Take That, Storm Desmond! Jingle Bells 5k Race Report!

Well, this was it. The big test of my fitness and abilities since the marathon. The Donore Harriers Jingle Bells 5k Race.  I’d been told so many times that running a marathon would mean an improvement in shorter race times. In the days leading up to this race I was feeling anxious, because I didn’t want to run it and discover that nothing had changed. I wasn’t chasing a PB for the sake of a PB, but I really did want to see that I had improved as a runner and that I’d be able to give it my all in a race and see a difference.

If nothing had changed, I would have been so dejected and disheartened. So I went into the race a little bit afraid, a lot nervous but also very determined.

My coach had given me a good strategy for the race…to run the first two miles at a pace of between 12:15-12:25 min/mile, then just let it all out and give it my best for the last mile (yes, I’m still training in miles!).

That was the strategy and I stuck to it; even in the midst of Storm Desmond and some pretty intense weather conditions!

The morning of:

Race prep was easy. Up at 8am for toast with peanut butter and banana. Got dressed and all my gear on (with one exception! More later!) and I was ready with time to spare.

I think my nerves, or my nervous thoughts at least, got the better of me and I made a few mistakes that I normally wouldn’t do. One of those mistakes was getting off the bus two stops early. I felt bad for the guy who followed me off the bus! He is new to Dublin and assumed I knew where I was going! Ah well, we got a lovely warm up in as we walked to the park and chatted about running!

The second thing I did, which I didn’t find out until I’d gotten to the start line (early, thankfully!) was forget to put my chip on my shoe! I couldn’t believe it when I realized! I jogged down to the clubhouse and luckily I was able to get a new number and chip. I walked back up to the start line still with 20 minutes to spare so it wasn’t a total disaster and I got an extra warm up in!

Hanging around the start I met a few running friends and said hello. Then I stuck my bag in the bag van and went to find a spot in the (chaotic!) start line.

While waiting for the start, my Garmin started acting up. Normally I’d be ok with that but today, without a start mat, I really needed the Garmin time! Oh yeah, about that…due to the weather being so windy the race organizers had decided it was too dangerous to place a starting mat. So all times would be based off gun time.  We had a false start at first, and during the second real start, I hung back a little until I had the signal for my Garmin. Then, I hit ‘start’ and off I went!

Mile 1: 12.25

The first mile was a bit of a challenge with lots of people and kids to contend with. I tried not to weave and dodge but sometimes it couldn’t be helped. I really wanted to push for the pace my coach had set for me so I was happy when I got onto the next section of road and found a clear spot.

It was windy though! I was finally running fast enough to still be around people so I tried to tuck in behind some runners as experienced runners had suggested. This didn’t really work as the wind was changing direction all over the place. Oh well, I had managed to get to a good pace and was happy to be holding on to it. (To clarify, I am usually so slow that I often run races alone…this race was different!)

It wasn’t easy though. 1st mile and I was already hurting! But, hurting is good. I remembered on a running form I’m on, and what people had said about runners who are working hard, breathe hard and that hurt is a good thing. I knew I was working hard so that kept me going.

Mile 2: 12.21

More running with a cross wind, mostly running with a kids running club (very energetic kids they were!) around me and then a left hand turn onto the next section where the wind hit me right in the face. Honestly, some gusts were so strong they blew me backwards! I had to work harder to hold my pace, and I was a bit worried about getting to the end of the road…the end of mile 2 where I was supposed to pick up the pace! I had to up the effort level against the wind to keep the pace I was setting but even though it was hurting, I still felt capable of it, if that makes any sense.

Mile 3: 11:18

Toughest mile by far. I know the section of the course like the back of my hand so I didn’t have to worry about the route or anything. I was able to concentrate on just pure running. Towards the beginning of the mile I noticed my pace had dropped to 10:57 min/m which I felt was unsustainable considering I still had the bulk of a mile left to go so I slowed down a tad. I think it was the right decision in the end considering the state I was in at the finish.

From here, I started picking off people to pass and ended up passing all of them. That felt good!

The finish line was at the bottom of a hill, but running down the hill wasn’t the bonus it could have been, the wind against me nearly cancelled out the downhill effect! But, I still legged it to the finish, even though my body was hurting and I could feel my throat starting to close up as I was on the verge of having to hurl. No way was I stopping though, not this close to the finish! I’m not really used to approaching a finish line with other runners but luckily I didn’t have to dodge anyone and I ran straight through.

Stopped my Garmin at 37.07. Official gun time 38:06. Either way you look at it, it’s a PB. (I should add, I’m going more by my watch time because I’m not sure where the actual starting line was, and I had been moving so slowly after the gun went, trying to get my Garmin to connect. It does register 3.1 miles so I think it’s ok.)


Confession time: This was really the first time I’ve ever tried to actually race a 5k. Previous races I always held back a little, afraid of pushing myself and maybe not finishing or running so hard I hurl in front of everyone. Now that I’m aiming for faster times, I know that I can’t hold back like I used to. One thing I’ve learned during marathon training was that no matter how hard or how long or how exhausting the run, it’s not debilitating and I will recover. I can’t be afraid anymore; or rather, I can be afraid but I can’t let that fear hold me back.

Anyway, after the race I was very wobbly on my legs! I felt like a newborn deer trying to stay standing! Luckily I ran into (haha! More like wobbled!) a friend and he helped steady me while I got my bag and post-race rewards. Once I got my legs under control I ended up heading for the pub with friends.  Nothing like a cold pint and a chat with friends after a race. A well deserved reward for having prepared for, and run this race so well.

All in all I think it was a good race, I was glad to have a strategy suited to my level, and I’m very glad for the PB. Giving credit where credit is due, thanks to my coach for the training plan and support thus far!


6 thoughts on “Take That, Storm Desmond! Jingle Bells 5k Race Report!

  1. Thanks for your blog.I’m newish to running and starting towards a half. It’s brilliant to have some honest writing to compare to and help push me.

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