Sunday, December 15, 2013

Joe's Jingle Bell 5K race report

Submitted by Joe Passarelli @Joe85963835

OK, so the Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk for Arthritis is a huge success!! From November 2 in Marshall, MN to December 24th in Kuwait City it has or is being run at over 100 cities with over 150,000 participants! So far the Jingle Bell  Run for Arthritis Foundation, the largest fundraising run/walk campaign ever has raised $7,309,021 to find a cure!

It was our 1st ever run in Sacramento CA for the Arthritis Foundation, with 496 brave souls showing up for a 28 degree 8:30 am starting time! Some of the younger runners had the luxury of single or duel running strollers with blankets, food and drink while being pushed, while others ran the 5Ks at a full sprint. The whole way! Most runners, joggers and walkers were just happy to be there and to share the good feelings and holiday cheer. The local foundation put on a very holiday themed pre and post race party with coffee, hot chocolate, fruit, water, nutrition bars, music and fun. Santa Claus himself showed up in a sleigh! Everyone wore a Christmas themed costume, varying from my red ball cap type Santa hat to a Christmas tree! A full on flocked, decorated and lit up tree! The tree finished well before me! Sheesh! Beat by a tree!

Everyone was in great spirits and the start went off without a hitch. I took off at a good run to get warmed up. As we passed the 1st mile mark along the American River, a live band played and sang a Dean Martin version of "Jingle Bells." At the watering hole at 1.5 miles a Santa dress Elvis sang "Here comes Santa Clause." Even with the cold wind blowing off the river he was in fine form! I was hard pressed to run more then 1 minutes to every 10 minutes walking. As I approached the bend towards the 2nd mile marker I thought I might have pushed way too hard and in my exhaustion was hearing the Angels coming to take me to a heavenly reward. Then, through the blur of my surroundings either as I was fading out of conscientiousness or because of my blazing pace (turns out to be neither), I saw ahead an angel-dressed acapella group from Sacramento State University sing an angelic "It came upon a midnight clear"! Very inspirational and beautiful. My tears of pain were misinterpreted as being emotional…

I trudged onward, cold to the bone. Then, as the finish line loomed in the final 100 yards (seemed like a mile) I gave it my final push and ran as hard as I could. Partially to finish strong, partly to look good doing it in front of the crowd and partially to beat the very sweet but very competitive young girl who was laughing, pointing and sipping a tippy-cup as her mother push the running-stroller hard to pass me!

Well, I won that race and the little girl still laughed and pointed. Oh well. I did finish 6th in my age group! And I finished 243rd overall. OK, there were only 10 in my mens 60 - 64 age group,

Along the way a few times I seriously prayed for and thought deeply of all the folks and causes on my #RUN3rd list.

"With every beat of a runner’s heart, with every pounding step, life itself is affirmed. And so, it costs nothing, yet can mean everything for any runner, for me, to make a simple dedication, to say that these steps I am taking are not mine to own. It means something to me to declare that because I am alive and I care for others…3rd, I run for YOU"
—Sean Astin, our founder and fearless leader.

With 10 days until Christmas day, I will rest and enjoy my wonderful life, family and friends. Casual walks and strolls along the river will carry me over until I begin training again for a 5k in JANUARY 2014!

Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas!

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