose every other town in America has a Jingle Bell Run 5K in December. Both Lucky and I did particularly well in the first of these two races. Although neither of us set the world on fire in the second race, we both had fun.

Jingle Bell Run, Lexington, VA, December 3, 2016 ... (Time: 22:00)

The Lexington Jingle Bell Run was on a Saturday morning that started out pretty cold but was very comfortable by late morning. This was my second year participating in this event, and last year I ran what was my then PR for the distance. This year I did even better, finishing with a PR for the course and the distance, a decent twenty-two minutes flat. Lucky did well, too. She finished with a podium spot for her age group, which is quite impressive, given that this race divided runners into divisions of fifteen years or more.

Over the first two miles of this race I ran pretty well. I don't think anyone passed me in those first two miles. During the third mile I began to get tired and I gave away three slots to better runners. This race has a lot of hills early on, and I tend to run well on hills. I attribute that ability to the leg-strength I gained over years of carrying around 330 pounds. Short, fast races are never going to be my specialty. I am better at running long than running fast. But my average 7:02 minute miles in this race are fast by my standards, and I'm happy with my numbers. Lucky was happy with her results, too. But I feel bad that I caused her to miss the race awards by dragging her off to a local beer store as soon as we were both across the finish line.

Jingle Bell Run, Roanoke, VA, December 10, 2016 ... (Time: 23:42)

Unlike the previous week's Jingle Bell Run in Lexington, the Roanoke Jingle Bell Run didn't really warm up over the course of the morning. In fact, this was my coldest day of racing yet. That's a dubious PR, and my only PR of the day, unfortunately. I was almost two minutes off my previous week's PR for the distance. I blame the 20 degree weather. I also blame the fact that I was too busy fooling with my Go Pro to warm up with a few laps around the block before the race. My lungs were angry during the couple of hills over the course of this race, and the last mile was particularly tough. There was another runner with whom I dogged it out for that last mile. I'd pass her, then she'd pass me. Then I'd pass her again, only to watch her pass me again. She passed me one last time during the last couple hundred yards. Afterwards I congratulated that runner and thanked her for pushing during the final third of the race. If she hadn't been there to push me, I'd have been even further behind my 5K PR.

Lucky wasn't thrilled with her time, either, but agreed with me that the cold had really zapped us both. Afterwards, during the awards ceremony, the founder of our running club noticed that Lucky and I have become kind of cozy over the past few weeks. So, this race ended with our quiet, happy little coming out party as a couple. No, I didn't PR during this race. And, no, I have never been happier in my life.