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I planned on this race being my “come back”.  I had a couple of rough months at the beginning of the school year in which ALL my training was done of the treadmill at 4 AM and the thought of training just didn’t go over well with me.  I had several lack luster weeks of running (that I feel were kind of a hang over from taking some time off in the summer) and I just couldn’t get my butt into gear.

Well, volleyball season ended at the end of October and I was ready to train – and train hard.  I had 2 weeks until the Run to the Lights 5K in Branson with Matt and then I would have 4 weeks to train to run a fast 5K.  I was determined to at least beat my post-pregnancy PR of 20:59.  I was also determined to beat my brother, who convinced me to run the race with him.  Spoiler alert:  I only achieved one of those goals.

It was chilly Saturday morning, but luckily they provided a Santa hat and gloves (and beard) for the race.  And no, sorry there are no pictures of me wearing a Santa beard.  I know you’re disappointed.

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Not me.

Brian and I warmed up together with a quick jog around the block and then made our way to the front of the pack.  It was pretty cool to see so many people dressed up like Santa, but it also made it ridiculously hard to find ANYONE in the crowd.  And I broke the runner rule of not wearing the race shirt the day of the race – you kind of had to with this race.

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After a few quick instructions, we were off.  My legs felt heavy and tingly and I was worried that this was not going to be a good race.  Brian and I wanted to both be around 21, so we tried to stay together as much as possible.  But, I could tell he was feeling it more that I was.  It wasn’t until about a half mile or so in I really felt ready to run.

I made a big mistake and didn’t look at the race course ahead of time.  I just ran the Mo’Cowbell 5K at the same place at the beginning of October, so I just assumed that the course was the same – flat and fast.  However, the Santa Dash took an entirely different route that involved several rolling hills (although nothing compared to GO! St. Louis).  But, after the first hill, I felt pretty good and just ran what felt comfortable hard.  I’ve stopped wearing watches during races since I tend to over think my pace when I do.  Instead, I just go by feel and run as fast as I can for 3.1  miles.

While I couldn’t see the lead car because of all the twists and turns, I could see the one gal in front of me and at one point I heard someone tell her she was the first female.  I kept her in my sight the entire race but couldn’t get enough strength in me to pull up to her and pass her.

When we finally got to a point where it was literally all downhill til the finish, my brother started pulling away – and I actually let him.  While I still felt pretty good, my legs just didn’t have it in them to keep up.  I struggle a lot with a kick at the end of races – even my last 5K that I ran in 34 minutes with my friend, I couldn’t pull out a last second sprint.  I’m working on it, believe me!

When we turned toward the finish line, I could tell the clock was in the teens – 18 or 19 minutes.  But, I couldn’t do it.  Once I got close enough, I saw the 20:47 and knew I had to at least attempt a kick at the end to get under 21.  I crossed the finish line at 20:59, but my chip time was 20:57.

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A post-pregnancy PR.  2nd overall female.  1st in my age group.

Not too bad for only 4 weeks of “real” training.  Thank goodness it’s FINALLY the off season!

Can you kick it in at the end of a race?  Are you happy racing season is finally over?