I like participating in local races. Jingle bell run is a Christmas themed race that supports the Arthritis foundation.
Folks really get into dressing up. I’ve been participating in this race for at least 5 years that I can recall. I love the race shirts they are so festive. I feel deep down in my spirit that the race could use a finisher’s medal. I’m just saying. Then again, I am a medal chick. A nice Christmas medal would look good on the medal rack. I shall send them an email with my suggestion.
The race started at 10:30am. The race is held at Saint Mary’s School. There is no parking on campus. I knew the parking would be limited. I left the house with the goal of being parked before 9am. As I turned onto the side street by the school, I could tell that I was not the only one who was getting there early. I turned onto the 1st side street by the school and found a parking spot, I spy with my little eye one of my TRI sisters and running buddies Lille Thompson-Ebron. As we start walking towards the race headquarters, I run into one of my NCRC buddies Terri Saylor. We made our way to the entrance of Saint Mary’s. I mention to Lillie and Terri that the race registration used to be in the cafeteria where we could use the indoor restroom facilities which is a big difference from the portable facilities. I feel that something has happened that has now required the race to be completed outside. That’s my inner conspiracy theorist coming out.
As we are at the entrance of Saint Mary’s, we look for a sunny spot to warm up in while we wait for the race start. We are super doper early for the race. As we are waiting around, I see my partner in crime Melanie Shaw walking towards me.
She told me that I am the reason she started walking and doing 5Ks about a year ago. It always amazes me when someone tells me that because I never really think about that when I am out doing races. I just do them primarily for the exercise and the medals. What can I tell you I like bling and I cannot lie. Melanie tells me she has met some new friends. We are friendly people. We met folks everywhere we go.
My bladder has been acting nervous all morning. I make a beeline for the outdoor facilities. We go and hang out with the new peeps over on a bleacher in the sun near the entrance. As I walk back I hear someone call my name. It’s Debbie Hockstra, one of my former NCRC Women’s beginner running peeps. She tells me that is so motivated to see me doing races and she bets there are others who are if they aren’t already. She tells me that folks should realize that a race is possible instead of thinking that it isn’t. I tell her about Melanie. She says that’s what I’m talking about. You motivate folks and you don’t even realize it. True I really don’t.
Another 1 of my TRI sisters Cynthia Gary meets up with us. We keep running into more of the TRI tribe, Kathy Beasley and Patty Cooper, Renee Weinchinger and Valerie McGlynn and Beth Griffin and last but not least Meredith Cuomo. TIFL reunited and it feels so good.
The 1 mile starts at 10am. Lillie asks me if I want to switch from the 5K. she’s funny. I do like a 1 mile race, easy peasy. We go line up after the one mile starts. We are passing the corrals. 8-10 minute mile, 10-12 minute mile. I tell Lillie that is so far off from where I am. She says Jo if you get back to running you could get there. I tell her I really want to get to a consistent 18:00/mile pace. That is my goal that I have set for myself. We head to the last corral which is 15 minute/strollers & walkers. Melanie asked me “Does that say 15 minutes to do a mile?” I tell her yes but it also says walkers and that’s what we are. We head to the back of the corral and wait for the race start. 10:30 has come and gone. We are starting to get antsy. We look up and see folks moving and we head to the start. I tell Cynthia I’m not starting my Garmin until we cross the timing mat. We cross the timing mat and I start the Garmin and RunKeeper. I’m also signed up for 2 5K challenges on RunKeeper, might as well kill 2 birds with 1 stone. We head down Hillsborough street. In case you are not aware, Hillsborough street is HILLY. We are up and down the street. We come up on the Alexander YMCA and across the street is a guy in full attire playing the bagpipes. I recognize him from afar, it’s Ashby Spratley, my former honeybadger group pace leader from Galloway. As we are walking I meet a lady who’s name I didn’t get it until we were almost done lol. As we are walking and talking, I find out she has done triathlons. Isn’t that a coinky dink. Get this she has done open water triathlon. I tell her that she is officially badass because I like the pool and I cannot lie. She did Outer Banks triathlon back in September and she did not train. Double badass. Who in the world does an open water tri and does not train?? This badass lady. She tells me that she injured herself by running on the beach. She has had a knee brace on ever since and is wearing it right now. She wanted to do the race because she had committed to so her and the knee brace made the race. AMAZING!! We are walking and talking, before we know it we have passed the 1 mile mark. I hear a kid behind me tell his mom “we’ve only gone 1 mile” Bless their heart. I notice there is a lot of development on Hillsborough Street. It’s apparent I have not been on this end in a long time. I see one my FAV Galloway peeps Meri Meri who is a course monitor. She high-five’s me. This is probably the 1st race in a long time that I’m actually enjoying the race, course and just having a good time. That’s exactly what tall drink told me to do today, have fun and enjoy the race. I can see ahead that we are getting close to the turnaround, woo hoo!! As we get closer I notice this new building with stores and restaurants below it. I’m like there’s the new Pieology place that my movie peeps were talking about the other night. Then I see an IHOP. I’m thinking so that’s why they closed the other one down. Melanie asks me where is the turnaround and I tell her it’s right by the cop car. We all make the turnaround and head back to the finish. The pace car has been tailing us the whole time. Cynthia told me at the start that I like having a cop tail me. She’s funny. I tell her it’s important that they are back there just in case something happens. I have needed them both times I’ve done Richmond. Thank you Raleigh PD for being out there with us turtles today!! As we are heading back, the cop tells the course monitors they are done. They start walking back with us. We pass Meri and she joins us. As we pass other corners, she lets course monitors know they are done. We pick up more course monitors. Meri calls it a course monitor parade. I tell me new friend who’s name is Laura that we are passing the bell tower, major landmark down.
Right before we passed the bell tower, volunteers are holding up the 2 mile marker signs. They tell us we have 1 mile left to go. We pass the traffic circle right by the bell tower. We pass the doubletree hotel. Meri mentions that Ashby was out here. We both wonder if he still is. We don’t see him. We pass by the YMCA again. I know we are getting really close to the finish. We pass Ashe avenue which leads to Pullen Park. We are almost there. Since I know the route I know we really are. We pass another traffic circle. We have an uphill finish. Isn’t that nice? I look up and I see an angel coming to me. I yell out EBONY!! It’s 1 of my TRI sisters Ebony Haywood. She tells me I came out to support you and see you finish the race. That’s what I’m talking about. Sisterhood and support. You can’t buy this. No you can not. She tells me that I am probably going to beat my Holly Springs time. I can see the time clock in the distance. I see 68 minutes. I’m thinking we probably crossed a few minutes after that. Cynthia and Lillie are right behind the finish. They are cheering me on as well. We cross over the finish line. I stopped the Garmin and RunKeeper. Finish time 1:06:47 with a pace of 21:02/mile. My treadmill workouts have been paying off. Jingle Bell Run is in the books.