Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lincoln County - Lincoln County Family YMCA Jingle Bell 5k - December 20, 2008

One of the things we love about North Carolina is that the weather is good for running year-round, plus you occasionally get blessed with a 60-degree day in the middle of December! That was the case for the Lincoln County Family YMCA Jingle Bell 5k in Lincolnton, where the mercury pushed up into the 60s on December 20, plenty warm enough to just need a t-shirt and shorts for the race.

This race is a fundraiser for the Lincoln County YMCA and some of the programs they offer. Lincoln County, one of the smaller counties in the middle of the state, is considered an "exurb" of Charlotte, and their YMCA put on a really good race. I figured Lincoln County was a good "get" because there aren't many races in the county that I have found so far.

In addition to the balmy weather, the runners were rewarded with a well-organized and pleasant 5k through the neighborhoods around the Gaston College Senior Center. There was plenty of music, food, Christmas costumes -- and a very good Santa and Mrs. Claus for the entertainment of the runners. The overall winners in the 5k and the mile fun-run all received Christmas wreaths, and the age group winners received ceramic Christmas ornaments shaped like bells with the race name and date on the front (very nice). And the race t-shirts were very nice, a charcoal heather with contrasting colors for the race info and sponsor logos. Well done for a small race.

The first mile of the race zigzagged through the neighborhoods around the campus, where we saw lots of Christmas decorations and bemused homeowners wondering what was going on. The middle of the race included a very enjoyable mile-plus along Lincolnton's rail-to-trail greenway, a nice flat stretch with a former rail tunnel along the way. Once we left the greenway, we returned to the campus through some other neighborhoods and a back road to the college. There were lots of very encouraging volunteers directing the way, plus helpful officers making sure we could cross the biggest street a couple of times. The "downtown" Lincolnton area was also decorated to the hilt for the holidays, with lots of lights and greenery on the main street and around the county courthouse; it was a shame we couldn't run down the decorated street, but the course as they designed it was pretty nice. (The non-greenway miles were surprisingly hilly; you wouldn't guess from the downtown Lincolnton area that were that many hills.)

My goal was just to have a good time with the run and jog along easily; I hadn't done the training to go after a PR (and with the hills it's a good thing I didn't try) and my right Achilles tendon was still nagging me for some reason. So I focused on jogging along, enjoying the Christmas decorations and the atmosphere and stumbled my way in with a very relaxed 34-minute 5k. My ears perked up at the awards ceremony when they mentioned an award for the runner who had come the longest way to participate, but unfortunately for me there was a woman from Canada running.

I had a great time at the Lincoln County Family YMCA Jingle Bell 5k, and I wouldn't mind coming back to do this race again. The organizers put on a great race, and with Santa, the elves, the jingling bells, and the homemade chocolate-chip cookies post-race, it was easy to get into the Christmas running spirit. :-)

No comments: