My History with the Jingle Bell 5K
Three years ago, I ran my first 5K, the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis. I don’t exactly remember how I found out about it, but I know it was shortly after I started reading healthy living blogs.
I thought running was something other people did, not something I could do. Not anymore at least! In high school, I played soccer and was on the indoor/outdoor track teams. Except for relays, I was never a big fan of games and meets, they made me so nervous! But, I loved practice and thought that drills were a blast.
Toward the end of high school, I started having a lot of joint pain and I pretty much stopped running. I tried some other events, I saw some doctors, and tried some physical therapy. Words like fibromyalgia and arthritis were thrown around and taken back, then thrown around again. I took some crazy meds that still didn’t make me feel 100% like myself – so I stopped taking them. Over time, I learned how to deal and what works for me. I did random cardio and weights when I felt like it, but nothing consistent…fast forward 5 years to ~2007 and I started using the elliptical regularly. In the past I’d gone through gym spurts, but nothing ever “stuck”. So, for two years I did the elliptical 3-6x a week. Then, sometime after the hubs and I got married, in 2009, we I joined a gym again. The treadmills started calling my name. Sometimes I’d run a mile or so before using the weight machines or another cardio machine, but I never spent longer than 15 minutes on the treadmill.
I’m not sure why, but one day – a Saturday, in the September of 2009 – I just got this idea in my head that I was going to run 3 miles. I turned to the hubs in the car and told him my plan. It sounded ridiculous to me, and I knew that it would take me more than 30 minutes – practically forever! But, once I said it aloud, I knew I could do it. I set the treadmill for an~11 minute mile to be safe and I kept going until I hit 3 miles. I was so freakin’ ecstatic when I finished, and not because it was over – because I did it!
In the weeks that followed, I did it a few more times. Every time I hopped on the treadmill, I reminded myself that I’d done it before and could do it again. I spent some time on the web checking out local races, but not really because I wanted to sign up, just because I thought it was interesting. I had no idea that we even had road races around here. I’d never really noticed more than a handful of runners around town; then again, I wasn’t really looking for them.
I honestly never really thought about racing until I saw that the Arthritis Foundation had an annual 5K at Roger Williams Park. I talked about it with the hubs and my family, never mentioning that I was considering it. Some people thought it was kind of odd that there was a race for Arthritis, since people with joint pain can’t run – right? My initial reaction was that I can run, so maybe I should; especially since there are so many who can’t.
Although Arthritis prevalence increases with age, it isn’t something that just affects our grandparents’ generation. Arthritis is a term used to describe more than 100 different conditions that affect joints as well as other parts of the body. Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and one of the nation’s most common causes of disability. Back when I was seeing a pediatric rheumatologist, I saw quite a few kids with debilitating cases of juvenile arthritis; it’s something that I’ll never forget. Nearly 294,000 children under the age of 18 are affected by juvenile arthritis.
3 days before the race in 2009, I took a leap and registered for the 5K. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish on such a hilly course, worried that I’d have to walk a lot, worried that I would be the last person to finish – but I reminded myself that it didn’t matter. This race was about more than running. It was about the fact that I was going to support the Arthritis Foundation and regardless of how well I did, I would still meet that goal simply by being there and giving it my best shot.
Of course, I did fine! In 2009, I finished in 33:15 (10:43/mi). When it was over, I felt so accomplished! I was hooked on running. It took me awhile to figure out how much I can handle, but now I know when to push it and when to back off. I’ve learned not to compare myself to others – I need to do what works for me. I can’t regularly run 5x a week. Sometimes, I’m sore after taking two days off. Muscle soreness is different from joint pain and I love feeling “the burn” the day after a hard workout.
99% of the time, I feel great once I’m up and moving around…an object in motion stays in motion! My plan is to stay in motion. Signing up for races is one of the best motivators to keep me running. It’s so much harder to start from scratch once you stop, so I try not to stop in the first place.
2011 Jingle Bell 5K
I stayed up way too late on Friday night helping my Dad pack for his big move. The hubs and I always have a blast with him and my stepmom. I taped and labeled boxes, packed clothes into the car, had a glass of wine, and ate Chinese food. By time we left, they were ready for the movers!
Since it was 1:30am by time I went to bed, I was exhausted and slept really well – which is unheard of for the night before a race.
I toasted some wheat bread and topped it with Teddie Peanut Butter and Honey Apple Butter. I just discovered apple butter and I feel like I’ve been missing out for the last 27 years. Apple is my favorite flavor of jelly, and this stuff is 10x better!
The weather was kind of weird, it was 48 degrees and kind of windy – I definitely overdressed though. I preregistered for the race, but I needed to check-in and get my number. We only got there about 15 minutes before the start, so the hubs (and my sister!) dropped me off at the carousel and went to park the car. The check-in was inside the carousel building and went very smoothly. It was very organized this year.
I pinned on my number and tied bells to my sneakers. I was in the zone and didn’t think to take any pictures, but I ran up and down the sidewalk to warm up a bit. I decided that I could not run with reindeer antlers on, so I handed those off to the hubs.
Just before 10am, Alan Shaw Feinstein gave a short speech to everyone and even auctioned off a set of gold leaf-lined cards that honor Babe Ruth’s 100th Birthday, with the proceeds going to the Arthritis Foundation. I thought that was really nice of him.
And then it was time to start! All of the runners and walkers walked to the starting line, and they sent us off. It wasn’t a very dramatic start, but it got the job done. There weren’t timing chips, so I made sure to start at the front!
Here I am, right at the start, smiling too big and wearing two shirts too many
I can’t find a course map online, but the course was a nice loop around the park. It’s a pretty hilly course for a 5K, although there weren’t any huge hills, just a lot of them. I made it up all of them without walking! I used to avoid hills on my runs, but I’ve started to embrace them and it seems to be paying off.
I managed to get into a groove right away. I found a few girls that were running just a little faster than I was and stuck by them for most of the race. My plan was to maintain a 9:20 minute mile (or better) throughout the race, and while that didn’t exactly work out, I still succeeded in the end.
After picking up my pace a bit in the third mile, I could see the finish line around the corner. I sprinted my little heart out all the way to the finish, and passed a bunch of people while doing so!
- Mile 1 – 9:16
- Mile 2 – 9:24
- Mile 3 – 9:21
- Last .11 – 6:53/mi pace
Even my hair is sprinting!
Garmin Time: 28:46 (9:15/mi) / Official Time: 28:39 (9:14/mi)
I managed to PR again! This is 17 seconds faster than the 5K I ran in October…and 2:04 faster than my time on the same course last year! Needless to say, I was pretty freakin’ excited.
This is my excited face
I was excited again when I looked up my official time on Monday and saw that I placed 3rd in my division, women 20-29! Wow…I didn’t see that coming at all. I definitely would have stuck around for the awards ceremony, and been late to my appointment, if I had seen the possibility of that coming.
So, I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t stay for awards, but getting this in the mail kind of made up for it.
I can’t wait to run my little heart out again next year. I still have two years in this division, so hopefully, I can place again!
I know this isn’t a huge race, but it has a special place in my heart. The fact that I placed in this particular race means a lot to me.