Sunday Runday - Santa Hustle Half Marathon

For those of you following me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that when I'm not actively doing a lot of hiking I am a runner.  I'm starting a new category on my blog called Sunday Runday, where I'll recap the week in running and my next adventure - training for my first marathon.  For the first installment of Sunday Runday, I'm going to write about my second half marathon, which I ran on December 13th, the Santa Hustle.  

The Santa Hustle took place on an unseasonably warm morning in December - it was already nearly 50 degrees at 6:45 a.m. and incredibly foggy. They were calling for weather in the low 70s by early afternoon, so I set out for this race wearing shorts and a T-shirt!  The turnout for the race was much smaller than I anticipated. There were only 640 runners in the half marathon, so the course wasn't crowded. Also, unlike any race I've EVER run this one actually started on time!  At 7:30 a.m. we took off uncerimoniously.  The first three miles of the race I was feeling great, despite being soaking wet from the thick fog.  After hitting mile three, the race climbed the first hill and turned away from the river which also helped with the fog.  By mile five the sun was peeking through the clouds and I felt like I was hitting my stride. 

Miles 6-7 were remarkable because the leaders were starting to head back toward the finish. It was a lot of fun to cheer them on since there weren't really any spectators on this course to do the traditional cheering you see during a road race.  When I hit the halfway mark I was surprised to see how many runners were still behind me.  It felt great to be moving at a comfortable pace.  This is also when I met girl in the white tank top.  She was walking when I saw her, but every time I caught up to her she would start running again for a few minutes.  She'd start walking again, but continue to repeat the pattern of run/walk every time I caught her.  By mile 10 I was starting to slow down.  I felt tired despite actually running downhill. I wouldn't say I had hit the wall, but I felt like I was hitting the brakes.  

When mile 11 came after what felt like hours since seeing mile 10, I started to feel a little bit more energized, especially because I knew the course was pretty flat from here to the finish line.  Mile 12 came even faster and there were more people cheering at this point.  They had a cookie and candy station between mile 12 and 13 with lots of smiling and cheering volunteers, so that was helpful also.  Mile 13 felt like sweet victory for two reasons - I was almost done running and I finally sprinted past girl in the white tank top!  I grabbed my finisher's medal, a few bananas, a few waters, and a few Clif bars and wandered back to my car. 

I signed up for this race back in October in hopes that it would motivate me to start running again. Once I started training for the race I started to have some serious doubts about my ability to run it at a decent speed.  With all the multi-night backpacking trips and then the 10 days I took to go to the Wilderness First Responder training I took back in November I really lost a lot of training days.  Thankfully, I was able to train well enough to get in a full session.  Unfortunately, the last week of my training, the taper week, turned out to be a disaster.  I started feeling some shin pain on my very last run and I got a hamstring cramp, but I ran through it and it didn't bother me again. After an active taper week, I K-taped my injuries and hoped for the best.  I did a poor job with the K-tape the morning of the race and lost all of it off my knee.  The sprint I pulled at the end of the race ended up pulling my hamstring and causing an injury worse than the shin splints. 

So this week I spent K-taping my hamstring and actively doing compression from my thigh to my knee.  The first day was by far the worst and I'm feeling much better than I did post race.  I was planning to take a few easy weeks before diving into marathon training January 1st, but knowing I've got an injury really makes me nervous.  I'll focus on injury recovery on my next post. 

I hope you enjoyed my race recap and my very first Sunday Runday post!