Getting up to run in a race holds a certain excitement...unless you know that you will be the only person showing up. This morning was the return of Jingle Bell Hell. I had told all my local running buddies about it. I had put it on my personal Facebook page in case any friends wanted to just come walk it or whatever. I had no takers.
Either people are intimidated by my competitive spirit, my speed, or my inane sense of humor. Or maybe they heard that I now have a sweatshirt from a scandalous company and are boycotting me. Whatever. I was running this race...even if alone.
I was so bummed as I was getting ready; feeling like a running pariah was, in and of itself, quite hellish. I contemplated sealing the 'hell factor' by wearing a jingle bell on one foot...just one. But I was concerned that the "step-jing-step-jing-step-jing..." over and over again for over an hour might drive me out of my mind. I scrapped the bell idea.
Pulling into the venue parking lot, I noticed several people who were heading out to run or walk, but none were there for Jingle Bell Hell...I could tell. I was so glad I had left my family at home. It was coldish (40º-ish) and windy, and since no one showed up there was no party atmosphere to take your mind off the cold. However, in the morning's defense, it was a lovely one.
I headed to the starting line. There was a beautiful woman looking at the maps...she seemed a little lost. We got to talking and decided to run together (I was so glad I had opted for no bell). She spoke of running a pace that would be a bit faster than I was entirely comfortable with so I figured "awesome... HELL!"
We ran the first 4.2 miles at an average pace of 8:38 minutes per mile, which is super fast for me.
I took no pictures because you've seen this place before. Though in retrospect, I should have taken a picture of the beautiful woman.
As we headed back from the turnaround, I noticed a couple running up a side trail that I used to enjoy running down. I thought, "Whoa...they're hardcore...running up that trail!" When the two trails merged, we tucked in behind the two trail runners. After about a quarter-mile, my new running buddy realized that they were the people she was supposed to have met earlier! We laughed.
The four of us ran together for roughly the next 3 miles, chatting (kind of out of breath because we were running pretty hard and up a long hill). They all belong to some local running clubs and meetup running groups that I never even knew existed...one of the groups even does trail running at night! I am so glad I ran into these people :)
With about a mile to go, Chris the Runner (and the only guy) started pulling away. My hip was sore, and I was pretty wiped from the speedy first half of the run. I was focusing on finishing as well as I could. I came in a close last with a time of 1:14:52 (avg pace 8:57) for the 8.35 miles.
As I had never met these people before, and they knew nothing of Jingle Bell Hell, you can imagine Chris' surprise at learning he had WON!
Congratulations, Chris the Runner!
Your name is now etched in ballpoint pen on masking tape and fastened to the bottom of that awesome trophy...memorializing your victory for as long as the adhesive holds!
Though I began the morning bummed and alone, I ended it laughing and smiling with new friends :) And while I did push myself physically, I need to work on the "Hell" angle for next year... because Jingle Bell Hell will be back!
Happy Holidays and happy running :)
A huge thanks goes out to all who are participating in the virtual version of this race! The collection of virtual JBH race recaps will be posted in my sidebar as I am made aware of them. If you've posted one and don't see it in the list, do shoot me an email (xlmic.tio [at] gmail [dot] com) and I'll be sure to link it. The various winners of the prizes will be announced December 26th so please get your write-up to me by the 25th!