Sunday, December 9, 2012

Santa to the Sea on Repeat!

I loved Santa to the Sea half marathon last year and this year did not disappoint! I had a wonderful time and I can’t say enough positive things about this race. Maybe I’m just biased, since I’m such a big fan of Christmas and this race was also my first half marathon back in 2011, but I really enjoy it and will continue to recommend it.

Official logo from their site
Packet pickup was quick and easy. There is no expo before race (at least not at the location where I picked up my stuff), so I was in and out and ready to do some Christmas shopping. Two days before the race, I woke up with a cold! I prayed that it stayed a head cold and wouldn’t move down into my lungs and thankfully it did just that! Race morning I dragged myself out of bed, not feeling very optimistic about my ability to put in a decent time. I took some Dayquil, Sudafed, vitamins and stuffed my running shorts pocket with Kleenex. 

At the start, I dropped off my cool toy at the toy drive and ran into my friend Nick. I was super excited to see him at a race. We hung out chit-chatting for awhile, before I moved back to the 2:20 pace section. I had a feeling Nick was going to totally destroy my PR and he did! He ran a 2:03! How awesome is that?!?

Nick and I at the start
The start definitely wasn’t as packed as last year, but I think the corral sections were bigger. Just down the street from the start was a cheer crowd and a Santa on a horse! My level of excitement grew (this may have been neighborhood #1)!

Around mile three I glanced at my watch to see where we were at and was surprised to see we’d already knocked out a 5k. I felt like my legs were just eating the miles! I had mixed a peppermint GU in my little water bottle and was so glad I did. It was extremely soothing on my sore throat. I’ll have to remember that when I’m racing with a cold again in the future.

This race has a neighborhood competition, where the runners vote afterwards for the best neighborhood. Neighborhood #2 was very enthusiastic, but I didn’t get all the Halloween décor? Neighborhood #3 blew them all away, with a huge turn out, a Santa and Mrs. Claus giving high fives to runners and balloon arches stretched over the street. Neighborhood #4 was a very excited group with banners and neighborhood #5 was elementary school kids giving out leis. Yes, I got leid around mile 12. 

The message on my lei! How cute is that?!? Thanks Charles!
The first half of the race I was able to keep the 2:10 pacer in my sights, but lost him somewhere around the half way point. I was just grateful to not be seeing the 2:20 pacer!

I interval ran most of the race and I noticed another lady intervaling that I kept passing and being passed by. Unfortunately, she was a spitter and I kept having to dodge it (no fun!). I’ve never seen someone spit so much! I did chat with her and she was very friendly, but I didn’t have the heart to say anything about the spit.

The only real hill on the course is an overpass
Around mile 10, I passed a girl dressed as a gingerbread man. I saw her at the start of the race when she blew by me, so I was excited to catch up with her so that I could snap a pic and honestly, I didn’t want to be beat by a gingerbread man! She was very cute! I hope she won the costume contest or at least placed in it. I don’t think there were as many full costumes as last year, but it may have just been my pace group.

Gingerbread man!

The race ends along the beach
I kept telling myself I’d run it in starting at mile 10, but each time my interval came to an end, I’d take my quick walk break. I had a similar experience at the end. I kept telling myself I’d sprint it in, but wasn’t able to dig in and sprint till I was coming around the corner to the finish. I passed a guy in my final sprint and he gave me a look and started sprinting too. I must have had more in the tank than him, because he stuck with me for a second and then I pulled away.

Finish line sprint!
I finished feeling ecstatic about my time and totally beat! 2:12:09! My second best half marathon time so far. My best time being 2:08:31, last year at this same race! It really is a PR course.

Tired but happy!
Afterwards, I congratulated Nick and went in desperate search for water. I grabbed some cookies and mini-cinnamon rolls and then walked the small expo and farmer’s market. I was feeling some discomfort from my knee, so I didn’t hang around too long.

This really is a great event. The neighborhoods, volunteers, costumes and toy drive make it one of my favorite races. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a Christmas themed race.