Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jingle Bell Run RR

Miserableness, be gone! Warming up by the fire in my Hero Hat, post race!

Honestly, I was probably due for a not-so-great race.  Was I mentally prepared for a not-so-great race?

Absolutely not.

I was really excited to run the Jingle Bell Run, which benefits the Arthritis Foundation. Most of my excitement came from being diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 6, and the support my family and I received from the Arthritis Foundation. This felt like giving back! This was giving back!  I excitedly set up a fundraising webpage, met my goal, and planned matching t-shirts with my favorite running buddy. My 5k PR is 31:17, and this was my last chance to try to get to 30:xx before 2011. I've been faster every time, so this will be easy, right? HA!

I self destructed before mile 1.  This race was HUGE compared to others I've run. My largest has been 200-300 participants. This had over 800.  I did not realize the effect this would have on everything. Instead of focusing on my pace, breathing, and then getting myself into a groove enjoying the scenery, I spent the first half of the race dodging, shifting, trying to move around people, and trying to move out of other people's way. I'm guessing this used up a lot more energy than I am used to.

As I bobbed and weaved through the (very friendly!) crowd, I started playing with the thought of taking a break from running. I could take a break and start again in the Spring, right?  What?  I love to run! I've never even once considered stopping. I was feeling miserable, and setting up a nice pity party for myself.

Before mile 2, I got a side stitch.  That's usually a sign that I'm going waaaaaaay too fast.  I checked my pace - nope.  11:07, slower than usual and much slower than what I wanted it to be.  I slowed my pace even more, hoping the stitch would go away.

Before the race, I was told this was a pretty flat course, adding to my hopes of a PR.  Not even close.We ran a paved trail around a lake, and it was hilly! Really hilly.  Colorado mountains hilly.  Overstating things there a bit, but hills - not my strength (I'm working on it!) and especially not when they roll one after another. I was starting to feel kind of crappy, so I started walking. Got rid of the cramp, got my breathing under control. Started running again.

This is my first winter running, and I'm still mastering how to dress.  The temps were in the 30's.  Before the race I was freezing, then I got really hot, then freezing again.  I'm not one of those people that handles cold very well, so I continued feeling miserable. I could not get my breathing under control.  I was tired. I started walking again, and I must have looked pretty bad because people were slowing down to ask if I was okay.

When I knew the finish was near, I picked it back up.  I fell in with a really nice couple, and told them about my diagnosis, and that I was obese a year ago. So, 25 years ago, I had trouble walking, using my hands.. A year ago I was OBESE. I was well over 200 pounds.  Here I am, in remission, down almost 70 pounds - why am I so miserable? Every race won't be a PR.  Some races might flat out suck! I'm out here on a cold December morning GETTING IT DONE!

My official time was 36:37. My GPS says 35:41.  Not even close to my 30 minute goal, and my slowest 5k time ever, but respectable.

Post race, I got a Hero Hat (felt special!) Arthritis isn't one of those sexy diseases with catchy sayings and cute ribbons. When you are 6 with RA, you are kind of a freak. I liked the hat, even though the teenage volunteer looked skeptical when I claimed mine. "You have arthritis?" Yeah.. I'm used to that! Got some water, an apple and some cheese, but skipped the free Starbucks line.  It was too long, even though it smelled amazing!  Warmed up by an outdoor fireplace, which felt HEAVENLY!

I was really bothered by this race for the rest of the day.  I was able to narrow down a few things that went wrong.

1. I lost 2 pounds this week, which at this stage for me is a lot.  I am have found that I am more tired and have difficulty with harder workouts after a big weight loss week.  Not enough fuel, I guess. (Weight loss is almost done, this shouldn't be an issue in the future)

2. I did not eat a good breakfast.  I usually eat Whole Wheat Cream of Wheat and 2 cups of coffee.  I had a banana and one cup. My body did not appreciate that. (Easiest to fix.  Eat breakfast, silly.)

3. I was unprepared for the crowd size.  One of those things you learn by doing! (Lesson learned)

4. I was unprepared for the course.  I did not mentally prepare myself for hills... constant... hills... (Be more mentally flexible - not one of my strong points!)

5. I don't like the cold. (Move to Hawaii!)

I have one more race on December 18, which is a cross country race. Not sure what to expect there, so my goal is to complete it and have fun!  Thinking of running a half marathon on my birthday in May, so I won't be taking that break I was thinking of during the race after all! :)

Have you had one of these races?  Gone in with high hopes, but ended up just being happy to finish?  Were you able to pin down why things went wrong?  Share with me please!  I'm learning!


  1. omg - i feel like this is what happens to me at each race i do..i go back and reflect on what i could have changed..but i've come to the point where i'm just grateful that i'm out there doing them, even if i do come in last!! i try to run for fun, with that in mind i try not to care about the clock...even though it does sneak into my mind...i think your time was great - and like me when we really stop caring and get each component of pre-race down pat, then and only then will we be smiling ;)

  2. I think you are right - but even when we get it down pat there will probably be those days that just aren't your day!