Sunday, December 02, 2007

Jingle Bell 5k

Some races seem to have a personality. It's all just the random chance of course, what type of weather- and in fact to some extent what week- races get and fall in.

But as I was running the course backwards with Charlie Hornak afterwards, we agreed that could not remember a year the race hadn't be contested in bitter cold, windy conditions. No freak 50-60 degree days (and that weather had been with us as recently as 10 days ago).

The 2007 version of the race was no exception. I parked at about 9:05, bundled in heavy running tights and my Force 5 jacket as I ran to get my number and go to the bathroom. Number- no problem. Bathroom- well I can understand why this church doesn't want bathrooms designed to be used a few times a day to get stank-bombed by about a 100 guys, most of whom probably fueled up on some combination of pasta and cheese the night before (do people still carbo-load ?). Nevertheless when it's 30 and you have to plant your backside on the plastic porta-potty seat, well, that's not how to warm up.

I ran back to the car, convinced myself I was going to run in my bike shorts and singlet (with arm-warmers, of course), and the cannon to starts the race goes off. Frak ! And it's 9:15- wtf ? Guess they were testing it. I convinced myself there was no way I could have missed the beginning of the race given the number of other people in the parking lot, then searched for some evanescence, and started warming up, mostly just doing sprints and lead-out.

The start of this race is always brutal. Uphill, dead into the wind, and since the race draws some speedsters, it's at a pace that by half a mile you are questioning why you're running a 5k and sure that the legion of runners behind you are about to overtake you. Then the wind picks up and you wonder if you'll ever get to the turn. Which you do. I was back and forth at this point with a teenage kind wearing the sort of warm-up suit that I thought only people on the Sopranos still wore. We hit the turn and tried to tell myself to be patient. But not too patient. I also felt kind of like this was my first cold weather race- only it wasn't- Cow Chip was.

We wound our way through the neighbourhood and I was perplexed by some of the people around me, who would be beat me up one hill and down the next, and then would beat them up and down the following set. I was trying to take it easy on the uphill and save something for the last mile. Somewhere past a mile they were handing out water. I took one and dumped it down my back, just because.

At the top of the last hill before you turn back onto the main road the race finishes on, which is about two miles, there's a guy that stands there and always says 'It's downhill the rest of the way.' This guy is dead wrong. The course has a series of uphill rolls, and then the last .3 or .4 miles is downhill. I was behind two high school kids at this point and closed on them. At 2.5 I passed them and tried to surge away, but I didn't have that kind of wheels and they separated from me- and beat me.

I still managed a 3rd in my age group, but it wasn't quite as fast as I would have liked.

Happy 40th Charlie !

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