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Santa's Reindeer Dash

Runner learns to hate sport ‘just a little bit less’ after finishing 5K

Published: 11:17AM December 13th, 2012

I hate to run just a little bit less than I did a year ago.

As the Sports and Leisure reporter for the Northwest Guardian, I cover the happenings on Joint Base Lewis-McChord with a sports and fitness tie, including the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation races. Last year I decided to run Santa’s Reindeer Dash, the final JBLM race of 2011, to see what an event was like from the participant’s perspective.

With just one training run under my belt I finished the 5K in 39 minutes. It was quite an accomplishment for someone who doesn’t like to run.

After watching and cheering for my husband as he trained and completed a half-marathon this year, I decided to test my mettle one year later at the 2012 Santa’s Reindeer Dash.

I asked my good friend Nikki Brucker to join me in the 5K race (the 10K was a little too ambitious) at Eagles Pride Golf Course outside of JBLM. Nikki’s husband, Spc. Michael Brucker, is deployed to Afghanistan with the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived near the check-in tables is the sense of community at the event. There were a number of runners in wear blue: run to remember shirts, running to honor fallen service members. The group formed a circle of remembrance near the start line before the race started to announce who they run for. Steva Brown, a Child, Youth and School Services program lead who also coaches the JBLM youth cross-country program, was out running with a group of her youth runners.

There were runners who were training for upcoming half-marathons and marathons, and there was also a JBLM Soldier who ran the 10K with a 50-pound rucksack on his back.

And amongst all those runners were Nikki and I. We cruised right along as the race got underway until the flat paved path gave way to hilly off-road terrain. I felt defeated by the time we reached the fifth hill and felt as if the finish line would never appear in sight.

“You’re almost there!” a Soldier and race volunteer hollered at us.

“Really?” We asked.

“Yeah, just a couple more miles,” he said.

Ugh.

I began to lose track of the number of runners pushing children in strollers who ran past us. And I started to think I didn’t remember the run being so difficult last year. But with Nikki by my side we pushed through, and what a feeling we experienced as we crossed the finish line ­— and finally caught our breath.

I repeated as 12th place in the female 20-29 year old division, but my time was four minutes slower than last year. Oops.

Regardless, runners were telling us “congratulations” and “great job!” I felt as though we were part of the runner’s community as we all ate fruit and drank water and hot chocolate together at the finish line.

Nikki and I are already talking about next year’s race and how we will train on hills in preparation. It’s a good thing since days after the race I was walking as if I’d aged 60 years.

See you at the start line next year.