After PR’ing big at my last 5K (22:54), I wasn’t sure if another PR would happen at my last race of 2012. But, I still planned to approach the race targeting my usual heart rates and see what happened. At the very least, I wanted to beat my old PR again (23:18). Also, I planned not to take off so fast, and keep my heart rate just a couple BPM’s (beats per minute) lower in the first mile, with the goal of more even splits.

But let’s back up. Sunday dawned chilly. But not too chilly. Because then it would have snowed, and it would have been lovely. Instead, it was cold but not cold enough and therefore rainy. My favorite combination. But, the weather report I was checking predicted the rain would clear up by racetime (9am). But not before that.

I carpooled to the race with my BFF, Genevieve, and we met up with a bunch of other sparkle skirt clad members of our running club.

You might not be able to tell, but even our lone male representative, “Crazy Boy Don” (standing, second from right) was wearing a sparkle skirt.

This race had some pretty fun costumes. Lots of Santas, elves, a Christmas tree (with “presents” over her feet). The more creative ones I saw: a group that included Santa, wearing a cardboard sleigh, with I assume 8 of his friends dressed as reindeer, and “harnessed” by holding string. I also saw a yellow snowman, carrying a sign telling us “Don’t eat the yellow snow.” And I saw Jesus. Makes sense. It’s his birthday.

Anyway, luckily we were able to stay out of the rain before the race, and sure enough when we headed outside a couple minutes before 9am, the rain had stopped, and minus some very light drizzling, it held off during the race.

I lined up nearish the front at the start, but because about 400+ people went from inside to line-up in the matter of a few minutes, it was a bit crowded by the time I lined up, and I didn’t want to shove my way through. When the race started, I had to do a little weaving, but not much.

I was able to keep my heart rate where I wanted. Stayed a little conservative in the first mile, and then let it gradually build. A one point in the middle, I thought I heard a spectator say I was the 5th female, and then just past mile 2, I passed one of my running club friends, Kate. She told me she wasn’t feeling it and encouraged me to go ahead. For the majority of the race, there was one woman a few seconds in front of me, keeping a pretty steady pace. I wasn’t sure if I could pass her, but I at least tried to stay close to her. My friend “Julie” was the only sparkle skirt ahead of me. I was able to keep her within view for most of the race, but knew I had no chance of catching up to her.

The course was really nice – we were at a Developmental Center, so it was a closed course, and included both paved roads and some gravel trail, including a bit next to the Kankakee River. I only noticed one tiny hill.

When I turned the last corner to approach the finish line, the clock had just hit 22:00. I had already passed the 3 mile marker sign, and sure enough … I PR’d. My official time was 22:16.

Holy crap.

Did I really PR by 38 seconds only two weeks after my last PR?

At first I thought maybe the course was short. My Garmin measured 3.07, and I think a friend said her Garmin may have measured a little bit less. So it’s possible. (Edited to add – I also heard from people whose watches measured 3.11 and 3.14, so if we average these … pretty sure it’s a legit 5K.) But also, my last 5K included A LOT of sharp (90-degree) turns – 23 total. Yesterday’s course was a bit more of a double loop, and only had about 8 comparable turns. Also, right after I started my last 5K, my car key came loose in my tights and I had to “pull over” for a few seconds to deal with it. And maybe keeping my first mile conservative so that I could keep a more even pace really paid off. My splits yesterday were 7:17, 7:19, 7:14. Splits at my last 5K were 7:12, 7:26, 7:35.

Whatever the case, I was the 4th female overall and 1st in my age group. And some of my friends placed too!

L-R: Kate (1st in her AG), me (1st in my AG), “Julie” (1st overall female), Nicole (2nd in her AG) and Amanda C. (1st in her AG). And congrats to Amanda W. who was paced to a massive PR by Kelly!

Also … I finally beat my “fake” 5K PR! Once Athlinks updates, my 5K PR will be my actual PR!! (I know I know, that’s totally important.)

Post-race, since so many of our club was at the race, we had to go to breakfast.

 

Race Review – Kankakee River Valley Jingle Bell 5K

Overall, I recommend this race.

PROS: Closed course, variety of terrain (paved roads, gravel), somewhat scenic (the campus we were on had some attractive buildings and part of the course went by the Kankakee River), two water stations on the course (actually just one but you passed it twice), free parking at the race site, indoor area for before/after the race (necessary for a December race), gear check (not totally necessary since the available parking was not too far from the race site), indoor bathrooms, race day packet pick-up, “late” start (9am), not too crowded (400+ runners), walkers had a separate start a minute after the runners. Also, great post-race spread – PowerAde, Coconut Water (yummm), Clif Bars, Bananas, homemade soup, and CHICAGO DOUGH PIZZA!!! (My favorite … We had our rehearsal dinner there. Seriously.) Awards were to the top three men and women overall, and then the top three standard 5 year age groups.

CONS: The race had electronic timing, but there was no timing mat at the start, only the finish, so it was technically gun (er, air horn) timed. The shirt was long sleeve, but cotton, so it’ll just be used as pajamas for me. Kankakee is a bit of a hike to get to (unless you live in or near Kankakee … I live pretty far down in the south suburbs and it still took me 45 minutes to get there).

Cost of the race was $30, but between the Schwaggle, my Active Advantage 20% discount, and a Schwaggle credit I had, I paid $2.