A Christmas Story 5K Recap

I’m back to running.  After a short break, I joined my husband on some simple one mile loops around our block.  I’m feeling good, but not loving the cold weather that Cleveland is offering up right now.  Have you visited our beautiful city by the lake?  I love this place, and as I grow older, I’ve come to appreciate it more and more. Winters are tough, but the snow is one of my favorite parts about living here.  The mornings when I wake up and it envelopes the house and yard are incredibly peaceful.  Running in the snow has its own special reward-the feeling that you conquered something bigger than you.  Add in the trails that circle my home city and extend south, and you have a recipe for some of the most beautiful running I’ve ever done.  I respect the history of our town- the underdog theme that permeates our sports teams, the recovery that we have made from the days of the burning river, the renaissance that is happening in the downtown area.  If you’re from Cleveland, you know what I’m talking about. And it’s possible, perhaps, that our city’s personality influences your own.  If you’re not from here, visit us-maybe to run the Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon, or to see the house where “A Christmas Story” was filmed.  Which reminds me of why I sat down to write this blog post to begin with…….

Tree Lighting on Public Square
Tree Lighting on Public Square

Maybe you’ve seen “A Christmas Story.”  It’s an excellent Christmas movie and we Clevelanders own it.  It is a part of our city’s fiber.  Filmed here in the early 1980s, the movie showcases some of the best parts of our town.  If you haven’t seen it, you should.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of the filming of the movie. Ralphie’s house is now a fully restored museum that celebrates the movie and Cleveland’s role in its filming.  To celebrate, the museum put on a 5K and 10K race on December 7th.  I signed up, thanks to an awesome Groupon discount of $20, and signed Phil up too.

Race morning revealed itself as only a race morning in Cleveland in December can-temperatures peaking in the mid-20s, cloudy skies and roads that had iced over thanks to cold, driving winds over night.  Phil and I layered up- I went with 3 layers of shirts (my should-be-patented “wicking, warming, waterproof” layers) and tights with wind pants over the top. Add on gloves, head band, and Santa hat and I was starting to feel like Ralphie’s little brother from the movie.


Phil and I headed down to Public Square for the 9am start, got great parking nearby and ice skated, I mean walked, over to the starting area.  We were early enough that we had time to visit with some of my favorite Cleveland running friends before we headed out to the start. Costumes abounded at this race-kudos to all of those that put so much effort in to looking authentic.  Phil and I headed out to the start at the last possible minute and lined up with the 9:30/mile pace group.  Pace groups at a 5K/10K?  Fantastic in my opinion.  The 5K course was a point-to-point, taking us from Public Square (the site of the former Higbee’s store seen in the movie) to Ralphie’s house 3 miles away.  The 10K runners would loop back to the starting area.

Phil and I ran conservatively-we were both worried about ice and slush on the roads, and I was just plain worried about coming back to a 5K race after nearly 3 weeks of little to no running.  I was thrilled to be keeping up with the 9:30 pacer, and even more thrilled when we passed him. The course was great, including a trek over the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga.  The crowd was happy and festive-lots of red and green along the way.  We skipped the water stop and tried to keep a steady pace through the finish.  I crossed in 28:29, nowhere near my PR, but I was happy with the results.  Even happier when I came home later and found out I was 30th out of 394 women in my age group.  Top 10%?  That seems unbelievable to me, a constant middle of the pack runner.


The swag at this race was great:  leg lamp t-shirt, leg lamp medal and a great bib. We grabbed great snacks at the finish line (Ovaltine!) and made the trek to buses waiting to drive us back to the finish line.  We hopped on a warm bus, took the 10 minute ride back to the starting line and headed home.  Best bonus?  Free tickets to tour Ralphie’s house.  We’re taking the kiddos to see it before Christmas. They’re Clevelanders, after all.

4 thoughts on “A Christmas Story 5K Recap

  1. Tai Fung (@tai_fung) December 10, 2013 / 10:44 pm

    It’s probably very unsurprising to hear that someone loves “A Christmas Story,” but, well, I absolutely love it. And the idea of a race involving the show sounds fantastic.

    Anyway, don’t be too surprised by your placement — what happens quite often for runners/triathletes who are active online is that we tend to race more often, or even just THINK about racing more often. And then you associate with others who do the same, as everyone talks training/fueling. So the universe around you narrows, and it seems like everyone is posting monster numbers for running times. But then, you go out to other races, and run comfortably, and there you are in the elite percentages. Because there are lots of runners out there, and not everyone spends a lot of time working as hard as your smaller universe does. So soak it in and enjoy!

  2. Holly December 17, 2013 / 7:15 pm

    Hi Jess, I’m pretty sure you were in my reader but I had not commented before. Great to meet you in person first!

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