Christmas 2015 + Kris Kringle 5M

StefNews, Race Reports

Christmas Happenings and Kris Kringle 5M

After the excitement of the Thanksgiving Holiday, we decided to do something as a family for the first time in at least 5 years. I booked my sister a ticket home for Christmas from Jackson Hole so we could have a good old fashioned family Christmas together. As our family has scattered and “grown up”, we rarely get to treat ourselves to time with all of us together in one place. As a very wonderful added bonus, my Dad was discharged from the VA and was back home recovering from his broken hip.

My sister arrived a few days before Christmas and Julie and I followed on Christmas Day (my favorite day to fly). After the drive up from Baltimore, Christmas dinner was waiting for us along with a wonderful surprise. Chuck is one of those family friends who when you meet again after years apart it is like nothing has changed, you know, he’s family. We hadn’t seen him in ages, but was back in town and my sister invited him for Christmas dinner. The whole gang was in town! My immediate family, Uncle Jim, Julie and Chuck. Can’t get much better than that!

All of the "kids" back together!

All of the “kids” back together!

Presents aren’t the focal part of our Christmas, though they are exchanged, we look forward to the time we spend together. Engaging in card games and laughing is where, I believe, we have the most fun and memories. This year, Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity reigned, playing late into the evening.

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As a family, we had 3 days together. We were able to play games, go to dinner and a movie, and even get to the gym for strength training (the family that trains together, stays together?). It sounds fairly mundane and even “normal”. However, with the crazy lives we all have lived this year, normal seemed very welcome. This isn’t to say there weren’t a few bumpy times during the visit, there always are, but it was so refreshing to spend time together and recharge.

A trip back home wouldn’t be complete with a race, eh?

Duh!

I found the Kris Kringle 5M race, held by the Pagoda Pacers in Reading, Pa. I’ve done a few of their races before (Blues Cruise 50k, Charley Horse Half) and really enjoy their events. This race was located ~45 min away from my parent’s house, but was worth the drive.

I don’t run 5 mile races often. My last was in 2009 or 2010, well before I started running longer distances or incorporated speed work into my training. I was unsure how to pace things and to make matters worse, I didn’t know how hilly of a course I may or may not have been getting myself into. I was hopeful to go under 40 minutes at a bare minimum. I guessed if it were a hilly course, I’d finish around 38 minutes or so as a blind guess.

I was wrong. Very wrong!

The weather conditions were great for running fast. It was in the mid-50’s (unusually warm) and overcast. I decided to just go for it!

The first mile included a steep uphill section that took my heart rate soaring, nearly red-lining. 

The second mile was a quick one, coming off of the steep hill. I’m typically not good at running downhills, as I can’t practice them in Houston, but I decided to let gravity do it’s thing and pray for the best. My pace reflected this, as I dropped a 6:50 mile.

The third and fourth miles were much flatter and on a nice section of crushed gravel trail. I started passing more and more runners who either a) went out too fast or b) weren’t used to running through muddy gravel. During this time, 2 female runners passed me. I decided to see how long I could hang on and hopefully pick them off in the final mile.

During the final mile, I picked off one of the women on a slight upgrade. Feeling comfortable, I I kept my pace even, hoping I could knock her off with my confidence. Not a quarter mile passed and she passed me again. She had a kick in her…

I tried my best to catch her in the last 300m, but her kick was superior to my kick. That final mile was at 6:46 pace, one of my fastest, if not fastest mile ever clocked. Track work is paying off quite nicely.

As we exited the finishing chute, the two ladies who passed me and I congratulated each other for a race well run and went to the scoring station to see how we ranked up. I asked the woman who I was leap-frogging with her age. She replied she was 33, doggone it! I’m 33 too…

No matter, I was really pleased and surpassed my expectations for the race. Not only did I get 2nd in my AG, I was 8th(?) overall female and in the top 12% of the entire field (>650 finishers, including many competitive collegiate and high school athletes). My time? 35:43; nearly 2:30 quicker (~0:30s/mi) than my anticipated pace.

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Up next is my final push towards Rocky Raccoon 100M. New Year’s Day I run the Texas Marathon for the 5th consecutive year and the Houston Marathon comes in mid-January.