So I did the “Jingle All The Way 5k” this morning, with bells on, to mixed reviews. Missed my goal of breaking 31 minutes by 40 seconds, but there is always next time. The start of the race was disorganized and delayed, and an idiotic “oldies” radio station serenaded us with Rolling Stones songs rather than holiday tunes, which seemed very strange, and the choice of “Brown Sugar” especially peeved me off. But then some marching bands struck up “Jingle Bells” and a small and very welcome endorphin rush kicked in.
I lost a little time just getting up to the starting line after the gun went off, but otherwise the first mile was quite magical. This was because we runners were the opening feature of the annual Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade, and Gervais Street was lined with thousands of spectators who clapped and cheered us on, which felt terrific. Since that part of the route was downhill I maintained a healthy pace, and did so wearing a big smile. That’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to feeling like a professional athlete, and it was really awesome.
Then I got to Mile 2. What goes down must generally come up, in road race world, but before I even got to the foot of Greene Street a runner just ahead of me fell to the ground in the grips of a seizure. She was wearing a “seizure bracelet,” which was very smart. A group of us stopped, and since I don’t know much about first aid and none of us had a cell phone, I volunteered to sprint to the next intersection and ask a police officer to call an ambulance. Frustratingly, I was delayed in this by a train at a railroad crossing. When the train finally passed a faster runner than me got to the next police car, and help for the fallen runner was thankfully on the way. Out of a sense of fear and urgency my heart was already racing by the time I started the mile long beastly uphill climb of Mile 2, and I had to really slow down to catch my breath. Never had to actually drop it to a walk, though, which I feel proud about. Pausing here to send out positive thoughts to that runner, and great appreciation to everybody who stopped to offer assistance. Anywhere you go in Columbia, South Carolina, there will always be a large number of warm hearted, helpful people.
Mile 3 (mostly level and then mercifully downhill) passed quickly, and I even had enough energy to pass a few folks right before the finish line, which was sort of fiendishly fun, except that somebody behind me had the same idea and took me at the very end. That smarted! Had some delicious bananas afterwards, and got to say hello to some friends. Not a perfect race, but on balance a good way to spend part of the morning.