The annual Wednesday night Jingle Bell run has become a tradition for our family and I think I’ve run it for the last four years straight. I’ve taken it fairly seriously in the past, but there are no race numbers, no clock at the finish, and often times several walkers lining up right on the starting line. The run starts on the St. Petersburg Pier and was probably 5K at one time, but as it became more popular, I think they moved the start/finish line further toward the base of the pier to accommodate more people. Thus, I’ve learned to look at it for what it is: a fun run and after a day of reviewing health insurance quotes for my company, I was ready for a fun run.
Still, with the knee on the mend, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to test it out before giving myself the go ahead to start speed workouts in preparation for the 2012 Rock and Roll St. Petersburg half marathon. So, I chatted with a few friends in the crowd at the starting line before moving up closer to the front of the pack as the jingle bells signified the start.
I went out at a brisk, but comfortable pace, not going out of my way to pass people, but accelerating whenever there was an opening in the crowd. Less than a quarter mile from the start, I heard my name called and turned around to see Meredith. I ran backward for a few feet as we briefly chatted, then turned and made my way ahead. There were still people walking on the course as I rounded the corner at the base of the pier, but I soon broke free of the pack. The knee was feeling good, so I started to pick runners off one by one.
I made it through the 1 mile mark in about 6:45, which I thought was pretty good all things considered. My legs were feeling a little sore from the week’s weight training but I was otherwise comfortable. I made my way toward the Northshore pool, passing a few runners along the way and I rounded the halfway point still feeling comfortable.
Gaps were starting to develop between runners, but I wasn’t really very concerned. I was just running on the edge of discomfort. I would accelerate past a runner, then back off slightly, revving my engine into the red briefly, then coasting for a while to recover. When I made my way past the two mile mark, my legs were beginning to feel tired but my breathing was going well, so I passed a few more runners.
When I made it back to the base of the pier, the half a pizza I had eaten just an hour before was starting to weigh on me. I was developing a side stitch, but I knew I only had a about a half mile to go. A police officer walked the median of the road and yelled out our placements. I was in 21st place, which I figured was decent, but in the back of my mind I figured I could probably pass one more person for 20th.
Although I felt myself continue to “stitch up”, I drew close to the runner in front of me, then hammered a hard acceleration. He immediately responded and we both passed the runner in front of him. Content with 20th place and not wanting re injure my knee in a fun run, I let him go and crossed the finish line in 18:47. Had it been a 5K, I would have been ecstatic, but my Garmin read 2.9 miles. The pace was still good for a sub 20 minute 5K, so I was happy with that. Better yet, my knee felt okay (and still does) so it looks like I can give myself the green light for some mile repeats next week.
It was a nice week of training:
Monday: 3 miles easy + lower body weight training
Tuesday: 4 miles easy + upper body and core weight training
Wednesday: 3 miles hard
Thursday: 3 miles easy + full body weight training
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday 3 miles easy
Total: 26 miles