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Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham, The hubs and I started the holiday season off on the right running shoe-clad foot yesterday and ran the Jingle Bell 5k through downtown Birmingham. It was a spur-of-the-moment race—his company had a spot open on their team, so Zack signed me up.

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Road runners have been taking post-apocalyptic pre-race selfies before it was cool

5ks are a whole ‘nother animal for me. My first race in 2010 was a 5k that I ran in 26:30, and I haven’t run one since. Something about the short distance and having to run balls-out makes me uneasy. Even with five months of speed work under my belt, I still have little freak-out moments when I need to push myself to the limit. When my lungs start searing, mentally I start shutting down. Ugh.

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Honorary team member for the morning

The race started at Railroad Park and looped through downtown—my ideal course. The start gun went off before everyone was lined up, and I ended up starting at the very back and weaving around a lot of groups walking. When I finally settled into my pace, I glanced down at my watch and saw I was running a 6:25—too fast. I dialed it back some, but by mile 1.5 I was panting and ready to be home in a warm shower.

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Doesn’t get much flatter or faster than this road

I had run away from Zack at the start, but he managed to catch up to me right before mile 2. That boy doesn’t do speed work, hadn’t run in weeks, and pulled up alongside me without having even broken a sweat. He has the speed and I have the endurance—we make a well-rounded runner.

Birmingham, Jingle Bell 5K

Sexy bearded pacer

Despite my form falling apart and feeling like crap, I don’t think I ever ran as hard as possible. Which sucks. It was all mental—I felt uncomfortable, so I slowed down rather than tried to push through it. Z kept taunting me to hurry up or else he’d beat me, and when he sped up to a sub-7 pace again, I easily caught up to him. So I clearly had some left in the tank. Ugh.

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Where the magic happened

I ended up winning the Sylvan Race by a stride, then promptly ran behind some cars to dry heave. Success! My official time was 21:57, which would have gotten me an Age Group win and 5th overall female, had I run under my own name. It still counts in my book!

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

My watch synced with some screwy satellites. Say that ten times fast.

All in all, it was a fun race and a great learning experience. I know now what I need to do mentally to prep for my next short distance race, and I’m ready to work toward a sub-21. Or at least smash the current 5k PR of 21:30, held by the hubs.

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Guess who’s 30 seconds away from kicking yo’ ass, boy?

Adventures after the race:

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

The city is pretty even on the gloomiest of days

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Post-race prizes

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Yep, I married this

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Different view of our big buildings

Jingle Bell 5K, Birmingham,

Last bit of fall still holding out strong

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