Six days after the Seattle Marathon, after five days of running rest, I decided to jump back into running with a little Jingle Bell Run up in Mount Vernon. I've done the Seattle Jingle Bell Run a few times in the past, but I've always hated it in a way because it is so crowded and the streets are narrow, and it takes 5-10 minutes to cross the start line and you don't even have a chip! Then once you are finally running, there are inevitably walkers and strollers blocking your way. It's pretty much a cluster. Two years ago I wasn't able to go due to a snowstorm, and I haven't been back since.
But Skagit is much more low key (so low key that they don't even record the finish times, I learned), and a lot easier to get to. Plus the race distance was four miles rather than 5K, and that seemed like a nice distance.
So on December 4th, my mother and I headed up to Mount Vernon. The weather was quite cold (below 30 degrees), but clear. The cold weather was good because it made it easier to dress in festive red and green layers!
I didn't allow quite as much travel cushion time as I usually do, and we arrived and parked less than half an hour before race time. There was just enough time to check in and get my bib, drop extra stuff back at the car, use the bathroom in the Moose Lodge (no lines at all), and jog up and down the block a couple of times to warm my legs up.
My goal for this run was to push myself fairly hard, but not stress out over my time. I started out pretty fast, probably too fast for the first mile, or at least the first half of the first mile. During those first few blocks I was relatively close to the front of the pack, but after about a half mile a few other people started passing me. I assume we maintained our relative positions throughout the race. The main people I was aware of around me were a woman in a green shirt, who passed me and always remained in my line of sight (but ahead of me), and a man in a New York Yankees sweat shirt. We did a little back and forth but in the last few blocks he did pull ahead. He seemed to be suffering a lot, though!
As in the Fowl Fun Run, I was struck by how hard on the lungs it is to try and run fast! It was even harder gulping in cold air. While my throat and lungs burned from the cold, the rest of me burned with body heat as I quickly warmed up and overheated. My cozy fleece hat and gloves became steam baths. My top jacket soon felt superfluous. But other than stripping off the gloves and unzipping my jacket, I endured, telling myself I only had a couple of miles to go.
The last bit of the run was through downtown Mount Vernon (the shopping street), before we turned the block and returned along the riverfront to the Moose Lodge where it all began. I saw 32 on the clock...but the seconds were high. I kicked it into high gear and stormed across the finish line with the clock showing 33:20. I am not sure if I forgot to stop my watch immediately or the clock started late, but my watch read 33:36. Splits 8:18, 8:33, 8:29, and 8:14 (for .96 mile).
I wasn't going to write a race report because I didn't have any good pictures from the race, but I just got an email with a couple hundred photos from the event...including these four of me in the finishing stretch.
In the first one you can just barely see me at the back. That's New York Yankee guy ahead of me.
Now you can see my red and green...NYY guy is just about done!
Trotting along with a smile.
Being cheered in...can you see how hot (meaning warm) I am?
Afterwards I wanted to get another mile in (which would make five miles for the week!), so I jogged very slowly through downtown again and over to the Calico Cupboard, where I met my mother for breakfast. Later we did a little Christmas shopping in downtown MV (I somehow left with a velvet shirt and a colorful vest...hmmm....) and then headed back to Marysville so I could watch the final Oregon game with Rod (that is until the National Championship!).