Do the hustle!
A few weeks ago, Meghan said “Let’s do the Santa Hustle!” So I signed up for the 5K that day before she corrected me: no, we were signing up for the half marathon.
Our marathon training program called for 13 miles this week so it only made sense that we would do the distance in a fun way while dressed as Santas. Sure I had JD’s Christmas party the night before but we weren’t going to race this race – we’d just do it the same way we’d treat any training run: with walking breaks as necessary and at an easy pace.
We picked up our packets yesterday and I absolutely love the fact that the gear included a red Santa tech shirt, a Santa hat and a Santa beard. This was one race where you are supposed to wear your race shirt to the race and the thought of running like Santa surely made me smile. How could it not?
I called it a semi-early night at our Christmas party and woke up to Meghan and her boyfriend Jake honking their horn at 8am. I jumped in absolutely exhausted, with a horrible cold and a grumpy attitude. What I really wanted to do is stay snuggled in bed, wake up to watch a movie and relax all Sunday. I did NOT want to run a half marathon this morning.
The only positive, other than the adorable outfit, was that the weather was perfect. Fifty degrees in December!
We got there plenty early and both Meg and I kept ourselves in denial that we had a half-marathon to do. Back in full marathon-training mode, 13 miles would have been a cake walk. But at this stage, it’s the farthest I have run since the Chicago Marathon in October. The distance and more importantly, the timing chip, intimidated me. My time would be public for the world to see and judge. I know I am not at my fastest and I certainly didn’t treat my body like a temple this weekend and I was nervous about what that chip would reveal.
So with all of this in our head, Meg and I distracted ourselves with silly pictures next to massive fictional Christmas characters.
Every single mile dragged on. No seriously – for those of you who have done distance races, most of the time, you are surprised by how the miles fly by. “Oh, we are at mile 6 already?” Nope. Not this time. I remember every single mile marker and how they felt way too far apart. We also managed to run hills. Oh, you didn’t think there were hills in Indiana? Well jolly old St Nick found every conceivable uphill in a 13.1 mile radius from White River State Park and made the wolfpack of Santas run up them all.
The water stations were plentiful and there were even candy and cookie stations. I loved seeing the red stream of runners taking over the streets, but have to admit – those that decided to adorn their outfit with bells? There is a special place in running hell for them. I prefer not to listen to jingling and jangling with every footfall for 13.1 miles.
Meg and I stopped at mile 6 and took a “halfway-ish” picture. We had fought for those miles more than we have in past half marathons and were thrilled to see a light at the end of a tunnel.
A mile or so later, we came upon a group of girls singing Christmas songs. Given my stance on bells, you’d think I would be annoyed by this but I actually loved their spirit. As we approached the biggest, dumbest hill of the course, one of them said “Team decision: we are walking up that hill.” I told the girl “Well, if you insist!” She asked if we wanted to be part of their team and so we sang a little diddy with them and walked up that hill (which, for the record, still was hard as heck to get up!)
We didn’t have a watch and really had no idea what our pace was. It felt fast – and only continued to get faster as we got closer to the end. We took plenty of walking breaks through the water stops and up the bad hills, which allowed us to reset and continue running as fast as we could manage. Jake found us at mile 9 on his bike and saw us again a few times until the end. At mile 12, we saw Adam and his kids cheering for us!
The last few miles were silent. Other than me repetitively asking Meg “where are we?” and saying “this is the ugliest part of Indy,” we never talked. We were too winded and working too hard. The last mile especially – it was painful getting across that finish line!
But we DID get across the finish line. No matter the grumpy attitude at the beginning, the exhaustion and part-hangover. No matter how out of shape I feel and know that I am so much slower than I have been in the past. This morning – instead of sleeping and relaxing – we got up and ran 13.1 miles in 2:17:03.
And we looked like Santa.