Nothing like a low-pressure 5K race like the Jingle Bell Run in Seattle to get me back into running mode. OK, jogging mode.
But last weekend, I set out to do a training walk on the 12Ks of Christmas course in Kirkland, and something interesting happened. I ran more than half of the 12K (7.45 miles) course, and it felt good! No sprinting, by the way — I jogged, very carefully. But that training run convinced me to do today’s Jingle Bell Run, and to actually run it.
Yes, some elite runners do the Jingle Bell Run. But most people do it for fun, wearing bells on their shoes, Christmas-y outfits, and/or Santa’s hats. There are lots of kids running with their parents and lots of adults who don’t do any other races doing this one.
Even today, in miserable weather for running — a steady downpour that did not let up — the race was festive and fun. At mile 2 in the I-5 express lanes tunnel, runners around me were singing “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way … ,” as they ran.
I ran it slow and easy — OK, jogged — and did not feel any serious ankle pain. I made sure I didn’t trip over anyone or step into any potholes. The race starts up 5th Avenue, turns into the I-5 express lanes tunnel going north, has a hairpin turn at about 2.75 miles to go back south, then follows an exit ramp onto Pike Street, and finally jaunts north again a block to Pine Street and the finish line. Here is the course map.
I finished in 37:16, an 11:59 per mile pace. Results are here. I’ve actually had two worse 5K times: 45:51, when I walked the entire Pumpkin Push 5K in October, and 39:27, when I ran the Valentine’s Day Dash 5K in February 2008 and tore my hamstring after being tripped twice on a crowded stretch at mile 2. (I limped my way to the finish line in that 2008 race because my car was parked not far away from it.)
It was the third time I’ve doing the Jingle Bell Run. My best time was 28:48 in 2007, a time I felt so bad about that I left there immediately to do a training run on the 12Ks course in Kirkland as punishment. Funny how I will probably never beat that time if I do the Jingle Bell Run again. I also did 30:06 in 2009.
I’ve always felt this race was too crowded, and the stretch in the tunnel too dark to avoid slowing down to watch where you step. So I don’t think many runners can achieve their best times on it. But today, that didn’t matter. Despite my time, it felt good to cross the finish line after having run an entire race.
My ankle feels OK right now, too, though how it feels tonight and tomorrow morning will be something I monitor.
Yes, I am doing the 12Ks of Christmas race in Kirkland next Sunday (it is traditionally on the last Sunday before Christmas). But it is not only longer than the Jingle Bell Run, but more hilly and challenging, and I likely will not try to run it all. Running at least some of it will get me done in time for coffee with friends afterwards.
Till next time.