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On Saturday morning my alarm went off at 7:30 am for my 2nd Jingle Bell Jog (my first was in 2011, a few months after I started running). I checked the weather for race time, and the forecast said: 13 degrees, feels like 6 degrees. I almost hit snooze and stayed in my warm bed. However, I needed to get a run in this weekend, and I knew that in light of the cold weather, it would be easier in a group than on my own. Plus, I had one more race to run to meet my “13 races in 2013 goal“, and this was race #13!

I quickly ate breakfast, did a short warm up, foam rolled, and changed before heading over to the race start. There were maybe 40-50 people; smaller than other races in the town, but understandable given the cold temperatures. I think only the dedicated runners show up on a day like that.

I should mention that I had zero intention of going in and really racing this race. I got my 5k PR already for this season, and just wanted to enjoy myself. With the very cold air, I knew that my muscles would need a little more care and my lungs would be burning from the air.

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We were given bells to tie on to our shoes, and Christmas music was blasting from speakers. The Christmas spirit definitely helped temper the freezing temperature. There was an entire cross country team from a local college there. I decided to throw my normal race day plan out the window and just go with whatever I felt like. I decided to try to keep up with the team as much as possible, and when I needed to drop back, I would. I ended up running the first two miles with someone that went to the same college I did, but we hadn’t ever spoken (I recognized her name). That was quite a bit of fun, but between the ice, cold air, and talking, and was pretty done with the pace we had been running.

I dropped back right about mile 2.3 and just ran and enjoyed the Christmas music. I didn’t have any IT band pain, but my throat was starting to hurt from the cold air. Somewhere right before mile 3 I realized that I, in fact, was going to be the final person to cross the finish line. 

I felt a little sad and embarrassed at first, but then reminded myself that I wasn’t out to run a hard race and that I was keeping with a very typical 5k time for me. As I got near the finish line people were clapping and cheering, but I was just wishing there were people behind me. So- there’s a race first: I was the final person to cross the finish line. The course was 3.3 miles at 36 minutes, meaning that my solid 3.1 5k time was 34 minutes. That’s only 3 and a half minutes slower than my 5k PR, and a very typical time for a normal run that I might have. My legs take much longer to recover than others do apparently (hey thanks POTS), so this was actually my fastest paced run since before my half marathon.

I’ve never been to a race where every participant finishes 3.1 miles in under 35 minutes, but it’s what happened today. That’s what happens when there are no walkers and people move fast because it’s so cold.

Afterwards they drew names for various door prizes that were donated by local businesses. I ended up winning a sample-sized 3 pack of Starbucks Holiday Coffees. Worth it 🙂

Now it’s your turn to share! Have you ever come last in a race (or one a race or age group of a race) before? Are you celebrating Christmas with a run this year? 

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