Running, especially when speaking about races, can take on a competitive component. We are always striving for the next PR to prove to ourselves that we have improved in our abilities and all those long hours on the road were worth it. Yet, one of the dangers this tendency invites is that we forget how much we love running in general. Buddy the Elf puts it so well (and yes, every time you read it you will hear it said in Will Farrell's voice).
As a result, I was pretty excited when I signed up in the beginning of November for the Ugly Sweater Run. In reading about the various aspects of the run (offering hot chocolate to me is a definite selling point), I began to look forward to participating in the event where no chips or timers would be in sight. My runs lately have been really enjoyable to the point that my iPod had no juice left in it from sitting unused for so many weeks. In approaching this 5K run, I only had one goal in mind - just enjoy myself.
The anticipation for the event was great as I began my hunt from an ugly sweater to wear. After checking the sweater aisle in a variety of stores throughout Black Friday shopping, I eventually found what I was searching for at the local Goodwill. With the sweater set out, all I needed to do now was pick up my run packet and all would be ready. Fleet Feet Pittsburgh hosted the pre-run pick-up, which is the first time I had been to this running store. In true Pittsburgher fashion, I was a little nervous about crossing over a river in order to get to the store (going outside of one's region where he or she lives is a big deal, especially if it involves using a bridge or tunnel!), but survived the ordeal. Let the Christmas-themed running shenanigans begin!
With the race having a later start time (sleep in longer? yes!), I was able to take my time getting ready and heading out the door. While I could have parked near the starting line, I passed up this option (and saved $7) by instead parking along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and running into the city. Not only is this trail my favorite in the city due to its scenery, but I also had the opportunity to warm up.
As I approached PNC Park where the race was held, the festive inflatable spirit was clearly in the air and ugly sweaters abounded all around.
With all the sights and sounds, the time until the run started flew by. The one issue was that I could feel my legs cooling down from my jog to the staging area. I did a little of static stretching and got into position to begin the run. I did start my Garmin when my grouping was released, but purely for tracking purposes and had my sleeve pulled over it the entire run. I set into a decent, but not race, pace since I wanted to just enjoy the experience. However, like any time I push myself, I could feel my shin muscles begin to tighten. I pulled back a little, but knew the rest of the run would involve lower-leg soreness. I didn't let this dampen my mood and kept trucking along. When I reached the finish line, after giving Santa a high-five, I stopped my watch and noticed that I was only a minute slower than my recent 5K PR. Cool! After a cup of hot chocolate, a selfie with an inflatable and some stretching, I made my way back to the car.
Overall, I was really happy with the day and believed I accomplished my goal. This run reminded me how much fun running can be and also helped prep me for my next race in two weeks - the Jingle Bell Run/Walk. In addition, I have now acquired an ugly sweater and hat that can make an appearance on Ugly Sweater Day at school!
Check out my run review on Bibrave!