Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jingle Bell 5k

Now this is my kind of race!  A 2:00 pm start guarantees I can sleep in and take my time choosing my outfit depending on the weather.  And I did all of these things! The air was crisp but there was no rain predicted so I chose to wear shorts, a tank with arm warmers and long red and green socks.  I had a huge jingle bell attached to my shoe but quickly discarded it as I couldn't stand the thud-jingle-thud on my foot.

JB The Elf chilin'
After paralleling parking my SUV (I totally rock at squeezing my monster into parking spaces!), I made my way a couple of blocks down to city hall to pick up my bib.  The 5k race start began in the bustling downtown waterfront area of Port Orchard.  I may be exaggerating a  smidgen by calling it bustling.  Christmas music echoed through the air and JB the Elf was getting his/her groove on with some kids.  The race would start in 90 minutes so I made my way back to my vehicle and pinned my bib before heading out for a warmup run.  First I walked a half mile as I didn't want to run up any hills on my warmup - go ahead, call me a wimp.  I can take it!  Here's the hill I didn't want to run UP (this is just the bottom of it!):
Sidney hell...I mean hill with Bay Street below

Port Orchard City Hall - Start and Finish location
Running with my green/red socks was bothering me so I pushed them down, noting that my toes and fingers were frozen.  After 2 miles I finally dethawed and busted out another one and half miles before returning to my vehicle.  Alright, busting and bustling...both exaggerated words.  I wondered how I would run fast today as my warmup was about a 9:30 pace.

At 1:40, 20 minutes before the start, I bravely took off my coat and made my way to the start area and lined up for a porta-potty.  The wait was making me impatient.  There was one porta-pottty and the park bathrooms.  I knew I could run up to another bathrooom about 1/2 mile away as it might be faster but stood my ground.  At least we had toilet paper. About 1:58, I finally had my turn and then made my way to the starting line.  An elf informed me the race hadn't started yet as I ran past him from the back of the crowd.  

I lined up behind the front line, nervous about being crushed by runners and noted the little children and other people near me who maybe shouldn't be lined up so close to the front.  After some pictures, the countdown for the start began and soon we were sprinting down Bay Street, photographers running for their lives as the crowd was not going to run AROUND them.  

Mile One:  6:24.  We ran along Bay Street the entire course, an out and back.  The first mile is downtown which is along the waterfront.  Downtown Bay Street is home to many small businesses.  After more than half a mile, I finally caught up to Kathy Ballew, the only other woman in front that I could see.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to catch her and if I did, stay in front of her.  She is a fast runner and fast-pitch coach of our local high school.  We did some speed week together this past year and I never could catch her!  I pulled up even to her and she said, "I knew it was you, Ginger!" and I could barely utter a good job to her.  

I pushed on and quickly realized I was the first woman.  If you have never had this experience, I will tell you from my own viewpoint what I felt:  terrified, elated, scared, paranoid, thrilled, shocked.  The view from the front is awesome and I challenge you to get there at least once.  If you can't be first in a road race then do this:  get your family into a race at your next holiday gathering (make sure they are filled with holiday goodies first) and race them.  Tell them it's a new tradition. You must experience this feeling of being first at least once.

Mile 2:  6:26.  I was still holding first place for women and not that many men are in front of me, either.  We made our way to the turnaround at the Annapolis ferry dock and return toward the start.  I see Kathy Ballew and Becky Santos behind me.  As we head back to the start, the crowds are rushing toward me and thankfully I didn't have to do much dodging of other runners and walkers. I saw some friends along the way and kept hearing that I was first woman.  

Mile 3:  6:30.  Into the home stretch and I was trying to keep up my pace.  I didn't feel like I had slowed but I did a little.  I didn't look behind me but kept assuming the women were clipping my heels so I wouldn't slow.  The course is flat the entire way and the turns are nice and easy except for the turnaround.  I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line and the clock was in the 19's!  I haven't seen that since 2008!  I tuck under the finish line clock at exactly 20 minutes!  

It turned out that the top three women were all master runners.  That means we are all 40 and older. How cool is that!  We stayed for our awards and I headed back home to go back to being a mom.  I realized this is the 4th race I have won, and noted that at each win, my family has not been at the finish line.  My family has never seen me win a race.  I will need to keep trying in hopes they will see it one day.  

 History of Port Orchard in case you are interested.  Why are there so many Sidneys in Port Orchard?  You might find your answer here.

Bay Street

Top 3 women - blurry!  All masters!
Jingle Bell bib and first place medal

Newspaper article and pictures about the race.

Avg Pace

Go THAT way!  Thanks, Ed Santos!
The secret to my speed:  Wings!