YMCA Christmas Race

It was a chilly morning and I was surrounded by many friends dressed as elves, Santas, trees, etc. I even spotted two teen boys wearing nothing but present boxes over their nether regions. Brrrrrrr!!!!!! Santa was there, Wayne and my five children were there to cheer us on! It was festive, there were carolers serenading the runners and holiday music being piped at the start. It was great fun!

My buddy, Dennis and I bumped into each other at the start and got into a great discussion about heart rate training and I barely heard the “Ho HO HO Merry Christmas!” that starts the race. It was slow going the first mile with 1,600 racers on a narrow path, with friends and family members lining the sides. It was hard to get any kind of pace going for the first 2/10 of a mile and that’s where the first nasty hill started. This race is all up, up, up for the first 3 miles. My Garmin showed a fairly flat first mile, followed by a steep 127 gain in mile 2, then a total kick in the teeth of 270 in mile 3 (I walked a LOT of that mile though I had willed myself to stay strong and try to run the whole thing. It was just too difficult for me at this point, so I power hiked it instead.) My buddy, Dennis is much, much faster than me and I tried to send him on his way to run his own pace, but he was a great sport and said, “Nah. I’m here for fun! I’ll hang with you!” He complimented me on my power hike, which was a nice gesture since I felt a bit embarrassed to be walking at all with him watching! He and I were carrying on such an interesting conversation the first few miles, he didn’t see a little 2 year old boy just STANDING in the middle of the road and nearly mowed him right over (oops!) before the Mom came rushing from her driveway saying, “OH dearrrrrr…” I shook my head, thinking, “Seriously, lady! Pay attention to your kid! He doesn’t belong in the middle of a crowded race course!”

We finally crested the steepest hill and I saw Ryan A. and Michelle, but I felt like dying and didn’t say hi, since I was very focused on the next section — the downhill on the other side. This was also the only water stop in the race and though I was thirsty, I chose to forgo it and just focus on hitting the part of the course where I could make up some time.

I’d told the kids on the ride there that Mommy was hoping to run the course in better than 50 minutes. It’s advertised as a 6.1 mile race (though every person who’s ever ran it knows it’s a short course!) I’ve only ran 2 10ks in my life. A little 10k in June that I did in 2009 and 2010. The first year I ran it in 1:02 and the next year I did it in 53 min. I figured beating 50 on this short course would show some improvement, so that was my pipe dream today.

Once I hit the dirt road on the downhill portion, I started to relax and have fun instead of feel like I wanted to keel over and die. I even started talking to Dennis again and SMILING! I passed a few people here and that felt good. Once we hit about mile 5, though the 6.1 milers ran into the 2.5 mile walkers and it was a bit of chaos. There were many families out, with small kids, some pushing strollers and most of them were going a comfy 20 min pace. It was a little crazy since there was also some traffic to deal with on the street. I faded just a bit through here and heard Dennis say, “Just relax. You’re only racing yourself.” He’s a great friend, and something of a mentor of mine, so I enjoyed having him there, encouraging me along.

Finally, when we hit the final turn, I tried to go into my final kick, but the path was a ZOO!!!! They didn’t have timing chips, so those who wanted to be timed had to head for one chute and those not wanting timed went to another chute. But, for a good 2/10 of a mile before that, you hit a bottleneck of walkers, spectators, children, most walking, crowded right in front of where you need to bust out and RUN to the finish. I started to sprint, but ended up pulling back, fearing I’d wipe out some family in the process if I went all out. That was a bit disappointing as the final kick is my favorite part of any race, but all in all, it was a good time. I forgot to stop the Garmin when I crossed the line, so I think my actual time was a few seconds better than what I have recorded here. I’ll have to adjust that when the official times come out.

I did hit my goal, by the way and that meant a lot to me (and surprised me since I did talk the first 2 1/2 miles – something I NEVER do when I race) and because I walked so much of the steepest section of the hills. I’m sure I could do it faster if I worked on my hills and speed before next year’s race. 🙂

I enjoyed seeing Calvin , Bobby H. , Randy , Andrea S. and Paul who were all on my team – the E.L. Fudge Team of elves. 🙂 I also saw Emily B. running with her son, Deiter and Sam C. and my buddy, Marci and my friend Steve. It was fun to see so many pals having fun!

My Splits:
Mile 1: 8:45 ave HR: 183 Max HR: 196 Gain: 10 feet
Mile 2: 8:35 ave HR: 186 Max HR: 203 Gain: 127 feet
Mile 3: 11:08 ave HR: 178 Max HR: 188 Gain: 270 feet (Kill me now!)
Mile 4: 7:26 ave HR: 177 Max HR: 197 Gain: 28 feet (Weeeee! Now I’m happy!)
Mile 5: 7:19 ave HR: 177 Max HR: 193 Gain: 0
Last .87 – 7:42 ave HR: 183 Max HR: 192 Gain: 0 Best pace: 5:20

I think my finish time was about 49:54 or so. (UPDATE: The official results are posted.) They make no sense, but I’ll share them here since they seem like an unbelievable Christmas Miracle (and we all like those!) I came in 10/66 in my 35-39 age group in the 6.1 mile race. My time according to them? 46:40, which would have meant a 7:39 average pace. I really wish I’d ran that fast – but let’s just pretend I did since they think so, shall we? 🙂  Merry Christmas to me!!!!

Total gain: 435 feet (It’s funny! The Lake Lowell Marathon I am the race director of has a total gain of about this and people call it a TOUGH marathon!) This was a challenging “almost” 10k!!!!!

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