Jingle all the way…tales from the Jingle Bell half

My last race of the year involved some firsts… The first time I ran a half-marathon I didn’t actually train for, the first time I ran one in December, and the first time I ran one with friends the whole way.

And I gotta say – it may have been my favorite race of the year.

The Jingle Bell half is held in Atkinson NH. A tiny town just across the border from Massachusetts. In fact, the course is actually in two states. And, on the road to the country club that served as home base for it, I had to stop for a flock of turkeys crossing the road. 🙂

I parked in the muddy parking lot and thought dang, shoulda worn the gtx sneakers. Oh well.

Got to the country club building and was greeted by the strains of Jingle Bell Rock. How perfect!!

Because I got there nice and early I had no line for pickup and was delighted to see Santa on both my bib and shirt. Yippee!!!

I so love anything Christmas. 🙂

I found my friends as they arrived. And their friends. And felt so quickly welcomed into a group of like-minded strangers who felt like instant friends. All of us crazy enough to go run 13.1 miles in the cold and slush, dressed in red and green and sparkles and holiday socks and even a full body Santa suit (go Rob!).

My friends offered to help me PR. I told them I didn’t have it in me and just wanted to run it fun. I also told them they go just go ahead, but they insisted on keeping me company. And so glad they did.

I can’t wait to see the race photos – because we totally mugged for all the cameras we sound. 🙂

The course itself was fantastic. Some rolling hills but nothing too challenging. It looped through some neighborhoods and some scenic woodsy areas and past a lake with some Ah-mazing houses.

The volunteers were fantastic – there at every turn with a smile and words of encouragement. And even warnings on the slick spots.

One house had a tent and blared AC-DC. Another had eye of the tiger playing. And my friends stopped for a couple photo ops with great signs like “your couch misses you” and “hurry up, I’m cold”. Lol

As they are much faster runners than I am, I kept going and let them catch up.

Running easy and chatting, I barely noticed the miles go by.

And at mile 10.5…the water stop included hot cocoa and Lindt truffles. My friends got in line for them and I kept going. Wasn’t sure I was coordinated enough for cocoa. Plus I couldn’t feel my fingers and didn’t want to slide them out of my sleeves. Lol

At mile 11 they still hadn’t caught me. And I made a vow. If they weren’t there by mile 13 I would stop and wait. But they caught me only a couple minutes later. Yay!!

And they pushed my pace. Or maybe I had pushed it without realizing it. I never looked at my watch. Didn’t wanna, didn’t need to.

So that last mile back on the country club grounds, which was one gradual uphill, was my fastest. A 9:06 mile. Sweet!!

The mile 13 marker was right before the turn to the finish. We turned and kicked and had hoped to finish three across. But it got crowded and we got separated and I had to cut between two girls I almost tripped on. With one friend behind me and the other somewhere to the right. That was the only disappointing part of the race, that we didn’t quite get the finish we wanted. Oh well.

So my finish time was a 2:10:35. That is my second fastest half of the year. Without trying. Maybe I shoulda gone for a PR. Lol

The medal was adorable too. A piece of handcarved Vermont wood with the race logo on it. It’s currently on my Christmas tree. And will eventually end up on a ribbon with the others. But it looks perfect where it is for now.

Post-race was great. There was beer and soup and cocoa and other snacks. But I was drenched. And cold. And shivering. And just wanted my change of clothes and warm car. So after reconnecting with the group and a brief hang-out, we called it a day.

And I so want to run this again next year. There aren’t many races that I think that. But this one is a keeper.

Thank you my friends for giving me such a fun morning!! It was the perfect Christmas gift. 🙂

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