After a year off for ankle surgery, I was back running the popular 12Ks of Christmas last Sunday (Dec. 16). I’ve done this event 14 times and usually run the 12K. But I ran the 5K race this time, largely because I knew I wasn’t going to have much training time in what has been a marathon December for work.
I found it interesting that Snohomish Running Co., the event organizer, didn’t publicize the race courses in advance. Perhaps they didn’t get the courses nailed down very far in advance. But it also could have been that neither the 5K or 12K course could be promoted as “flat and fast.”
Both races featured running up Market Street and other challenging hills in the neighborhoods north of downtown Kirkland. As a consequence, only one 5K time was under 20 minutes, which to me is a sign of a tougher-than-usual course.
Yet the race was invigorating and fun. More than 2,100 people finished either the 5K or 12K, and the event again brought out some great costumes — runners outfitted in holiday red and green and wearing Santa suits and hats or ugly sweaters. They came dressed as elves, reindeer, snowflakes, Grinches, even a holiday dinosaur. The event organizers provided a free holiday beanie (as well as an ugly sweater-like running shirt) to all participants.
That is what the 12Ks of Christmas is all about: holiday spirit. Getting a fast time is less important for many than spreading good cheer, even if it means an uncomfortable run.
More about the hilly course and downhill finish
For the record, I did not dress in a costume. I prefer running in comfort. And also for the record, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I can’t handle a course with hills. Even if I can’t.
Actually, I train on the hills in my Woodridge Hill neighborhood in Bellevue. But I still don’t move very fast up them. Ankle surgery or not, I’ve always been slow going up hills.
Not knowing the course in advance, I labored a bit in that first mile. About 100 yards after the start in front of Heritage Park, we turned left to trudge up Market Street toward Juanita. Five blocks later, we went right on 10th Avenue up another hill that finally leveled off.
I got warmed up fast and felt a surge of energy for some flat and downhill stretches. We made our way east to the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail. It’s a great running trail, but we were on it for less than a mile before heading back up some of the hills we’d just run down.
The final half-mile, this time, was down Market Street, and it was exhilarating. I pushed it as hard as I could without pulling a muscle in heading back to the finish line inside Heritage Park.
A note on the 12K course: I don’t know where they ran. The 12K runners covered the same ground as the 5K runners, plus an additional 4.3 miles. Where those additional miles were, I’m not sure, since they didn’t post course maps.
Running on a fused ankle
I’d thought my faster pace on the downhill portions would offset my slower uphill performance. But, no, it didn’t. I finished the 3.13-mile race in 41:15 (13:17 per mile), for 467th place out of 882 5K finishers. I’ll take it, and try to do better next time. Full results are here.
A heavy-duty work schedule this month has limited my running (and walking) time — Christmas shopping time too. That’s my best excuse, anyway. But happy to be back running this race again, and it will also be great to do the Resolution Run 5K again on Jan. 1.
This past Tuesday (Dec. 18) was my one-year anniversary of my ankle fusion surgery. I missed the 12Ks of Christmas and Resolution Run a year ago because I was just getting ready for surgery or on a scooter.
Earlier this month, I had an end-of-year checkup with my ankle surgeon, Dr. Eric Powell. I told him about my running the Seattle Half-Marathon in late November, and he sounded amazed and said my X-rays looked great. “You did that on a fused ankle,” he said. “It is extremely rare that someone goes out and runs a half-marathon on a fused ankle. I’m impressed.”
Nice to hear all that, and hope I can stay injury-free for awhile.
It was my 11th run of 2018 and my 224th overall. But time to cut this short, so I can get my Christmas shopping done!
Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas, everyone!