This morning was the first day this winter when the temperature dipped below freezing. I was keenly aware of this fact as I stood with my wife at the start line for the Jingle All The Way 8k in downtown DC with 5,000 other runners. Naturally, there was a SNAFU as the police had difficulties clearing Pennsylvania Avenue for the race. After a 20 minute delay, we were off. About two minutes after that, my wife disappeared from my view with jack rabbit alacrity.
These races give me an opportunity to appreciate the organized cycling rides I do, which never have this many participants and consequently do not feature the crush of humanity that seem to be a hallmark of the running races. I tried to imagine how the throng would look mounted on bicycles. It would have been mammoth, that is for sure.
The race itself was fun. We ran down Pennsylvania Avenue with the Capitol looming before us. We also swung by Grand Union Station and the Air & Space Museum. Part of the attraction of this event are the costumes worn by many participants. There were several Santas and elves, plenty of reindeer hats, and the occasional runner dressed as a present (you simply wear a box with your head and arms sticking out). It was my goal not to be passed by anyone wearing an extremely garish costume. In 1994, I was passed by a clown in the Marine Corps Marathon and the memory haunts me still.
I am happy to report that no shepherds, angels, or boxes passed me. One Santa finished a few yards ahead of me, but I wish to lodge a protest as he removed his beard and hat during the race and thus was not in a proper costume. My finishing time was 43:30, which earned me 73rd out of 165 in my age group and 816th out of 1,716 amongst all men. A very “middle of the pack” finish that I was satisfied with. The 8:41/mile pace was decidedly better than the Army 10-Miler, when I thought my calf might detach itself from my leg and all I could manage was 10:15/mile.
My wife is turning into a running machine. She finished at 41:20 and earned 15th place in her age group out of 252. Amongst all women, she finished 320th out of 3,024. She started jogging about 18 months ago and entered her first race this May – a 5k. This was only her fourth organized race. I’m in awe.
Below is a picture of us celebrating after the race in a local IHOP. It was a great day with plenty of good memories. Now it’s time to get back on my bike – the 3,000 mile mark is taunting me!