Did anyone else wake up on Saturday, December 7 ready to brave the cold and run A Christmas Story 5K or 10K? Alexandra, my friend Dan, and I did! It was a great way to cap off my 2013 race season.
When I first heard about this race, I knew I had to run it. The run was to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie A Christmas Story, which is one of my fave Christmas movies, in addition to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Also, with the Christmas Story House located Cleveland, supporting a local and famous landmark was a no-brainer. Lastly, all runners would receive a leg lamp shirt and finisher medal. SOLD! Originally, Lex was not going to do this race, but our friend Susie was unable to run and gave Lex her registration (thanks, Susie!). I changed my registration from the 10K to 5K to run with Lex, and she was beyond excited to give 3.1 another go.
Lex and I woke up early on race day, dressed in many, many layers, and were out the door a little around 7:30. I was incredibly thankful for our wonderful babysitter, Katie, who came to the house to watch Annie, Cole, and Cael (and she quickly became Cole’s new girlfriend, according to him) and for Dan, who drove us to the race (you all know about Cleveland driving and me). We got to Public Square around 8:15ish and sat in the car to stay warm. The temperature read 24 degrees, and we were in no hurry to get out in the cold. Plus, Lex was already freezing her “booty” off, so we sat in the car until 8:45 and then walked to the start.
There were tons of people gathered around Public Square, ready to start the race. While I had hoped to see some of the other Cleveland Marathon bloggers, I knew it would be pretty impossible to find them in the sea of people. We moved toward the middle of the crowd in an effort to stay warm and got ourselves ready. A nice lady saw Alexandra shivering and gave her some handwarmers, which were greatly appreciated. The gun went off shortly after, and we waited. It took about 10 minutes for us to get to the start line, and then we were off and running!
Alexandra didn’t get to train for this race due to schedule and weather, so the plan was to just run until she couldn’t and then walk. We also planned to keep the pace nice and slow to allow her to run as far as possible. The first mile came and went, and Lex was still going strong, despite running up and down the Carnegie Bridge. She even commented on how it was hard to maneuver around the walkers on the course.
Lex kept chugging along and showed no signs of slowing down. I kept asking how she felt and was pleased that she wasn’t tired or wanted to walk. She just kept running. Along the course, I could hear remarks about how cute she looked running (that’s my girl!) She did look pretty damn cute in her semi-ugly sweater and Santa hat. We got to the second mile, and she was feeling great. Only 1.1 miles left!
On the course, we heard someone yelling for us. We turned around and saw my cousins Kathy and John, who were also running the race. We stopped for a quick photo op and continued with the run. I had to laugh that Lex was worried about the impact the short stop would have on her time…such a runner.
Once we hit the 3-mile mark, I told her to kick it in, and she eagerly picked up the pace. It was so cute to see her weave in and out of the slower runners as she tried to sprint to the finish, and I kept yelling out words of encouragement to her. There was a bit of a bottleneck at the finish line, so she was not able to finish at a full-out sprint like she had planned. That didn’t matter, though, because she had completed her second 5K and ran the entire thing! She was beaming from ear to ear, and I was a super proud momma!
After we collected our fabulous finisher medals and snacks, we walked to the shuttle area to hitch our ride back to Public Square. My mouth almost hit the ground when I realized how long the line was for the buses. We took our place in line and waited…and waited…and waited. The run took us about 35 minutes, and we waited about 25 minutes for a bus, which was a real downer after all the fun we had. I was thankful that my friend Christopher found us in line because he let Lex use his race shirt as a blanket. By the time we got on, Lex was almost an ice cube, but at least she was a happy ice cube. She kept admiring her medal, which made me smile. She also commented that she can’t wait to run another 5K, but she wants to do it when it’s warmer out. Good call, Lex!
I was pretty happy with the race experience, but there were a few things that could be improved upon for subsequent years. The course got a little crazy when the lead 10K runners were making their way back from the Christmas Story House to Public Square for their finish. I felt bad for them because the course wasn’t marked to keep the 5K racers to one side, so the 10K runners had to go against traffic. I could only imagine how mad they were with this. The finish line and finishers’ area were incredibly congested with people trying to get in the gift shop, go inside the Christmas Story House, and grab finisher medals and snacks. It was just one big cluster of people that was very hard to navigate. The bright spot in this mess of people – seeing my friend Kelly! The race also advertised that there would be hot Ovaltine at the finish. There was none. While I absolutely love chocolate milk after a run, it wasn’t a satisfying replacement for Ovaltine. Lastly, the bus situation made me want to pull my hair out! Everyone was freezing, and all 5K racers had to take the buses back to Public Square for our cars. It was completely understandable that there would be long lines. The upsetting part was busses were pulling to the opposite side of the road where there was no mile long line of people, and those coming from the finish rushed the bus instead of waiting in line like everyone else. Those people proceeded to fill the seats and wave to all of us in line as they drove past. So. Unbelievably. Frustrating. But enough complaining. The most important part is Alexandra had fun and was able to run the whole race, and we were able to take part in the very first A Christmas Story run. And we didn’t shoot our eye out.