My wife and I made the trek to Bloomfield Hills for the 2011 Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis. There was a 5K run/walk, a 10K run, and a quarter-mile fun run for kids. We ran the 10K, which was two loops of the 5K course. It wasn’t a really huge race, with 485 finishers in the 5K and 136 finishers in the 10K, but I thought it was a good size for the venue and the course. The loop started and finished at a school and wound through some nice neighborhoods along the way. One great aspect of this race is that the school was used for the pre- and post-race festivities – having a heated place to hang out before a race is always a bonus, as is having real bathrooms available rather than Porta-Potties.
We hung out in the school until about 10 minutes before the start time – the starting line was in the school’s parking lot, so it was a very quick trip to get over there. I did a few strides and a little bit of jogging to stay warm, and then lined up. The 5K run/walk and 10K run started together and shared the first 5K of the course – and there weren’t corrals. So my wife and I lined up near the front to try to minimize the number of walkers and kids we’d need to navigate around at the beginning of the race. I give the race organizers a big thumbs up for getting started right on time…I always appreciate that.
Like usual, I started too fast. Part of it was my usual nervousness at the beginning of races, and part of it was trying to get around slower people at the beginning of the race before finding a comfortable space and pace to run. The first mile went well at about a 6:20, but I felt myself slowing down a little bit on the second mile. I ran the second, third, and sixth miles pretty consistently. My fourth and fifth miles were consistent with each other, but noticeably slower than the other miles (other than the first mile). Luckily I was able to keep all of my mile splits under 7:00, though I would’ve preferred to have kept them all under 6:40.
It was a little crowded for the first half mile or mile, but it seemed to thin out fairly well as the runners got going and settled in. It thinned out even more at the halfway point, as 5K runners turned into the school parking lot to the finish line while 10K runners turned around to begin the second lap of the course. After beginning the second loop, it got to the point where the 10K was very spread out and there were only a couple of other runners near me. However, we began to encounter some walkers midway through the second loop in the last couple miles (they were doing the 5K walk), so there weren’t really many points where the course was nearly empty of participants. It did get a little challenging though, as the roads were still open and some of the walkers were taking up most of the road, not staying to the right, and/or
swerving not walking very straight. There were no collisions or really close calls, so it was all good. In their defense, they probably weren’t warned that 10K runners would be coming up on them over the last couple miles of the walk.
There were a couple other 10K runners near me throughout the second half of the race. It seemed like the three of us passed each other several times throughout the race, especially during the second half. It made it more fun and enjoyable for me, and it definitely helped me a lot over the last 2-2.5 miles or so because the 10K field had thinned out. If I hadn’t been able to keep those guys in sight ahead of me, I think I could’ve easily fallen into the dreaded lull of running alone at a comfortable (i.e., slower-than-I-should-be-running) pace. I think the three of us finished within 10 or 15 seconds of each other, and we each took first in our respective age groups. I had a chance to meet and chat with the other two after the race – in addition to being great runners, they’re both extremely nice and welcoming. I hope to see them again at future races!
I felt pretty good throughout the race, and didn’t really have any of the upper leg soreness and tightness that had bothered me last week. I had a couple of minor issues with my stomach during the race, but they were nothing big and I don’t think they impacted my time. I felt like I finished pretty strong, which helped make up a little for my slower fourth and fifth miles, though I’d rather run a faster and more consistent pace for the whole race than have too much energy left at the end. My official time (which matched my Garmin time) was 41:51, which was good enough for a PR by 35 seconds. While I had really hoped to run around 41:00 (or below) and was a little disappointed at being almost a minute off of that goal, I have no complaints about a PR – especially considering that this course was a little long according to my Garmin, while the course on which I set my previous PR was a little short according to my Garmin. I wore my Brooks PureFlow in the race – the first time I’ve raced in them – and they were fine. The PureFlow felt very comfortable and were definitely adequate for this kind of race, though I prefer racing in the Green Silence due to the latter’s light weight, fit, and feel (they’re racing flats and are designed to be worn for racing, after all). However, I wouldn’t hesitate to race in the PureFlow again at any time if necessary.
My wife also set a PR in this race and finished first in her age group. We’re not sure when, where, or at what distance our next race will be, but I’m already looking forward to it. In the meantime, I’ll be running as much as I can not only to stay in shape, but also to burn off the excessive calories I’m sure I’ll be consuming throughout the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. I’ll also be deciding soon whether my first full marathon attempt will be at Bayshore next spring, whether I’ll try running a different spring marathon instead, or whether I’ll wait to try a marathon until next fall. Decisions, decisions…
Chip time: 41:51 (gun time: 41:53)
Pace: 6:45/mile (per Garmin: 6:41/mile)
Age group: 1/9
Slowest mile (per Garmin): 6:59 (mile 4)
Fastest mile (per Garmin): 6:20 (mile 1)
How did your weekend running go? Did you run outside?
Did you race this weekend? If so, at what distance and how did it go?
Are you running any Turkey Trots or other Thanksgiving-themed races?