Santa Hustle Recap

Today was my last race for the year and it was certainly an entertaining race to close out the year! The Santa Hustle offered a half marathon and a 5k option, with everyone receiving a Santa hat, beard and Santa-themed technical shirt, so there were a lot of Santa variations in the race today, however I only saw one other Hawaiian Santa (technically the guy was just running in a Hawaiian shirt and the Santa hat) and I managed to pass him around mile 8. The race was an out & back from Sevierville to Pigeon Forge. Every couple of miles there was a candy or cookie station – I didn’t see too many of the half marathoners take them during the race, but there were definitely a lot of mini M&M’s on the ground on our way back! Since I also signed up for the Jingle Bell Rock virtual run which goes from December 14-22, this race counts double!

This was definitely the most complicated outfit I’ve worn for a race (or any type of training). You can’t really see it in the picture, but I’m wearing my Pittsburgh Penguins Santa hat, there are bells on each of the flowers on my grass skirt and there are blue lights in the lei. The lights had a battery pack which I had to figure out where to put and since I didn’t want to wear a belt over the grass skirt, I ended up using a jewelry pouch safety pinned to my under shirt to hold the battery pack. Then, once I put the entire outfit on, I had to figure out where I could put the large bib. Usually I wear my bib on my shorts / pants so that it doesn’t interfere with my water belt and at first I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do that with the grass skirt, but I just added the bib on top and that actually worked pretty well.

When I got up the weather was calling for a clear (albeit cold) day, but no precipitation, however that wasn’t exactly how it turned out. Around mile 6 it started to mist / rain and by around mile 8.5 it was trying to snow, but it never really made the switch and stopped rain / snowing around mile 10. I was really warm for the first half, but after getting rained on, I started to get a little chilly around mile 11 or 12 – it didn’t help that somehow I lost one of my gloves before the race even started, but I was happy to have the Santa hat during those last couple of miles!
I decided to run this race with 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking. My training plan (more to come soon) calls for 2:1, but I trained for my last half marathon at 4:1, so I figured I’d split the difference and if I felt good the last few miles, I’d kick it up a notch. Unfortunately, I started to feel a twinge in my IT band at mile 3, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy day. 
Mile 1 – 9:47
Mile 2 – 10:57
Mile 3 – 11:39
Mile 4 – 10:39
Mile 5 – 11:08
Mile 6 – 10:53
Mile 7 – 11:40
Mile 8 – 10:10
Mile 9 – 10:31
Mile 10 – 11:48
Mile 11 – 11:38
Mile 12 – 10:12
Mile 13 – 11:19
Last .1 (.38 on my Garmin): 3:13
Official time: 2:25:39

Lesson learned: no matter how close you are to the start line, if the race offers gear check – use it! I was within easy walking distance to the start line (though my hotel was at the top of the hill from the start / finish line), so I decided not to use the gear check. I figured if I needed to, I could always go back to my room to get warmer clothes, and I figured I would be very warm when I finished the race. Because I got rained on and with the breeze and cold temperatures, I didn’t stick around the finish line festivities very long – it was just too cold for me, even with the heaters that were provided under the tents.

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