I ran the Mistletoe Half Marathon for the 7th time last Saturday – hard to believe! Leading up to the race, running was feeling pretty awful. I felt sluggish, my hamstring has really been bothering me and runs just didn’t feel good. But, that race is one of my very favorite holiday traditions so I knew I didn’t want to miss it, and told myself that I would just listen to my body and not worry about a PR.
Last year, I had solid training but lots travel leading up to the race made me nervous. This year, I just didn’t have solid training in with the wedding, honeymoon and moving. So while I was shocked and thrilled by last year’s huge PR where I ran 1:33, I 100% knew it wasn’t in the cards this year. I thought it would be hard mentally to not PR since I haven’t not PR’d in…6 years, I think? But, surprisingly, I wasn’t upset by my time at all since I knew it was the best I had in me that day, and I had a mid-race issue that was beyond my control. More on that below!
The race started at 8:20 and I woke up around 6:45 am, which is later than I sleep in on most normal mornings! Definitely a perk of living close to the race start! I followed my usual pre-race routine of taking a hot shower and drinking plain water, water with Nuun & black coffee. However, I didn’t eat my usual pre-race food of toast with peanut butter and banana. Instead, I had a banana with peanut butter and a couple dates, which seems close enough, but I didn’t feel well-fueled during the race.
I was wavering on what to wear for the 48* start, but I eventually landed on a tank top rather than long sleeves – it was the right decision! (Thanks to my running friend Kate on reminding me that I’m always overdressed and to dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer than it actually is. 🙂 )
I have a list in my phone with my race day outfit and gear so I don’t forget anything! Here’s what I wore and what I packed to have at the finish line.
Alise and I planned to meet up at the start line for a good-luck hug. We cracked up at the difference in our outfits! (She ended up leaving her puffy vest with Tommy!)
And then we were off to line up to start!
I took my friend Anna’s advice and didn’t look at my watch while running, other than when it beeped at each mile split. My legs felt heavy and tight for the first two miles, but I was running surprisingly well…until mile 7. All of a sudden my phone starting having issues. My music kept shutting off and my bluetooth earbuds kept disconnecting. I pulled my phone out to see what was going on and it kept doing a soft crash, where it was freezing and showing a spinning wheel, resetting over and over. I finally just turned off Spotify and put my phone back in my SpiBelt.
THEN MY PHONE STARTING RANDOMLY CALLING PEOPLE. I kept hearing it ringing on speaker! I pulled it out and ended the call (the first person it tried to call was Tommy) and put it back in my SpiBelt. Then it did it again and again and again and I couldn’t even get it to turn off. Finally it died, thankfully. So not only was I fiddling with my phone for 3 miles, which didn’t help my pace, but I also lost my music which is something I really rely on for race day. (My favorite playlists are linked here.) I also started to get VERY thirsty. I only got a small amount of water at 3 aid stations, which generally is enough, but I was just so dang thirsty from mile 8-13.
Splits don’t lie! You can see where it all kind of came apart.
But, I just decided to make the best of it and enjoy the rest of the race! I was very happy to cross the finish line and ditch my phone and earbuds though – ha!
I was also very happy to see this guy! His car wouldn’t unlock so we couldn’t get my dry clothes and sweatshirt out of the car…so he gave me his. 🙂 He did finally get it open about 30 minutes later!
Alise finished just a bit after I did, breaking 2 hours. Good work Alise!
I loved having my favorite people at the finish line! (We missed Adam, Alise’s husband, who was at a bachelor party. 🙂 ) It was fun seeing friends who ran the half or the 5K and meeting people that I had only known via Instagram too! (Hi Emily! Hey Theresa! Hi Erin! Hey ladies’ Wake Forest XC Team!)
The lovely folks at the YMCA offered me a free VIP upgrade and one of the VIP perks is a reserved parking lot. It was so nice to drive past the orange cones near the start and to a parking lot that was about a 30 second walk from the start line! I was originally planning just to walk to the start line from home, but this was really nice so Tommy could easily leave while I was running and come back for the finish.
Other VIP perks:
If you’re coming from out of town or have family members waiting for you, I definitely think it’d be worth the $30 bucks to have that parking privilege so close to the start and finish line (it’s an out and back course). It makes it so much less stressful on race morning and gives them flexibility to go explore while you run!
I also treated myself to a few sips of Foothills beer, gluten woes be damned.
And I finally got to meet Erin, the race director, who puts on this great event! It was especially fun to meet her and have her give me my age-group award since I was on the massage table during the awards ceremony!
And I finally figured out how to get Maizey to look at the camera. Put something pretty around her neck. Worked on the wedding day too.
I met up with Alise for lunch at Village Juice and then spent most of the day on the couch catching up on some work and watching This is Us. My hamstring was REALLY bothering me. I never got sore from this race (I don’t typically get sore from half marathons so that wasn’t unusual), but my hamstring has really been hurting. It’s like a deep throbbing pain that hurts more when it’s in a stretching position (bending over to tie my shoes, leash up Maizey, etc.). It’s been bothering me off and on since I ran a marathon in March, but it’s progressively gotten worse over the past month, which is frustrating.
After relaxing most of the day, Tommy took me on a date that night to Mozelle’s. I ordered red wine + fried pickles + the duck special, but per usual, I was jealous of Tommy’s go-to meatloaf. We had SO much fun, and I know I say this all the time, but I just feel so blessed to have him in my life. I especially loved that I got to wear my wedding heels for the first time since the wedding! (Speaking of the wedding…I should get the rest of my photos on Thursday!!!!!)
Next year, I would really like to try to break 1:30 in the half, but that’s another topic for another post! Right now, I need to focus on getting my hamstring healed, so it’s in a better shape once I start training for the Boston Marathon after the New Year. I think I’m dealing with hamstring tendinopathy; I need to schedule another visit with my PT and maybe a sports MD. Jen sent me this podcast (#11) and it sounds spot on with what I’m experiencing. Hill running and deadlifts are major triggers, and uh, that’s about all I do. 😉
If you ran the race, I hope you had a GREAT race day! If you didn’t run, I’d love to hear what your pre-race meal is! I shared my marathon fueling strategy in this post, and I should have known better than to waver! TOAST FOR LIFE.