The Jingle Bell Run is always festive and fun, with the real challenge being the weather. It is always hard to leave a warm bed, especially when Oregon weather in December being less than cozy. Thankfully, this year was an exception, with a dry and relatively warm morning awaiting us. With a focus towards running another solid 5K in the 16:30 range to augment the winter training, this was an event I had been looking forward to. It was a bonus to enjoy part of my warm up in the company of the esteemed Joe Dudman, talking about races past.
There were a half-dozen singlets of each gender featuring the bold blue colors of the Portland Running Company Race Team at the start line. I have seen them at several regional races and they definitely have a few members to watch out for. After the gun, and a strong start by several men, I found myself about 6 places back from the lead. Typical for my strategy, I let them draw away a little as I found my rhythm and gradually pulled up next to the leader about three-quarters of a mile in. We ran next to each other until the hill just before the turn around, as I surged to take the lead. My confidence in that area always pushes me to make a move on inclines and I was hoping to seal the race then. I held pace on the way back, as the cheers from those heading in the other direction let me know my opponent was right on my heels. Literally so, as on one of the last corners he lightly clipped the back of my foot. We ended up side by side again before the final stretch before he made his move and slowly drew away. It was a fun, hard-fought race, and showed my weakness in speed and strong finishes, Time to get back to work and be ready for the next one!
After the race we enjoyed bananas, bagels and hot chocolate to recuperate. Retrieving our clothes that had a little more substance at the gear check was a breeze as well. They had boxes of shirts from last years event for free, which was a hit. The small army of elves, Rudolph and Santa pictures really added to the holiday spirit in the commons area. This is always a fun event, if not a warm one, as it combines both aspects of fun and competitive running.