Shivering by the river in Muhlenberg PA
Today is the 12th of December 2021 and Christmas is 13 days away! It’s also the second Sunday in December and the start of the 34th Annual SHIVER BY THE RIVER 5K & 10K Winter Race series. Each year this 4 race series is held by the PAGODA PACERS athletic club (PAC) , a regional Berks County running club founded in 1980. Shiver by the River is held on the second Sunday of each month at 10AM from December through March. The course starts at Dietrich Park Muhlenberg and loops though a nearby housing community before heading back to the park. The course is well-marked and staffed by volunteers to keep you con course . The race is timed by another local running giant, PRETZEL CITY SPORTS (PCS).
Although SHIVER is not specifically a Christmas-themed race, the first race of the series usually marks one of the last times local runners can wish one another a Merry Christmas before December 25th. The ONLY one other local race between now and then is PCS’s Humbug Bustle 5K on Dec 18th. On the day after Christmas, the PAGODA PACERS will hold a 5 Mile Kris Kringle Run in Leesport PA. Many runners today, (myself included) dressed in Christmas running attire.
4 Winter Running Tips
- Always have a hat and gloves YOU MIGHT NEED THEM
- Always have a running jacket YOU MIGHT NEED IT
- Always have shoe-cleats YOU MIGHT NEED THEM
- Always have a dry change of clothes YOU MIGHT NEED IT
In the winter, temperatures can vary drastically by region. Today in Berks County, it was 43°F (6°C). The sun was shining brightly, but there were occasional wind gusts. It was cool enough that I was very glad I had a runner’s jacket in my car. Just my red t-shirt would not have been enough, buy my Santa Cap kept my head warm. Thankfully we have yet to have a regional snowfall, so the streets were nice and dry. It was just warm enough that I could keep my jacket un-zipped to vent, so I did not work up a sweat. The key to safe winter running is to be prepared for the unexpected. On a short 5K loop, the furthest distance away from your vehicle may only be 2.5K (1.55 miles) but that can be a cold and miserable run back. You can always shed a layer if you need to, but it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Hypothermia kills.
Know your limits
The Shiver series gives you the OPTION of doing a second 5K lap provided you make the first round before the designated cutoff time of 50 minutes.
I have ALWAYS run the second lap ever since I started in 2019. Today I had every intention of doing so once again. Unfortunately for the past 5 months I have been plagued by a hamstring injury that just will not heal. I was doing well up until mile 2.5, then I began to feel the discomfort in the back of my knee. I did get my lap in before the cutoff time, but I could not be certain that I could finish a second lap if I dared it. I hesitated 15 seconds before I turned right to the finish line instead of left to an uncertain outcome. Yes, I was disappointed that my knee let me down once again, but IF I had not listened to my body and stopped when I did, I might have made things worse and possibly missed even more upcoming races.
Running is supposed to be fun
The joy of running these great local races held by both PAC and PSC is that you get to see familiar faces and are surrounded by friends. The power of a few encouraging words and thumbs-up from your fellow runners can be all the difference between a good time and a bad one. I carried a small Bluetooth speaker in my running bag today and played upbeat Christmas music as I ran. I wished people Merry Christmas. I told people they were doing great, and they had this in the bag. I had a good time that my non-running friends will never get, and I outran everyone who sat home. I had a great time.
ANOTHER YEAR OVER, A NEW ONE HAS BEGUN!
In regards to running 2021 didn’t turn out the way I intended. I got hurt, missed races, and my times went from personal bests to personal worsts. The good news is that I was able to run as many races as I did. I didn’t quit, I didn’t give up. My times are slowly dropping back towards my normal, and hopefully by Spring I’ll be able to start running half-marathons again, and by November I’ll be ready for that elusive Philly Marathon that keeps slipping through my fingers. I would not be half the runner I am today were it not for the support and encouragement of all my running friends.
Well this closes the book on another year, as Christmas is in less than two weeks. InstantCoffeeWisdom will return in the New Year. Be sure to check back on Janury 9th 2022 for another article.
As always, I wish you success and happiness, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!