When it approached close to midnight, Phyllis and I knew that we wouldn’t be racing the Seattle Jingle Bell Run 5K the next morning. After all, we wouldn’t be getting ample sleep and we had just stayed up all night playing Wii Sports and drinking ciders (ahem, one each, but still!) Our arms were embarrassingly sore from all the “punching” at Wii boxing and my fingers were starting to cramp from all the button control pushing during Super Smash Brothers. We bid farewell to our gaming host, Bryce, and set off into a deep albeit short 5.5-hour slumber at my house.
Before we went to sleep we were in agreement on one thing: That was a fun evening and we will take the morning’s race easy. We will just have fun.
We arrived at the race area super early without meaning to. Parking was a breeze! Neither one of us had to use a portapotty! We had nearly?more than? an hour to spare before the race would start. It wasn’t freezing but it was cold pre-8am temps. I was wearing shorts because I never race in full length tights or pants.
As the minutes ticked by, we started talking more and more about “racing the race.”
(Let’s be real. We both knew we were always going to race from the beginning. It’s difficult not to unless you sign up for a race with someone who is not a runner).
The faster we ran, the sooner we would be done. The faster we ran, the warmer we would be. The faster we ran, the more time we would have to hang out together before Phyllis’ ride came to pick her up.
Since the Jingle Bell Run is a huge fundraising and community event, I knew that we would have to push our way toward the front of the pack to get a “decent start.” I know we weren’t setting out to PR or anything — after all, this was supposed to be a fun run so no training had gone into this race — but we at least didn’t want to get stuck behind walkers or joggers.
Lots of participants were wearing creative holiday costumes. Phyllis and I had Christmas-themed T-shirts on and bows tied around our ponytails. I guess we were going to race this but at least we would look festive while doing it!
The gun went off and Phyllis and I still had to scramble and weave around people to get up to our pace of “pushing-ourselves-but-not-dying-because-this-is-supposed-to-be-fun.” Once we were in the expressway (where a majority of the race takes place,) we were in our rhythm and finally had space and weren’t crowded by other runners. As we ran in the tunnel, there was just the sound of footsteps and jingle bells. It was both peaceful and kind of creepy.
After the first mile, I was burning up. I was regretting my decision of wearing a long sleeve shirt under my T-shirt now that we were “racing.” Our first mile split was 7:40. Not too shabby.
But, I didn’t think I could maintain this pace. I was getting tired! My lungs had that harsh feeling from just running fast combined with breathing in and out the cold morning air. I told Phyllis she could push ahead if she wanted to, she said she was good at where we were at.
Two miles down, one to go.
We continued on.
Once we exited the expressway, I knew we were at the homestretch. But, as soon as we made a turn onto the main road, I had a sudden gag reflex. I coughed up spit and was 75 percent worried I was actually going to throw up! But, how can this be? I never throw up from racing! I’m not even going super fast!
I slowed down and let Phyllis fly on ahead. I was not going to throw up during a fun run!
I somehow gained composure and hacked up some spit and took a few deep breaths. I could see the finish line. It was time to get on my horse and go. With probably about 200 meters left, I sprinted to that finish line. And, in the nick of time, I caught Phyllis. We came in one second apart! Me at 24:15 and she, 24:16. Not too shabby.
It was painful, but fun. Racing with friends can make any race fun and any fun run even more fun!
I’d say we concluded 2014 racing the only way you can: To actually sort of race a fun run. (And jingle all the way while doing it!)