With its tough hills, icy temperatures, and long straight stretch to the finish line, the 12Ks of Christmas Run in Kirkland is always a challenge. Today’s race in cold but dry weather (and some sun!) was the seventh one I’ve run and my worst time for it, but possibly the most fun I’ve had doing it.
It felt good to cross the finish line in a run, and to have run most of it — all but a couple of hills — without serious ankle pain. It was a careful jog, to be sure, and walking up those hills preserved my ankle for the straight shot along Lake Washington Boulevard to the finish line. But I was pumped about how it went; possibly less pumped when I saw in the results that I only beat about 100 people.
Jogging these races carefully is simply more fun than walking them, though a higher impact on my ankle. I will assess any pain in coming days to see whether my ankle — which is damaged from a past car accident and my wear and tear from running to the point where serious running and even race-walking is risky — is worse off from me jogging rather than walking the race.
I finished today in 1:33:16, a 12:32-per-mile pace. That’s a pretty sizable drop from my PR for this course of 1:06:57 in 2005, but these are different times. My race times have been on the decline since 2008 because of injuries and age, but my ankle problems in 2010 have now put a limit on the number of miles I’m going to be able to run from here on out. Jogging is a word I use more often these days; all-out running is too risky. At any rate, it has given me a new appreciation for being able to do races.
The 12Ks of Christmas is another festive race like last week’s Jingle Bell Run, with people wearing Santa outfits, elf hats, red noses, reindeer antlers, and the like. Women outnumber men by almost 2-1 in this race. And, unlike the Jingle Bell Run, the runners are more serious and competitive about getting to the finish line.
Also, because you’re running in Kirkland, there are hills, right off the bat. The hill up Market Street near the start is more annoying than difficult, but the one up Kirkland Avenue to 108th Avenue N.E. in mile 2-3 is a challenge, and I walked it to save my ankle (running uphill triggers bone-grinding and pain). After that, there are more palatable inclines, flat stretches, a major downhill back onto Lake Washington Boulevard, and that last long stretch back to Kirkland Avenue and the finish line.
I did all I could to save my leg(s) for that last two miles, where I felt strong and ran reasonably hard to the end. The parts I walked prior to that, totaling a mile or so, cost me valuable minutes, of course, but the trade off was finishing strong.
Congrats to the many friends I saw (and didn’t see) today, including: John Swenson, who ran a fine 55:00 but was somewhat dejected because it was slower than his 2009 time (John and I had coffee afterwards); Stuart Glascock, who shook off the rust of not running much lately and finished in 1:04:33; my Ragnar Relay team organizers Rob Ralph (1:05:11, despite a sprained ankle) and Larissa Martin Ralph (1:00:37; nice job, Larissa!); Microsoft friend Cindy Mueller (1:11:49), and fellow Microsoft editor and friend Susan Woodside, who passed me after the halfway point and cruised in at 1:30:43. My apologies if I missed anyone.
The weather could not have been better for a December Sunday. No rain! Some 1,217 people did the 12K run, with Matthew Frerker, 21, of Sammamish, winning the men’s race in 40:09. Morgan Ekemo, 26, of Kirkland, won the women’s 12K in 48:19. Another 627 people did the 12Ks of Christmas 5K race. Full results for both races are here.
While I will take a break and enjoy the holidays and bowl games (Go Ducks!), the Resolution Run 5K in Seattle is Jan. 1 and is a run I usually do. And probably will again.
Till next time.