Jingle Bell Run 2010

Back in July I decided I was going to become a runner.  I started out with the C25k program but switched half way through to a program outlined in Running for Mortals in October.  The goal of this program was to run in a 5k race.

On December 5th, 2010 at 8:40 in the morning I was standing with my son and nephew on Nato Parkway near the World Trade Center in Portland, OR.  We were at the starting line with a couple thousand other runners who came out to participate in the 2010 Jingle Bell Run.  My running partner, who was going to do the race with me, was running late.  At 8:51 am the horn sounded and I took off on my first 5k race.

The Jingle Bell Run is a charity run for the Arthritis Foundation.  As a team we raised $350.  The event ended up raising  $125,777 in donations.

The plan was for the boys to run at their own pace with the priority of sticking together.  They were to run four minutes at a time with two minute walking breaks.  I, on the other hand, was going to run the race in intervals of walking for one minute after every five minutes of running.  My wife and daughter were in the race too participating as walkers so they didn’t get to go until the runners were out of the way.

Things were progressing slowly at first.  It was so congested in the beginning that I barely felt like I was even running.  I was also feeling pretty good at that point so when the opportunity arose, I started passing people.  One at a time I keept inching forward.  Soon it was the boys turn to walk so they dropped off.  When I was my turn to walk I decided to skip the first break since I was feeling so good.

I ended up not resting until after I reached the half way point and started heading back towards the finishing line.  As I walked along I kept my eyes out for my running partner because I knew she couldn’t have been too far behind me.  I did spot her heading toward the half way point but there were so many people that she couldn’t hear me when I tried to get her attention.  Knowing she wouldn’t have wanted me to hold up for her I decided to run for five more minutes then walk some more to see if she caught up.

I was thrilled to see her coming along behind me just before my walk period was up.  She hadn’t seen my wife who had her racing chip though.  As luck would have it, just then I saw my wife heading the other direction.  As quickly as we could we ran over and got her chip and racing number then hit the road towards the finishing line.

I think I could have run forever that day.  In spite of months of dealing with calf and shin injuries, I felt strong and confident.  As the finishing line came into sight we picked up our pace for the big finish.  My sister in law was standing in the crowd cheering us on as we got close.  I can’t say for certain but I’m pretty sure I had a huge smile on my face all the way.  I was so excited that I didn’t think to look at the clock at first so it wasn’t until a few days later when the official results were posted that I learned that my official finish time was 00:37:32.6.

We waited at the finishing line for the boys.  Impressively they crossed the finishing line only a minute and a half behind us.  Their official time was 00:38:56.0.  I couldn’t have been prouder of them and made it a point to tell them so.

Once we got their chips turned in we headed over to the pavilion for some snacks.  We had some time before my wife and daughter would cross the finish.  Runners were still coming in.  The race provided bananas, bagels, and cheese for snacks.  After some discussion we decided to walk up stream to see if we could meet up with my wife.

It was a couple blocks down the road when I saw my five year old daughter running in our general direction with a huge grin on her face.  I thought she was running right to us when I noticed she wasn’t going to stop and instead waved as she went by.  I looked up and saw my wife running after her and it was obvious that she wasn’t prepared for that level of activity.  A quick word to the boys and the three of us caught up with my daughter and ran with her.

I was surprised to watch her run the entire distance to the finishing line.  Smiles the entire way as she weaved through the walkers.  As I crossed the finish line a second time, this time with my youngest.  I took her up into my arms for a big hug and told her how proud I was of her too.

This was an experience I’m not going to ever forget.  Since then I’ve gotten the racing bug and have signed up for another race at the end of the year and have plans to run at least half a dozen more next year.  At least one of them will be the 2011 Jingle Bell Run.

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