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Mistletoe Half Marathon Recap & My Race Day Gear Checklist

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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!


My Race Results:

  • Official time: 1:37:16
  • Chip time: 1:37:10
  • Average pace: 7:25
  • Overall Finish: 12th female
  • Age Group Finish: 2nd

Race Morning

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. πŸ™‚ )

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Half Marathon Gear Checklist:

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.


Mistletoe Half Marathon Start 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!

Race highlights (and lows)

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ ) 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!)

Mistletoe Run, VIP Style

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:

  • Porta-potties only for VIP peeps. Although, lots of people starting realizing there were a couple porta-potties without lines and starting using them. But hey, if you gotta go, you gotta go!
  • Post-race tent with beer & massage. They had David Black there doing post-race massages who is a bit notorious in the running community for how intense his massages are. It was heaven/torture. πŸ˜‰
  • Indoor waiting area. I didn’t use that though since I arrived about 25 minutes before starting and waiting in the porta potty line during that time.

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!!!!!)

Exact heels, worth every penny or similar for much less | Milly dress, from last year. Similar style here, here and here

Looking forward

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. πŸ˜‰

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.

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    13 responses to “Mistletoe Half Marathon Recap & My Race Day Gear Checklist”

    1. Congrats! I’ve been dealing with high hamstring tendonopaty since mid July – shortly after starting training for the NYC Marathon. ART, Graston, and dry needling – as well as some strength stuff has been really helpful. I’ve been seeing a sports chiro. The worst thing you can do, if that’s what it is, is stretch your hamstring. Stick to rolling.

      • Good to hear dry needling and graston has been helpful! I’ve done that throughout the year. And that podcast said stretching, deadlifts and hills are HORRIBLE for it…and uh, I do a LOT of those!!

        Did your doc say it was okay to run through it? Some sources say it’s okay if it’s FLAT running (which will mean the track or treadmill for me), but others say not to run.

      • Yes, running is when it feels best – except for hills, which is the cause of my most recent flair up. But he told me to def keep running. I trained and ran NYC conservatively with it but still BQd with a 12 min cushion πŸ™‚ Mine bothers me most when I sit for long periods of time. Luckily I have an adjustable desk at work, so I stand most of the day, which I did even before.

    2. Congrats on a really strong race–that’s a fantastic time given a less-than-ideal training cycle. I’ve weaned myself off music during races for the most part, but I think Santa might be bringing me one of these and I’m pretty stoked about it. A sub 1:30 is totally on my list too–you sure you don’t want to move to Boston so we can be training buddies? πŸ˜‰

      • So is it safe to assume you’re from Boston :-)? I never thought Id have any interest in running the Boston Marathon. NYC was going to be one and done with fulls for me. I love the city that’s why I really wanted to run it so when I realized I have a qualifying half I registered. Now I have a BQ and while initially I said I wasn’t going to do it (it would be for 2019), I’m starting to think I might really regret it if I don’t. The one thing really holding me back – other than training being a part time job, and I already have a full time job, lol – is training in the winter. Have you trained for Boston through the winter? I’m in NE Ohio and I’m pretty sure your winters are worse than ours. We still get slammed with snow though. I hate the treadmill…..

        • I am indeed from Boston! So funny–I ran NYC and thought I was one-and-done too, but then I BQ-ed (for this year) so clearly that wasn’t the case. I ran a spring marathon last year (not Boston, but same season) and while it was definitely tough to get through the winter, I really enjoyed it–and I was working and in grad school at night. So, it can be done! I have a bunch of recaps from training through the winter here if you’re interested I can’t tell you about my Boston experience quite yet but even as a spectator and volunteer, I can tell you it’s a magical weekend/race. Definitely find me over on my blog or on Insta to connect, more than happy to chat winter running whenever! I’m @ shorterandfaster πŸ™‚

    3. Oh heyyy πŸ™‚ great to meet you at the race! My pre-race nutrition is always pizza the night before (haha if it ain’t broke..) and I eat oatmeal, coffee and water the morning of. Then ideally one Gu during the race for a half.
      Hope your hamstring feels better soon!!

    4. You did amazing especially dealing with what You have. I have been having the same issues and they are so severe I am running almost two minutes per mile slower than last year. Ugggh. What is funny I did A lot of research last week and have come to the same self diagnosis. I too will be calling my sports medicine M.D..
      I’ll be interested in finding out what the doctors say.
      I hope you have a fast recovery and back to your PR goal.

    5. I’ve been dealing with hamstring/glute pain for the past three months. Rested about 2 months with no results and then finally saw an ortho. Been going to PT for dry needling the past month and it is helping. One major breakthrough was that the dry needling in my hamstring wasn’t having much results, so my PT started dry needling my sacrum and glute. I have been able to do slow 2-3 mile runs on flat terrain a few times a week with minimal pain during and post-run now. Looking forward to more dry needling around my sacrum and then slowly increasing my mileage again. I lift weights, too, and things like RDL’s and glute-ham raises have been out of the question the past three months. Last week I had my first pain-free set of glute-ham raises, though, which is optimistic. I guess my point is to find out if the issue is stemming from your hamstring or the sacrum. I initially self-diagnosed with hamstring tendinopathy but turns out it is the sacrum issue.

    6. Congratulations on the race – and the wedding! (I have been super busy and just catching up on some blogs ;)) I also wanted to chime in on the hamstring issue. Last year I battled a hamstring injury that came on after a huge marathon PR in Oct. It was originally diagnosed as a strain, and so I would just stretch more, take breaks, continue running, racing, etc. But it never improved, and in fact, got worse. So, I went for a 2nd opinion to my new current doc who I LOOOOVE. Within 10 mins, he diagnosed a high hamstring tear – not a compete rupture, but bad enough that it needed time to heal up. This was 6 months out from the NY marathon, so I was crushed. He recommended PRP (platelet rich plasma), followed by ultrasound therapy 2x per week for 4-6 weeks. During that time, I wasn’t sedentary (thank goodness) – I was able to use the AlterG, kayak, and lift (upper body and core only) weights. Little by little I added some cross training as it felt better. I had the PRP injection beginning of May, and by beginning of July I was ready to start my training. My training went beautifully and I killed the marathon. I was SUPER happy. It’s been 6 weeks since I ran NY and my hamstring is still doing great! I don’t know what your doc says, but I would definitely see if he knows about PRP. It’s not usually covered by insurance, and costs $500 for the injection, but it’s totally worth it. If I hadn’t done it, I would have been out for probably 6 months and had to defer NY. Anyway, hopefully your hamstring issue isn’t as bad, but if it’s chronic and it’s a tendon issue, I would definitely get it taken care of before running a full marathon. Good luck!!

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